Previously on Riverdale: The warden told Archie how Hiram framed him, by paying off the witnesses, and suggested that the witnesses were hiding by Shadow Lake in the mines; Joaquin stabbed Archie at the warden’s command and was possibly-probably-definitely playing G&G with him; Veronica helped Archie escape, leading to the warden chewing some MAJOR scenery; Veronica retroactively declared that everyone in the room was in a pact not to tell about Archie; and Jughead went out to find the Gargoyle King.
In the bunker, Archie is still lying in bed recovering, with his blanket pushed down just far enough to give us a nice view of his obliques, since the show knows what all the ladies are tuning in for. Betty stares at the big investigation board she and Jughead have apparently put together and is interrupted by a sweaty Jughead, who reveals that he found not only the Gargoyle King but a bunch of Gargoyle King mini-mes. “Like they were a gang. A gang of gargoyles,” he says. That’s hilarious, that he felt the need to clarify what they were a gang of. Archie comes to consciousness enough to tell them about Joaquin, and Jughead–since they don’t know yet that the warden is dead–thinks this is more evidence that the warden is the Gargoyle King.
When Betty gets home, confronted by an accusatory Alice, she does an admirable job pretending not to have any idea about Archie’s escape, and is genuinely shocked to hear of the warden’s death. Betty asks Alice if she knows the warden, and Alice says, “Why would you even ask that?” Um… doesn’t sound like a no to me.
Archie and and a similarly topless Veronica are cuddling in the bunker (is that the same place where Betty and Jughead have been canoodling? Did they wash the sheets? Yikes). Archie, adorably, thinks that he can go find the Shadow Lake boys. Veronica has to explain to him that there’s a manhunt going on for him. But she does think that if the case files are still at Archie’s house, there might be something she could do. Archie begs her not to tell Fred where he is. (Guys, I forgot Fred was even still alive. I’m a pretty bad recapper — the only thing I really care about is Betty and Jughead.) She also refers to Sierra as “Attorney McCoy,” which is hilarious, like she thinks it’s a formal title.
That morning at school, the kids are subjected to a long speech from a cop about how it’s a crime if they helped Archie. Is this really an appropriate use of school time? Reggie gets a few laughs by claiming that he was busy all day and just to check his brower history. Gross! But, kind of funny. Hilariously, Edgar’s creepy daughter Evelyn decides to jump in by announcing that she doesn’t know Archie, but her Farmies group is still accepting members. I love it! Josie totally falls apart when the cop questions her. “I, uh, I, uh… was in the music room,” she says. Then she falls into a seizure, while Evelyn looks on calmly.
Sitting in the library (I think), Betty and Jughead go over the latest events. Betty finds a photo showing that the warden was at Riverdale High the same year their parents founded the Midnight Club, and determines to get more information out of their parents. Jughead tells her he’s going to rally the Serpents to find Joaquin, and Betty plans for some reason to “borrow” Veronica’s “speakeasy.”
Jughead gathers Sweet Pea and some other kid to find Joaquin. They’re both shocked that Joaquin, a Serpent, would stab Archie who was also technically a Serpent. Jughead is beyond shock, he’s just interested in finding out about the game of G&G that Joaquin was presumably involved in.
It’s Kevin’s turn to take care of Archie, and it becomes clear that Archie’s wound is, er, not doing so well. Betty, on the phone with Kevin, tells him she’s got a doctor they can trust, but to “bring small bills.” I’m picturing a stripper doctor here.
Then she steps into the speakeasy, only to find all the parents there. She tricked them by sending them invitations “from” the Gargoyle King. I kind of judge these parents for all believing that the Gargoyle King would want to meet them in Veronica’s dry speakeasy.
When we get back from the credits, the other parents are all, hey Alice, what about our pact? Sierra is just mad that she’s not with Josie after her seizure. Betty explains in her best and perkiest “duh” voice that Josie is playing the game and that’s probably related. Fred wants the kids to know the truth, now that Betty’s brought it up (way to take a stand on your own, Fred). And Betty poses two questions to Hiram: “You had business dealings with Warden Norton till he died. What were they? And did you know that he was playing G&G?” Hiram’s answer is priceless: “None of your business, and not a clue.” Ha! I lol’ed. After a few more perky questions from Betty, Hiram tries to make an escape, but Hermione stops him and starts repeating obvious inferences Betty has already made, like the fact that the Game Master (Penelope) probably put together the cyanide cocktails too. Penelope tosses the ball to Darrel Doilie, who she claims was secretly in love with her and wanted to ascend with her. (She also refers to the night of the murder as an “unholy night.” Heh.)
