“From the moment he was locked up, he was already marked.”
This week on Riverdale, Archie is the worst fugitive ever, Betty channels Agatha Christie’s best detectives, the Gargoyle King is gathering supporters, and the Midnight Club is still acting super shady. And the show edges a little further into horror with a cheeky Scream reference.
After Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and the Serpents went fully crazy last week playing Gryphons & Gargoyles, this week sees the crazy show up intermittently when the plot calls for it, as Jug is completely level-headed when he returns to Betty (Lili Reinhart) in the bunker only minutes after his departure led to him seeing the Gargoyle King in the woods. After spying the villainous tree pile, Jug followed him further into the woods, only to find that the King had a gang of gargoyles gathered around a fire to worship him. Hearing this description of the scene, something clicks in Archie’s (KJ Apa) mind – this may be the gang which Joaquin (Rob Raco) aligned himself with over the Serpents. This admission only seems to further confirm to Bughead that their Gargoyle King is Leopold & Loeb’s Warden Norton.
Obviously, the only problem with this theory is that when Jug saw the Gargoyle King was when Warden Norton was busy killing himself with Fresh Aid. So, Bughead do what they do best, split up and investigate like the ruthless teen detectives they are – and while Jughead takes the Serpents to find Joaquin, Betty sets her sights on the Riverdale parents, a.k.a. the shady Midnight Club after learning that the warden was the RROTC instructor during their time at Riverdale High.
When located, Joaquin isn’t exactly forthcoming about his ties to the Gargoyle King, however he does reveal that the symbol burned into Archie’s skin means “sacrifice” and if he isn’t already dead, he will be soon. Jughead presses the former Serpent for leads, but all he gets is confirmation that the warden received game cards which told him what to do, and he had secret meetings with the “Man in Black” – no, not Johnny Cash, or even Will Smith – in Riverdale, the man in black is none other than Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) of course. Thinking he’s found a break in case, Jug confronts Hiram about being the Gargoyle King, which leads to one of the greatest smackdowns in the series’ history, as Hiram denies being the gamemaster villain because he’s “not a 16-year-old nerd.” At this point, it’s too obvious for Hiram to be behind the Gryphons & Gargoyle’s insanity, given he’s already behind every other bad thing happening in the town – he probably wouldn’t have the time to concoct such an elaborate scheme just to poison some people.
On her end, Betty doesn’t fare any better, gathering the Midnight Club members in the speakeasy under the guise of the Gargoyle King, as though it’s the conclusion of a Miss Marple story. It’s the first time we’ve seen all the parents together since the flashback episode, and they all seem to be acting super shady, particularly when FP (Skeet Ulrich) lets slip that he also saw the Gargoyle King on Ascension Night, something which comes as a complete shock to Alice (Mädchen Amick). When Betty presses the parents for answers, Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) is the one to give them, revealing that the deceased Daryl Doiley was behind the poisoned chalices, which he offered up to a young Penelope (his crush) hoping that they would “ascend” together, only years later did he reveal to her the fact they were poisoned, mere days before he killed himself. Or did he? As it seems his death wasn’t a suicide, but a murder, covered up by the Midnight Club who were too scared to wonder which of their group might have been responsible for it.
Elsewhere, the search for Archie has Hiram desperate to tie up loose ends, and Sheriff Minetta (Henderson Wade) is the man to do it – and not necessarily in a legal way, as this episode sees him pressure a teen so much she becomes the third Riverdale High student to have a stress seizure, as well as “taking care” of the Shadow Lake boys who could prove that Archie isn’t actually the killer they are trying to portray him as. It all begs the question of what Archie actually did to Hiram in order to prompt him to literally kill people as a way to keep the boy away from his daughter because there’s been so much happening the origin of this argument has paled into insignificance. However, no matter how many loose ends her father ties up, Veronica (Camila Mendes) has already found the evidence she needs and passed it over to Sierra (Robin Givens) to prove her Archiekins innocent. But it might be too late, as Archie has found his own way to freedom, and a way which won’t include his girlfriend, at that.
The strangest part of this week’s episode sees an attack on the Cooper house, a blackout that allows the Gargoyle King inside to leave a threatening message in Betty’s bedroom. Scary as this is, it almost seems designed to make the audience think FP has something to do with the gargoyle gang, especially as it seems to borrow from Skeet Ulrich’s performance as killer teen Billy in Scream, in particular his character’s love of climbing through bedroom windows. Is it a clue to the true identity of the Gargoyle King, or it is just a nod to the actor’s previous gig?
Either way, we seem no closer to finding out the identity of Riverdale’s costumed killer, and the consequences of Betty’s investigation may have put her in more danger than ever. As well as this, with all the teens seemingly separated, and the parents on high alert, there doesn’t seem to be anything left to stop the gamemaster from corrupting the entire town.
As Riverdale continues to straddle the line between teen drama and horror, we are left with more questions than answers and a somewhat confusing storyline which has apparently separated the main quartet and scuppered their investigation. What happens next? It will be interesting to find out.