*** CONTAINS SPOILERS*** In the second episode of the third season of ‘Riverdale’, we find Archie (KJ Apa) in juvenile detention while the mystery of the ‘Gargoyle King’ continues. Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) relaunch into their investigative, journalistic ways with fervour, and Veronica (Camila Mendes) finally finds a purpose as she focuses her attention on the Innocence Project to turn over Archie’s conviction.
We finally meet Evelyn (Zoe De Grand Maison) in this episode, but don’t learn much aside from the fact that she’s creepy and that Betty suspects she had something to do with her seizure. Mad Dog (Eli Goree) is another new character introduced, though his time is short-lived as he is out (or is he..?) at the end of the episode. We also see the return of Joaquin (Rob Raco) and Shannon Purser (sure everyone loves 'Stranger Things' Barb!) as Ethel.
The episode draws back from the paranormal activity implied in the last chapter – that is aside from when Betty and Jughead come across some kind of blood-covered tree monster, in one of the episode's few exciting moments. There are also fewer high school-set scenes than before, arguably because school stuff seems arbitrary now, or possibly the writers are struggling to get storylines from the setting as the characters move away from it.
One school-set scene takes place in a locker room where its teenage cheerleader characters completely unnecessarily wander around the room in their underwear (apparently young women like to keep their shirts off for as long as possible – and wear sexy bras rather than practical ones when doing sport). Mind you, one of the more enjoyable (albeit ridiculous) sequences of the episodes also sparks from the cheerleaders, who perform a rendition of ‘Jailhouse Rock’ to the hilariously eager convicts of the juvenile detention centre.
The performance occurs during the juvies’ American football game after Archie encourages the guys to turn to competitive sport rather than violence as an outlet. It’s a story arc that will definitely seem familiar to viewers of the last ‘Orange is the New Black’ season. The match, however, is totally anti-climactic, with the episode as a whole – even with the coroner that Betty and Jughead visit teasing that what he is seeing is “darker than what happened to Jason Blossom or what the Black Hood did” – feeling intermediary and mediocre in content (its relatively shorter 42 minute running length also indicates its struggle for content).
There’s an interesting tease at the end of the episode whereby the parents of ‘Riverdale’ talk of a past event that is related to the current happenings – but as a whole this is a weak follow-up to the season 3 debut.