Riverdale season 3, episode 15 review: American Dreams


Riverdale tears apart relationships and brings a family back together in a jam-packed new episode staged around the 50th birthday of FP Jones.

The Jones family takes center stage in the newest episode of Riverdale.  Jughead questions his mother’s true intentions even as she plans a 50th birthday celebration for her husband.  Archie enlists his best friends for help in ending the threat on his life and Veronica and Reggie’s business relationship begins to unravel for reasons that have nothing to do with Hiram or Gladys.

It’s a Wonderful Lie

It’s hard to watch Jughead falling in love with his new “All-American” family dynamic at the start of the episode knowing it all has to explode.  Thankfully, Jughead’s detective nature keeps him suspicious enough to discover the truth by the episode’s end.  Happy families eating bacon and drinking orange juice around the table don’t exist in Riverdale especially not for a family like the Jones’.

Alarms start ringing for Jughead once it’s revealed that Gladys bought the Coopers’ slightly charred house.  It doesn’t take long for Jughead to start asking the right questions.  After Betty informs him that Gladys is the one taking over Hiram Lodge’s drug empire, Jughead knows he can’t have the perfect family he secretly wants.  However, that isn’t his decision to make alone.

Riverdale — “Chapter Fifty: American Dreams” — Image Number: RVD315c_0047b.jpg — Pictured: Cole Sprouse as Jughead — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Riverdale makes the masterful decision to make this FP’s story, not Jughead’s.  FP is willing to sacrifice his feelings for Alice Cooper and put aside his past differences with his wife to make the Jones family work.  FP waxes nostalgic with both Jughead and Fred Andrews in two separate scenes in this episode.  His outlook on life is clear:  FP never expected to live this long and wants to take this second chance to create the life with his family he could never have before.

It’s because of the fact that FP still needs to play out his story for himself, however false it is, that Jughead chooses not to reveal what he knows about Gladys to his father.  Jughead is content to play the role of son in his father’s story because he truly loves and respects him.  So, he decides to handle the problem of his mother himself with the help of Betty.  This sets the stage for plenty of drama and action in the final stretch of this season.

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Getting the (Riverdale) Band Back Together

The Archie-Josie romance is an interesting change of pace, but the Archie-Betty-Jughead dynamic has been sorely missed this season.  By the end of the episode, the dynamic trio manages to resolve the threat that has been on Archie’s life since the beginning of the season.  It’s a reminder of how much power this team has when they work together.

The team tackles the “Kill the Red Paladin” G&G quest from the last episode head on.  Jughead crafts the excellent plan of impersonating the Gargoyle King (why haven’t they done this before?) to bring an end to the murderous quest.  He sends out a message to the remaining questers to come take their best shot at Archie on his own turf.  Archie is obligatory shirtless as he literally punches his way out of his problems by knocking out his assailants one by one in a boxing ring.  It’s a perfect cap to Archie’s journey that began with him fighting against his will in Warden Norton’s fight club and ends with Archie fighting to take back his own life once and for all.

Riverdale — “Chapter Fifty: American Dreams” — Image Number: RVD315c_0450b.jpg — Pictured: KJ Apa as Archie — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Archie is successful in reclaiming his freedom, but makes what could be a critical mistake along the way.  He trusts Hiram Lodge and accepts possession of an old boxing gym from him.  This has to be the dumbest, most inconsistent moment in this episode, and I hope it reveals itself to be a huge mistake on Archie’s part.

Veronica V Reggie: Dawn of the Breakup

The Veronica/Reggie subplot was the least interesting part of this episode.  It just feels like going through the motions.  Their fling was never going to last, so this breakdown in their relationship felt necessary but tedious.

Reggie tries to step up and be more than a background character both literally and figuratively, but he’s not built for it.  He wants to be business partners with Veronica, but he makes the rash decision to attempt to steal back his car from Gladys when Veronica rejects him.  He clearly doesn’t have what it takes to be in Veronica’s position.

Veronica, on the other hand, is taking steps that could turn her into her father if she’s not careful.  She enjoys the “game of thrones” and has business acumen that Reggie doesn’t.  She knows it, too.  She was right to reject Reggie, but not necessarily for all the right reasons.  She’s not ready to share the empire she’s building and she might never be.  Even as the other three main characters come closer together, Veronica drifts further away from the light.

A Few Things

  • Cheryl and Toni complete their dragged-out downward spiral in this episode and finally broke up (or maybe they just took a break. It remains to be seen.)
  • Nice to see that Alice Cooper can act sane for two seconds to reaffirm her feelings for FP.
  • Does anyone feel like this show is setting up a tragic FP death?  His talks about death and not expecting to live so long sounds like foreshadowing.

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Riverdale will return with a new episode on Wednesday, March 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET on The CW.