I just saw the Season 3 finale of Riverdale. You know what happened this season?
- Archie was sent to juvie, where he was forced into a prison fight club;
- Veronica ran an illegal speakeasy;
- Jughead’s dad became the town sheriff while his secretly drug-dealing mom moved in with them;
- Betty tried to bust her mom out of a cult (a bold move, considering that during the season, a former CW star was on trial for her role in a similarly personality-annihilating cult); and
- the whole gang got caught up in a deadly, multigenerational Dungeons & Dragons-type role-playing game.
Those are just a few of the absolutely BONKERS shenanigans of the season. And you know what? I bought it all.
I did not guess the resolution of the season’s biggest mysteries (which I will leave unspoiled), but they made sense in hindsight. That’s because the show set forth a strong idea of what its version of Archie and the gang would be, and have developed and tested those ideas by placing the characters in ludicrous situations that allow the characters to be themselves, just more so.
Other shows could take a lesson from Riverdale. As Daniel Silvermint writes about another current show (that features dungeons and dragons): “No amount of spectacle or fan service is satisfying if we don’t buy how the characters got there.”