In further pursuit of Content(TM), in further proof that I'm incapable of enjoying anything without writing about it anymore, here's another Riverdale recap:
The Midnight Club
I shit you not, this is the opening line of the episode:
"A deadly mutating virus had been introduced to the ecosystem of Riverdale and it was spreading like an epidemic."
Real ominous to hear in this day and age. But thankfully, it's about Gryphons and Gargoyles, which has spread everywhere.
Okay, I have some questions about this. Jughead says that the reason why teens are eagerly embracing G&G is that it provides people an escape from reality and... do the people of Riverdale have nothing else? Is nobody in Riverdale a gamer? Is G&G the only entertainment they have? Like, now that I'm thinking about it, the only big entertainment setpiece shown in Riverdale is a drive-in theater that shut down. Really?? You shitheads have nothing else?
And like, I know that the rise of G&G mirrors how tabletop gaming has become more mainstream these days with celebrities doing fancy actual play podcasts and stuff. But, the fact that EVERYONE is into this is bonkers.
Anyway, Hermione takes the local high school class aside to do the "D&D is demonic" talk but real. She declares that the game is now banned but Veronica's like "uwu deplatforming doesn't work." Betty says that she's trying to figure out why her mom and FP were "triggered" by the game. We got a lot of weird right-wing sentiment within the first 5 minutes, folks.
The coroner calls up Betty, telling her that he found evidence that somebody died in a similar way to Dilton when the parents were all high schoolers. Confronted by this evidence, Alice finally decides to fess up what happened in her time.
So, we get an extended flashback scene with the parents, who are all played by the actors of their kids. Alice is taking a pregnancy test in the bathroom and is freaking out because I guess this is how FP gave her Chic (or rather, the guy Chic was pretending to be). She's talking to Hermione and Sierra (Josie's mom) when Penelope (Cheryl's mom) bursts in like a cop, demanding their passpor- hall passes. Penelope gets all classist so Alice starts beating the shit out of her.
Meanwhile, the football team is urging FP to go streaking as a hazing ritual. Fred shows up and decides to streak with him in solidarity all like, "what if we were both boys and naked and streaking together, haha."
All the parents are sent to detention in a Breakfast Club pastiche. It's accompanied by a 80's styled title card for Riverdale, and not gonna lie, I love that they're committing to the bit.
We learn a bunch of stuff. We learn that FP is short for "Forsythe Pendleton," so I understand why he insists on being called FP. Sierra has been seeing Tom (Kevin's dad) since they were in high school and Hermione has also been seeing Hiram, insisting that he's a self-starter in response to the group calling him a criminal like a Silicon Valley defender.
Penelope reveals that she isn't actually a Blossom and that she was actually adopted from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Sierra's shocked, saying that the placed has violated every humanitarian code, which makes me question: if that place was publicly known to be terrible in the 80s, why the hell is it still around running conversion therapy camps in the present? Anyway, the Blossoms are incredibly normal, grooming her to be Clifford Blossom's sister, but decided "nah you should be his wife instead." Huh? Anyway, Hermione rightfully calls out the family for this and Penelope counters by insulting Hermione's mom for working as a maid, so they get into a fight that extends their sentence.
During their extended detention, the gang grows closer with each other and one faithful day, they break into the desk of a teacher and discover a copy of G&G. Everyone talks about it like it's a creepypasta legend, so Alice is like "yo let's play." Everyone eagerly gets into the game as an escape, and you know what? It makes more sense in this context because they're stuck in detention and have no other form of escapism present. They don't know what gaming is.
Even after detention's over, they start sneaking into school to play the game. They eventually get to the point of larping out their adventures instead of playing the board game and there's a dramatic slow-mo shot of them walking down a hallway, but because they're dressed up as fantasy characters it looks fucking stupid. During this epic walk though, they wind up finding another group of weirdos.
For some reason, there's another group of students breaking into the school late at night to larp: Hiram, Tom, and Dilton and Reggie's dads. Also, Hiram is hilarious because he doesn't have a son, so it's a random kid who can either make an adequate impersonation of his voice or Hiram's actor is voicing over him.