Betty sees right through this and repeats with the most scornful head tilt she is capable of: “Dilton Doilie’s dead dad did it?” She doesn’t think this explains anything since the Gargoyle King is still alive. Oh, and by the way, she tells FP, Jughead is still playing the game and he’s gotten kind of weird. (I’m paraphrasing, but… it’s true.) Everyone leaves in frustration, including FP who thinks that Jughead will be “the death of him.”
Back at the trailer, Jughead makes plans to meet up in Fox Forest with Fangs (oh, so that’s his name), who has found Joaquin, thanks to the Serpents. When FP gets home he freaks and handcuffs him to the refrigerator. Ha! A pissed-off Jughead claims, “I’m not addicted, I just need to ascend so I can meet the Gargoyle King.” FP does not find this a convincing defense and leaves Jughead alone trying to pick the lock on his handcuffs with, I presume, the sheer force of his brooding melancholy.
Archie and Kevin are over at the morgue, where the creepy doctor has just finished examining Archie. Archie tells Kevin he’s not going back to the bunker, he’s going to find the witnesses who put him away. How stupid IS Archie? He has an INFECTED STAB WOUND and is WANTED BY THE POLICE, but he wants to go to the forest and confront a bunch of criminals with Kevin as his backup? I realize Kevin is in ROTC, but I’ve been the kid who only joined a sport to hang out with her boyfriend, and let me tell you, I did not do a good job at that sport.
Veronica is watching the interrogation tapes from Archie’s case (realizing that at least one interrogation tape has been edited) when her dad walks in and finds her with the case files. She smiles and tells him that Archie will never be behind bars again, and he just leaves. I feel like Veronica thinks that they have this cute daddy-daughter banter situation where she defies him openly and he just laughs it off, which is insane, because he’s a gangster and a murderer and she knows this. For instance, right now, he quietly shuts the door leaving her with the case files… and goes off to order someone on the phone to “take care of” the “variables” up at Shadow Lake. And I don’t think he means “take care of” them like feeding them hot tea. More like cyanide juice.
Betty comes over to the trailer and finds a defeated Jughead sitting by the fridge. She pulls a bobby pin out of her ponytail (guys, I learned from this genuinely helpful Ell article that you can use bobby pins to make your ponytail perkier! Maybe Betty read the same one!) and picks his lock. He also finds Penelope’s “the dead guy did it” tale unconvincing. Jughead tells her he needs to go see Joaquin, and then says they’re getting close to something. This turns them on (those cuties), and they kiss passionately before parting to do their separate tasks.
Veronica calls Kevin to talk to Archie. Kevin obediently passes the phone to Archie, who–in a baseball cap AND hoodie which basically SCREAMS “I’m trying to hide my identity”–is almost as bad at going incognito as Veronica. She tells him what she found, and they theorize a little about how to find the missing footage from the interrogation tapes–like the mayor’s office, because it’s far away from him. OK, sure. Airtight reasoning. Archie doesn’t find this convincing enough to give up his own ill-advised quest, so next thing you know, he and Kevin are wandering through the forest and squabbling. Next thing you know, they see Sheriff Minetta walking around, presumably on his mission to “take care of” a few teenagers.
Veronica has donned a black cape and hacked into her mother’s computer (“Always my birthday,” she says with a laugh, which is pretty cute). The missing footage is conveniently on her desktop in a folder marked with the G&G rune. Wow, someone needs to give Hermione a major lesson in computer security.
Veronica tries to upload it to an email to someone named MonicaPosh. But — I suppose because government offices have slow connections even in Riverdale — it fails to upload before security comes in to drag her away, despite Veronica’s murmured plea of “Come on, Internet.” That didn’t work?!
Jughead has met up with Sweet Pea, Fangs, and a gagged Joaquin in the middle of the woods. Jughead demands to know why he didn’t protect Archie, so Joaquin explains that he had to survive by being a “pawn” for the warden–who was someone else’s pawn, and was getting directions from game cards. Archie was “marked” for death, Joaquin says. Jughead draws the brand he saw on Archie’s hip and asks Joaquin what it means. Joaquin doesn’t want to answer at first, but then the boys “pick him up,” which actually means picking him up to his feet, yet somehow scares Joaquin into revealing that it means “sacrifice.” Gee, that’s helpful. Finally, after the boys shake his shoulders a little more, Joaquin says he saw the person who was using the warden and that it was someone Jughead knows: “The Man in the Black Suit.”
