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Welcome to my favorite episode of the season thus far! I loved the format of this hour — the way the episode was divided into character chapters — and I loved the chapters themselves. By focusing in on one story at a time, we really got to explore certain plots in new ways. Honestly, I’d love if every week were formatted this way. Let’s get into it.
Archie & Jughead
The first chapter takes us on the road with the two young men who have been walking for days in constant fear that Hiram Lodge might catch up to them. If they’re so worried about Hiram catching up, might I suggest they do something other than WALK?! What do you want to bet they’re only like 50 miles outside of Riverdale, max?
They stop at a payphone so Jug can update Betty, but when she doesn’t pick up, Arch suggests Jug go back. But as Jug reminds him, Betty once took down a serial killer and Archie can’t go five minutes without being kidnapped, which is a solid point. And speaking of Archie’s tendency for dumb ideas, he finds a farm where he suggests they bunk for the night. Within minutes of walking onto the property, a young girl pulls a rifle on them. They introduce themselves as Cal and Biff from Centerville — obviously, Archie is Biff, Jug could never pull that one off. They meet Laurie Lake and Gracie, the girl with the gun. “Biff” claims they were robbed on the train, so Laurie offers them some dinner.
Over dinner, it’s clear that Laurie likes her some Biff, so she suggests the boys spend the night in the barn. She says they can repay her with farm work the next day, and seeing as how Archie is a teenage boy and Laurie is hot, he agrees, despite Jug’s objections. The next morning, Archie is moving bales of hay without a shirt on — you can’t expect him to wear clothes for this! — when Jug decides to head into town to take some pictures.
Jug, still a little suspicious over the lack of people at the farm, finds out that the town is also strangely empty. The town of Athens is covered in G&G symbols, and there are no men to be found. According to a homeless woman, the introduction of fizzle rocks changed the town, and now, all the man have left to work on building a prison where they’ll make fizzle rocks. Those men? They work for the “Man in Black,” otherwise known as Hiram Lodge. So to connect the dots for you, Hiram’s prison will be used to make fizzle rocks, which are directly connected to G&G.
Realizing that Laurie and Gracie’s father works for Hiram, Jug rushes home, but he’s already too late. After Laurie gave Archie a quick shave — a totally normal thing to do — and briefly made out with him, Archie pulled an Archie and stupidly told her his true name and the fact that he’s running from Hiram Lodge. So naturally, Laurie knocked him out, tied him up, and called Hiram. Laurie’s hoping that Hiram will exchange her father and brother for Archie, and Hiram agrees.
But don’t worry! Jug gets back in time to untie Archie, but instead of running, Archie wants to stay and fight. THIS KID. For some reason, dumb Archie thinks he can kill Hiram with hedge clippers despite the fact that Laurie and Gracie have rifles and also despite the fact that HIRAM IS STILL VERONICA’S FATHER. Thankfully, Jughead remembers to play the Veronica card before it’s too late, so the two of them take off before Hiram can find them. (Special shout-out to Jug for running without losing the shirt tied around his waist. That takes skill. Either that or it’s permanently attached to him.)
Once they escape that situation, Jug comes up with an idea: They’re going to see Jug’s mom. And so, they hit the road once again. (Next: Betty meets the Gargoyle King)
Back in Riverdale, Veronica packs up her things and says goodbye to her mother and the “house of horrors” she’s been living in. Now, she’s going to be sleeping at her speakeasy. Why she wouldn’t go to her friend Betty’s house (and then find out Betty’s been kidnapped) I’m not sure, but I’m going to say it’s because she’s upset about Archie and not thinking clearly. Because no one should willingly sleep in a curved bar booth.
Veronica spends her days working at Pop’s and her nights at the speakeasy, but when she realizes the speakeasy is barely scraping by, she gets an idea: She asks Elio to help her throw a casino night to bring in some money. That decision prompts a visit from daddy dearest, who reminds her that he will always have her back, at which point she kicks him out of Pop’s because he’s the worst.
However, Hiram does come through when Veronica needs him. He gives her some intel that Elio is planning to take all her money at the blackjack table, so Veronica hires one of Hiram’s best dealers to handle the situation. Then, on casino night, she challenges Elio to one hand: Winner gets the deed to Pop’s (and therefore the speakeasy). Elio agrees, and Veronica wins. But just as Veronica tells Pop that maybe her dad isn’t so bad after all, Pop updates her on the latest news: Sheriff Minetta — who had gone “missing” — was found dead in the marsh. At least they think it was him. It’s hard to tell because he’s been decapitated and his hands have been sawed off. HOW’S DAD LOOKING NOW?!
Last but not least, we catch up with Betty, who’s going through the motions at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, getting the lay of the land until she can escape. And as it turns out, a crucial part of living at the Sisters now involves a daily dosage of candy, which would be great if they were handing out Kit Kats, but instead, the sisters are handing out fizzle rocks.
Betty dumps her dose of candy in the trash in her room, and honestly, she should’ve been smarter about disposing of it, because it takes her roommate Ethel about two seconds to call her out on it. Yep! Ethel is Betty’s roommate and she’s quick to let Betty know that she is Queen Bee in these parts. But that’s not all Ethel tells her. Apparently, Ethel visits the Gargoyle King all the time here, and so do other girls when they need to learn how to behave. Ethel, however, has no interest in behaving. She informs Betty that Jughead is into HER now. Of course, Betty ignores that for now — she knows all about the blackmail kiss — because she’s got bigger fish to fry.
The next day, Betty witnesses Claudius Blossom making a delivery to the Sisters at the same moment that Hiram delivers a briefcase to Sister Woodhouse. It seems Hiram is supplying the fizzle rocks. After all, he was the guy that brought fizzle rocks to ascension night all those years ago.
In search of her medical record, Betty stumbles upon the Gargoyle King’s chambers, so she comes up with a plan to get there. She confronts Ethel about the Jughead kiss, and when Ethel gets in her face — she claims they’re going to be a “ship,” to which Betty points out that “Ethelhead” is a TERRIBLE name — Betty fakes a seizure. That lands her in the infirmary, where she finds her file. Inside, she discovers that Hiram Lodge has ordered them to increase Betty’s dosage of fizzle rocks after her first week. He’s using the girls here as lab rats.
With that, Betty rips out the page of her file and runs for the door that Veronica used to break Cheryl out. Only, it’s been bricked up. Did Betty honestly think they wouldn’t have fixed that by now!? She’s smarter than that! So of course, Ethel and Sister Woodhouse find Betty and use their freakishly muscular nurses to force fizzle rocks down Betty’s throat.
And that’s how the hour ends, with a drugged up Betty seeing the Gargoyle King and reciting, “My king, my savior, guide me through the night, bless me with your darkness, gift me with your flight.”
I’m still not sure what comes next with this Gargoyle King business, but the weirder it gets, the more intrigued I am. In fact, all the stories worked for me this week. Well done, Riverdale.