Greetings from the Afterlife (with Archie). I am now deceased after watching the latest episode of Riverdale. It may have started as just another day of shirtless car washes and rat corpses, but then it did what might be the most out-there thing in the history of the show. Yes, even stranger than Cheryl hiding a dead twin in her family chapel.
“Dog Day Afternoon” was, for the most part, a pretty middling episode of Riverdale — with one astronomical exception that we’ll get to in a bit.
Veronica is dealing with Daddy Issues, while Archie hosts a sexy boy car wash to earn money for his community centre. Jughead is attending a fancy prep school focused on gifted writers (like, they’ve read his stuff, right?). His newest rivalry comes in the form of Bret “You Rang?” Diplomat Boy, who’s out to ruin Jughead’s life because he (gasp) dared to give Bret constructive criticism on his fictional essay. Say it with me: “Psychological warfare.”
Betty, however, was in a completely different episode than everybody else. Hell, right now she’s on a different show. CSI: Riverdale. While Veronica was debating whether to change her last name and Jughead was barging in on Moose making out with another student, Betty was dismantling a bomb, handling a hostage crisis, ordering FBI agents to “stand down,” and helping her and her mum escape their bonds before they could get strapped to a school bus about to drive off a cliff. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part!
The whole hostage crisis is tied to the Farm, the cult run by Edgar Evernever that had been quiet for a bit. They’d claimed to have “ascended” at the end of last season but really had run off to some abandoned motel owned by one of the Farmies. Edgar, who last season was portrayed as this terrifying and otherworldly threat, has totally gone off the deep end (fitting how he negotiates with Betty while standing in an emptied swimming pool). He wants $250,000, along with food and passports, so he and his followers can escape. Or does he?
Turns out, it’s all a ruse. His wife Evelyn is going to drive the bus off a cliff as a distraction — with Betty and her mum tied to the front for some reason — as Edgar makes his daring escape. On this.
A rocket. He built.
What can I even say? Rather, how can I speak about this as tears of laughter are spewing out of my eyes until my body is empty and I become a pile of dried skin and teeth? It’s a cult leader — the one who was such a threat he had an entire FBI division dedicated to him — dressed as Evel Knievel about to do his rocket motorcycle stunt over Snake River Canyon (which was a thing that totally happened in 1974 and did not go well). He claims he’s going to ascend to the heavens like a Biblical hero, but, like, where could that thing even go? And just look at that collar! I’m dying over here.
As pointed out in Decider, the homages to the 1970s are rampant in this episode, like how Evelyn is dressed as Patty Hearst. It’s clear they’re leaning into the retro cult esthetic, a la Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but I’m just left with one question: Why? It’s such a strange choice, and a bizarre way to end one of the show’s biggest and scariest storylines. This is how the story of Edgar ended, with him getting shot to death by Alice Cooper on a cheap wooden staircase as he prepared to accidentally blow himself up like an idiot in a toy rocket?
I mean, I guess the answer to this, and truly all things, is: “Why the hell not?” Riverdale’s gonna Riverdale.
I think my favourite moment in the episode was when Betty’s mum sighed dramatically right before telling Betty that Edgar was going to try and fly away on his makeshift rocket. It’s like the actress knew what she was saying was absolutely ridiculous, and needed a moment to collect herself.
There’s always a chance this isn’t the end of Edgar’s story (#RiverdaleGonnaRiverdale), but I have a feeling they’re ready to move on from the cult thing. Goodbye, Edgar, I hope they bury you in your Evel Knievel suit. It’s a good fit.
Oh... let’s not forget the Cheryl storyline where Jason’s body keeps moving around and a rat crawls out of its stomach. It ends with Toni finally discovering Cheryl’s dark secret, as the latter stares with a blank, hopeful expression like a woman possessed.
BETTY DISMANTLED A BOMB.