Archie's future came down to 12 rounds in the center ring. Let that sink in; the Red Paladin fought his way to a happy life on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 15.
Most people wouldn't even last a few rounds, but our Archie Andrews took the plight of The Gargoyle King head-on.
This is a new start for the character; it's one that he desperately needed. Now that he's free of his concerns, where does he go from here?
The Red Paladin storyline, while fun and dramatic, overstayed its welcome for a while now.
Archie's roller coaster experience with Gyphons and Gargoyles had a habit of pulling the character in different directions; he's gone so far as to change for the better and then go back to being the worst. And as the characters/story progressed away from G&G, the Red Paladin was one of the few remnants left.
Ricky's previous assassination attempt brought back all those sobering realizations we thought we had moved past. Even his troubles with Hiram were over, but his target didn't go away? The twist was a head-scratcher.
Thankfully, Archie conquering his quest puts to rest this loose thread.
I don't know if the Gargoyle King plot is completely over; Riverdale LOVES to extend a plot and do a big reveal during the penultimate episode. However, nothing is holding Archie back now from living his life to the fullest.
He can finally have a happy ending ... for a little while.
Betty, Archie, and Jughead need more scenes together to play off their longstanding history. These three have known each other since they were kids, but they don't talk much about their pasts.
Ironically, a game they played as children saved the day.
Riverdale should explore more of their friend dynamic pre-series. Was Archie always this hot-headed? How was Betty during her longstanding crush on Archie? Did Jughead's family affect his friendship?
The fight night challenge gave us a taste at some of the scenes we missed. The trio worked well together; let's have more of it to explore deeper layers of these characters.
Speaking of the fight night, the battle in the ring summed up Archie's time on Riverdale in a nutshell.
To be specific, he was (1) shirtless, (2) putting himself in a risky situation that (3) he caused by making a bad decision, and (4) his friends tried to save him. The fight had nothing to do with his romantic missteps, so there was that glowing success.
Archie's fighting technique improved greatly since his last battle in the ring. He went from barely beating a trained fighter to knocking out almost 12 people in a row. That's outlandish, even for Riverdale standards.
His experience with the illegal fights at juvie helped him with bare-knuckle boxing, but that was only one fight at a time. Archie is no superhero; he would've gotten tired halfway through this quest.
At least Riverdale had Archie's wounds progress throughout the tournament. The transition of his injuries provided a believable state for how each fight affected him.
Archie's chats with Hiram caused a bit of concern due to their last scene in Hiram's office. After all the trouble that happened since Riverdale Season 2, the last thing we needed was for Archie to felt indebted to Hiram again.
The way he kept going back to Hiram for help made it seem like the possibility was there for a return of their partnership. Luckily, that development didn't happen; it would've been the worst thing that Riverdale could've done.
Hiram: No, I want you to keep those ... and the gym.
Archie: I appreciate you helping me out this week, Mr. Lodge, but I don’t want to be in your debt,
Hiram: It’s not a debt, Archie. It’s compensation. It’s a way for me to make amends since I was responsible for launching the Red Paladin quest in the first place.
[Hiram pushes the keys]
Hiram: Take the keys. The gym is yours ... no strings attached.
[Moment of silence]
Archie: Thank you, Mr. Lodge.
[Archie takes the keys and leaves]
Riverdale needs to stop retreading on plots. Archie's relationship with Hiram caused a whole mess of conflict that derailed a lot of progress for the characters. No one wants that plot to return.
Archie should keep himself preoccupied with his new gym (because, you know, teens in Riverdale efficiently run businesses). Hiram should stick to his business.
Never should the two ever work together again.
Reggie had a valid point about being respected and recognized for his worth. Everyone should be valued for what they do. However, his approach wasn't the right method.
Instead of confronting all the issues that plagued him, he internalized everything until he lashed out and made reckless moves. Sound like someone we know? (Hey there, Archie!)
Approaching Veronica about a business partnership was a good first step since he made his intentions known.
Going from there would allow him to make his case in the future once they were out of debt. And Veronica had a valid reason for not going all-in on a split partnership now.
Repaying $75K plus operating fees to run the bar is a steep cost for any business. If she threw in a bigger pay for Reggie, she'd have been swimming in more debt. The discussion could've happened again after they repaid Hiram and Gladys.
Him stealing back his car and walking away from Veronica made him look like a frustrated child. All good things come to those who wait; he could've discussed again since they were close to fulfilling their debts.
Though, I don't think Reggie's fight for a piece of the bar had much to do about the business itself.
Based on his longing and exhausted looks, he seemed more focused on the ambiguity in his relationship with Veronica. And his speech to her essentially confirmed that: he wanted to mean something to her, and he did all that work because he loved her.
Veronica needed to be honest with herself about the state of her mindset. She wasn't ready to be in a romantic relationship after Archie; she was on a rebound, plain and simple.