They wound up ganging together to form a bigger session and they all soon receive invitations to do the Gargoyle King's chalice drinking challenge. Nothing goes wrong except for Hiram's suggestion to take drugs with the chalices. However, there is one big mystery, and it's the fact that none of them set up the challenge to begin with.
Because it's Riverdale, there's a musical number, with Fred leading his band to perform Dream Warriors. Fred actually mentioned his band in a past episode, so it's not completely out of nowhere. Anyway, everyone's losing their damn minds and they start fighting and being openly horny which... honestly isn't all that different from what usually goes on in Riverdale.
Alice excuses herself to the bathroom when she finds a chalice challenge set up for her there, with ominous graffiti calling for her to choose her fate. She winds up leaving as the Principal enters the school to investigate. She finds that everyone disappeared the next morning... though it's apparently because Fred's dad died offscreen for unrelated reasons. Fred is upset because he could have been there for him in his last moments, which, well, kinda hits me for personal reasons.
The principal's still missing though. A few days later though, the principal is found dead, having drunken from a spiked chalice. Alice believes that someone in the group killed him, but nobody can even figure out who called the session that day, let alone who killed him. So, they decided to destroy the G&G game and all traces of it, so that nobody can trace his death back to them.
It then does a recap of how everyone's lives went from that point in the style of a happy 80's movie ending, which I honestly think is darkly hilarious given the circumstances. Gonna be real, I would have been pissed if this was a straight up Breakfast Club parody but I'm glad that they went insane here.
We're finally back in the present. Alice urges Betty to not think about or talk about the game or it'll give it more power to it all Lil' Slugger style. She says that the game encourages people to hurt their enemies and the people close to them, which... doesn't seem true because the only casualties shown from the game so far are ritual suicides.
Anyway, Betty goes to Dilton's apocalypse bunker to tell Jughead everything she learned but she finds him playing a G&G session with Cheryl and the other Serpents. Whoops.
The Great Escape
Remember Archie? Well, he's still stuck in prison. He and his fellow prisoners start the episode doing an attempted escape, but the prison guards shoots everyone with rubber bullets and everyone fails. Owned.
Back where the actual plot is happening, Betty's telling Jughead about what she learned from her parents. Jughead not only dismisses it, but he sees it as confirmation for this grand theory of his that he built up, seeing everything that happened in the season up to this point as "quests." It sounds insane, but he also points out that Eldervair, the setting of G&G, is an anagram for Riverdale and that the game literally only exists in Riverdale, so honestly, he might be onto something.
Anyway, Jughead believes that the best way to get to the bottom of the Gargoyle King mystery is to drink straight from the Kool-Aid. Betty's like, "whatever" and decides to investigate the parents to see if any of them have a direct link to what's going on now. To do so, she asks the rest of the high schooler cast to investigate their parents.
At breakfast the next morning, Hiram's telling Veronica about Archie's failed escape attempt to bug her like an obnoxious teen. For one last own, he calls up the Warden to brand Archie with a hot iron, just because. Veronica calls up her business associate that runs a casino to help her out with the Archie case. Remember the Innocence Project thing in the last post, which was presented as an epic moment? Well that crashed into a halt offscreen, so now she's gotta rely on crime connections.
Jughead's plot goes as you would have expected, with a bunch of the Serpents going nuts and wanting to take G&G into the real world. Jughead reminds them that he's the GM and they're upset that he also gets to be the boss in their game. To avoid repeating the leadership drama that happened in season 2, Jughead does the normal thing of telling Cheryl to William Tell a can off his head to show that he's epic and the boss. Anyway, this plot point had no reason to be here except for Jughead to be epic.
Veronica's associate brings her incognito to an abandoned rec center that's actually a front for the prison's underground boxing ring. She visits Archie during his off time and they have a make-out session to establish that in spite of the existence of lesbians in Riverdale, this show is extremely heterosexual. After they're done, they hatch a more proper escape plan involving a sewer drain in the boxing ring.
