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TV ReviewsRiverdale Season 3 Episode 15: American Dreams Review

For our review of the last episode of Riverdale, click here.

Synopsis: As Gladys prepares for FP’s 50th birthday party, Jughead questions his mom’s motives for returning to Riverdale. When an unexpected encounter brings Archie back into the world of G&G, Jughead and Betty devise a plan to help him face his past head-on. Finally, Cheryl and Toni find themselves at a crossroads, and Veronica reveals a damaging secret to Betty. (CW)

Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Director: Gabriel Correa

Rating: TV-14

Running Time: 45mins

Airs: Wednesdays at 8pm on The CW (United States)

“American Dreams” starts off with the Jones family celebrating FP’s 50th birthday. Gladys decides to take them for a little car ride because she has a surprise. Turns out she was the anonymous buyer of the Cooper house! They are greeted by Alice and Betty who are just as surprised as FP and Jughead. While they want to back off and leave the house to the Coopers, Gladys has made up her mind.

Jughead and Betty meet with Archie at Pop’s with a revelation. The Red Paladin card that Ricky had was identical to Warden Norton’s meaning someone is circulating this card. Archie confronts Hiram about Ricky’s betrayal and demands answers about the card. He reveals that he distributed 12 of these cards to the more fanatical players. Fear not as Hiram agrees to help given their current truce. He gives Archie a list of locations where these players might hang out.

At the bunker, Archie, Betty and Jughead sit down to figure out who might have these cards. They visit the comic book store where the game master reveals they have the quest card and someone will come after him. Jughead decides their best option to update the Gargoyle King’s quest so that the Red Paladin card has a time sensitive aspect to it. If the players do not kill him in the allotted time then his curse is lifted. They decide the quest will be a duel against the Red Paladin and Archie has the perfect place.

Archie comes to Hiram asking for an appropriate spot to finish this quest. Luckily, Hiram has a hole-in-the-wall boxing gym perfect for this duel. Jughead finishes the updated quest and gets his Serpents, disguised as Gargoyles, to get this latest message from the King out to his followers. He also asks the Serpents to look into any leads about the Fizzle Rock trade. That night, the challengers arrive at the Iron Mountain to fight against the Red Paladin. They have three minutes to defeat him or else their quest is over.

Archie gets into the ring and faces foe after foe, each fighting dirtier than the last. Some start to ignore the rules, but Archie keeps strong through each competitor. That except for the final challenger, Captain Golightly, his old guard at L&L. Archie seems tired and is brought to the ropes, but manages to take down the captain and win. He thanks Hiram for the help, but is surprised when he offers Archie the gym as compensation.

Meanwhile, Cheryl tries to surprise Toni with a trip to the Quebec ski slopes, but she wanted to take the Poisons on a roadtrip. Their lovers’ spat is interrupted when Toni has to head off to work. Cheryl decides to swing by and try to surprise her, but finds Toni singing a duet with Veronica. At the estate, Cheryl asks Nana Rose about where Toni is, but she reveals Toni paid her rent. Cheryl decides to surprise Toni at FP’s party and starts to act a bit suspicious. She later finds Cheryl trying to break into the speakeasy’s vault.

And this of course turns into a heated closed-doors moment. Afterward, Toni sits Cheryl down about her problem with the Poisons. Her problem is with Toni not wanting to spend time together, but Toni doesn’t feel at home at the estate. Cheryl suggests that perhaps Toni needs to move out to give them some space. Kevin comes by to talk to Cheryl about the musical for the year, but she orders it be changed to Heathers for her current feelings.

Reggie comes to Veronica asking for a bit more of the pie after all the sacrifices he has made. Veronica feels like it isn’t wise to start another partnership right now. She comes to him with a salary, but he wants more. A little money won’t clear his conscious. She decides it is best if he takes the night off. She is confronted later by Gladys who found Reggie trying to steal back his car. To make things better, Veronica offers to host FP’s party for free and Gladys accepts. He later confronts Veronica about wanting to matter to her, but she is still reeling with her breakup. She feels it’s best if they part ways, but not before she gives him back his car.

FP apologizes to Alice about them buying her house, but Alice gets right to it. She doesn’t care about the house, but is more concerned about Gladys and FP. She wants to know if he loves both of them, but FP picks the mother of his children. Meanwhile, Jughead confronts his mother about her suspicious activities since returning to Riverdale. He wants to know her game plan, but she says she just missed their family. She also is planning a party at the speakeasy for FP and asks Jughead to write a speech.

At the school, FP and Tom star their training of the Serpents as Sheriff’s Deputies. FP decides that Jughead gets to ride with him. They discuss how FP finally feels worthy and accomplished for his kids. All he wants is to provide a good life for them. However, they are interrupted by a call from Pop’s. A kid on fizzle rocks was hostile and injured one of the waitresses causing Veronica and Jughead to ponder who could be distributing those again.

Veronica sits down with Betty at the brownstone and reveals Gladys’ plan to take over the drug trade. They know the best thing is to tell Jughead and stop his mother before she becomes Hiram 2.0. Betty brings this information to Jughead and while he seems skeptical, he decides to dig into this lead alone. Sweet Pea and Fangs learn that Gladys is indeed taking over the drug trade. So Jughead goes straight to the trailer and confronts her about it. Gladys berates Jughead for judging her actions. He isn’t aware of the sacrifices that his parents have made for their family. She also knows that if he tells FP that it will break him.

Now to the big celebration at the speakeasy. Everyone comes by to congratulate FP on his big day, including a very touching father-to-father moment with Fred. He’s excited to be neighbours with him and they get a good hug out of it. Gladys stands up in front of everyone to give a short speech about FP before she asks Jughead to stand up. With no speech prepared, Jughead speaks from the heart about his father. His struggles, the ability to go from King of the Serpents to Sheriff of Riverdale. And in this speech he decides to hold back from telling him about Gladys’ ulterior motives. This moment is for FP. However, after the speech he tells Betty his plan is to save his family and push his mom away.

Questions

  • Who will wind up dead next?
  • Is the Red Paladin Quest over?
  • Will Hiram change his mind about the gym?
  • How long until FP learns about Gladys’ plan?
  • Will Betty forgive her father?
  • How are The Farm and The Gargoyle King connected?
  • What is Gladys’ plan?

Overall, American Dreams was a great episode. The milestone birthday of FP Jones allows the stories revolving around him and his family to take center stage as they focus on the American Dream. The struggles he has faced both as an individual and as a father have brought him to this place making for quite the touching story. The main stories of this season both took steps forward in this week as we learned more about the drug trade and rid ourselves of the Red Paladin quest. Heck, there was even a lot of development within the minor Reggie-Veronica and Cheryl-Toni storylines. And any episode that can feature that much content with the supporting cast and still push the story forward is a great one in my books.

Score: 9.5/10

What did you think of “American Dreams”? Where do you see this season going? Let me know in the comments below!

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