Reggie didn't deserve to be led on by her. Veronica didn't need to do something she wasn't ready to do. Their romantic outcome was bad all around.
I feared this could happen after they initially kissed. The sparks were heating up, but their baggage never left.
"Choni" found a fun solution to get past their small problems, but let's be real, it wasn't going to solve their big relationship issues. After all the frustrations and tensions built up over their power struggle, a hookup wouldn't wash it all away.
Sure, Toni and Cheryl had MAJOR chemistry together. This might be Riverdale's hottest hookup scene yet! I'm surprised La Bonne Nuit's fire alarms didn't trigger from the heat.
Vanessa Morgan and Madelaine Petsch did a great job transitioning from icy relationship drama to steamy romantic moves. Their natural chemistry together worked seamlessly.
The hookup in the bar will no doubt be a Top 5 favorite moment for Choni shippers.
Toni: Cheryl, I love you. And yet, I can’t spend all my time cooped up in that house and in your bedroom.
Cheryl: Our bedroom!
Toni: That’s exactly it, it doesn’t feel like our bedroom. It’s entirely yours ... your space.
Cheryl: It sounds, Toni, that you regret moving in with me.
Toni: Well maybe it was too soon? Too fast.
Cheryl: In that case, maybe you moving out is exactly what needs to happen!
[Cheryl walks away]
The problem, however, was that the couple didn't tackle their issues.
Each one threw snide remarks or gave the cold shoulder/retort if they didn't get their way. The only time they discussed it was when Cheryl wanted Toni to move out. Space and independence are essential for a relationship, but they need to talk about their issues to make their relationship work.
For a healthy relationship, they should discuss why they needed distance and the conflict of their power issues.
We don't want Choni to end!
FP's breakup with Alice was a heartbreaking experience.
The couple may not have received a lot of romantic screentime during Riverdale Season 3, but their feelings were still there. Their development covered countless seasons to reach a place where they had the potential for a happily ever after.
Then ... Gladys Jones entered the chat.
You could feel their collective sadness when he forced himself to end things with Alice. He loved Gladys, but he also loved Alice too. FP couldn't even muster the words to deny his feelings because he knew it wasn't true. He loved Alice and wanted to be with her.
Though, FP made an honorable move to try to fix his family. Let's hope that he still has a chance for true love with Alice after Gladys' secret lets him down. Because you know that's going to happen!
Alice: Do you love her, FP?
FP: She’s the mother of my children.
Alice: And me? Do you love me?
FP: Doesn’t matter now. It’s over. I’m sorry.
FP and Jughead came a long way from their earlier troubles on Riverdale Season 1. Their bonding sessions felt like a Hallmark card in Riverdale-style. They were very cute together driving in the police car and with Jughead giving his speech.
Jughead respects his father a lot; he wants the best for him, and he doesn't want to let him down. But, this secret with Gladys could ruin all that goodwill.
Regardless of her claiming she's selling Fizzle Rocks to help her family, she's still keeping a secret. Plus, it's about something illegal that affects her family. Something like that could blow up the foundation the Joneses tried to rebuild.
Jughead: What are you doing here?
Gladys: It did me good seeing you and your dad in Toledo. It reminded me of what I’d been missing: the entire family together. As for what I’m gonna do here, I’m gonna get Jellybean into school, find myself a job. Maybe at a garage? How does that all sound to you?
Jughead: Sounds good. Is it true?
Gladys: Oh, Jughead. Look, your dad has got me squeaking now; we’ve got a house with rooms for everyone. I’m looking at this whole thing like a do-over; a chance to be a real family. That’s all I want.
That lie led to their new home, it affects other criminals in town, and it impacts the reconciliation between Gladys and FP. It could be the foreshadowing of the implosion within the Jones family.
Jughead's dream of his family together again might be over before it ever began.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
More Betty and Veronica scenes, please! I loved that Betty chose to stay with her bestie and that Veronica confided in Betty the truth about Gladys. Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes work so well with each other in acting scenes.
Of course, Gladys bought Alice's house. Only in Riverdale could the world of soapy drama get even smaller.
If Riverdale Season 3 Episode 15 is Luke Perry's last episode, this would be a great send-off for the character/actor. He had a heartwarming moment with his friend FP, and he delivered a few lines that captured the goodness of Fred Andrews.
I would've felt bad that Cheryl forced Kevin to do her musical choice, but (1) he acted horribly to Betty not so long ago, and (2) they're doing Heathers: The Musical, which is a great show! So .... karma.
- Toni singing "Call Your Girlfriend" in La Bonne Nuit rubbed a lot of salt into the wounds of her relationship. The pettiness reached its peak.
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Fifty: American Dreams"?
Is there still hope for Cheryl and Toni's relationship? How will FP find out about Gladys' secret? Are you excited about the upcoming musical?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.