Riverdale Season 3, Episode 12: “Bizarrodale”

Other than the fact that Jughead says “Bizarrotown” somewhere in the episode, I actually couldn’t figure out why this episode in particular got that moniker. I mean, no one even gets attacked by a bear or adopts approximately a thousand troubled youths or attends a fight club in a drained-out gym pool, so… not that bizarre, actually. In fact the real bizarre thing about this episode is that poor forgotten Kevin gets a plotline, so, maybe that explains the name.

Previously on Riverdale: Moose tried to ditch Kevin for the RROTC club so Kevin stalkerishly joined it too; Moose’s dad wasn’t cool with them; Archie got drunk and belligerent at the speakeasy and Josie saved him; Jughead kicked Cheryl and Tony out of the Serpents; Veronica realized that Hermione hired someone to shoot Hiram in order to sell his drug business, so she burned all Hermione’s drugs; Hermione turned out to have already sold the drugs to a very scary (but not particularly business-savvy?) buyer who had apparently already sent the money; oh, and Veronica wore a ridiculous black hat.

We open with the four main characters eating breakfast at Pop’s, with Jughead reaching over casually to dip his toast into Betty’s eggs. (That sound you hear is the entire internet cooing.) Jughead tells us that Riverdale is “bizarrotown,” and that normal things are the exception.

Like getting married, which is what Keller and McCoy have decided to do. Josie and Kevin are dismayed to hear that they want a small wedding, but Josie bargains them into accepting an after-party at La Bonne Nuit. “If there’s no wedding reception, it means the Gargoyle King has won,” Kevin says, dead serious. Hee! Just then, Moose and his dad pass by, and Sierra happily invites him to the wedding–which he responds to with minimal civility. Afterwards, Sierra claims that it’s probably that he’s jealous, since he’s always had a crush on her. Keller laughs affectionately but doesn’t say anything, which, as we’ll learn, represents admirable restraint on his part.

Meanwhile, Cheryl and Tony are cuddling in bed, lacy bras on full display, when their SAT scores come in. We learn that there’s a random fancy college named “Highsmith” which is a multi-generational Blossom legacy, which for some reason Cheryl really wants to go to. Already I’m completely uninvested in this storyline. A, we’ve heard nothing about it until now. B, this makes no sense, because Cheryl hates her family, so why does she super want to go there? Tony also looks less than thrilled about Cheryl’s description of Highsmith, for reasons we’ll find out about later. Anyway, the point is, Cheryl gets good scores, and Tony has a perfect score. Go, Tony!

Hermione calls Veronica and Reggie in to her office to demand them to pay her debt to the buyer who unwisely paid in full for all her drug stockpile without even seeing the goods in question. Veronica and Reggie are dismayed because the coffers of Pop’s and La Bonne Nuit won’t cover even a fraction of it.

OK, I hate to be the ancient grump who’s constantly explaining why storylines don’t make sense when this show’s entire charm is its gloriously devil-may-care attitude to the entire concept of making sense. But… COME ON. Veronica literally said that she burned the drugs so her mother wouldn’t profit from drugs. But now that her mom is like, well I already took the profit and spent it, Veronica is agreeing to pay back the kingpin. But that means that her mom DID profit off the drugs! Maybe the problem is that Veronica is actually really bad with money and doesn’t grasp this.

Cheryl attends an interview for Highsmith in an extremely dimly lit office with a middle-aged woman. She chipperly explains that she has extra-curriculars, SAT scores, and a legacy, only for the woman to explain that at the demand of one powerful alum, the board has decided not to admit legacies anymore (cue a hilariously over-dramatic ominous drum sound in the background). Apparently they want to diversify, which Cheryl only makes the barest pretense at supporting. Couldn’t she have told Cheryl that before letting her come in for an interview?

Kevin and Moose are having a hot makeout sesh in a back hallway at school somewhere when Kevin asks Moose to be his date to his dad’s wedding. This is an instant mood-killer for Moose, who’s not really ready to come out to his dad, though Kevin begs that he wants them to date openly and even spend a full night together for once. An even worse mood-killer is when all the other cadets bust in, causing Kevin and Moose to spring apart in a comically obvious fashion. Moose’s dad doesn’t pick up on it, though the other cadets (one of them dourly says, “Told you they were in here”) are pretty clearly on the ball. Moose whispers before leaving, “Sorry, Kevin, I can’t.” Awwww, poor Kevin.

