We continue our recap of the entire Riverdale series with episodes 11 and 12 of the third season, “The Red Dahlia” and “Bizarrodale”.
In this bi-weekly column (every Tuesday and Thursday), we will review the third season of Riverdale, two episodes at a time. Catch up on everything you might have missed, including recaps for all of Season 1 and 2, using the links below — or just dive right into to our most recent recap below.
Season 1 Recaps:
Episode 1: The River’s Edge
Episodes 2 and 3: Touch of Evil and Body Double
Episodes 4 and 5: The Last Picture Show and Heart of Darkness
Episodes 6 and 7: Faster Pussycats! Kill! Kill! and In a Lonely Place
Episodes 8 and 9: The Outsiders and La Grande Illusion
Episodes 10 and 11: The Lost Weekend and To Riverdale and Back Again
Episodes 12 and 13: Anatomy of a Murder and The Sweet Hereafter
Season 2 Recaps:
Episodes 1 and 2: A Kiss Before Dying and Nighthawks
Episodes 3 and 4: The Watcher in the Woods and The Town That Dreaded Sundown
Episodes 5 and 6: When a Stranger Calls and Death Proof
Episodes 7 and 8: Tales From the Darkside and House of the Devil
Episodes 9 and 10: Silent Night, Deadly Night and The Blackboard Jungle
Episodes 11 and 12: The Wrestler and The Wicked and the Divine
Episodes 13 and 14: The Tell-Tale Heart and The Hills Have Eyes
Episodes 15 and 16: There Will Be Blood and Primary Colors
Episodes 17 and 18: The Noose Tightens and A Night to Remember
Episodes 19 and 20: Prisoners and Shadow of a Doubt
Episodes 21 and 22: Judgement Night and Brave New World
Season 3 Recaps:
Episodes 1 and 2: Labor Day and Fortune and Men’s Eyes
Episodes 3 and 4: As Above, So Below and The Midnight Club
Episodes 5 and 6: The Great Escape and Manhunter
Episodes 7 and 8: The Man in Black and Outbreak
Episodes 9 and 10: No Exit and The Stranger
Episode 11: “The Red Dahlia” Synopsis
Jughead continues to help Fangs and Sweet Pea cover up the fact that Tall Boy has been murdered from his father, who is now the Sheriff of Riverdale, while also helping Veronica try and uncover who it was that actually shot her father. He questions Hermione, who claims innocence and reveals that she has photographs of Hiram with another woman, and Penelope, who is now running a brothel called the Maple Club. All this, only to be held at gunpoint by Mrs. Mulwray, Hiram’s mistress, when he’s caught snooping around her office at the water works department. He reveals Hermione’s plan to his father, having finally figured it out after confronting Dr. Curdle: she plans to frame him for Hiram’s assassination. The truth finally comes to light: FP shot Hiram as revenge for Riot Night. With Alice’s help, they get Hermione to comply to an interview but Veronica silences Jughead from telling people the truth by promising that she’ll take FP down with her.
Archie, haunted and purposeless, turns to drinking for comfort. Josie, however, refuses to watch her friend fall into alcoholism and encourages him to sober up by spraying him down with cold water and telling him to try and get himself together by facing his demons. He does this by considering killing Hiram – only to stop his attacker (the apparently alive Minetta, discovered by Sweet Pea and Jughead) and come to a truce with Hiram. He resolves to continue working with his dad, boxing, and even asks if Josie will sing with him. She agrees, as long as he sings back up.
Betty, suspicious about Clifford’s death, confronts Penelope after Cheryl refuses to give her information after Claudius’s funeral and after finding information from Dr. Curdle: Clifford was poisoned with pufferfish venom. Penelope admits that it’s true: she poisons men. She killed Clifford, who killed her son, Darryl Doiley, and Claudius, who caused the seizures by poisoning the water supply of Riverdale with drugs – the falsified water tests mentioned previously. She’s shaken and goes to her father to talk about it, debating her own morality and that of her family.
Veronica tries to keep her family’s business together, firing her useless capos and bringing in her inner circle: Reggie and Smithers, for their assistance. She collects the money owed to her family, and uncovers that her mother’s involved in the Fizzle Rocks industry with the Blossoms and there’s someone willing to buy the lab and drugs. Reggie and Veronica proceed to take all of the Fizzle Rocks in a raid and burn them. Doomed at the hands of the unknown buyer, Veronica pays Jughead off for his work and refuses to know who shot her father and Hermione shoots Minetta, her lover, in the head.
— I understand why Betty wanted to talk to Cheryl, but I also understand why Cheryl and Toni refused to talk to her. I mean, would you start demanding information from your distant cousin if their uncle had just ‘killed himself’?
— I liked Kelly Ripa in this episode! She’ll probably only make this one appearance but it wasn’t a bad one!
— Is Minetta finally dead? For sure? I feel like he is but apparently death isn’t a real thing in this town.
— Does everything with the Blossoms have to do with maple syrup?
— Archie shouldn’t have shot at Hiram, no, but someone should have shot him down.
— Hal is absolutely not the best choice in the world to act as Betty’s parent again. She shouldn’t see him as a father figure again because he literally spent months, maybe even a year, threatening her. If this show is setting up a redemption arc for him, it really shouldn’t be.
— I don’t know how I feel about the parents in this show anymore. Almost all of them are awful.
— Penelope is still an awful person, but I appreciate the aesthetics of this episode and of her. Still, the Maple Club is an awful name for a brothel.
