Riverdale Season 3 Episode 4: ‘The Midnight Club’ Review

[Header Image: The CW/Netflix]

After Gryphons and Gargoyles came to the attention of the students of Riverdale High in last week’s episode, we see that Hermione, as Mayor, has come to visit the school to warn them about the dangers of playing the game. She even goes so far as to ban the game outright due to how dangerous and addictive it can be.

Veronica says that it will only make people want to play it more and she’s not wrong. By the end of the episode, we see various people you wouldn’t expect, playing the game. I was actually surprised to see Jughead, Toni, Cheryl, Fangs, and Sweet Pea playing it and it’ll be interesting to see what actually happens when we pick up with next week’s episode.

Screenshot 2018-11-13 at 16.10.17
[The CW/Netflix]

That being said, most of the episode was actually a flashback told by Alice to when she and some of the other parents played Gryphons and Gargoyles. I have been waiting so long for this episode and it did not disappoint, in fact, I think it might be my favourite episode of the season so far. Betty manages to persuade her mother to tell the story after the Coroner reveals that Dilton’s death was very similar to another death from when Alice was in her junior year.

It was actually really well done that the parents were played by the current teenagers. In my opinion, Lili Reinhart did the best by far as young Alice Cooper. She was so good to the point that I genuinely forgot that she also played Betty which is wild considering Betty actually appears throughout this episode. Lili’s acting was so just believable that I absolutely believed she was Alice. The others also did a fantastic job, don’t get me wrong, but Lili Reinhart was certainly a shining star.

Anyway, the flashback portions start with Alice taking a pregnancy test and finding out that she’s pregnant with Charles. Hermione and Sierra are also in the bathroom and it was really interesting that they knew about the pregnancy and that FP was the father because, after all these years, neither of them has said anything. We know this because when FP finds out, as an adult, that Alice was pregnant and the baby was his, he seems genuinely shocked.

Something else to note about this part of the episode is that Alice is wearing a Serpent jacket. We also discover later that FP isn’t a Serpent despite his father being their leader. Instead, he’s a star athlete and wants to be the first Jones to college. That later is changed when his father breaks his arm and after playing Gryphons and Gargoyles, he finally accepts the jacket. It was just so strange to realise that Alice was a Serpent first and that she and FP were Serpents at different times. I always assumed FP was one first just because it’s been in his family for so long.

Screenshot 2018-11-13 at 16.12.45

[Lili Reinhart as Alice Cooper | The CW/Netflix]

Due to Alice and Penelope fighting in the bathroom, and FP and Fred streaking through school a bunch of the parents have to go to Saturday detention. The group includes Alice, Fred, FP, Penelope, Hermione, Sierra, and Marty (who is Reggie’s dad). For their detention, they have to write a 1000 word essay on why they’re there. When left alone they end up doing other things and Fred points out that they go to school together but know nothing about each other, prompting them to play a round of Secrets and Sins.

Sierra reveals that she and Tom are dating secretly because their parents won’t approve, Hermione defends Hiram, and Fred wants to stay in Riverdale because he likes it and also to look after his dad who is really sick. When it’s Alice’s turn Hermione tries to push the conversation away but Alice ends up turning on FP, revealing that he actually lives on the Southside. This prompts him to talk about college and his dad.

Not all of this is too much of a surprise, except maybe FP but even then we had some indication that the Serpent life wasn’t always for him. It’s clear from seeing adult FP, that being a Serpent was something he had to do as opposed to something he wanted to do. That’s not to say that he doesn’t care about the Serpents now but it’s obvious his life would be better if he went down a different path and that he’s not always happy with his history as a Serpent.

But the most shocking revelation of Secrets and Sins was Penelope. We discover that she grew up at Sisters of Quiet Mercy and she was taken home by the Blossoms. At first, she was meant to be Clifford’s sister and then later his companion. I think we all knew how gross the Blossom family can be but this was a whole other level.

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[Simone Sadler as Penelope Blossom | The CW/Netlifx]

That revelation prompts Penelope and Hermione to get into a fight and leads to the parents getting 4 Saturday detentions instead of just one. During these detentions, the group gets to know each other better and on one Saturday they find Gryphons and Gargoyles and decide to play it. At some point, Penelope suggests they take it off the board and the first time they do so, they play a game that requires pairs.

FP and Hermione work together, and Fred and Alice work together. When the latter pair are left alone in the Blue and Gold offices, Fred notices that something is wrong and makes Alice sit down. She almost reveals that she’s pregnant but instead opts to say that she feels lost and how being with the group and playing the game allows her to step away from her life for a moment. I couldn’t stop smiling when she and Fred shared a kiss. It was such a small moment but it felt genuine and it makes me want to see more interactions between adult Fred and Alice. Not necessarily romantic, just them as friends considering they clearly had some kind of connection.

