Wednesday, October 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'Riverdale' - Archie Struggles to Raise Money While Edgar Makes His Last Stand in 'Chapter Sixty: Dog Day Afternoon'

The CW's Riverdale - Episode 4.03 "Chapter Sixty: Dog Day Afternoon"

Things take a dangerous turn when Betty and Charles track down Edgar and his Farmies. Archie and Veronica hold a car wash fundraiser at Pop's to raise money for the community center. Jughead's first day at Stonewall Prep doesn't go as planned. Cheryl learns a dark family secret from Nana Rose.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of The CW's Riverdale.

"Chapter Sixty: Dog Day Afternoon" was written by Ace Hasan & Greg Murray and directed by Greg Smith

A lot of insane things happen in every single episode of Riverdale. It's simply the way this show operates. The way the creative team balances those insane stories determines just how successful any given episode is. Some are demonstrably better than others. It means the show can go through wild patches where everything seems awful only for things to eventually turn around without making it seem like all of the bad stuff was all that important in the end. And then, it produces an episode where everything seems to click no matter how disjointed it may seem from the outside. This hour has so much craziness in it. There is a car wash highlighting the naked torsos of Archie, Monroe and Reggie early on. That's basically just filling the episode's quota of objectifying the physique of the male characters. That's not the form of pandering an entire episode revolves around anymore. Instead, this hour forges ahead with such boldness and conviction as it forces a major confrontation between Betty and the Farm while Archie, Jughead and Veronica struggle through their own identity crises. The Farm wasn't finished as an antagonistic organization by the end of the third season. They had simply vanished at season's end with Betty's FBI agent brother, Charles, coming in to say that their mother was actually an informant. And now, Alice returns to the narrative with such badass energy as she is the one who gets to put an end to Edgar Evernever for good. It's such a ridiculous series of events too. It starts with Betty using a bobby pin to deactivate a bomb attached to her sister Polly. Then, it's Betty's responsibility to fulfill all of Edgar's demands in order to release some of his hostages. It all concludes with a rooftop shootout between Alice and Edgar as he tries to ascend to a new plane of reality via a rocket he has built while the rest of his followers plummet over a cliff in a school bus. All of this is truly outrageous writing down. And yet, it surprisingly all works in the end. It puts a finite conclusion to this threat. Evelyn is knocked out while Edgar is killed. And yet, the reverberations from time spent at The Farm are still being felt by many in this community. All it takes for Cheryl to turn against someone is to suspect them of going into the chapel where she is keeping Jason's corpse. That too ratchets the insane energy up by climaxing with a rat crawling its way out of Jason's stomach and Toni walking in on Cheryl as she tries cleaning up the mess. That's an unexpected way of bringing this tension to the proceedings. But it effectively gets the job done so that Toni is perfectly aware of why Cheryl is on the edge right now and may not be seeing things clearly. Meanwhile, Mary hopes that a move to Chicago will be good for Archie so he can leave the pain and trauma of Riverdale behind him. And yet, he still has hope in his hometown. He doesn't want to leave the place that his father loved so much. He believes the town isn't beyond redemption. He still goes about things the wrong way. He attacks the new local drug dealer and steals his money. But his ambition to open a community center that helps the youth of this town is very noble and aspirational. It helps him feel fulfilled in a way that doesn't force him to risk his life over and over again. Similarly, Veronica invests in Archie's project because she needs to feel like she is doing some good in the world. She doesn't want to be judged for her parents' actions. She wants to present as her own person. A name change helps with that. She can lash out at her father when he flexes his influence once more. But Veronica is just as skilled at fighting back too. She believes in redemption as well mostly because she feels she needs it right now. And finally, Jughead faces a new environment where he finds a new kind of threat. It's one of emotional abuse from the privileged of the world. He may have an ally at this new school in Marmaduke. But it doesn't take long before the past infects this world too. These characters are constantly running from their pasts in the hopes of doing better. They are traumatized from several of these events as well. That's what this season is focused on doing. On one hand, it is celebrating the senior year of the protagonists. On the other hand, it's setting up a future where these kids feel a responsibility to take care of the world because they have already had to shoulder so much in their short lives. That creates a very engaging episode that resonates despite the ridiculous twists and turns that keep occurring.