Josie visits Sweet Pea in what seems to be a really small trailer. He’s excited when he thinks it might be a booty call. But it’s actually her asking him to be her date to the wedding. “As your boyfriend?” he asks, and she says no. For some reason he refuses, saying he wants to be “all in” with her but not just be there when she doesn’t want to be alone. But… wasn’t he just totally cool with the booty call thing? And did anyone else even remember that Josie and Sweet Pea were involved at some point in the past? This giant cast of characters makes it well nigh impossible to have a sense of continuity.

Cheryl goes to Riverdale’s ultra-tame dominatrix sex club to confront her mom, who was obviously the alum who told the board to stop admitting legacies. Cheryl, having changed into tuxedo shorts with a kicky little black tie fastened with a bumblebee brooch, still looks 100% less bonkers than her mom, who’s wearing a black choker, a black slip, a pink robe covering her left shoulder and a giant black fur covering her right shoulder. Are those part of the same item of clothing? What is happening?! To be clear, I love everything that’s happening sartorially here. As for the scene itself, whatever. Turns out Penelope is homophobic and doesn’t want Cheryl to besmirch the college she went to, even though Penelope is, you know, a murderer slash dominatrix slash pimp. This may seem illogical, but homophobes tend to be pretty illogical in real life too.

Meanwhile, McCoy and Keller are in bed in a hotel room, engaging in some brain-meltingly gross attorney-cop roleplay. For some reason McCoy decides she needs a snack before having the sex and interrupts the proceedings, only to find that their room service delivery contains only a note from the Gargoyle King under the silver dome. He wants them to come finish Ascension Night before they get married. Also if they don’t do what he says he might kill their kids. DUN DUN DUN.

Cheryl finds Kevin moping in the student lounge with a bunch of Senior Mints (get it?) and other assorted off-brand candies. I do enjoy the show’s amusing little parallel-universe versions of all of our universe’s big brand names, like Glamerge eggs. She offers him an “epaulette to cry on” and he starts with “There’s this guy…” Cheryl knows about Moose, of course, and suggests that Kevin move on with the help of Bumble to find an out-and-proud date. Kevin sadly puts the phone away because he really just wants to be with Moose. “Maybe Moose would come out if he liked me more,” he says. Cheryl grabs his arm and reassures him that he’s a catch. The camera zooms in on this physical contact in a rather alarming fashion–based on TV norms, either Cheryl has a deadly plague that Kevin is about to catch, or they’re setting them up to hook up, neither of which seems realistic. She suggests Moose might need a nudge, which Kevin just bitterly says wouldn’t work.

Unfortunately I guess Kevin forgot to check with Cheryl what she meant by a “nudge,” because next thing you know, she has commandeered the school microphone to announce the formation of a new LGBTQIA alliance, and then to provide “this week’s blind item” (have any other weeks had blind items? I’m confused) about a young closeted man in RROTC.

Moose finds Kevin in yet another deserted hallway (does this school just have way too much space for its students? Maybe it’s empty because they’re all hanging out at La Bonne Nuit during the day?) and asks if he put Cheryl up to this. Kevin protests, “I’m opposed to publicly outing people unless they’re conservative politicians!” Hee. But he also says that he can’t live this “Brokeback Riverdale” (weak, dude) life anymore and that if Moose can’t come out to his dad, they need to break up. Way to draw boundaries, Kevin!

Tony finds Cheryl in the bathroom, looking as pleased with herself as ever, and says angrily, “You just outed Moose.” Cheryl protests that it was a blind item, but Tony yells, “Get some perspective!” She tells Cheryl that her uncle was homophobic and that was why the Serpents were important to her, as her chosen family. And now she doesn’t have them. Cheryl actually apologizes, but Tony’s not done: “I get that you’re mad at your mom and you’re pissed that you’re not going to some hoity-toity college that I could never get into or afford!” NICE. She explains to Cheryl that the Serpents were her legacy, like Highsmith was to Cheryl. I mean, except that Cheryl’s legacy is stupid and based on social injustice. But drawing the parallel to Cheryl’s own life is obviously the best way to get through to the not-particularly-empathetic Cheryl, who tearfully promises to make everything right for Tony. Aww.

