WELCOME BACK, RIVERDALIANS!
We’re nearing the home stretch of this season—and boy has it been a marathon. How will the writers wrap up this whole Gargoyle King plot? Let’s see if they can! In typical Mary fashion, this ep is split into groups of characters.
Archie & Veronica
Mary: Archie keeps on keeping on with his boxing, and Veronica shows up to tell him she has his entry for some...boxing thing. Regionals? IDK. She also tells him she wants to invest in his boxing gym and career, giving him money to fix up his building. This has to be the beginning of Varchie’s return.
At home, the absence of Fred Andrews is heavy with no explanation of where he is or what he’s doing. Archie’s mom shows up because things were “quiet in Chicago” and she just wanted to spend time with Archie. Convenient. When Veronica has Archie’s entry slip, she tells him he just needs to get his “dad or mom” to sign it—are they trying to ease us into something bad happening to Fred? I know that Luke Perry passed unexpectedly, but Fred deserves a full explanation of his disappearance. How do we think they’ll write Fred off the show? Will it even make sense?
Gabriella: I have no idea how they plan to do it but a quick google keeps referring to his last on-screen moment with Archie has the ‘send off’ which, to be honest, seems pretty lame. He deserves a lot more. His actual last role, however, is going to be in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood which is premiering at this year’s Cannes, so keep an eye out for that.
Kelli: Yeah, I think they probably mean his Riverdale send-off, since this recurring role has been one of his biggest in recent years. I didn’t know that about the new Tarantino film though — I’ll look forward to seeing him then!
As for what they’re going to do with Fred, I feel like they might just come up with some explanation for why he’s going to relocate for his business or something. I don’t know if they would kill off the character when the actor has actually passed away — I feel like there must be some kind of industry etiquette when it comes to that sort of thing? Maybe I’m wrong, though.
Mary: Archie’s mom won’t let Archie enter the tournament, but she does get him an interview with a recruiter for a naval academy, where he can “box and get an education.” Ugh.
Archie meets with the naval recruiter, but seems to have reservations about signing up. He says he’ll set up an exhibition match to show her what he can do. This is where I start hoping Archie joins the navy and is off the show for a while. Later, Archie gets weighed for a fight, but he’s over 6 pounds. So he needs to lose 6 pounds in a matter of days.
It’s revealed that Veronica is taking out a loan to help Archie and his gym, putting La Bonne Nuit up as collateral. UGH RONNIE WHY.
We get a training montage to “Eye of the Tiger” of Archie training and training so he can lose weight. It’s wild to me that he doesn’t do the cheap tactics people I went to high school employed—like running in trash bags. If you lose that much weight that quickly, doesn’t it make sense that you’d be incredibly weak for a fight? What is the goal here? Is this just another example of Archie trying to have it all?
Gabriella: At no point in this did the bank employee say anything like “So who is the guarantor for this loan since YOU’RE A MINOR” which is both absurd and annoying. There is no way a teenager would be able to do any this money wise, and the fact that the show never addresses this is infuriating at this point.
Archie is a complete idiot. And using Eye of the Tiger for the training montage was cheap for a show that usually (or used to) do those kinds of pop culture allusions so well. I mean, SARAH FLORENCE? REALLY?
Kelli: Here is a question I have: if Archie’s mom is concerned about his safety, why is she cool with him going off to serve for five years??? I mean yeah, the navy isn’t as dangerous as other parts of the military, but still… I don’t understand her logic.
I was hoping the point of all this was going to be that Archie was going to have a realization that his sudden obsession with boxing is actually a mask for all of his suppressed trauma, but that didn’t happen, so ultimately his storyline this episode did nothing to move the plot forward.
Mary: Without getting to see the fight, we see Archie get in Veronica’s car after the tournament. He’s absolutely wrecked, and he lost the fight. Veronica goes to tell the recruiter and Archie’s mom that Archie is sick and can’t come. But of course, Archie shows up last minute and says he can do it. He falls on his face the second he gets in the ring.
Archie’s mom gives him a WELL-DESERVED talking to after he passes out. She tells him that he’s just 17 and he isn’t thinking about the rest of his life. DUH MOM.