Her revelation seems to be a shared one because Fred mentions that he can forget his dad is sick when he plays the game, and that he doesn’t have to worry.

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[KJ Apa as Fred Andrews, Lili Reinhart as Alice Cooper | The CW/Netflix]

When their detention time was over they all sneak back into school at night to play the game and start to refer to themselves as the Midnight Club. We see that Hermione and Fred get closer which makes sense considering as adults they have a bit of a romance, and FP and Alice get closer too which is absolutely no surprise at this point. We also see that Tom, Marty, Hiram, and Daryl are also playing the game so they merge their groups.

Adult Alice mentions that the line between the game and real life became blurred, and that at one point they all got letters to take part in a challenge. To make the game more fun they take Fizzle rock (a drug) but Alice doesn’t take it considering she’s pregnant. The Fred Heads perform during the night, and adult Alice says that everyone went a little insane from the Fizzle rock and the game. She’s not wrong. This whole portion of the episode was absolutely wild and I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing.

While all of this is going down Alice escapes to the bathroom. On one of the sinks are two chalices, one filled with poison. There’s writing all over the walls saying to flip for her fate but Alice doesn’t do it. As she leaves the bathroom there’s lots of noise, red lighting, and as she rounds the corner, she sees the Gargoyle King. At this point, she doesn’t know it’s the Gargoyle King or how dangerous he is, which was pretty interesting to see and I wonder if adult Alice will run into the King considering she’s the only parent to have seen him before.

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[The CW/Netflix]

Right before she leaves the school she sees the Principal. She tries to call the members of the Midnight Club to see if they were caught but no one picks up. The next day she finds out that Principal hasn’t shown up for school and that the Midnight Club wasn’t caught but Fred’s dad died while they were partying.

At Pop’s, the group comfort Fred who is angry and upset that he wasn’t with his dad when he died. Moments like this show how much Fred and Archie are alike and there’s a lot of similarities to how protective they are, and how much family means to them.

Alice eventually reveals that she saw the Principal at the school and she wants to tell someone but Penelope says they’re not going to tell anyone. Later, after the Principal is found dead at school with blue lips, Alice also mentions that she saw the Gargoyle King but the group reveal that it wasn’t any of them. She wants to tell the cops at this point but no one will let her. The group also realise that neither Penelope or Daryl set up the game and figure out that whoever did set up the game, wanted to kill one of them. This prompts them to try and destroy the game and make a pact to stay away from it.

After this, everyone went their separate ways. Fred sold his guitar and went to the family business, Hermione ended up with Hiram, Sierra and Tom broke up, promising to wait for each other, Penelope wants to say in Thornhill forever, FP becomes a Serpent and drinks at the trailer with his dad, Alice traded in her Serpent Jacket and spoke to Hal (asking him out), and the group often passed in the hall but never really spoke. We know that’s not entirely true because at some point they did move on. For example, we know that FP and Fred started a business together. I doubt we’ll get another flashback episode but it’ll be interesting to see more of what happened between the parents prior to the start of season one but after they promise to stop playing the game.

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[The CW/Netflix]

The final bits of revelation from the flashback is that the Principal’s death was ruled a suicide under suspicious circumstances. They don’t know who did it but Alice suspects it was someone from the group. Betty wants to ask more questions but Alice says the more you talk about the game or the more you think about it, the more in danger you are. Betty tells Alice that she has to investigate it and suggests the Gargoyle King could be the same person today, but she does promises not to play the game.

The fact that the parents all came together despite their current feuds to discuss the game showed how scared they were of it but seeing Alice talk about the game and actually seeing how she reacted to it as a teenager makes the whole thing feel more intense. It adds another level to the whole thing and with more information out there, I’m curious to see where future episodes go.

Screenshot 2018-11-13 at 16.27.57

[The CW/Netflix]

Some other things:

  • The different style of opening credits were really cool. I enjoyed the overall look of it and it really fit the theme of the episode.
  • Alice carving the others’ initials into the windowsill alongside hers was really awesome and I like that it’s still there today.
  • FP thinking that he and Alice could be more was kind of interesting considering how differently things could have been if they had both been a bit more vocal about their feelings.
  • Jughead at the end was so strange! Especially the way he says that it’s all starting to make sense now. He’s at level 3 and it won’t be long before he meets the King which I doubt is going to be a good thing but I’m curious to see it nonetheless.

 

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Author: Danielle T. Murray

23 | INFJ | British | BA in Creative Writing

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