Archie finds Josie crying in the music room because she has her audition for Juiliard today and she doesn’t know how to get there. She was assuming Sweet Pea would give her a ride. Uh, is it just me or is Josie kind of a dick? She was stringing Sweet Pea along and only seeing him for sex while knowing that he wanted to be her boyfriend, and she was going to try to use him for a car ride to the next town, too? RUDE. She also insists she can’t get a ride from her mom because her mom will be judgy about it, even though the whole reason that she refused to get emotionally involved with guys was because she was preparing for this one moment in her musical career, yet somehow it’s not worth a little bit of flack from your mom. Whatever. The point is, she needs a ride, and then she acts all surprised when Archie offers to take her in the jalopy, like COME THE EFF ON, JOSIE, YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE DOING HERE. I like Archie and Josie, but this tactic is so obvious I bet even Archie sees through it.

Over at La Bonne Nuit (what time of day is it?) Veronica is doing a little math in fetching black glasses. She tells Reggie they’re going to get their kneecaps broken. Reggie, open-mouthed: “Does that really happen?” Ohhh, Reggie. His next brilliant remark is, “Is robbing banks still a thing?” Upon which Veronica patiently explains to him that banks are usually guarded by security. With guns. Reggie decides that the only way out of this is to rob his own dad. His justifications? That his dad beats him up (fair) and that insurance will cover it (…hmm). “This is lunacy,” Veronica says, which clearly means they’re going to do it. Reggie says that there’s only security at night, so he’ll just wait for his dad to go to lunch and get some money. These two dummies think this is a great plan.

The grownups have gathered at what I believe is the Lodges’ place to eat takeout and decide what to do about the Gargoyle King. How cute is that? It’s like, “While we settle how to respond to a demand from a mysterious serial killer that we break into a high school at night and drink from some poisoned chalices, we definitely need sustenance. Who wants Chinese?” FP explains to them that Tall Boy wasn’t the real Gargoyle King. Alice complains that someone died last time (uh… yeah!). Hermione is shocked at the idea of leaving her kid home alone, even though her daughter was legit living at a restaurant for several weeks this year. And Penelope says something that I don’t pay attention to because I’m once again enchanted by her decision to wear a black sheer floor-length gown decorated with giant rosettes to this daytime Chinese-takeout-and-serial-killer-discussion event. Oh, it’s about how McCoy and Keller daring to be happy has somehow made the Gargoyle King mad. The adults decide that they have to finish the game as the Gargoyle King demands. And they’ll need Hiram, too. FP even puts on his sheriff’s hat, so you KNOW this shit is getting serious.

All the grownups are in a gathering, with takeout containers on a table, most of the characters in normal day clothes, and Penelope wearing a black sheer floor-length gown with roses, a choker, and giant earrings.

This outfit is BONKERS. Isn’t she worried about getting scallion pancake crumbs on it?

Josie stands in her audition room, which is quite dramatically lit. Archie is watching. We DON’T EVEN GET TO SEE HER SING?! What is even the point of an audition scene if we don’t get some of Josie’s gorgeous singing? (Although, to be fair, there’s going to be some epic singing later.)

Veronica, in her classic Veronica incognito outfit consisting of the world’s most conspicuous black kerchief and giant sunglasses, waits in her car for Reggie to complete his supposedly foolproof plan–only to see him running in panic towards her and get into the front seat, totally sporting a gunshot wound. I mean, you let Reggie plan a high-stakes heist. Did you expect it to go well?!

Cheryl and Tony hide in the hallway for what Cheryl calls “Operation Fifty Shades of Blackmail.” If nothing else, this reference reminds me that this show is probably not the most inaccurate portrayal of S&M that has ever existed. They take one picture of one customer leaving only to be caught by Penelope, who’s not happy about their “Sapphic capers.” Cheryl, nothing daunted, threatens to publicize the photos if Penelope doesn’t step down from the alumni board of Highsmith. “We know how to dominate, too,” Cheryl says. Oh my god, vom.

As is the way of TV auditions, Josie gets an answer almost right away, while hanging out at Pop’s with Archie. She’s been rejected. That’s not surprising: the only time TV characters get rejected from their top colleges are when said top colleges are way too far from the rest of the cast. Josie cries that she’s given up so many things to focus on her music and now she doesn’t know what to do. I mean, you could audition for any of the dozens of other conservatories in the country? Just a thought. THEN she pulls the SAME ACT she did to get Archie to drive her and sobs that she doesn’t have a date to her mom’s wedding. Gee, maybe Archie can do it! Oh, yup. Yeah, he’s doing it.