Jughead promenades into Hiram’s office and announces, “An ancient evil, long forgotten, has awoken.” Hiram remarks that Jughead has finally lost his mind. I mean, that woul dnormally be an amateur move, but Jughead is really leaving himself open to this. Jughead elaborates that Hiram has been sending the warden quest cards and is clearly the Gargoyle King. Also he killed Principal Featherhead and some other bad stuff. Hiram’s retort? That Jughead is a “nerd” playing out his “hormonal fantasies.” I mean, both things could be true. Hiram’s suggestion is to check out the other parents, like maybe Jughead’s father, and then kicks Jughead out to take a phone call.
The phone call, apparently, summons Hiram to the jail cell where Veronica is sitting pretty, still in her fancy cloak. She tells him she’s requested a lawyer. He says Minetta is busy but he can help. Upon which he apparently lets her call Fred Andrews. Veronica flat-out TELLS Fred where Archie is and what he’s doing, and that Sheriff Minetta might also be there. Wow. This whole family is very bad with information security. How much is Hiram CLEARLY listening on some other line? Then she asks Fred to tell Archie she’s found what he needs, and then, as he impatiently tries to get off the phone to go, you know, save his son, she adds, “And can you call Attorney McCoy?” Fred just sighs and hangs up. Hee! Also, how hilarious is it that Veronica keeps calling her Attorney McCoy? It’s not, like, a title. She’s not a judge.
Betty has gone in search of Daryl Doiley’s file, which doesn’t mention carbon monoxide, because he was dead before he could inhale any, according to Curdle, the creepy autopsy guy. He was actually killed by oleander, in Curdle’s opinion. But conveniently this autopsy isn’t on the official record, or something, and by the way, Sheriff Keller was in charge then.
Betty’s next move is to meet Keller at Pop’s (he asks if it’s an “ambush,” which… did she just find him there randomly? Did he come to meet her on purpose but then accuse her of ambushing him? Unclear). She tells him what she found out from Curdle. When he says he didn’t kill anyone, she says, “Maybe not, but you are complicit in a cover-up. Who were you protecting?” and PICKS UP A PENCIL. It is so deliciously Betty.
Side note: Can you just imagine Robert Mueller doing this? He gives Cohen one piece of information and then picks up his pen and waits for the entire confession? Actually, who knows, that would probably work.
And in fact, it works on Keller, who is surprisingly wimpy for an army dude. “All of us,” he says with a sigh. But only one person grows oleander in “their” greenhouse. I mean… how many of them have greenhouses? But then he gets a call and ditches Betty, who apparently hasn’t drawn any conclusions from this.
Now Kevin and Archie are in some kind of OTHER bunker-slash-cave in the woods. Um, sure. And they have flashlights, which again, sure they do. And the cave wall is covered in G&G runes and drawings. (When they find a drawing of the Gargoyle King on the walls, there’s another delightfully campy sound effect.) Then they come on a huge collection of dead teenaged boys–the “Shadow Lake” crew, who have just been slaughtered by, presumably, Minetta. One of them is still alive enough to whimper. Archie dashes over to him and announces that he has to get to a hospital. Um, duh? Kevin, on the other hand, objects to this. Which gives Archie another chance to heroically announce that this kid was shot because of him, so he has to get him help. I mean, that sounds a lot less heroic than it’s supposed to sound. Shouldn’t you get people with gunshot wounds to the hospital even if it’s not your fault they got shot? And it makes no sense for Kevin to object, except that it gives Archie another chance to sound like a martyr, in this case fairly nonsensically. Sigh.
When we come back from break, Jughead has been summoned to the Serpent trailer park by Sweet Pea and Fangs. Jughead has SHED HIS HAT to go on his motorcycle (maybe it doesn’t fit under the helmet, but seriously, what’s going on?). And it turns out that Joaquin is there… dead. WHAT?! What is HAPPENING on this show? Last we saw, Jughead was fake-torturing Joaquin in the woods. How did he get here, get killed, get found by Sweet Pea and Fangs, and Jughead get summoned by the boys, all off-screen? Was this episode originally supposed to be a six-episode arc, or something?
Anyway, Jughead says that Joaquin was a “sacrifice” and that he has to get to Archie.
Meanwhile, Fred and Keller are in the cave, but Archie and Kevin are long gone. Keller helpfully calls a local hospital and finds out that a boy was brought in with gunshot wounds, but no ID.
Kevin and Archie are hanging out at the hospital, where the boy is. Kevin announces that he’s dead. Wow, a lot of people are dying very quickly in this episode. Is there going to be anyone left in this town by next season? Archie is all upset, even though Cardboard Kevin points out that they were criminals. But Archie’s really upset by the fact that Hiram Lodge is out to get him and says he can never come back to Riverdale. Gee, this is going to make the show a little awkward, inn’t it?
