Riverdale Season 7 Episodes 1-3 review: A swell blast to the past

riverdale season 7The CW

For its finale, Riverdale Season 7 goes back to the beginning, starting its penultimate season in the 1950s, to more success than you’d imagine.

Love it or hate it, Riverdale, the drama-mystery series that brought Archie Comics characters to life in variously wacky ways, has certainly made a name for itself in pop culture.

Now, the popular CW series is finally coming to an end, with its seventh season being its last – and it’s certain to go out with a bang.

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This season opens up in the 1950s, which would be an odd turn for any other series, but it seems to fit right into Riverdale’s wackiness. But is it a mad episode Daddy’O, or is it cruisin’ for a bruisin’? (We’ll stop with the ’50s slang, we promise). Let’s get into it, and don’t worry, we’ll do our best to keep this free of major spoilers.

Riverdale winds it back, both in time and in tone

The season opens with the Bill Haley classic Rock around the Clock, along with an opening sequence akin to the Brady Bunch. Everyone is back in Riverdale, back in high school, and… back in the 1950s?

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This is perhaps how you would expect Riverdale to be, seeing that it’s based on the old Archie comics, which has clearly been the biggest draw of the season – the visuals are colorful and fun, and fans love it when the cast dresses up like their vintage counterparts. There is still some familiarity to the edgy 2017 Riverdale, however. Jughead, while typing away on a typewriter instead of a laptop, is still giving his ominous narration about the state of things here in Riverdale. And it’s clear that not everything is as it seems.

This new season may be the next Don’t Worry Darling, both in its tone of a dystopian utopia, its chaotic infamy, and its somewhat failed attempt to tackle social issues. You may find yourself cringing at the CW’s attempts to address 1950s racism and homophobia – Emmet Till is even a notable plot point in the opening episode – and you’d be right to, but it is at least making a point of the 1950s being darker than we remember, like how the show itself was meant to be a brooding adaptation of the original comics.

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There are still plenty of mysteries, plenty of bloody hands, and plenty of relationship drama. This season in particular has all the couples switched up. While none of the characters ever had enough chemistry with each other for you to care who is who’s endgame, this mix up still provides some intrigue.

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It’s hard to hate Riverdale, but it’s hard to love it either

Riverdale Season 7 will always be shaped by its previous seasons, therefore it’s hard to looks at it as its own thing, especially since we’re only three episodes in. And considering the insane plotlines we’ve had to deal with, Riverdale has become something of an odd case when it comes to critiquing it. It feels almost pointless to point out the show’s flaws as it’s all so absurd – but then again, it’s so otherworldly at this point that it’s impossible to truly connect with any of the plot lines or characters. Riverdale is something to observe with amusement, rather than experience earnestly.

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However, the flaws that the show does have are arguably what makes this season work so surprisingly well – for Riverdale’s standards, that is. The unnatural performances help create the broken Brady Bunch tone. The clunky dialogue that no teen would say works best in this cosplay ’50s era, since we expect teens to have talked differently then, anyway. The fact that they’re grown adults playing teenagers actually makes sense in this plot line. And the danger, while sometimes jumping to the absurd, feels somewhat tame in comparison to previous seasons, and we mean this in a good way. By harkening back to the past, there are still flashes of what the original season of Riverdale once was, and perhaps what it could have been.

Then again, if Riverdale remained on that Season 1 path, we wouldn’t be able to write about 1950s alternative timelines brought on by a magic comet and Scarlett Witch powers, so perhaps this is all for the greater good.

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Riverdale Season 7 Episodes 1-3 rating: 3/5

Like the characters experiencing time travel in this season, Riverdale is something of a phenomenon. You blink and you’ve missed five years of backstory. You hear a phrase of dialogue so desperately edgy that you get sent to another dimension. You still can’t tell who’s meant to be with who.

But so far, this season is Riverdale at its best. If you’ve always liked the show, you’ll like it, and if you don’t, grab some friends, and you’ll still manage to have a rockin’ good time.

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Riverdale will premiere on the CW on March 29. Find out when and where you can watch it here.

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