Betty meets back up with everyone. Kevin and Josie got nothing out of their parents besides their parents announcing that they're getting married and Reggie's dad gave him a black eye. The show's awfully nonchalant about that last part, especially when Veronica bursts in to tell everyone to focus their efforts on a plan to bust Archie out. Betty tells Jughead, who's preparing a new session, about this and he's like "wow cool I'm going to appropriate this rescue mission into my session like how the Allansons appropriated Elisa Lam's death."
As the next fight, the one where Archie's hatching his escape plan, approaches, the Warden invites him to a fancy dinner. The Warden is pretty blunt and honest that this will be Archie's last fight and that he's going to be murdered. Of course, the Warden decides to answer Archie's questions like a villain saying too much because they're confident that their victim is going to die, saying that Hiram bribed witnesses to the crime Archie's being blamed for to say that it was him and speculates that they're probably hiding in a normal place called Shadow Lake. He also makes the extremely normal statement that he isn't owned by Hiram Lodge, but his soul belongs to a divine being watching over everyone.
And it turns out that Joaquin is on the same shit as the Warden, because before the fight actually fights, he shanks Archie, telling him that it's for his path to ascension.
The whole plot from here is paralleled with Jughead's G&G session, further proving that Jughead might be onto something. Archie is the kidnapped Red Paladin, betrayed by a friend, with the heroic party (Veronica and crew) trying to rescue him before he dies.
Speaking of which, the shank should have killed him but all it did was basically give Archie an attack/defense debuff. He's thrown into the ring and hey look, it's Mad Dog. Unfortunately, Mad Dog, apologetic as he is, is in on the plan to get Archie killed in the ring because everyone's bet big money on that. Veronica and the gang successfully sneak into the venue and while Kevin's trying to open up the sewer grate outside, he sees Joaquin running away; they were dating in the first season, and because this show refuses to linger on anything consistent with Kevin, he ditches the plan to chase after his old crush. Betty's got it though and Kevin is already back a few minutes later. Whatever.
Hiram's unfortunately at the venue to see Archie get annihilated, so Veronica starts the plan immediately. Everyone throws in smoke bombs disguised as beer cans into the ring and Archie starts to make a break for it. He tells Mad Dog to follow him, but he tells Archie that he won't make it and he'll just help out by fighting the guards. A black guy choosing to sacrifice himself for the white lead definitely doesn't help my view that Riverdale's bad about black men. Anyway, Archie's out of there.
Then, Jughead's session comes to a screeching halt because he didn't think of the ending yet. Mirroring this, the Warden catches up to an escaping Betty and Kevin, demanding to know of what happened to the "Red Paladin," confirming that he's also on some Gargoyle King bullshit and that Jughead's insane conspiracy theory is right. Betty threatens to mace the Warden and he decides to call everyone off in spite of the fact that he has MULTIPLE ARMED MEN WITH GUNS POINTED RIGHT AT THEM. WHY.
Anyway, the "Red Paladin" is dropped off at the G&G bunker, providing Jughead's campaign with a postmodern ending. For me it's kinda like the ending of "I Am the Messenger," this book that I read back in high school that had a postmodern ending instead of a proper satisfying conclusion. I hate postmodernism, get out of here with that "this is not a pipe" shit.
Veronica goes home and everyone's pissed at each other. Hermione is like, "uwu these dang social activists are bugging me about this underground fighting ring and know about the donations I got from the owner of said fighting ring" and demands that Hiram and Veronica sort their problems out. They don't.
Kevin's already abandoned his sideplot of joining the RROTC to get with Moose to instead yearn for his old boyfriend. He convinces Josie and Reggie to join him in a game of G&G in the hope for answers. When I wrote this I thought that it would matter, but after the next episode it doesn't seem like it? Meanwhile, speaking of which, the Warden is consulting his own G&G rules that told him to kill the Red Paladin and willingly partakes in the lose condition, which is to Jonestown himself. As he ascends to the Gargoyle King's domain, Jughead sees the Gargoyle King in the forest, where the episode ends.
Jughead follows the Gargoyle King and sees him being worshiped by masked disciples, one of whom Archie speculates to be Joaquin. The gang thinks that the Warden is the Gargoyle King, which is disproven by the news the following day.