McCoy has come to get Veronica, who proudly announces that she has evidence of “coercion” and “tampering of evidence.” Oh, she’s so cute.
Betty’s next stop on her Tour of Unsubtle Interrogations is to tell Penelope that Daryl Doiley died of oleander poisoning, and asks if she has it in her greenhouse. Penelope just says that oleander leaves traces so she wouldn’t be stupid enough to use it, and points the finger at Alice, who wrote the article.
Alice is none too thrilled to have her daughter smugly waving a newspaper in her face. (By the way, there are sirens flashing outside as the two women talk; I assume this will be important later.) Betty asks her, “Who are you protecting?” And then the lights go out–just as the silhouette of a man is seen outside one of their windows.
After a moment, someone starts thumping on the door in a way that no human would ever thump on the door, and when they open the door, no one’s there. But the Gargoyle King has appeared in their living room. Um, rude! No one invited you! Also, one of their burners is going, because the Gargoyle King controls fire, and also, when they get upstairs, they find Betty’s room vandalized with a gravestone prop from Party City with “Here lies Betty and Alice” written on it in red paint, crossing out “Daryl Doiley.” Heh. This show is amazing.
Just then FP conveniently climbs in the window, saying that he was looking for Jughead but someone slammed the door in his face. Let’s stop to think about this for a second: FP decided to climb into a teenaged girl’s bedroom just because the front door was locked. Just like, really think about that. But Alice, who appears not to have found this as weird as I do, just leaps into his arms and screams that the Gargoyle King is in the house.
Keller and Fred find Kevin at the hospital. Archie is already gone, having left a note for Fred. (I know I keep saying this, but… a LOT is happening offscreen in this episode, no?)
Veronica arrives home to find her parents on the sofa. She announces calmly to Hermione that she found tapes of Minetta coercing witnesses, oh, and that “Attorney McCoy” is meeting with the judge. Good Lord, Veronica. Do you have to show your dad your hand EVERY time?
Also offscreen: FP seems to have defeated the Gargoyle King, and Alice and Betty are hanging out in the kitchen. Wait, what?! Did I miss something? Alice says she’s going to the farm with Polly to escape the Gargoyle King… and since she knew Betty would resist, she’s made alternate arrangements. Betty’s going to go to “the sisters,” where Polly was when the show started. A few people show up to drag Betty away, screaming.
Guys… this show is BONKERS. I can barely even recap it because it’s like, no scene is related, causally or thematically, to any other scene. Aristotle is turning over in his grave right now.
Kevin shows up to break the news to Veronica at the speakeasy, which is covered in cupcakes because apparently he’s already been exonerated by “Attorney McCoy” and Veronica has had time to set up a party (and clear all the customers out of her dry speakeasy, which I’m sure was difficult). Hasn’t it been like… twenty minutes? That’s some impressive party planning.
Just as Kevin’s shared his news, Archie calls Veronica. She crows gleefully that he’s exonerated. He thanks her sadly and then says, running a hand through his absurd hair, that he can’t come home. They both cry as Veronica pleads that she can’t let him go alone, and he says he’s not (we’ll find out why later). He tells her she’s “it” for him. “Because we’re endgame, Archie,” Veronica says, quaintly failing to recognize that actually Betty and Jughead are endgame and no one cares about Archie and Veronica. (Oh… am I projecting? Sorry.) He says he loves her, and Veronica pleads more, before realizing he can’t be moved. She sobs and hangs up, as Kevin pulls her into his arms. Archie hangs up and says calmly, “Good-bye, Veronica.”
It turns out he really isn’t alone–Jughead is there with provisions that include juice boxes. How cute are these boys? They stand on the train tracks as Jughead asks if Archie’s sure, and then they start walking like two little Depression-era hoboes. I love it. After they’ve walked about two steps Jughead is like, by the way, Joaquin’s dead. Archie takes this relatively calmly. As they keep walking, Jughead says adorably, “I’m not letting you out of my sight. You ever hop a train before?” I mean, I have no idea why the show is going on this tangent, but the boy love is irresistibly cute.
Meanwhile, Betty is locked in the Sisters of Quiet Mercy orphanage-slash-nunnery, where they plan to make her well by, I guess, giving her a paintbrush and a Peter Pan collar. Too bad the girl who sits next to her in art therapy — and everyone else in the room — is using her paintbrush to paint the Gargoyle King!