Review: ‘Riverdale’ returns with 5-episode special event and new name

Jackson Parks

“Riverdale” characters in the show’s one hundredth episode “The Jughead Paradox.” Photo from The CW

Something bad is happening in “Rivervale.”

“Riverdale” returned for its sixth season with a five-episode special event on Nov. 16, but with a different town name. However, the town’s name is not the only thing that has changed.

“Riverdale” now “Rivervale” (yes, with a V) picks up after an explosive cliffhanger at the end of season five. Clearly, season five’s finale has largely shaken things up for Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and the gang.

The bomb left by Hiram Lodge (Mark Conseulos) as his final swan song and goodbye to the town and show in the season five finale is only downplayed as a dream had by Archie, in the season six premiere “Welcome to Rivervale.” Realistically, this explosion would’ve left more than Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Archie dead, who are on a bed above the ticking bomb. Even by “Riverdale’s” rules and standards, they’d be briefly and barely injured — for just about two episodes; but “Riverdale” and “Rivervale” play by very different rules.

“Rivervale” shakes up the usual Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) narration with an on-screen walk-through and rundown of where we pick up with the characters for the new season. Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) and Fangs Fogarty (Drew Ray Tanner) are a “couple in distress,” with their newborn son’s constant crying. Elsewhere, Jughead and Tabitha Tate (Erinn Westbrook) are moving in with each other in an apartment with a haunted past. Betty and Archie are living together and in love, planning for a baby. Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is fully thrown into her witch storyline — with her ancestral mansion Thornhill having turned into a boarding school for girls. 

However, something clearly is wrong — as the show begins to ease into the introduction of supernatural elements.

“Rivervale” is a fun five-episode trip for longtime fans. The fourth episode features the long awaited “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” crossover, with guest star Kiernan Shipka, who portrays the title character, in a tryptic-flashback-style hour with three, intertwining stories. Shipka’s trip to town may be brief, though it leaves the door open for a further collaboration between the two shows. 

With Cheryl not being the only witch in town, supernatural elements are surely an emphasized theme of the “Rivervale” special event. With famous urban legends, special guest stars like Lucifer himself coming to town and vengeful spirits seeking revenge, something very bad is happening in town. 

Clearly without explanation, “Rivervale” is some sort of alternate reality or dark timeline — and this major shift is later realized by the characters. The special event and pros of living in a reality with little consequence for the normal “Riverdale” that we know definitely is not just fun for the characters, but also the fans. 

The event also features a very crazy one hundredth episode — which features Jughead in the titular role of “The Jughead Paradox,” trying to solve the many questions of the universe and what the difference is between “Rivervale” and “Riverdale.”

Many are not fans of the insanity and campiness of the show, which almost has its own genre by now; however, the show’s trip into a different timeline — also known as “Rivervale” — fully embraces and allows for what the CW drama usually gets hate for. 

I, for one, enjoy the insane musical, murder and mayhem moments in which the show is in infamously clowned for; so, this five-episode trip into supernatural and genre-breaking elements was quite enjoyable.

“Riverdale’s” deep dive into the world of alternate universes and supernatural aspects is quite the event, but in my opinion an enjoyable one. It’s exciting to see Archie and the gang die without consequences, deal with the paranormal, and travel between timelines — knowing that this differs from the so-called “normalcy” of “Riverdale.”

The “Rivervale” five-episode event is available to stream for free on the CW app.

Jackson Parks – Editor-in-Chief

This will be Jackson Parks’ second year on ECHO staff, but he made several contributions while taking journalism class his sophomore year. He served as Junior Editor his first year on staff.

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