Riverdale S3E13: Requiem for a Welterweight

by thethreepennyguignol

You know when you’re deep in a dream, and everything seems to make sense? Like, you’re watching something on TV, and then you’re in the show, and then you’re dating one of the actors, and then you’re back watching that story unfold? How the logic bends and folds and falls in a way that just doesn’t make sense, and then you wake up, try to explain it, and can’t?

Well, I think during Riverdale’s three-week break away from broadcast, I might have finally woken up from the dream that rendered what the hell was going on even remotely logical at last. Call it a fond hangover from the first half of this season, which was genuinely wonderful in so many ways – witty, over-the-top, high-camp with a side of high-fashion – but I’ve been far softer on the last half-dozen episodes than I ever should have been. And it was this week’s return, Requiem for a Welterweight, that has finally pushed me over the edge.

The episode centres on Archie, turning to boxing under the tutelage of the ex-Sheriff Keller. Elsewhere: Jughead and his mother, newly arrived in Riverdale, are trying to consolidate the Serpent’s power after Cheryl and Toni created a girls-only gang to counter them, while Veronica and her family are still tied up in a bizarre gangster movie hierarchy as Alice goes to get baptized/murdered by the farm and – wait, no, actually, let’s just interrogate those for a second.

First, the Archie story. To say this plot has come screaming in out of the clear blue sky is to do a disservice to clear blue skies; Riverdale hadn’t done a boxing movie parody yet, so it came up with the vaguest, thinnest excuse to throw one in there over a canoodling Josie soundtrack just…because. Because Riverdale’s plotting has come down to “what haven’t we done yet?” and we’re not even three full seasons in. Suffice to say I don’t like this plot, at all, obviously, and I’m dissapointed KJ Apa is stuck back on Thankless Leading Man duty after a really solid run. Why is he dating Josie? Can we just…not with the love interests, for one singular moment? Ugh.

With regards to Jughead’s plot: Yes, it’s nice to have Gina Gershwin around for a while, but her plot is calling on her talents as an actress about as much as the ones for her one-time husband and son have done, which is to say, not a fucking lot. Perhaps getting her to say the gang name “Ghoulies” is the show’s last-ditch effort to get me to take it seriously, I don’t know. Lili Reinhart and Madchen Amick have great chemistry and their story is by far the one that pops the brightest, but it’s all decidedly predictable for Riverdale – oh, so the evil cult turns out to be an evil cult? Colour me shocked. I’m a softcore defender of Veronica’s familial gangstery plot, but how many times can Mark Conseulos waggles his eyebrows threateningly over a glass of wine before I get tired of it (stupid question, because I never would, but you feel me)?

I have always been a big fan of this show partly because of how wildly random it seemed to be, but most of that randomness at least came from a place of actual entertainment, not just “well, why not?”. This episode felt like a dull stasis of existing storylines (Veronica’s, Betty’s) to make way for bizarre and uninteresting movement in new ones (Archie the boxer, Jughead’s criminal familial empire). And, you know, I can put up with a lot of bullshit from this show – my God, so fucking much – but when it fails to entertain amongst the batshittery, I’ve got to hit my snooze button and pretend it’s not time to get up yet.

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(header image via Vulture)