Veronica and Reggie are doing Riverdale kids’ second favorite activity (after having sex in the bunker, of course): binding Reggie’s wounds instead of going to a real doctor. Reggie optimistically says that at least now he can say he’s been shot. Oh, Reggie. Veronica very patiently reminds him that he can’t actually say that since they’re trying to frame the Gargoyle Kings for this. Reggie, used to having his comments wearily refuted, reacts with only mild disappointment. Then they finally open the money, only to have a bunch of blue paint explode on Reggie.

Moose finds Kevin at the lockers, smooches him, and proudly announces that he came out to his dad. Kevin is mostly excited because now he has a date to the wedding. Moose also thinks they should have The Sex now, and Kevin knows the perfect spot. Heh. 

Cheryl has now shown up to another interview that’s going to be immediately cut short by one of the parties. This time it’s Cheryl, who decides to decline her interview thirty seconds in (thirty seconds that she spends bragging about her qualifications even though we know that Tony is the one with the perfect SAT scores) and offer it to Tony instead. Not how college interviews work in the real world, but this is Senior Mints world, so I guess maybe.

Veronica and Reggie show up to some kind of field made of mud to do the exchange, and who should come to meet them but Gladys Jones? “Oh, great,” she grumbles. “More teenagers.” At least they have their shirts on, Gladys! She remarks that it’s cold for Veronica’s mom to send her out there. When they’re confused, she introduces herself and says, “You might know my kid? Jughead?” Heh. They immediately gain a little hope and ask for more time–and to not have their kneecaps broken. Gladys melts a little and says sure, she’ll take their inadequate money, but she’ll charge a fee. Also, the use of Reggie’s car. Veronica begs that he loves the car, and Reggie emphasizes this with a hilariously vacant open-mouthed nod. Gladys, unsympathetic, adds that they can’t tell Jughead about their business or else she’ll tell Hiram what Hermione did.

Cheryl finds Moose at La Bonne Nuit, knocking one back after a hard day at high school, apparently. She apologizes for outing him (step 3 of her plan to make things up to Tony), then lays another hand significantly on his arm. What is happening?! Moose forgives her, maybe just so that he can brag about how he’s going to get laid tonight. Cheryl says what we’re all thinking: that he should bring new sheets, and “a lot of people have had sex on that cot.” Hee!

Over at the high school, a window opens to let in the parents. FP reveals that Penelope has brought an antidote to whatever the Gargoyle King’s going to feed them in their chalices. Everyone takes one helping but stares around nervously, and can you blame them? They’re drinking a mysterious potion from the city’s biggest poisoner in the dark of the night. But they eventually take their doses, and even Hiram shows up, mostly recovered but leaning on a cane.

Moose shows up to the bunker to find that Kevin has lit a shitload of candles all over. Um… fire hazard much? Moose likes it though, and they proceed to the Making Out.

The grownups have finished checking the school for chalices but haven’t found any. Then they hear a scream and rush into a classroom, where Penelope has found “GOT YOU” scrawled in what we’re presumably supposed to think is blood, and a gargoyle mask. But no one is actually there, and the grownups realize it was a distraction to lure them from their kids.

The grownups all call their kids, every one of whom (except Archie and Josie, who I’m sure will get their turn) is in the middle of a trailer-ready shirtless romp in bed, and tell them to lock their doors.

But Kevin’s not picking up, because he’s off in the sex bunker with Moose. For some reason these two boys get to keep their undershirts on, which seems like an odd return to modesty for a show that will take any excuse to get its male stars to take their shirts off. They’re cuddling sweetly, which on TV is often a precursor to one of a gay couple dying (“bury your gays”). Sure enough, a bunch of dudes in Gargoyle masks break into the bunker, shine red lights in their faces, and drag the boys away.

Next thing you know, they’re being dragged into the woods, where a pair of chalices wait for them. The boys refuse to play at first, but then their kidnappers wordlessly draw their daggers and for some reason this convinces them. Kevin’s about to drink when Cheryl totally shoots the one dressed as the Gargoyle King with an arrow. All the parents and the rest of the gang have showed up to rescue them! Yay! I was actually in suspense because of aforementioned tendency for TV shows to kill off gay characters right after they finally find happiness.

FP sits Moose’s dad down and asks him why he did it. He says that he wasn’t going to kill them, just scare them, and then — without any effort from FP — explains that he used to be in love with Tommy Keller, aka Sheriff Keller (which explains why he laughed at Sierra claiming that she was the object of his affections) until his parents sent him to the Sisters, where he was cured of his “weakness.” FP says sadly, “Man, the sisters did a number on you.”

