This episode of Riverdale is split into three sections. The first one follows Jughead and Archie who are still traveling together and decide to seek refuge at a farm they come across only to find that things aren’t so simple and they’re not as safe as they thought they were.
Before checking out the farm, Jughead decides to call Betty but she doesn’t pick up. It seems like they might have tried to call several times before and I am questioning why Jughead hasn’t sent someone to check on her, however, I did appreciate that he chose not to go home because if Betty and Archie get into trouble, the former is more likely to handle herself. This is usually true but as we see from her portion of the episode, she’s a little out of her depth this time around. Despite his faith in her, I do hope Jughead comes to his senses and either returns home to check on her or sends someone to see if she’s okay.
When they do decide to step onto the farm, Jughead isn’t so sure, however, it’s too late because a young girl (Gracie) stops them and points a shotgun at them. When an older girl (Laurie) comes out, Jughead gives fake names and to avoid getting shot, Archie says they were robbed on the train and they’re just looking for food before they move on. Laurie agrees to this and later offers them a chance to stay in the barn. In return, Archie and Jughead will repay them by doing some work and staying out of the main house. Something felt shady right from the start but oh boy I wasn’t expecting it to be connected to Hiram. The next morning, when Jughead goes into town to take photos, Archie stays to work on the farm. He ends up revealing his true identity to Laurie as well as the reason to why he left Riverdale, this leads to her knocking him out and tying him up.
In town, Jughead finds that the whole place is pretty much deserted and there are symbols connected to Gryphons and Gargoyles all over the place. An old woman nearby reveals that Jingle Jangle was a problem in town but then it changed to Fizzle Rocks and when that came to town, so did the symbols. While exploring some more, Jughead also finds artwork of the Gargoyle King as well as three girl taking Fizzle Rocks and playing the game. He gets them to open up by revealing that he is a level 3, almost a level 4. They tell him that their brothers played the game before they went to work by the river (this latter part being something we heard from Laurie and Gracie too). The job is to build a prison that will double as a factory to make Fizzle Rocks. They also mention that their dads and brothers work for a man who dresses in a black suit and gets driven around in a black car. Jughead realises that it’s Hiram and rushes back to the farm.
He gets there just in time and unties Archie. The latter wants to stay and fight, to end it all now, however, Jughead convinces him that it is not the right time but Hiram will get what’s coming to him. They escape just in time and as they are walking Jughead admits that Hiram is just going to keep coming so to ensure they won’t be double-crossed, they’ll go to see Jughead’s mother. I’m intrigued about seeing her and Jellybean. I’m curious to see how the whole thing will go down considering Jughead has wanted to go and see them in the past but was denied the chance.
For the second part of the episode, we follow Veronica who is packing her things to move out of the Pembrooke and into the speakeasy. She reveals that it’s because the Sheriff has gone missing and she suspects her parents had something to do with it. Before leaving, she says that they can celebrate now because Hiram has successfully driven both her and Archie away for good.
The next day, she and Reggie talk about what’s worrying her. Part of it is Archie but the rest of it is that the speakeasy isn’t earning much money to which Reggie suggests they have a side hustle. This leads her to enlist Elio’s help and they strike up a deal. He’ll provide the game and take 25% of everything, and Veronica’s other condition is that the deal stays between them because she doesn’t want any third parties sticking their noses in and of course, just as that happens, Hiram walks into Pop’s. He’s there to warn her that working with Elio won’t end well but she doesn’t listen. We later, however, discover that he spoke to her again and she did listen that time. The second warning was in regards to Elio planning to fleece Veronica. During Casino night Reggie notices that Elio keeps winning and must be cheating, this prompts Veronica to play and call a winner takes all to stop them from going bankrupt. She bets the deed to Pop’s and the speakeasy and when all seems lost, Veronica wins and declares the house always wins.
It turns out that as well as warning Veronica, Hiram also offered up some advice He suggested that she cheat using a particular dealer and even tells her the exact time to do it so that she can beat Elio at his own game. It seems like Veronica is left believing that her father might not be so bad deep down because she tells Pop as such the next morning. However, that idea seems to be quickly shattered when Pop reveals that the Sheriff’s body was found but his head and hands had been cut off.
The last part of the episode follows Betty who is still at Sisters of Quiet Mercy and in the middle of taking an inkblot test with Woodhouse. The first reminds her of a dead body but she says a toy instead, the second reminds her of the Black Hood but she says butterfly, and the last one reminds her of the Gargoyle King but she says the old jungle gym at Riverdale elementary. Throughout this process, she internally reminds herself to smile, digs her nails into the palms of her hands, and tells herself that if she passes the test she can go and investigate.
Right before she goes looking she finds out that the girls are being given Fizzle Rocks and that Ethel is her new roommate. It is revealed that the Gargoyle King has a chamber inside the Sisters of Quiet Mercy and Betty actually comes across it while looking for the patient files. As she approaches the doors to the chamber, Betty hears screaming from inside and manages to hide just as a girl is brought out looking terrified. When the coast seems clear, she tries to approach the chambers but Ethel shows up. She feigns getting lost and says she was looking for the infirmary but it’s revealed that no one can just walk in there.
This leads to Betty needing a better plan to break into the infirmary to get the files, so when she’s interrupted once again by Ethel she uses it to her advantage. With the paper clip she needs in hand, Betty starts an argument by bringing up Ethel kissing Jughead causing Ethel to come down hard saying that the King wants her and Jughead to be together and that Betty will never meet the King because she’ll never be worthy. Betty suddenly drops to the floor and pretends to have a seizure meaning that she is taken to the infirmary which is exactly where she needs to go.
When she’s left alone in the infirmary, Betty finally breaks into the filing cabinet and takes out her own file. Earlier in the episode, she saw Hiram and Claudius arrive at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy at the same time with no obvious reason to be there, and one of the other girls also calls Hiram the Man in Black. I actually forgot that he was working with Claudius (and Penelope) so it’ll be interesting to see how the Blossoms are actually involved in all of this. From the notes inside her file, Betty figures that Hiram must be using the girls as lab rats and now that she has some kind of proof, she goes to the basement to break out. Unfortunately, it turns out her escape route has been blocked, most likely after Cheryl’s escape.
Once again Ethel shows up but this time is more horrific than the others. Woodhouse is with her and she gets two men to grab Betty so they can force her to take some Fizzle Rocks. Once she does, she’s taken to the King’s chambers where we hear her screaming. After this, Betty has to take the inkblot test again, however, this time she reveals her real answers. We then see the King standing behind Woodhouse and internally, Betty recites words that we also heard Ethel say: “My kind, my saviour. Guide me through the night. Bless me with your darkness, gift me with your flight.”
I believe that Hiram isn’t the Gargoyle King but he has to be involved. It can’t be a coincidence that he provided Fizzle Rocks to the Midnight Club when the King was present and is now providing Fizzle Rocks at a time when the King has returned. He is either deeply involved, knowing who the King is and either working for or with him (or perhaps the King is working for him), or he has no idea who the King is and is simply not getting in his way and using the fallout from the game to feed his Fizzle Rocks business. Either way, Hiram Lodge is a big part of figuring out who the King is and what is going on.
To be honest, I hope we get answers soon. I’m already getting a little bored of the Gargoyle King story especially considering there hasn’t been much development with it. I at least want to know who is behind it all and I’m hoping we get some answers in the next episode before they go on break.