Riverdale S3E22: Survive the Night

by thethreepennyguignol

Guys, I’m tired.

If last week’s review didn’t tip you off, let this one be the review that does. I do love Riverdale, I do. I love how batshit crazy it is. I love that it just did a straight noir homage episode earlier this season. I loved the musical episode. I loved the hysterical flashback nonsense. I loved so much of it. But now…but now, like Yoda, it’s time for me to settle down, give you one last long monologue, and became a force ghost who doesn’t have to write these recaps anymore.

The thing is, I was ready to check out at the end of this season – I was really ready to just sign off and leave this chaotic show behind me once and for all. But I think I knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, that Riverdale wouldn’t let me out that easily. And, with this madcap finale, Survive the Night, it seems like I’ve got no choice but to come back for more.

Alright, let’s crash through this as best we can: Penelope Blossom was the one behind, uh, pretty much every single thing in the show thus far. She sets our central foursome off through a Saw-esque trap against their inner demons and also, poison, and things get very, very Riverdale in the process.

I actually think centreing in on Jughead, Archie, Veronica and Betty is a good choice for the final episode, given that the show does have a solid grasp on what makes them tick. Archie comes up against a bear once more, the metaphor for his own personal demons that the show established way back at the start of this mid-season – Jughead faces down Chic (praise be for the return of my grey alien doing a bad human impression in the form of Hart Denton), representing his desire to protect Betty and, more broadly, Riverdale from the outside world. Veronica almost shoots herself in the face, because her true demons are her own messy characterization, and Betty gets a great scene up against her father, as she stares down her own bleak darkness and shoots it in the arm.

And I actually like this payoff to the season’s arcs – it’s ridiculous, yes, it’s high-stakes horror nonsense hiding out in the middle of a Gossip Girl knock-off, but it’s as on-brand as Riverdale gets and it works. But, as ever, even though that’s enough plot to stuff a good five episodes alone, Riverdale has piled the fuck on this week.

Of course, there’s the reveal of Penelope Blossom as the mastermind behind more or less everything that’s been happening in Riverdale. Between her and Hiram, parents with a penchant for planning parties of pain and unpleasantness seem to be Riverdale’s MO. Cheryl and her crew of lady-archers (fuck, sometimes I just write a sentence of these recaps and just want to cut my own arms off, you know?) storm around town doing all the saving that the straights can’t be bothered with themselves. Oh, and she grabs Jason’s rotting corpse and takes it home to hang out with it, and still won’t return my calls. What do I need to do, Madeleine? I’d keep you in matte liquid lipsticks for the rest of your days!

And it’s the final moments of this episode that I know will have me back for next season – which suggests, once more, that for all Riverdale pretends to just be throwing shit at the wall, it does somewhat know what it’s doing. Because the smash-cut from the central four hanging out in Pop’s, drinking milkshakes and laughing about their various horrendous traumas, to just three of them burning Jughead’s belongings in the woods…yeah, that’s a cliffhanger I can get on board with. I hate that this show knows how to push my buttons, even still, even after three seasons – even when I know every trick and gag it’s got up its sleeve, they tantalize me with the promise of killing off Cole Sprouse, and I know I’ll be back for more.

But still, I’m tired. This season has been a trial – one where I’ve been found guilty and punished for crimes against having a good taste in television, week after week. I’m coming back for season four, and I hope you’ll join me for these recaps, too – but God knows I don’t blame you in you’re checked out for good. Riverdale is always a mess, but it always manages to put just enough in front of me to keep me coming back for more. Don’t be like me – move on, live your life. Fly free, my beautiful blog birds, and I shall carry the penance of watching this show to the damn bitter end for you.

And that’s us for this season’s recaps. Thanks for following along on my slow descent into crushing mental instability – you can catch up on the rest of my Riverdale recaps right here. If you want some more recappin’ goodness while Riverdale is off-air, check out my Game of Thrones reviews or my deep-dive into Sugar Rush. As ever, if you liked these recaps and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon!

(header image via Den of Geek)