By letting go of reality, Riverdale finally embraces its full potential


I’ve discussed ad nauseam before on this site how Archie’s stories constantly subvert expectations, and it’s a pattern that the CW drama has gone back and forth on a frustratingly amount. Too often the show knocked on the door of madness and then ran away that I grew jaded and felt that, as weird as the show got at times, it never went far enough. Or if it was, the madness received a monotonous explanation that took all the air out of its narrative tires.

But then came Rivervale. The alternate universe miniseries that made up the first five episodes of this season thrust our characters into situations that turned the show’s reality upside down, which is saying a lot considering the typical storylines presented here. Looking back, the Rivervale saga was a door through which the writers pushed characters (and viewers). It’s all on the table now, however ridiculous/unbelievable.

So where are we? With a series that is sci-fi/superhero/horror/musical/comedy/procedural. It’s Kitchen Sink TV time, and whoo boy is it wild. The writers of this show realize that she leaves viewers with a jolt due to all the gender leaps she makes, so at some point they apparently made a conscious decision to be all types of TV series at once.

Has any other program in television history had the nerve to attempt such a feat? Or pull it off with such aplomb. At around 45 minutes, tonight’s episode – hilariously called “Incredible” in a bit of meta-consciousness and as a nod to its thematic inspiration, Unbreakable – literally shatters the status quo and places all of our characters in entirely new places. It’s not so much about moving chess pieces as throwing lighter fluid on the board, setting it on fire, then the house it was staying in, then bombing the whole town, just to be certain that nothing has survived.

It’s a bold move, one that will bring annoying fears of jumping sharks to the surface. Let me put down one of those by saying that in making such a bold move at the end of the series, it’s not so much a decision born out of desperation, but inspiration. I would certainly agree that Riverdale dragged its feet for a while, but even at its worst there were enough bizarre moments of madness that made it an out-of-this-world fun.

Now the whole series is one gigantic WTF moment, and I’m trying desperately not to just read this review OH MY GOD WHAT? I didn’t know what to expect from this show after the hiatus, but I can guarantee that a subplot involving a dog with superpowers wouldn’t even have made it into my 500 best guesses as to what might happen.


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