Riverdale S3E12: Bizarrodale

by thethreepennyguignol

Every season, one episode has me capital-C Concerned about Riverdale. Is this show…alright? Do the people involved need help? Blink twice if you’re in danger, Madchen Amick. I’m calling your parents and staging an intervention.

That episode this season is Bizarrodale, an appropriately-named fuckfest of ridiculous proportions which takes on so many plots, both good and bad, and executes them at such devastatingly breakneck speed that I genuinely wonder what else they could possibly have in the bag. This Week On: Cheryl attempts to get into her college of choice, only to find out that her mother has stimied her chances with homophobic rhetoric and plan revenge on her via blackmail, Hot Keller Dad and Cierra are getting married, Kevin is stressed about Moose’s inability to come out of the closet, Reggie and Veronica plan and stage an armed robbery to make up cash for Veronica’s club and wind up involved with Jughead’s mother, Archie tries to help Josie through applications to music school, and the Gargoyle King gets in touch with all of Riverdale’s parents and orders them to carry out the potentially fatal Ascension Night that was abandoned decades before.

And there’s some good stuff in here, as there always is. Cheryl’s crusade against her mother stretches over into an ill-advised outing of Moose, which is a surprisingly well-nuanced plot that explores the importance of personal choice in the choice to come out of the closet. Cheryl and Toni scheming together is always fun, not least the utter joy of Penelope sneering about “sapphic escapades”, while seeing Moose’s coming out as a bisexual guy taken seriously makes me happy as a big slutty bi myself. The Reggie and Veronica stuff is…I don’t know, there, I guess, but any chance to see a swaggering Gina Gershwin owning the screen is a gift and she can honestly step on me whenever she wants.

But the best stuff in this episode comes in the recreation of Acension night, which turns out to be a recreation by Moose’s father as a response to his own internalized homophobia, triggered to violence by Moose’s coming-out. Gathering the adults of Riverdale together is always a great choice (And man, is it good to have Mark Conseulos back in play, gorgeous suits, astonishing jawline, and meta-comic drawl), and using the Gargoyle King as a conduit through which to explore the genuine real-world horror of abusive parents in the face of LGBT teens is a pretty good conceit. And having it build to the sucker-punch of Moose leaving Riverdale, unable to stay with his father after what happened, is about one of the most groundedly emotional moments the show’s ever managed to pull off.

But still, it’s jammed in amongst way more that just doesn’t land as well as it should, mainly because it just isn’t given time too. This is far too much plot for one episode – hell, this is almost too much plot for a half-season. Riverdale almost always seems terrified that it’s going to be cancelled at any given moment, and thusly tries to cram in every idea it has ever had into the screentime it knows it has guaranteed. And I get that – Riverdale is weird enough that the show getting cancelled at any point wouldn’t surprise me, so maybe the fear is real. But, for now, I would love to see Riverdale take a breath and focus on giving the stuff that really works time to breath, and leaving some of the stupider ideas for season twenty when they’re fresh out anyway.

And that’s us for this very appropriatley-named episode. What did you think? Is it working for you, or is there too much going on? Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter or Tumblr! If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to check in with my other recapping projects – I’m currently covering the first Harry Potter book. If you want to read some of my fiction, please check out the ALPHA FEMALE erotica series (eighteen-plus, obviously), available on Amazon now. As ever, if you want to see more stuff like this, please consider supporting me on Patreon!

(header image via Gossipeia)