[Header Image: KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, and Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones | The CW/Netflix]
This episode of Riverdale starts in the bunker with Betty still looking after Archie. In the last episode, we saw Jughead run into the Gargoyle King on his way home. It’s confirmed that he wasn’t seen or caught but instead managed to sneak away and go back to the bunker. He tells Betty everything he saw which included seeing various other people wearing masks. They decide that these must be some kind of disciples to the Gargoyle King and when Archie explains that Joaquin is part of a new gang, they realise he must be one of the masked figures.
From this point on the episode tends to split into three separate storylines that do ultimately crossover and come back to G&G and the Gargoyle King.
One of the more stripped back storylines is Veronica and Archie trying to find the evidence they need to prove his innocence and they do so separately. On the one hand, Veronica is investigating the case files to find if anything is missing while Archie and Kevin travel to the mines near Shadow Lake to find the witnesses that Hiram paid off.
At first it starts because Kevin realises that Archie’s wound is infected and under Betty’s advice, they go to the coroner to get him treatment. It’s after this that Archie refuses to go back to the bunker and instead wants to go to Shadow Lake prompting Kevin, although a little reluctant, to go along with him. When they get there, Archie and Kevin see the Sheriff and we know, from an earlier scene, that he has been sent there by Hiram to deal with their loose ends.
Eventually, Archie and Kevin enter the mines to find markings all over the walls and drawings of the Gargoyle King. They find the witnesses have been shot, however, one of them is still alive. The two of them work together to get him out of the mines and to a hospital, Archie declaring that he doesn’t want anyone else to die because of him, but as we say a little later, the boy doesn’t make it.
While hiding out at the hospital, Archie mentions that even if he’s found innocent, he doesn’t think he can return to Riverdale and honestly, I get it. He’s not entirely wrong in saying that Hiram is out to get him and won’t rest. Now he’s not in juvie Hiram will most likely just find another way to take him down and it would be naive to think that he didn’t know Archie had a target on his back while inside. Until they can stop him for good, Archie’s life, and the people he loves, are in danger.
Archie actually leaves with only Kevin and Jughead finding out in person. Although Fred and Tom know about the trip to Shadow Lake, they show up to the hospital too late and we simply see Kevin hand the former a note from Archie. The only reason they’re really there is because Veronica, from her jail cell, calls Fred to explain what’s going on and to ask him to call Sierra McCoy for her.
Now, the reason she needs a lawyer (and why she is in a cell) is because while Archie and Kevin are investigating the mines, Veronica is looking for evidence that might have been overlooked in Archie’s case files. While going over the security tapes of when the witnesses were interviewed, Veronica notices that the footage has been edited. Hiram appears in her room but only seems to note that she’s going over Archie’s files and it’s not till later, in his office, that he is seen making a phone call telling someone (who we later find out is the Sheriff) to deal with the witnesses at Shadow Lake.
Investigating further, Veronica breaks into the Mayor’s office and logs onto the computer to find a folder with the symbol that was burnt into Archie’s skin. She finds the video file where the Sheriff is seen telling one of the witnesses what to say and just about manages to attach it to an email and send it just before a cop comes in and arrests her. Fred does in fact call Sierra and after Veronica’s bail is posted, the evidence is taken to a Judge who overturns Archie’s conviction and the Sheriff ends up going down for what he’s done.
From later scenes we know that Veronica is separate from Archie despite him being free. I can only imagine that this is going to make her more determined than ever to take her father down. She knows he’s the main reason Archie feels like he can’t come home so it’s just a matter of time before Veronica does everything she can do ruin Hiram and get rid of him for good. I’m just curious to see what that might entail.
While all of this is happening Betty and Jughead also go their separate ways to investigate recent events. The former plans to question the parents to figure out who the Gargoyle King might be and the latter wants to find Joaquin and question him.
Betty is prompted to keep investigating because despite Alice saying that she doesn’t know the Warden, Betty discovers that he was the RROTC instructor in the same year that the Midnight Club was created. She manages to trick the parents into meeting at the Speakeasy by sending a letter pretending to be the Gargoyle King. When they’re all together, she reveals that many of their kids are playing the game and this prompts the parents to start talking. It’s mostly he said, she said, but Penelope (when accused) does mention that Daryl Doiley could have added the poison back then as he was also a game master. However, he supposedly killed himself a while back so it doesn’t explain who the King might be now.
Despite the parents walking out, Betty continues to look and her investigation leads to the reveal that Daryl didn’t die from suicide but was actually poisoned. Tom Keller, who was the Sheriff at the time, says he helped to cover it up to protect everyone but that Penelope is the most likely one to grow the plant used to kill him. However, when questioned, she says that she would have used something that doesn’t leave a trace and points the finger at Alice for writing the article about it and not mentioning it was murder.
Back at home, Betty then questions Alice about why she covered it up and reveals that all of the parents had a hand in it. Suddenly, the lights go out and we see a figure pass by the window. There are suddenly knocks at the front door and when Alice opens it, no one is there. She gets Betty to call the police but before they can they turn to see the Gargoyle King in the living room. Alice just about locks the door before someone can push their way in and they both run upstairs.