Gabriella: On the one hand I’m glad they skipped the fight because I didn’t need to see that, my time is precious. But on the other hand, it made the whole ‘I’m still gonna fight’ moment feel pretty lacklustre. For someone whose parents seem pretty level headed, Archie is a complete moron.
Kelli: When she said “we need to talk about what’s really going on here” — that was the moment I was really hoping she would be like, “Do you think maybe you’re feeling some emotions that you might want to talk about? Like the fact that you spent time in juvie and were forced to fight for your life in front of betting prison guards? Or that your ex-girlfriend’s father tried to have you killed on multiple occasions? Or that you got mauled by a bear?” But again: no.
Mary: The night of prom, as Veronica is all dressed up in her medieval garb, Pop tells Veronica he has something very important to tell her. We don’t get to see what he tells her though, because we jump straight to prom, where Veronica tells Archie that Pop told her that she doesn’t own the diner, even though she bought it from her dad. He gave her a fake deed! However, Hiram doesn’t know she knows. She’s going to make him “dig his own grave!” Archie and Veronica vow to each other to take down Hiram together.
At the end of the episode, Archie’s mom tells him that she’s going to stay around for a while longer, or at least while Fred’s away. RIP Luke. Archie and his mom make up at the end, and mom says she’ll help him convince Fred to let him not go to college.
What do we think about Archie and Ronnie teaming up again? Will it lead to romance? Does it matter if it does?
Gabriella: I’m so bored by them, which I know I’ve said already, but the Riverdale writers have clearly run out of ideas now and we’ve gone from hair-brained batshit insanity to pure repetition of previous plot points. It’s like Veronica’s never been duped by her dad before! Where is the emotional growth? HAS SHE LEARNED NOTHING? Clearly. This was one of the same problems I had with The Umbrella Academy - it felt as if the characters were simply stuck in a loop repeatedly playing their flaws out despite disastrous consequences. And though this might be closer to reality (it’s harder to change than we’d all like to admit) it makes for poor television. POOR. TELEVISION.
Kelli: I’m wondering if this time Veronica will fully commit to taking down Hiram. It seems unlikely, given the number of times he’s managed to bring her back over to his side, but I’m going to hope that she’s learned, because I really just want Hiram and his mob activities to be over with.
The romance is obviously going to happen, and I’m honestly surprised they didn’t make out right then and there at the dance. I’m actually hoping the show will drag things out a bit longer before Varchie gets back together, because that might inject an ounce or two of excitement into what has been a relatively dull relationship.
Betty & Jughead (AKA the more exciting plot)
Mary: Betty and Veronica visit the site of the accident we heard about at the end of last episode, and Betty insists that her father is the one who orchestrated the crash. Even though FP says that all the people who were in the van were accounted for, Betty says, “He’s back—the Black Hood.” Honestly, I’m with Betty on this. The show is portraying Hal as too smart to just be killed in a dumb car crash. Also, as I mentioned last week, this is literally a plotline from Hannibal. *sigh*
Randomly, and weirdly, there’s a moment where the gang is all on screen together for the first time in ages. Cheryl appears to announce that prom is coming up soon, and Veronica astutely notes, “Do we still do stuff like prom?!” Betty asks Jughead to prom, to remind us they’re dating, and Archie and Veronica try to avoid looking at each other. Later, Archie asks Veronica what she’s doing for prom and they decide to go together...as friends. Sure. What did you guys think of this sudden turn to prom of all things?
Gabriella: Ugh. This show needs to either be kids in school or not at all, and since it’s been leaning towards the latter the fact that they turned it around to something as typically high-school as prom was ridiculous. As for Varchie…. Yawn.
Kelli: Yeah, I haven’t even seen Hannibal (or anything Hannibal-related other than Silence of the Lambs) and I knew where this was going from a mile away. Also, what kind of car accident would completely dismember six separate bodies to the point where none of them would even be recognizable?
Anyway, I was glad to see the gang back together, though it’s actually happened a few times in the last few episodes. I wonder if the writers are hearing the complaints about the disjointedness of this show. While it’s silly that prom still exists in the Riverdale universe, it was also a good way to bring everyone into the same room again.
