Penny Peabody declared war for the Northside, Polly's twin babies floated above a roaring fire, and Jughead found Ben and Dilton almost dead in front of a ritual site on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 1.
Below, TV Fanatics Kat Pettibone, Brandon Vieira, and Becca Newton debate Archie accepting the manslaughter deal, the new couples of Riverdale, and their hopes for Riverdale Season 3.
1. Which couple development surprised you the most: the reveal of Josie/Sweet Pea's summer fling or the strange distance between Kevin/Moose?
Kat: I was definitely more surprised by the reveal of Sweet Pea and Josie's fling, but I was most disappointed/interested in the strange distance between Moose and Kevin.
Sweet Pea and Josie are a random pairing, so finding out how they came together in the first place is something I want to see, but I was really excited about Moose and Kevin being in an actual relationship!
They hinted at and teased it for two full seasons, and the Riverdale Season 2 finale really made me believe we'd be getting a happy and blissful couple in Riverdale Season 3! I'm hoping whatever the issue is, it gets resolved (and given the screen time it deserves).
Brandon: I was more surprised by the reveal of Josie and Sweet Pea, but I was more interested in Kevin and Moose. Josie has never been much of a focus before, so I don't see her relationship with Sweet Pea getting a lot of airtime. However, there looks to be a lot of potential between Kevin and Moose.
I don't think what we saw between them was distance, just keeping their relationship on the down low in public. Hopefully, Moose will eventually be willing to go public with Kevin, and poor Kevin won't be so lonely.
Becca: The Josie/Sweet Pea summer fling was more surprising. It really came out of nowhere and felt like a "Sure, why not?" decision. Despite that and even though their screen time was really brief, Ashleigh Murray and Jordan Connor's performances won me over. What's the ship name for Josie/Sweet Pea?
The distance between Kevin and Moose isn't surprising. Throughout Riverdale Season 2, Moose couldn't bring himself to talk openly about his sexuality, even when it was just him and Kevin. He was more active and direct about wanting to heat things up with Kevin in Riverdale Season 1. But, he still didn't want to go public.
Moose still has a ways to go before he is comfortable with himself, and I really hope his and Kevin's stories get the attention they deserve.
2. Hiram revealed to Veronica that he framed Archie to get payback on her for betraying him. How do you think Veronica is feeling after hearing that?
Kat: Absolutely crushed, but also probably shocked and a little guilty? Obviously, we all knew Hiram was behind Archie's arrest, but even I was a little surprised his true motive was revenge on Veronica, not Archie. They definitely made us believe it was about Archie challenging Hiram last season.
I have to say, though, I'm glad they shifted the story. It makes way more sense for it to be a "family issue" rather than a "mob issue." Dad vs. Daughter drama is a much more grounded story than a "Man vs. 16 Year Old He Invited Into The Mob And Now Is Set Out To Destroy" one.
I think it resonates better this way. Very excited to see how Veronica decides to fight this, though.
Veronica: Are you happy now, Daddy? It all worked out, just like you planned. Archie didn’t play by your rules. He threatened you, so you punished him. You destroyed his life.
Hiram: You think I did all this to hurt Archie, Miha? Because he threatened me? No, it’s because you betrayed me.
[Hiram walks closer]
Hiram: This is your punishment. You chose that boy over blood. My own daughter.
Veronica: You don’t have a daughter anymore.
Brandon: The look on Veronica's face after Hiram told her it's her fault looked like incredible guilt. Her dad wanting to get revenge clearly never crossed her mind, and now the man she loves is in prison because of her family drama. She may feel guilty now, but I think that's going to change quickly.
I expect to see a much darker side of Veronica as she attempts to get her revenge. She may even use the tactics she's learned from her father to get her boyfriend out of jail. Hiram better not underestimate his daughter because she's learned everything she knows about manipulating the system from him.
Becca: I think the reveal intensifies the feelings she already has over the situation: anger, pain, guilt, frustration, helplessness ... and those are just the tip of the iceberg. Ideally, Veronica will be able to use those emotions as motivation in her efforts to help Archie and take down Hiram.
3. Betty accused Alice and Polly of joining a cult. Is "The Farm" a cult or could this be a red herring?
Kat: Going into the season, I 100% believed that The Farm was a cult. But, after watching the premiere, I don't know ... it might be a red herring.
Could it be that they want us to THINK The Farm is the cult, but this Gargoyle King thing is the actual cult we should be worried about? I don't think I've seen enough to make that call yet. It could definitely go either way, or they may be somehow connected.
Brandon: After learning about the Gargoyle King, I thought The Farm was maybe just a red herring but is anything in the town of Riverdale ever just a red-herring? The Farm is most likely a cult of some kind, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Gargoyle King and The Farm were somehow connected.
The only thing I am certain of is that Betty will be the one to solve the mystery because that's just what she does.
Becca: It's a cult.
4. Jughead discovered the shrine of the Gargoyle King and the unconscious bodies of Ben and Dilton. Share your first reactions!
