What are we looking for when we watch the fall premiere of a highly anticipated show? Is it drama? Revenge and sex? Murder? Or just good hair? When it comes to The CW, viewers can expect all that and much more. Teen drama “Riverdale” returned for a third season on Oct. 10, and if you’re anything like me, you spent the night taking it all in while wearing a cozy pair of Wellesley College sweatpants.
But let’s pretend that you didn’t see it. For those of you who had another weeknight agenda, let me refresh your memory. The sophomore season of “Riverdale” left us positively shook with the news that Betty’s dad (Lochlyn Munro) is the Black Hood and drew gasps when Jughead (Cole Sprouse) almost died. Meanwhile, Archie was inaugurated for student council, and Kevin (Casey Cott) and Moose (Cody Kearsley) finally shared a steamy smooch in the bathroom.
Fast forward to a highly anticipated season three. Episode one, named “Labor Day,” features Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) throwing an epic pool party at the Blossom mansion in the midst of a ludicrous murder charge against Archie (KJ Apa), who’s standing trial for a crime he did not commit. In the same way that previous episodes of Riverdale left watchers with more questions than answers, “Labor Day” pointedly leaves us wondering what happens next. Many moments are bizarre, if not downright nonsensical, especially at the Cooper household. And the adults of Riverdale are fully active in the gang’s lives now, bringing with them complicated feuds and a graveyard full of skeletons in their closets.
Episode one promises new storylines and scandals to follow for the rest of the season: Tensions and territory wars between rival groups, the Serpents, the Bulldogs and the Ghoulies, heats up, tearing the town — and friendships — apart. Meanwhile, Veronica (Camila Mendes) challenges her father’s authority while Betty (Lili Reinhart) is faced with the possibility of being sent to “The Farm” for her Adderall addiction. In typical Jughead fashion, the resident teen sleuth follows Dilton Doiley (Major Curda) into the woods with nothing but a compass and a hand-drawn map, where he stumbles upon a creepy sacrificial scene. And of course, lovable but troublemaking Archie ignores the good advice of his friends and family and finds himself ensnared in yet another messy situation.
While Riverdale was introduced to audiences as a prim and old-fashioned suburban town, this season is pulling back the curtain to reveal a chilling place that’s fit for Halloween year-round. “The Farm” is probably a front for a women’s cult. Speaking of cults, Dilton seems to have been initiated into a sinister underground society, although this one appears to be based out of Fox Forest rather than a posh rehab center.
The past two seasons of “Riverdale” may have been centered around that homegrown, All-American boy known as Archie Andrews, but this time around the most focal characters will be the ones that scheme in the shadows. Good-vs-evil comes back for a third time this season in the form of adults versus children. The big question is whether Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) and his band of Ghoulies will win the power war for Riverdale against Archie and the gang. Ghoulies, Serpents and Bulldogs abound in these dark woods. School’s officially back in session, kids.