This review contains spoilers.
3.2 Fortune And Men’s Eyes
Leading up to this season, the cast and crew of Riverdale has made it a point to state that, despite the arrival of cults and Gargoyle Kings and mysterious teens who can apparently inflict seizures upon their classmates, that the show is not getting supernatural.
Uh huh, sure you aren’t.
Even if sister series Chilling Adventures of Sabrinaweren’t debuting next Friday, it wouldn’t be difficult to refute this claim. But given tonight’s developments, it seems impossible.
Let’s begin with the the new big bad of the season, the Gargoyle King. Tonight Betty and Jughead found themselves face-to-blood-coated-face with this mysterious creature who is, almost certainly, not just Ethel in a costume on stilts. The more we learn about Gryphons & Gargoyles, the more it seems that the game is the Jack Chick Dark Dungeons tract come violently to life. Seemingly played only by Riverdale’s outsiders, the RPG causes players to fully immerse themselves in it with deadly results.
There’s something that is intoxicating about watching Betty and Veronica try to solve mysteries together, a feeling that is taken to the nth degree when said mysteries take place in a Lost-ian hatch. Lily Reinhart and Cole Sprouse are typically excellent in these sort of scenes, and they have adapted to the increasingly ridiculous (in the best way, mind you) plots that the show keeps throwing at them with aplomb.
We also learned tonight that the Riverdale adults – including the much-hated Hiram Lodge – united in their youth to bury a secret about the game (something we will see in full in two weeks, in the flashback episode The Midnight Club). So, can playing the game conjure the Gargoyle King and his bloodlust into existence? If so, how is this not supernatural exactly?
Then there’s the arrival of seizure groupie Evelyn Evernever (these names, sigh). Tonight marked Zoé De Grand Maison’s arrival as the character and so far all we know about her is that she is the daughter of The Farm’s leader, Edgar, and was in close proximity to both Betty and Ethel when they suffered their seizures. This is a series that showcased Carrie: The Musical after all, so let’s not rule out telekinesis.
Before we get into the other big doings in tonight’s jam-packed instalment, let’s take a second and address the Kevin/Moose storyline. Given the forward-thinking nature of the show’s writers in general (and the CW’s current Open to All campaign), I hope that Moose’s shame about being closeted isn’t a storyline that goes on for too long.
Riverdale is better than this, and while teens struggling with coming out is still obviously a major issue in 2018, it’s hard to watch the same show that championed Love, Simon spin its wheels when it comes to having an LGBTQ character embracing his truth.
And then there’s Archie. Sweet, dumb, always half-naked Archie. A major part of the enjoyment that comes from watching this show results from seeing how the writers will give the character an idea that makes perfect sense for who we know him to be, yet no one even remotely rational would consider. Tonight’s big idea: throwing a football game to unite all the prisoners!
Archie and Fred must’ve watched The Longest Yard together a few times (and you just know it was the Adam Sandler remake), because otherwise this plan makes not one lick of sense. There’s our boy, speaking of “the highs and lows of high school football” with a straight face. Yet somewhere in middle America someone sheds a tear and vows to do a rewatch of Friday Night Lights…
This does serve the purpose of enabling tonight’s left-field musical perfomance of Jailhouse Rock, which is interupted briefly by Hiram’s arrival to remind Veronica that she and Archie will never be together and blah blah and oh man it would be great if the Gargoyle King would just eat this dude already.
And remember, Varchie aside, so far this season’s true endgame is in fact the Gargoyle King – so much so that Dr. Curdle II goes out of his way to tell viewers that it wasn’t the murder of Jason Blossom or the crimes of the Black Hood that were “the true face of evil” but good ol’ GK. Always subtle, that Riverdale.
Tonight’s episode was an odd duck, setting things into high gear while taking its good sweet old time with other storylines. Let’s face it, the writers are going to have a challenge with keeping viewers invested in Veronica’s speakeasy or Archie’s Chuck Palahniuk worship when there’s a bona fide monster running around Fox Forest. (Archie needs to get out or prison and involved in the Gargoyle King/Farm stuff ASAP, or else he’ll be sidelined again from the most interesting action a la the first season).
Overall though, this instalment, like the best episodes of Riverdale, had enough fascinating developments and WTF moments to make the wait until next week feel interminable.
Read Chris’ review of the previous episode, Labor Day, here.