Kat: My first reaction to Dilton talking about the Gargoyle King was fairly similar to Jughead's (i.e., "What ... the hell?"). I really thought this storyline was going to be eye-roll inducing, as so many of Riverdale's mystery arcs are, but this actually seems legitimately kind of frightening?
My only hope is that they keep it in the realm of realism. I also don't want the "King" to just be another gang leader the Serpents have to deal with. I've had enough of the Serpents in that capacity.
Brandon: I had a lot of things going on in my mind after Jughead discovered the shrine of the Gargoyle King. My first reaction was, "doesn't Jughead have enough going on right now?" My second reaction was that I really hope they don't try bringing supernatural elements into this show.
Hopefully, the Gargoyle King is either some sort of cult or a new enemy for the Serpents. Those options may not be as exciting, but at least they fit with the kind of stories for which Riverdale is known. As long as the supernatural isn't involved, and Jughead doesn't dominate the screen time, I'm willing to give this storyline a chance.
Becca: The visuals sell it. I want to know more. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the writers will deliver satisfying resolutions to all the mysteries they're setting up this season, but I'm not holding my breath.
5. Archie agreed to a manslaughter plea deal instead of a re-trial. Did he make the right decision in taking the deal?
Kat: This is a super controversial topic. Even though I'd say taking the deal was impulsive and not the most intelligent decision, it's still extremely in character with who Archie is. That's why it makes perfect sense.
Throughout the episode, we saw him grappling with the blame he carried from the death of Cassidy, not to mention the fear he has of losing everyone he loves over this trial. His family, his friends, his girlfriend; everyone has dedicated their lives to protect him, and he just couldn't take the guilt anymore.
Archie wants to be the one to protect everyone else, not be the one that needs protecting. He can't stand the idea of hurting people he cares about, so he sacrificed himself. Again, bad move on a larger scale, but in line with Archie Andrews' character.
Betty: You don’t deserve this, Arch. Any of it.
Archie: What if I do?
Veronica: Archie, why would you say that?
Archie: Because I’m guilty! I didn’t kill Cassidy, but I left him alone with Andre. If I didn’t walk away, he might still be alive. And not just Cassidy, all of it ... all of last year. I didn’t kill anyone, but I could have. I have to take responsibility for that.
Brandon: It was a very Archie-like decision, so I didn't expect anything less. However, his impulsiveness is going to hurt his loved ones more than help them, despite not being his intention.
He would have been better off letting there be a re-trial. He could've had more time with his friends, and actually get to enjoy his junior year while the adults in his life handled his case. However, Archie isn't exactly the reasonable type, and he's going to pay for his reckless decision.
Becca: No, I would think the odds of Archie getting an acquittal would increase on retrial. The decision was in keeping with Archie's character, but his reasoning for accepting the plea is frustrating.
6. Now that Riverdale has returned for a new season, what are your hopes for Riverdale Season 3?
Kat: I'm not going overboard with my hopes after what I considered to be an extremely messy second season. What I really want is a cohesive main storyline, and I want everything that happens to be continuous, not all over the place.
I want everything to connect in ways that make sense, and I want everything and everyone to have motives for what they do. I also want to see the main characters that don't get a lot of focus (like Kevin, Josie, Cheryl, Toni) be more prominent this year.
Selfishly, I'd also like to see a little switch-up with the romantic pairing in the core fore (Barchie, anyone?), but at the end of the day, I just want the writers to take a breath, stop trying to have too much happen at once, and take their time telling the story.
Brandon: I am hopeful for a lot of things this season. The first being more Kevin. Ever since Betty start dating Jughead, I feel like her friendship with Kevin has been put on the backburner. I want to see Kevin and Betty renew their friendship and be more involved in each other's lives.
I'd also like to see Cheryl and Toni face and overcome some obstacles in their own relationship. Toni has always been so supportive of Cheryl since they've been together, and it would be interesting to see the roles reversed. What does Cheryl look like as a supportive girlfriend?
I also don't want Archie's time in prison to be stretched out for too long, but while he is in jail, I'd like to see Archie kick some butt and take some names while locked up. A prison fight scene would be perfect for a show like Riverdale.
Finally, I hope that Jughead doesn't steal all the screen time away from the supporting characters. He has so many stories going on right now, and I'm worried way too much focus is going to be on him. Riverdale needs to give everyone more of a chance to shine.
Becca: I'm hoping for lots of investigative Bughead. I hope Kevin gets involved in the Gargoyle King mystery, and his gaming skills become invaluable in solving the case. Wasn't Fangs a gamer too? If so, I also want him involved in the plot.
I hope the Hot Dads of Riverdale aren't all talk and no show. I hope to get a read on Hermione, finally. I hope Josie realizes she doesn't need to cut people out of her life to pursue her musical goals. Any chance the Pussycats will reunite?
I'm hoping for more storylines centered around each of the families. I really hope the storylines will be well executed, and Riverdale breaks its habit of dragging out plotlines while still delving deep enough into the plot or characters.
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Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.