Sheriff Minetta shows up in school to holler at everyone that he thinks might be an accomplice to Archie's escape. He personally gets up into Josie's face and she winds up having a sudden seizure. Jughead and Betty think about that for a bit but decide to turn their heads to the Gargoyle King mystery. Betty discovers that the Warden was actually an RROTC instructor at the school the same year that everyone's parents played G&G, so she thinks that there are some deeper connections to delve into. While Betty chooses to look into that, Jughead rallies the Serpents to look for Joaquin since he's currently the only lead.
Betty calls all the parents to Veronica's speakeasy and properly confronts them over the Midnight Club stuff. Penelope reveals that Dilton's dad actually poisoned chalices that night, wanting to ascend with her out of love, but she really wasn't into it; however, nobody can really confirm that because Dilton's dad died of suicide years ago. Betty doesn't buy it, but the meeting dissolves when she tells FP that Jughead's playing the game and he gets mad and leaves, with the other parents following him.
The Serpents find Joaquin and Jughead tries to go meet them, but FP arrives and handcuffs him to a fridge, thinking that he's going off to play G&G. I mean, he's right to try to stop him but also there's probably better non-abusive ways of doing that. Betty shows up to free him and she decides to call up the coroner to see how Dilton's dad died.
Speaking of which, she also got the coroner to fix up Archie's infected wound. However, Archie decides to use the opportunity to hunt down the hiding witnesses. Kevin decides to tag along because he has no consistent character arc besides being the gay friend. Meanwhile, Veronica is studying Archie's case files and she discovers that Minetta's footage of his interrogation of one of the witnesses is a spliced speedrun. Upon discovering this, Hiram orders for these witnesses to be killed, which he honestly should have done way earlier if he didn't want this to be a problem.
Veronica goes on her mom's computer and discovers the original non-edited footage of the interrogation, which she manages to send out before she gets tossed out of the office. Suspiciously, the file holding the footage is marked with the same G&G symbol that the Warden branded Archie with. Was Hiram calling the Warden a coincidence or did he specifically order him to brand Archie with that? Jughead believes the latter after he interrogates Joaquin. He confronts Hiram with this, but Hiram doesn't take him seriously at all.
Back with Betty, she's with her coroner buddy and discovers that Dilton's dad didn't die of suicide, but was actually poisoned beforehand by a lethal plant. Tom was the sheriff at the time, so Betty confronts him about it, and he implies that Penelope may have actually been responsible for his murder.
Archie and Kevin are investigating the mines at Shadow Lake, which is unfortunately scrawled with G&G symbols and art for ominous environmental storytelling. Sheriff Minetta unfortunately got there before them and he killed all the witnesses; one survived, but he dies in the hospital that Archie and Kevin bring him to. Archie's feeling real bad about it and Kevin tries to assure him by saying that they were criminals that might have deserved to die, like the true cop that he is.
Betty hits up Penelope with what she learned, but Penelope points out that if she wanted to murder someone, she'd do it in a less obvious way that doesn't leave a trace, which is evil but valid. However, Penelope points out that Alice was the one that reported Dilton's dad's death as a suicide so Betty turns to her.
Betty accuses her mom of covering for someone when the lights in their home suddenly go out. And then they see him: the Gargoyle King. They're appropriately terrified and only calm down when FP shows up. However, the event left Alice so shaken that she decides to go live on the Farm. But, knowing that Betty won't drop investigating the Gargoyle King, she calls up the Sisters of Quiet Mercy to spirit her away.
Veronica has successfully exonerated Archie, but Archie's run off on his own. Archie calls her, pointing out that even though he's free, Hiram will still find a way to come after him. And honestly, given the nuts shit that's been going on all season, he has every right to be afraid of sticking around in Riverdale.
He isn't alone, however. Jughead is tagging along with him on his exile. Earlier, Joaquin's dead body showed up at the Serpents encampment, with the same symbol that Archie was branded with: sacrifice. Believing in the supernatural forces at play, Jughead has dedicated himself to accompany Archie and ensure his safety.
As the two walk down the train tracks to an unknown future, we cut to Betty as the Sisters, where she discovers everyone painting cursed effigies of the Gargoyle King.