I mean, this is a reasonable explanation for so many homophobic bullies, if somewhat glib as a wrap-up to this plotline, but like… he just blurts it out in a fifteen-second scene! Would a guy who’s that ashamed of his sexuality just come out and say it? Um, no. I feel like they could’ve wasted a wee bit less time on that montage of all the kids doing it, and used the extra screen time to give this scene even a modicum of believability.

FP and Jughead arrive back home at the trailer, FP complaining, “We keep taking down Gargoyle Kings and they keep popping up again, it’s like Whac-a-mole.” Yes, FP, thank you for summarizing one of the reasons this season is giving me whiplash.

And guess who should be waiting in the trailer for them, but Gladys and Jellybean? Jellybean immediately apologizes for fighting with FP last time, and Jughead gives her and his mom a big happy hug. He even smiles, which is almost a weird sight on Jughead.

In the end, Josie tells Archie, her folks had a wedding but cancelled the reception out of respect for what Kevin and Moose had been through. So to recap, we didn’t even SEE this wedding, nor did we see Josie’s audition, but we spent like ten minutes watching Cheryl have completely unrealistic college interviews? Sigh. She says it’s put not getting into Juilliard into perspective. Archie suggests that they sing together, and she grins and launches into a song that appears to be a Riverdale original, “People Like Us.” Archie starts accompanying her on the guitar and singing, and they stand up, inching closer to each other, like they’re Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper or something.

Cut to Keller and McCoy in their hotel room, staring from the bed at a giant wedding cake that it was too late to cancel and exchanging “I love yous.”

Meanwhile, Kevin and Moose are at school. Moose tells Kevin he’s moving to another town to live with his aunt because he can’t live here after what his dad did. They kiss good-bye (presumably they’re breaking up, although no one says this so I have no idea if I’m right). So it turns out this wasn’t a bury-your-gays thing, but a different trope: “out of the closet into the fire.” It stands to reason that the show has absolutely no idea what to do with Kevin, so they gave him one big gay storyline after completely ignoring his relationship with Moose almost this whole season, and then promptly sent Moose off into the graveyard of forgotten characters.

At least Cheryl and Tony are still together; they’re walking the halls of school holding hands when Cheryl announces it’s time for step 4. She’s gathered a group of female characters we have NEVER seen before to be their new “gang.” Nooooo not another gang! I can barely keep track of the ones there already are! But Tony loves it. She names the gang “The Pretty Poisons,” which I assume is some reference to the comics.

Veronica and Reggie meet up with Hermione in La Bonne Nuit and reveal that they know it was Gladys who bought Hermione’s drugs ahead of time. Also that she’s staying for awhile. Cut to Gladys and Jellybean discussing their evil conspiracy: Jellybean totally doesn’t forgive FP and just apologized to him to get him off his guard, and Gladys wants to… run the town or something, I don’t know. They cheers, clinking Gladys’s beer against Jellybean’s water glass.

Meanwhile, Archie and Josie finish their song and start making out. Although not before Archie rather adorably asks, “Can I kiss you?” Yay, consent!

OK, important question: WHAT TIME IS IT?! During this whole sequence (which starts and ends with Archie and Josie’s scene, so presumably all takes place at the same time), Archie and Josie are singing in a dusty classroom that’s lit in soft orange like it’s sunset or something, Jellybean is at home eating a sandwich and not at school, Sierra and Keller are hanging out in their hotel room with a wedding cake, Veronica and Reggie are at La Bonne Nuit, and Tony and Cheryl are at school where it’s clearly the middle of the day. So, if it’s mid-day did Sierra and Keller already go to bed last night with that cake out, and then wake up with it still out? Or did they have a super early morning wedding ceremony and decide to just spend the afternoon staring at their cake? That’s some very poor food safety practices, right there. As for Archie and Josie, who knows. Maybe that classroom just has really weird lighting.

3 Comments

  1. Great review!
    I agree, Cheryl’s wish to go to that particular college makes no sense and I can’t believe it didn’t notice it.
    And can’t they just go to a real doctor? Is everybody a nurse in Riverdale?
    Like you wrote, the fact that Moose’s dad came out immediately to FP while being interrogated made zero sense. It was ridiculous.
    The Pretty Poison is shit. That’s just stupid. She doesn’t know these people! We grew up with Sweet Pea and Fangs and all the other serpents!! She can’t just replace them!
    It was a weird episode that could have done so much more for its queer characters…. like not relegate them to a mid-season episode just to get it out of the way.
    Very interesting link you added! I had never heard of TVtropes.org! Thanks!

    Like

    Reply

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