‘Riverdale’ Season 3, Episode 1 Recap: I’m So Here for This Cult Plot

Something is happening on Riverdale this season that’s more exciting than Archie’s abs. No, I’m not talking about Cheryl and Toni’s relationship—though that’s amazing and deserves 20 minutes of screen time per episode, minimum—or anything to do with the Black Hood. (Spoiler alert: It’s Hal Cooper! Except not spoiler alert because even the most casual viewers called that back in November 2017.) I’m talking, of course, about the cult storyline teased during the season two finale. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

You remember it, right? Shaken up by the realization her husband is a masked murderer, Alice Cooper decides to meet Edgar Evernever, leader of “The Farm,” a spiritual group that her daughter Polly joined in the second season. We don’t know much about “The Farm,” except it more or less caused Polly to cut out Alice and Betty from her life completely. She returns to her mom and sister at the end of season two, though, to convince them to join “The Farm.”

And she’s halfway successful. In the season three premiere, we learn that Alice is all about “The Farm.” Her hair is different. She’s talking different. She even thinks it’s a good idea for Betty to burn her diaries because, according to Edgar, they’re keeping her in the past when she needs embrace the future. Betty’s attitude toward Polly, her mom, and “The Farm” can basically be summed up with this GIF:

All Betty wants to do is ride in Archie’s weird jalopy and swim in some dirty pond, but nope, Alice and Polly are determined to convert her to “The Farm.” They do a little digging and find out Betty’s been lying about seeing a therapist and is forging Adderall prescriptions (???) as a post-Black Hood coping mechanism. Obviously, Betty wants nothing to do with them when they confront her about this, so she storms off, makes out with Jughead a ton, and returns to the most bonkers scene in Riverdale history.

“The Farm” has convened in Betty’s backyard and is doing a seance that involves Alice dropping Polly’s twins in a fire. Betty then sees the twins shoot up in the air—as if they’re flying—before she collapses into a seizure. That’s literally how the episode ends. I know! What the hell? Was this real? Was it a hallucination?

“That is the exact question that Betty is trying to figure out in the second episode,” Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa tells Glamour about this jaw-dropping ending. “‘What did I see? What part of that is real? Was all of it real? Even if it was a hallucination, where did it come from? What caused the seizure?’ There’s so many things to unpack, and very soon other people are also seeing crazy things.”

“We love urban legends like the Slender Man and stuff like that, so we wanted to tell a really creepy and twisted cult or satanic murder story, so we did a lot of research about cults and we looked at a lot of stuff like that,” Aguirre-Sacasa says in regards to “The Farm’s” origin. “Season one we did a more traditional murder mystery, season two we did a more traditional serial killer, so [now] we wanted to do something a little darker and more twisted this season.”

If you’re thinking, “Wow, this sounds way more interesting than any time Jughead’s appeared on screen ever,” you’re exactly right. This cult plot line is, hands down, the greatest thing to happen to Riverdale since it made Cheryl an Olympic archer. The above synopsis is just a small taste of the true insanity that unfolds during the premiere.

If only the episode focused more on it. Unfortunately, we still have to put up with a storyline involving Jughead going across Ghoulie lines (groan) to rescue the Serpents’ dog . We also have to deal with his narration and the fact that he wears the same white tank top in basically every scene. Thankfully, the cult narrative is potent enough to make even the most ridiculous Jughead line bearable.

There are seriously so many directions this story can go. Alice and Polly could force Betty to join “The Farm” against her will, only for Shirtless Archie and Bow-and-Arrow Cheryl to rescue her. Or what if Betty puts on her black wig, murders Edgar, and Veronica helps her dispose of the body? And then Betty returns the favor by helping Veronica take out Hiram Lodge! Murder! It’s the bread and butter of Riverdale!

Actually, wait, I know exactly how this plot should unfold: Betty joins “The Farm,” likes it, and Cheryl has to come in with her vicious, vicious words and bring her back to reality. Just throw in Hot Sheriff Keller randomly lifting weights, and you have the best parts of Riverdale all in one narrative. Fingers crossed Jughead’s scowling plays second fiddle to this all season. It’s what we deserve.

Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 P.M. ET on The CW.

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