***CONTAINS SPOILERS*** ‘Riverdale’ is back, not quite with the bang of the season 2 debut (a literal bang as it followed the repercussions of Archie’s [KJ Apa] dad, Fred [Luke Perry] getting shot), but with enough intrigue to keep its fans invested – especially now that the show is taking a supernatural turn. The title of season 3 episode 1 is Labor Day, and sees the characters spend their last weekend together before their lives change once again.
For Archie, his reactive, sometimes violent tendencies of the past are catching up to him. He finds himself in court for a crime he didn’t commit and the odds aren’t in his favour. Defending him is his mother, Mary, and while this would never actually happen, it’s great to see Molly Ringwald back in the mix. Archie gets a gang tattoo to ward off troublemakers and asks Reggie (Charles Melton) to help keep the peace between the Serpents and the Bulldogs if he goes to jail. It’s clear that he is positive he is going away, and while innocent, Archie feels a need to do penance for his past - as evidenced by his claiming 'guilty' to manslaughter.
Archie’s friends have spent the summer months attending the trial and when he gets the weekend off, Archie wants he and his friends to make the most of it. This includes a pool party, which shows us where peripheral characters like Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Josie (Ashleigh Murray) are at relationship-wise. It also gives Veronica (Camila Mendes) a chance to try to smuggle into the jury, but between this and complaints to daddy Hiram (Mark Consuelos) that he has framed Archie, her actions in the episode prove totally ineffectual.
Archie and Veronica, and Betty and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) are as cuddled up and cute as ever with no red flags showing, at least for now. The two couples spend a romantic day swimming and night camping at Sweetwater Swimming Hole in one of the more feel-good, less conflict-ridden moments of the episode. On the other hand, tensions between the Serpents and Bulldogs remain after Hot Dog the dog is abducted. Nothing too dramatic happens here (again, that’s for now!).
Most intriguing is Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) storyline. The character is more emotional and unstable than ever, and with good reason given all the character has been through and witnessed within her family. She fights with her sister, Polly (Tiera Skovbye), and mother, Alice (Mädchen Amick), especially about the latter’s new boyfriend, health guru Edgar. We haven’t met the character yet but he’s already more than a little suspicious. Still Alice’s advice, that Betty let go of the past, and slow down in order to confront her problems, seems sound. Moreover, her sister and mother seem genuinely concerned that Betty is forging prescriptions and pretending that she’s attending therapy.
Still all that is thrown out the window in the final scene of the episode as it’s revealed that Polly and Alice are the mad ones. Betty sees them outside at night, dressed in white alongside some others, throwing Polly’s twins into a bonfire, only for them to float above it. Betty faints and goes into a seizure while, elsewhere, Jughead has found what seems to be sacrifices made of his friends.
What does it all mean? Well it would seem we have a cult storyline on our hands but we’ll have to meet Edgar and find out more about The Farm to know what comes next. Reportedly, Edgar will be joining the season with his daughter Evelyn. Even more excitingly, the cult element and implementation of a supernatural side to ‘Riverdale’ gestures towards the crossover with the upcoming Netflix series ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ that’s been in the rumour mill in recent months.