— At least the run-off thing explains why the seizures were happening. But the show really did just throw its hands up and say ‘I don’t know’ when it came to why only girls were having the seizures, didn’t it?
— I love the concept of Archie and Josie as a couple. It already seems far healthier than the last few relationships Archie’s been in. At least Josie’s trying to get him clean and healthy.
— Everyone in this show needs therapy. Not fake therapy to get Adderall, actual therapy.
— If Penelope wasn’t a homophobe, she’d be an amazing character: a gothic herbalist who poisons men in an effort to get revenge for all of the trauma she’s gone through.
— Riverdale Parents Ranking: Fred, FP, Alice, Penelope, Hal, the Lodges
Top cursed lines from this episode:
“Tonight, we’re going to break into the prison, find the drugs and destroy them, and the equipment, before my mom sells everything.” “Sounds a lot like the plot of Bad Boys II.” – Veronica, then Reggie.
Episode 12: “Bizarrodale” Synopsis
This is an episode focusing on Kevin, Toni, Cheryl, and Josie instead of our usual core four.
CHERYL AND TONI: Cheryl and Toni are happily living together, supporting each other as their good SAT scores come in. Cheryl interviews for Highsmith College but her mother bars her from going, going so far as to force the college to make a policy to bar her for her ‘aberration’ (which she can do because, like Lori Loughlin, she donates a lot of money to the college). Seeking comfort, she meets with Kevin and hears about his issues with Moose’s lack of coming out. Her response? Accidentally out Moose in an announcement for the Riverdale QSA. Scolded by Toni for it and for getting them kicked out of the Serpents, her first family, Cheryl promises to make things right.
The two gather blackmail against her mother as the Midnight Club meets to finish the game so Tom and Sierra can get married, and Cheryl gives up her interview time to Toni so Toni has a chance to go to Highsmith. Meanwhile, she apologizes to Moose and makes amends. Finally, she reveals that she’s gathered a new gang for her lover, dubbed the Pretty Poisons, as a new family for her.
THEMIDNIGHT CLUB: Fooled by the Gargoyle Gang, the parents of Riverdale gather to finish the game and call their children when they realize the trick. All of them are safe – except for Kevin and Moose.
KEVIN: Kevin makes an ultimatum with Moose about their relationship after what Cheryl did, asking him to come out to his father after the two go with the rest of the RROTC to meet with a naval academy recruiter. Moose does so and his father is, at first glance, okay with it and with his and Kevin’s relationship. After having sex in the bunker, the couple is captured by the Gargoyle Gang and forced to drink from the chalices only to be saved by Cheryl, Toni, and the cops who unmask the gargoyles: it’s the RROTC and Marcus Mason. It’s revealed, through questioning, that Marcus was trying to scare both boys straight and that he’d failed in being with Tom when they were young and suffered under conversion therapy with the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Moose leaves town after this, leaving Kevin behind after making amends.
VERONICA: Reggie and Veronica rush to get the money together to pay back the buyer whose drugs they burned – including Reggie robbing his own father’s car dealership, getting wounded and soaked in blue dye from a dye pack – only for the buyer to turn out to be Gladys Jones, Jughead’s mother who has nefarious plans with Jellybean Jones. Armed with only some of the money, Gladys agrees to take it in exchange for their silence, a payment plan, and Reggie’s car.
JOSIE: As her mother and step-father prepare for their wedding, Josie gets closer to Archie and prepares for her own audition to Julliard. The summer relationship she had with Sweet Pea fizzles out as he decides that he wants a commitment she can’t give as Archie extends a hand of support, his jalopy as a ride to the audition, and himself as a date to the wedding. The latter doesn’t come to pass, the family just having a quiet wedding in the local town hall, but the two sing a duet and end the episode with a kiss.
— This synopsis is formatted like that because the last episode gave me a headache and I need to format things so this show seems normal for five minutes.
— Good news: we got confirmation that Cheryl’s a lesbian! Bad news: this confirmation came just before she outed someone. Good news again: she’s actually trying to do better in this episode!
— Speaking of Cheryl: how does she know that people have been having sex in the bunker?
— Happy trails, Moose. You were decent and at least you didn’t die.
— If you’re going to give the whole ‘parent went through conversion therapy’ storyline to anyone, at least give it to Penelope. That would make sense and it’d be an interesting explanation for why she acts like this – not a reason to forgive it, but an explanation.
— Congrats for Tom and Sierra! They deserve to be happy, those kooky kids. Same for Archie and Josie, they’re cute together. I don’t expect it’ll last long, especially since Josie’ll be departing for the greener pastures of New York after this season for the Katy Keene spin-off, but it’s good in the meantime.
— Honestly, I’m so excited for crime boss Gladys Jones. Hiram is a manic supervillain, but I feel like Gladys is much closer to an actual crime boss.
— Pretty Poisons isn’t a good gang name, but the gang’s much more aesthetically pleasing than the Serpents!
— I do not care about the Featherhead stuff. I know it’s important but I don’t care.
— Honestly, Toni deserves to go to Highsmith. She’s been through enough.
— Also, very good reference to Patricia Highsmith Riverdale.
— Riverdale Parents Ranking: Fred, Sierra, Tom, FP, Gladys, Alice, Marcus, Penelope, The Lodges.
Top cursed lines from this episode:
“Well, let’s show this cadet that Riverdale High is welcoming, so and his Broadway-loving boyfriend can finally PDA like the other sex-crazed couples dwelling amongst us.” – Cheryl