Riverdale season 5, episode 4 review: New highs for a new start

Riverdale -- “Chapter Eighty: Purgatorio” -- Image Number: RVD504fg_0096r -- Pictured (L-R): Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz and KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Riverdale -- “Chapter Eighty: Purgatorio” -- Image Number: RVD504fg_0096r -- Pictured (L-R): Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz and KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale season 5 kicked off a brand new era with an episode designed to be its premiere but did the long-teased time-jump live up to expectations?

After closing the book on the story its been telling since it debuted four years ago, Riverdale has ventured into uncharted territory, writing a new chapter by initiating that long-teased time-jump fans had been predicting long before it was officially confirmed by the showrunners.

An episode designed as the season 5 premiere, “Chapter Eighty: Purgatorium”, took the beloved TV show seven years into the future to tell a new story. And what a story it is.

But what went down in the show’s new beginning and, perhaps more importantly, was it worth the wait?

What happened in Riverdale season 5, episode 4?

“Purgatorium” was structured in acts in order to allow us to catch up with each member of the core four (and some others too). First up was Sergeant. Archie Andrews, who really was the focus of this premiere-like episode – and understandably so – as he returned to Riverdale after being told to “go home” by his commander, leaving the army behind. However, when he got home, he found a very different Riverdale waiting for him.

Following that, we caught up with Betty Cooper – who was struggling to sleep at night after all she had been subjected to during her career as an FBI agent. Meanwhile Veronica Lodge had gotten married to Katy Keene‘s mysterious Chad Dekker and Jughead Jones was a struggling writer in New York. However, their lives turned upside down – or, uh, the right way up? – when they all received phone calls from Archie.

Though Cheryl couldn’t join them (because she was being more ominous than ever as a recluse that thought she was destined to be isolated from the rest of the world in Thornhill forever), the core fore did reunite, along with Toni – who was now, finally, one the gang – as they discussed the possibility of saving Riverdale from the mess that Hiram Lodge had created, thus setting the stage for the new mystery that would carry this new chapter of Riverdale. However, the apparent kidnapping of a young woman suggests things are even worse in town than anyone is prepared for.

A good old-fashioned catch-up

Your writer will be the first to admit that he isn’t usually a fan of character-centric acts. It can often result in a 40-minute TV episode feeling too segmented and expositional for its own good. This can be particularly true in a premiere episode as it grinds the progression of a narrative to a halt, with the cutting back and forth resulting in very little actually happening in the present. And yet, like the anomaly that it has always been, Riverdale makes it work.

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The format is necessary because it quickly catches us up on what’s been happening in the lives of Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead, giving us all a brief chance to see how they lived for a portion of the last seven years. The contrast of styles between the foursome’s adult lives works well, but they’re also in-line with the characters we’ve come to know, ensuring that the new storyline (and the episode’s structure) still feels very Riverdale.

What’s also striking is how the writers found time to weave Toni into the story. A character who never received the attention that she deserved, she is at the heart of this Riverdale season 5 reboot, telling us what she’s been up to (showing us as well with that amazing performance) while showing Archie around and also factoring into the flashbacks to Cheryl’s seven year-existence. The best thing about it though? Archie’s request for her to stay with the core four at Pops, insisting that she’s one of them. And that is a moment of beauty.

A fresh start for Riverdale

It’s hard to fully encapsulate everything this episode does right with just a few words. The truth is that there is so much good in it that a lot of words may not even do it justice. For the sake of the review, however, allow me to try.

In the past, Riverdale has struggled with aftermath, with many events just kind-of happening and then being moved on from in a shockingly quick capacity, but here the show does far more with much less. With under 15 minutes to tell each of the four main characters’ pre-return stories, the writers do a stellar job in showcasing some of the emotions that those characters have been going through as they navigate their way through adult life, with Veronica’s inner turmoil over how much of “it all” she wants to do right now hitting just as hard as Jughead’s financial troubles and writer’s block.

But it’s Archie and Toni who benefit from this relaunch the most, because the former finally feels like the main character in the show for the first time since the first season and the Serpent Queen is finally getting the spotlight that she’s deserved for a very long time. And their sudden friendship is already providing them with great things.

The aesthetic and presentation of Riverdale‘s future is more haunting than ever. It’s different from the previous seasons in some indistinguishable ways but it’s still inherently Riverdale. And the overall presentation is still that unusual mixture of nostalgia and Lynch that the show thrives on, ensuring that the visuals remain as alluring as ever. And they are – second only to the gripping story that is offered up.

very exciting beginning for Riverdale‘s new chapter.

Riverdale Ramblings

  • Everything about the episode screamed premiere – which obviously makes sense considering this was supposed to be the season 5 premiere. However, it says a lot that a show built on anachronistic aesthetics can feel so new but Riverdale absolutely pulls it off.
  • The choice to play the gentle variation of the Riverdale theme in the background everytime Archie phoned one of his friends was inspired.
  • Chad is handsome, seems nice and is completely overprotective. Oh my, there’s skeletons in that closet, isn’t there.
  • We stan the Glamerge Eggs!
  • The episode isn’t completely free from obvious exposition, as a number of conversations are clearly only designed to fill in the gaps, but we love Riverdale and its wacky dialogue so, somehow, it works.
  • Willing to let the lack of focus on Kevin and Fangs slide considering it had to bring the core four back to town but the pair desperately need some screen-time moving forward.
  • Every single one of the cast members brought it but this episode belonged to Vanessa Morgan and KJ Apa.
  • I can neither confirm nor deny that I cried when Archie saw all of his friends sitting in their booth.
  • BEST LINE OF THE EPISODE: “You’re as much a part of this as any of us.” – Archie Andrews to Toni Topaz (and honestly, “truth!”).

A. <em>Riverdale</em> gives itself the reboot that it needed, changing up dynamics and offering up fresh stories while maintaining the essence of the show we love so much. All of this sets the strange for what could be its most intriguing season yet.. Riverdale. S5E4. Chapter Eighty: Purgatorium

Next. 10 questions Riverdale season 5's reboot must answer. dark

What did you think of Riverdale season 5, episode 4? Let us know in the comments below!