Mary: Betty’s not convinced that Hal isn’t alive, so she begins practicing her shooting. Pow pow! Conveniently, the corpses are charred beyond recognition, but they did find a severed hand that matches Hal’s. Ok, but people can live without their hands? What’s the big deal??
Elsewhere, Jellybean, recently abandoned by Gladys, is staying with FP and Jughead. She tells Jughead that she doesn’t understand why everyone is so worked up about G&G, since it’s just costumes and make believe. Even the GK is just a costume, she says. Jughead asks her about her meeting with the GK, and she tells him that she and Ricky were given a quest to find the gospel. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but Jughead looks like he’s onto something.
FP calls Jughead to come look at an old abandoned school bus, where Kurtz and some other kids were staying. There are creepy dolls hanging up everywhere and it looks real culty. Peeling back an old seat, Jughead finds a red leather book titled, aptly, The Gospel of the Gargoyle King.
Gabriella: FP is the worst sheriff ever. He should not need the help of a bunch of teenagers to help him solve CRIME. I liked FP but now I don’t, he’s a boring old man. Boo.
Kelli: I still don’t understand why/how he is actually sheriff.
Mary: Jughead and Betty study the gospel, and Betty notes that the GK is just a serial killer, like her dad, which means that he can die. Hmmm...This still seems like they’re building it up for Hal to be the GK which is dumb. They go to the coroner and look at Kurtz’s dead body, which seems illegal, to find out that he got tattoos of the GK markings, the same ones the other victims had carved on them.
They follow up by visiting the tattoo artist who gave Kurtz his tattoos, and he says he also gave them to another guy about a year ago, a guy who wouldn’t let him take pictures. He had sandy hair, blue eyes...maybe it was Edgar!
Betty hypothesizes that Edgar has been around for YEARS, and that he’s the GK. Betty barges in to confront him at the Farm, and Edgar wants her to sit down and calmly chat with them. Betty demands that Edgar take off his shirt and show the runic symbols on his back. He is SHOCKINGLY ripped, but doesn’t have any tattoos on him. Also, what were the Farmies even DOING when Betty showed up? Sitting in a circle and staring at each other?
Gabriella: I knew Betty was making an ass of herself but again it’s kind of fun to watch her mess up. She’s the best written (and acted) character so her mistakes feel driven by actual need.
They seemed to be having some kind of informational session because Edgar was saying ‘good question Alice’ when Betty turned up so I guess the Farm is also educational which makes sense.
Who else do we know with sandy hair and blue eyes? Honestly, the show is so dark now I don’t even remember.
Kelli: It should be noted that based on Edgar’s answer, Alice seemed to be asking a question about ritual cannibalism. Honestly though, I couldn’t focus on much during this scene because I was so shook by CMM’s body. Dude has kept it TIGHT. I loved when Betty demanded, “TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT!” because like, same. CMM has been waiting for the moment to show off his perfectly-maintained muscles, and I’m glad he was given this opportunity to shine.
Mary: Betty and Jughead try to get Cheryl to change the theme to something more...G&G appropriate, and she readily agrees. “What’s it matter if I’m not gonna be queen?” she says. Jughead and Betty negotiate a truce between the Pretty Poisons and the Serpents for prom night. Ooooh, what do they have brewing?
At the weird medieval prom, Betty gives Peaches a stack of votes so she’ll be sure to win prom queen. They’re planning, apparently, to lure the GK out of hiding with...a medieval-themed prom?
A man in a mask gives Betty a letter from the GK asking her to come to the classroom where the first Ascension Night was held. If she tells anyone, EVERYONE WILL DIE. Moments later, they call Betty up to receive prom queen, but she isn’t there. DUN DUN DUN.
Elsewhere, Betty finds a room covered in weird writing, with two goblets waiting for her. When she refuses to drink, the lights shut off. She goes into the hallway and sees the GK standing ominously. She pulls a gun out and aims at the GK, but she’s pushed out of the way by Hal, who now has a hook hand. See, I told you. Betty runs and finds a MURDERED EVELYN! Right? It was hard for me to tell with all the dark lighting. Bleh.
