Chapter Forty-Five: The Stranger
Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW
S3 E10

Well, if you all thought Archie getting attacked by a bear was dramatic, just wait until you hear Jughead’s voiceover as he explains what happened after those rangers found our favorite dumb jock. According to Jughead, Archie Andrews died at 8:47 on a Wednesday morning. Or … “At least the Archie we knew.” And to that I say BOOO. That melodramatic voiceover is too much Jug. TOO MUCH. But long story short, Arch woke up at the hospital and decided he was done running, so now, he’s returned home to Riverdale with his dark hair and as Jug says, “scars, both inside and out.” Again, BOO.

Apparently surviving a bear attack convinced Arch that he can survive Hiram, so now he’s back, and within less than a day of being home, he and Veronica are having sex on the bar of her speakeasy. Sorry, Reggie! But that doesn’t mean everything is back to normal. Like for instance, Archie now prefers a root beer float to a strawberry milkshake. In the words of Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, CAN YOU BELIEVE?! But it’s true, Archie has changed. But his IQ hasn’t, so it’s no wonder he panics when realizes that the SATs are this upcoming Saturday. You know, because these kids have to find time to study for the SATs when they’re not chasing down serial murderers or, in Betty’s case, dealing with the fact that her mother just gave away all of Betty’s money — college fund included — to help the Farm. Talk about great parenting!

While Betty works on getting her father to sign an affidavit stating that Alice forged his signature to liquidate the funds, Principal Weatherbee meets with Archie to suggest he repeat junior year. Cleary, Weatherbee didn’t hear that Archie literally beat the stupid out of himself with a bat!

And yet, I’m not entirely sure Archie’s bat trick worked, because so far, his SAT studying is not going well. (He got a combined score of 600 on his practice test, so maybe we haven’t lost our favorite dumb jock after all.) So instead, Betty decides that what he needs is to dye his hair back and then visit Veronica’s speakeasy for a welcome home party. But when a panic attack leads to Archie storming out of the party, Reggie’s had enough. He attempts to confront Archie in the locker room in a classic shirtless showdown, but when Reggie sees the scars from the bear attack, he backs off. No wonder Archie’s so messed up.

Elsewhere, Fred threatens Hiram’s life if he ever comes after Archie again, and Hiram decides that Claudius will be the new sheriff of Riverdale whether he likes it or not! As for Fangs, he successfully infiltrates the Gargoyle Gang and tells Jug about a ceremony taking place the following night in Fox Forest. The plan is for the Serpents to show up and take down the King.

Speaking of the Gargoyle King, when Betty goes to jail to get her father’s signature, he claims that he was the Gargoyle King back in the days of the Midnight Club and that he was the one who invited everyone to ascension night and killed Principal Featherhead. He then signs Betty’s affidavit in exchange for a G&G manual. But here’s the thing: Hal is a liar. It seems Penelope Blossom has been paying him conjugal visits, and she’s the one who told him about ascension night, so he lied in order to keep Betty coming back. And it works, because by the end of the episode, Betty visits Hal for actual fatherly advice considering that Alice gave away all her money so that the Farm could buy the Sisters of Quiet Mercy’s old convent, giving the Farm a permanent home in Riverdale. As she explains, Hal’s the only one who can understand Alice’s particular brand of crazy. (Next: The Serpents unmask the Gargoyle King)

At the Gargoyle Gang ceremony, the Serpents manage to tackle and unmask the Gargoyle King! And it’s … Tall Boy? Um… okay? Once they tie him up in the bunker, Tall Boy confesses to scaring Betty and Alice that night in her house and for killing Joaquin. He also agrees to help them get to Hiram, but first, they need bait. And obviously, that bait is Archie.

Archie agrees, and Tall Boy makes the call. Only Hiram doesn’t show up to the meeting. Instead, he sends Claudius, and when FP makes a citizen’s arrest — is that how that works? — Claudius ends up dead in a jail cell. Hiram, however, doesn’t end things on a good note either: Just as he calls Hermione to tell her that he has “instincts” about these things, he’s shot in the chest in his office.

Across town at school, Reggie is swiping on a dating app when Archie shows up to ask him about “cheating.” Archie means on the SATs but Reggie assumes that Arch found out about him and Veronica. So of course, Reggie puts his foot in his mouth. By the time Archie gets home, Veronica is waiting for him with tears in her eyes. Arch assures her that she didn’t do anything wrong, but it’s clear something’s not the same between them. But Archie, ever the teenage boy, asks if they can have this conversation tomorrow and stay together tonight. Yep, teenage boys will say anything for sex. And it works.

The next day, Arch storms out in the middle of the SATs and when he meets up with Veronica later that day at the hospital where Hiram is in intensive care, she asks if he was the one who shot her dad. And with that question, it’s clear their relationship is over. One relationship that’s not over? Reggie shows up to the hospital with flowers and Veronica hugs him. And I, for one, am so happy they didn’t just blow off Reggie and Veronica. THE CHEMISTRY IS REAL.

But the episode doesn’t end there! When Tall Boy tries to escape, Fangs accidentally shoots and kills him, and just as he’s convinced that the cops are going to arrest him, we find out what Hermione meant when she told FP that “it’s time.” FP IS THE NEW SHERIFF, Y’ALL! I am positive that that’s not how THAT works, but one thing is certain: Riverdale is going to hell now!

And we end the episode on Archie, who’s turned his room into a jail cell complete with a punching bag and a bottle of booze? I’m sorry, is Archie a drunk now? Did he even have booze in juvie?! I’m not a fan of this. Once again, Archie is handed the most overly dramatic story, and I don’t have a good feeling about it.

I will say that the episode had its moments. I’m happy with the Reggie-Veronica progression, and the hour also provided us some answers as well as some new mysteries: Who shot Hiram? Was it all part of Hermione’s plan to get FP as sheriff? But let’s hope they tone down the Archie of it all before it gets any more dramatic. Also, how do we feel about Tall Boy as the Gargoyle King? Do we believe it or are we looking at a Black Hood situation? I still have questions about those seizures…

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