- Series Title: Riverdale
- Season: Season 3
- Episodes: 22
- Discs: 4
- Network: CW
- Cast: KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Ashleigh Murray, Luke Perry
- Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1
This review contains spoilers for the third season of Riverdale.
Riverdale Season 3 opens with Archie being accused of the crime of murder – which he didn’t commit. Though the trial ends in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial, Archie takes a plea deal anyway and is sent to a juvenile detention facility where the warden runs an illegal underground fight club for Hiram Lodge. Archie is forced to get involved in the club. But when he’s threatened with a transfer to Lodge’s for-profit prison, Veronica helps him escape and he and Jughead head to Canada.
Meanwhile, Jughead and Betty spot two boys playing a game, Griffins and Gargoyles at Pop’s Diner, later that night they are found in Fox Forest, victims of a ritual – one is dead and the other is taken to the hospital in critical condition. The second boy later commits suicide, telling Betty he will “ascend” with the Gargoyle King. The Gargoyle King will be the villain of the season, and Betty and Jughead spend the season trying to find out who he is and to stop him. The game, Griffins and Gargoyles, with its characters and quests, mimics life in Riverdale
Meanwhile, Betty’s sister Polly has already joined a cult called “The Farm” and she gets her mother deeply involved. Soon Alice Cooper is turning over her life savings, and Betty’s college fund to Edgar at The Farm, she even sells her house and gives the money to the Farm. Betty keeps trying to talk her mother out of all this, but it doesn’t work.
It turns out Griffins and Gargoyles isn’t new, but old – our characters played the game in high school. They formed “The Midnight Club”, sneaking into Riverdale High School at night to play. But then they have a wild “Ascension Night” and Alice sees the Gargoyle King and Principal Featherhead (Anthony Micheal Hall) is murdered. The Midnight Club realize the poisoned chalices were meant for members of their club, so they stop playing G&G, disband The Midnight Club, and vow never to speak of it again. No one seems to know which Midnight Club member was a murderer.
The musical episode for the season is Heathers the musical and it’s particularly well done, with the songs and characters tying in with the actual Riverdale characters at the moment it takes place in the story.
So the two villains are the Gargoyle King and The Farm, run by Edgar EverNever, who also seems to have some connection to Griffins and Gargoyles. The season’s episodes have Betty and Jughead, with occasional help from other characters, involved in solving these mysteries.
In the end, Edgar’s “daughter” Evelyn, who is attending Riverdale High and recruiting new members, is found to be his wife, who has been repeating her junior year at every high school to help Edgar with his con game. The Gargoyle King is Chic, who, among other things, impersonates Jason Blossom (which gets Cheryl under Edgar’s control). Chic, in turn, is controlled by Penelope Blossom and though he’s in jail, Hal Cooper, Betty’s serial killer father. Hal escapes prison towards the end of the season and again becomes the Black Hood to harass Betty and her mother.
I didn’t really care that much for Season 3 of Riverdale. Griffins and Gargoyles (G&G) is obviously referencing Dungeons and Dragons, a game some parents thought was “Satanic” in the 1980s – even though D&D is actually a cooperative game that fires the imagination. Plus – all you need to play are paper, pencils, the player manuals, and the gamemaster manual – no expensive consoles or equipment or subscriptions. I found it annoying that Riverdale made G&G so evil (and unbelievable that Penelope came up with the game as she seems to have no sense of imagination at all). Archie gets involved in boxing, thinking he can make it a career, even though he keeps losing – which makes no sense. Veronica spends several episodes trying to get Archie free but then breaks up with him, briefly taking up with Reggie (they are cute together, and I feel bad for Reggie because you know Veronica won’t stay with him). The Farm is this horrible cult, and in the very last episode, after Edgar and his followers escape and leave Riverdale, we find out the FBI was investigating and had an agent on the inside. This agent had plenty of opportunities to reveal herself to Betty or others – yet she doesn’t. Plus, Edgar steals organs from several Riverdale teens, including Kevin and Fangs, so you have to wonder how an FBI agent let that happen. It doesn’t make sense. Plus Season 3 was just really dark and loses much of the sense of fun of previous seasons. Still, I’m sticking with this show and will buy Season 4.