Gabriella: THAT WAS NOT EVELYN. Was it? I couldn’t tell. I didn’t think so…
Kelli: That was definitely not Evelyn — when Betty is announced as Queen, there is a shot of Evelyn with Cheryl and Toni looking around confused as Betty fails to appear. That would have been a bold move, tho.
Here’s another thing I don’t understand: how did they manage to set up such a detailed medieval prom when they changed the theme like five seconds before the dance? Doesn’t prom committee work on that shit for months?
Mary: Betty runs and hides in the closet where the original murdered principal was found all those years ago. Hal finds her, though, and starts banging on the door. Eventually, the banging stops and Betty opens the door to reveal Jughead—who didn’t see anything. Now, as Betty and Jughead tell FP, there are two serial killers running around. Lovely.
Betty tries to convince her mom that the BH is back, and in the end she agrees to stay at the Farm. I’m imagining that Betty wants to infiltrate the cult from the inside out!
This is, IMO, an exciting chase scene and it really feels like this is a plot about Betty. Yes the GK has hurt a lot of people, but she’s the one dealing with the trauma of just having a serial killer dad go to jail, then die, then come back again. I’m curious to see what the show is going to do to wrap up these plot lines. Any predictions? Any thoughts about this chase and reveal?
Gabriella: I loved the 80s vibe and the horror chase, it felt like OG Riverdale when the aesthetics actually enhanced the show. I feel like we’re finally getting to the meat of the GK… maybe? I don’t know. Hal with the hook was interesting but I actually had to mute my laptop during the couple of moments where he dragged it along the lockers/walls because my PRECIOUS EARS.
I know we’re meant to think it’s Hal but I don’t think it is. I know it looks like him but there’s something about his weird relationship with Betty, I don’t think he’d try to kill her. Riverdale is the kind of show where when she calls him dad, given he knows SHE knows he’s the BH, he would twig to that or acknowledge it in some way but he just kept slashing away. So yeah, my bet is Hal is dead and the BH is someone else entirely. And still have no idea about GK but my money is on JB (which I forgot to mention in my post last week but Kelli did!).
Kelli: I LOVED the chase scene. It was totally a highlight of the episode — and the entire season, TBH — and even though I know Betty isn’t going to die, it actually managed to make me worry for her safety. Plus, who doesn’t love a good 80s slasher tribute?
Here’s a thought: what if the GK caused the accident and drugged Hal with fizzle rocks which made him go all crazy and try to kill Betty! But why does the GK want to kill Betty? That’s the part I still don’t understand. I mean, I guess it could be Chic? He has blonde hair and blue eyes, and we never got confirmation on his death… But yeah, JB also definitely factors into this somehow, because she’s the one who fed the information to Jughead about the Gospel. She is waaay too casual about all of this to not be involved.
Mary: In a funny little aside, Evelyn tells Cheryl and Toni that they can’t go to prom, and they certainly can’t campaign for it. It’s against the Farm’s rules! She tells them, “You can be queens for a night” or live in the glory of the Farm forever. Cheryl, in the most Cheryl way, responds, “I’d like both, thanks. How many proms have you been to Evelyn, aren’t you like 30?” OH SNAP CHERYL.
Edgar confronts Cheryl about her campaigning for prom queen. Cheryl has a very Cheryl response, spinning what it would mean for The Farm if she won prom queen. Edgar flat out tells her no. She can’t talk to Jason anymore if she can’t let prom queen go. On the verge of tears, Cheryl says, “please don’t take Jason away.”
Archie and Toni are the best, still. I really enjoyed seeing them dance at prom.
Gabriella: I do love Cheryl throwing shade, but it really annoyed me that the thing that made her reconsider the Farm during that dance was that she couldn’t also be prom queen. I’m wondering if it’s a throwaway line (which I doubt) or if it’s leading up to something, especially with Betty now living in the Farm. Who knows. I don’t think the writers do, either. Next thing we know Dan will show up xoxo gossip girl.
Kelli: But also, was it not extremely Cheryl that what would make her reconsider the farm would be something as petty as prom queen?
I have a feeling Betty is going to get Choni back on her side, and maybe together they’ll take down the farmies. Good point though, Gabriella - maybe Lonely Boy has been behind all of this the whole time.