This post contains spoilers for Riverdale.
Last year we assumed hell would have frozen over before Archie Andrews understood that he’s kind of a complicit ass. Apparently Satan’s pretty chilly right now, because Riverdale’s wonder boy did just that and then some in the show’s season premiere. Things kick off with Archie’s trial, focusing on the small army of people desperately trying to prove his innocence while Hiram Lodge twists his mustache in the distance. After the jury has issues coming to a consensus, the judge sends them to deliberate further, and allows Mr. Andrews and company one final weekend before a decision is made.
As you’ve likely come to know, a lot can go down in a couple days within the Riverdale city limits. Alice Cooper has immersed herself in Polly’s cult, Dilton and his buddy are playing DnD but being weirdly secretive about it, and all the kids are wrapping up their summer flings. Don’t worry, y’all, Cheryl and Toni aren’t going anywhere. While all of this is going down, Jughead and the Serpents manage to spark a new war with the Ghoulies, too. In their defense, the Ghoulies were just looking for a reason to come after the Northside, even going so far as to steal Hotdog.
Things aren’t all bad during Team Archie’s courtroom break. Everyone heads to the ashen remnants of Thornhill for a pool party in what might have been the most Cheryl Blossom party venue of all time, and the main four manage to break away for the weekend for a private dip in Sweetwater swimming hole before the dreaded hearing comes. We get to see glimpses in the cracks in the masks of Betty and Archie, who have both been doing everything that they can to survive the summer with trials and serial killer fathers. Meanwhile, Jughead and Veronica act as their rocks despite having their own laundry list of issues to deal with.
But what does “Labor Day” set up? We can’t possibly have a whole season focusing around keeping Archie out of prison. You’re right, because that would be boring, and there’s some Satanic shit afoot in Riverdale. While Archie’s trial unfolds, Dilton reveals to Jughead that the game he’s been playing isn’t just a game. “The Gargoyle King is real!” he says. You might be quick to write the survival nut off. Jughead sure is. But, after the trial closes out, Jughead finds that Dilton might not have been as crazy as he thought.
After finding the DnD board left at his house, Jug realizes that it lines up with the Riverdale map. A short jaunt through the woods later, and we’ve got ourselves a full on ritual site, complete with bones forming some creepy creature, and a couple of nerds with strange symbols carved into their backs. If that’s not enough witchcraft for you, the members of the Farm pay Polly and Alice a visit at the Cooper residence. Betty comes home just in time to see her mom and sister drop her nieces into the fire. Then to see the babies casually float above the fire like it ain’t no thing. “Labor Day” closes out with Betty having a seizure in response the sight, giving us hundreds of questions with absolutely no answers.
Which is exactly how we like our Riverdale season openers.
The premiere was filled to the brim with great moments between all of its key players. The Hot Dads of Riverdale club reunited to solemnly swear that they would get Archie out of juvie while Hermione explained to Veronica that she’s not on Hiram’s side, but instead a prisoner. Once everything’s wrapped up with the case, and Archie’s pled guilty in order to take the deal and avoid another trial, Hiram reveals his true motives to Veronica: Archie’s punishment was never to hurt the Andrews boy, but to hurt Veronica in response to her betrayal to her blood. Savage, Hiram.
“Labor Day” spends time reminding us all the reasons we love Riverdale’s characters, while simultaneously giving new reasons for that adoration to stay alive. Betty’s still fixing cars, but she’s a badass Serpent Queen now too; Veronica is still the sass master, but she’s also the hard working owner of Pop Tate’s; Jughead’s still the brooding, secret softie, but he’s also an incredible leader. And Cheryl? Well, Cheryl will still shoot you with an arrow, but she’s learning to open up to Toni (and hopefully the rest of her new Serpent family). Honestly, this list could continue.
If the first episode of season three is any indicator, Riverdale’s got an exciting road carved out for itself in the coming year. Grab a milkshake and whatever you need to keep yourself from getting murdered. It looks like things are only going to get bloodier.
What did you think of Riverdale’s return?