Riverdale S3E14: Fire Walk With Me

by thethreepennyguignol

It feels strange to be writing this Riverdale recap this week. I know a lot of you are here for the snark on TV’s biggest trainwreck, but there’s a heavy weight on the back of the show right now, and that’s because, on Monday, Luke Perry passed away.

I’m not going to sit here and rend garments and gnash teeth with grief, because that wouldn’t be fair or honest, but I am really sad about the loss of a good actor and a cool guy who played one of the better characters on one of my favourite shows. Even if we only knew these people via fiction, it still fucking sucks to know that they’re gone, and that we usually lose their characters along with them. My thoughts are with the people close to him, and the people who grew up with his performances in 90210 Beverly Hills and Riverdale.

From a reviewing perspective, of course, it makes writing about the show pretty weird, because Riverdale is imbued with some heavy melancholy without even knowing it. It’s still out here being it’s same big goofy self, but it’s hard not to think about the impact of the loss on the cast (many of whom shared their grief at the passing of one of their own) and the characters as a whole. Riverdale is always tonally all over the place, but this discomforting mix of standard-issue batshittery and very real-life sadness isn’t one I wanted to see them take on. How the show will handle the passing of Luke Perry and presumably his character, Fred Andrews, too remains to be seen, as we’ve still got a good season of Andrews Senior to go, but it’s not a task I envy them.

And this episode, Fire Walk With Me, picks up very much where last week’s left off, in terms of the utterly bizarre plot points it’s taking on. Archie takes in a kid from the boxing gym he now works at, but the kid has been…ordered to kill him? Fred makes a brief appearance in this plot to rescue him, and that dash of real-world grief is odd place against the ridiculousness of this plot. I can’t help but wonder how KJ Apa will survive as an actor post-Perry, given that, sans Veronica, a lot of his emotional grounding comes from his relationship with his father.

Elsewhere, other plots are trailing in circles again – Veronica is back running the casino, really for want of anything better to do, and it’s far less fun than the madcap mobstery of the first half of the season. As I’ve said before, I prefer this base-level-competent Veronica over the well-dressed broom handle she was in the first couple of seasons, but there’s only so much Mark Conseulos can do to keep this plot from sliding into repetitive, you know?

It obviously goes without saying that the best plot of the week is Betty’s, from whence the title gets it’s name. This season has been disappointingly low on badass Dark Betty, especially with her relationship with her father right there waiting to be explored and exploited via their mutual amorality. But hey, if you’re going to bring her back, bring her back big and hard by having her set the house on fire to undercut her mother’s wishes. It’s something to put on the college application, at least.

As I said above, this was always going to be a hard episode to write about. Riverdale is still just being its big usual ridiculous self, but there’s something heavy hanging over it this week. I’ll be back to my regularly-scheduled snark with next week’s episode, but for now, I’d just like to tip my proverbial hat to Luke Perry and all the great work he’s done on this show and many others, and wish his loved ones the best in this difficult time.

(header image via Decider)