Betty’s bed is covered in a gravestone, a skull, dirt, and writing that talks about Daryl’s death as well as naming Betty and Alice. There’s a ladder against Betty’s open window and someone climbs in. It turns out that it’s FP and he was the one trying to get in the front door. Alice panicky tells him that the Gargoyle King is in the house and he hugs her.
It’s honestly no surprise that this happened because while Betty isn’t the only one looking into the Gargoyle King, she’s the only one investigating that isn’t playing the game at the same time. The King most likely thinks he can control those who are so but Betty is a bit of a wild card so it would make sense that the King would try to warn her or even hurt her.
There’s actually a point after the parents leave the Speakeasy where FP comes home and handcuffs Jughead to the fridge to stop him from playing the game. Luckily, Betty shows up to the trailer looking for Jughead and finds him sitting on the floor still handcuffed. She picks the lock for him and tells him what happened with the parents. At this point she goes off to investigate Penelope’s claims and Jughead is free to go and catch up with Sweet Pea and Fangs who have found Joaquin.
He meets up with them in the woods where Joaquin is restrained and they confront him about stabbing Archie. He explains that you would do anything to survive inside and that he was just a pawn, a chess piece, for the Warden who was most likely a pawn himself. He continues by mentioning that the Warden was sent cards telling him what to do and that Archie was marked from the moment he went inside. When Jughead shows the mark that was branded into Archie, Joaquin says he doesn’t know what it means but does finally cave and says that it means sacrifice and Archie had to die. When he finds out that he is in fact alive, Joaquin warns that it won’t be for long.
After interrogating him some more, it leads Jughead to Hiram Lodge. He accuses him of being the Gargoyle King but Hiram denies it, claiming he’s not a 16 year old nerd playing games which can I just say, was the funniest thing. He says there’s no such thing as the Gargoyle King and that he’s not the murderer Jughead and Betty are looking for, prompting that some of the other dads are better suspects. However, as I mentioned earlier, he had to know that there was a target on Archie’s back and I’m going to assume that although he might not have been involved the Warden playing G&G, he probably knew about it which is just as bad as if he was the actual Gargoyle King.
Later, we see that Joaquin is dead with the sacrifice symbol etched into his forehead and we can assume he was killed for revealing too much information. This was honestly such a waste of a good character and I wish we had at least got a bit more out of him before he left entirely. Maybe it’s just because he’s trying to keep quiet, but he did seem a little unsure about all of the cards being sent to the Warden. It’s almost like he wasn’t fully apart of the game until he proved himself (by stabbing Archie) and was then allowed to leave and find the Gargoyle King to start playing the game properly. It really feels like there was more to discover with Joaquin and his involvement with everything happening this season.
By the end of the episode, we see two major things happen. One is Veronica finding out that Archie is leaving. She cries on the phone as they say speak but she still can’t convince him to stay. He explains that despite being free, Hiram is still out there and Archie will continue to be hunted and the people he loves will get hurt. After they hang up, it’s revealed that Jughead is going with Archie. I’m going to assume that this won’t be forever and that at least Jughead will return fairly soon. I’m guessing they’re going to head North to another Serpent group because Jughead recommended doing this at the start of the season when Archie was still on trial.
The other big ending is with the Coopers. Alice warns that they’re not safe and that this attack is probably the first. She explains that she’s going to the Farm and doesn’t seem surprised when Betty refuses to go. Instead, two men and a woman from Sisters of Quiet Mercy walk in and take Betty away.
The final scene is Betty being shown around the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. She takes a brush and sits down to paint only to see that all of the other girls are painting the Gargoyle King despite the fact that one of the Sisters says nothing can hurt her there. It can’t be a coincidence that we see this and the only reason she’s even there is because Edgar, the leader of the Farm, suggested that Alice do it. I really can’t blame Alice because clearly the Farm and Edgar are having a huge influence on her. After everything she went through, it’s not hard to believe that she could be easily manipulated.
We also have to remember that on the one hand, Betty is investigating the King while refusing to play his game but she’s also highly suspicious of the Farm and has investigated them before. Now, suddenly she’s being taken out of the equation under the orders of Edgar and sent to a place where the Gargoyle King has clearly reached. Whether they’re connected to the Gargoyle King or not, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Farm planned the attack on the house to have an excuse for sending Betty away. Personally, I would say the Farm and the King are definitely connected but we’ll have to wait and see.
Some other things to note:
- Betty calling out Reggie’s dad for punching him was so great considering it seemed to be washed over before now.
- Josie is now the third person to have a seizure and surprise, surprise not only was she involved in playing G&G but Evelyn happened to be nearby when it happened.
- The fact that FP climbed through the window is a direct parallel to a scene from Scream in which Billy climbs through the window and we see Sidney screaming that the killer is in the house. Both are played by Skeet Ulrich but if you know anything about Scream, I’m honestly praying the parallels end there. Below you can see the actual comparison!