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Entertainment Weekly

TV Recaps

Riverdale recap: The Gargoyle King makes a grand entrance

Dean Buscher/The CW

Posted on


S3 E2
Show Details
TV Show
The CW
S3 E2

This week’s Riverdale can easily be divided into two parts: The insane mystery of the Gargoyle King, which Jughead and Betty are determined to solve, and the way more insane story of how one red-headed boy brought out the good in every inmate of a juvenile detention center. Let’s get into it!

I want to start with Archie and his time in juvie, because we have so, so much to discuss. First and foremost, we should talk about the warden, who loves Shakespeare and feels the need to pull Archie aside just to tell him that there’s a music room. So … great?

Cut to us meeting Archie’s roommate, Mad Dog, otherwise known as my new number one crush on Riverdale. Mad Dog has clearly been there for a while: He’s got a TV, a record player, a bunch of books, and the ability to do a freakish amount of pull-ups, a skill that’s really only gained when you’re in prison and your workout options are restricted to push-ups and pull-ups. Archie walks into his cell and says one of my favorite sentences in the history of the show: “Hey, I’m Archie. You’re Mad Dog, right?” That just makes me laugh. But Archie being Archie misses the opportunity to bond with Mad Dog over their shared love of upper-body workouts, and instead, starts asking questions.

Mad Dog doesn’t say much to Archie at first, but he does warn him about his fancy sneakers. And when the Serpents refuse to protect him — turns out Joaquin is also in here and let’s them all know Archie’s a fake Serpent; plus, Archie refuses to shiv a Ghoulie in the yard — the Ghoulies ambush Archie and steal his shoes. So yeah, he should’ve listened to Mad Dog.

When Veronica and Reggie bring Archie — so Reggie visits Arch before, I don’t know, Jughead? Or Betty!? — a new pair of shoes, Archie gets an idea. This is a place filled with liars and violent young men. You know what they need? FOOTBALL! If only they knew the “epic highs and lows of football” they wouldn’t commit crimes! They wouldn’t hate one another!! The most absurd thing about this pep talk? THAT IT WORKS. Once Mad Dog and his eight sidekicks that I like to call his abs stand by Archie, everyone agrees to play, and truly this might be more insane than levitating babies. Imagine if these kids had heard a pep talk from Coach Taylor! They could save the world!

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE. During the football game, Veronica and the Vixens show up to perform “Jailhouse Rock” for the inmates. I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. For starters, in what world can you just perform a song right outside the fence of a juvenile detention center?! Also, which one of you thought, “I know what song they’ll relate to, ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ Because THEY’RE IN JAIL.” Way to throw that in their faces. But my favorite detail of this entirely insane interaction might be the moment the guys stop watching and go back to playing football like they’re over it.

And you know who’s definitely over it? Hiram, who pulls up to let his daughter know that he’s friends with the warden, and as of tomorrow, Veronica will be banned from visiting her beau. After Hiram drops that news, the warden unleashes a bunch of guards on the inmates, and they treat the game like a riot so that they have an excuse to beat the prisoners. The worst news? When Archie returns to his cell, THE WISE AND BEAUTIFUL MAD DOG IS GONE. The guard claims he’s dead, and the warden claims Archie has been “tapped” to replace him. But we all know Archie is no Mad Dog. QUICK! GET JUGHEAD AND BETTY TO SOLVE THE MOST IMPORTANT MYSTERY OF THE SEASON: WHERE IS MAD DOG?! (Next: Jughead and Betty meet the Gargoyle King)

And speaking of mysteries, let’s get to the other storyline this week. Jughead updates Betty, whose seizure was apparently stress-induced and caused her to hallucinate levitating babies, on the Dilton situation. Turns out, Ben is in a coma.

At the coroner’s office, Jug and Betty find out that Ben and Dilton both drank cyanide out of a blueberry drink, so at least they tried to make it tasty? That’s all the coroner knows. Well, that and the fact that he feels we’re looking at “the true face of evil.” Man, this guy’s got some intuition, doesn’t he?

After Betty meets Evelyn Evernever, Edgar’s daughter, at school, she and Jug head to the hospital to visit Ben. It’s there that they find a talisman on the door, and Ben’s mom says a girl with a bow in her hair left it. So, all signs point to Ethel. And Jug and Betty need answers, especially considering another member of Dilton’s troop just went missing.

Ethel tells them that she spent the summer dating Ben and hanging out with him at Dilton’s bunker in the woods. She agrees to take them to the bunker that night, but once they’re in the woods, they don’t find Ethel. Instead, they find the Gargoyle King, some very tall tree-like creature that’s legitimately scary and as weird as this all is, I like it way more than I liked Archie’s ridiculous pep talk!

The next day, Betty and Jug find the bunker, and inside, they find the missing member of Dilton’s troop. It turns out he was Dilton’s apprentice and he was just waiting for his “master” to come home. It was all part of the game, including drinking the cyanide. Betty and Jug take the boy home, but when they start asking Ethel more questions, she tells them that she can’t talk. When Dilton tried to talk, he wound up dead. Just then, Ethel has a seizure (while creepy Evelyn watches from across the room). So I’m guessing there’s a connection between the Farm and the Gargoyle King?

That remains to be seen, but it sounds like there’s definitely a connection between the Gargoyle King and the parents of Riverdale. Hermione calls them all into her office to talk about the pact they made to “never mention that night.” She’s worried that all of this Dilton stuff will lead back to the secret they all buried years ago. She mentions Ben’s blue lips, and they all seem to know what she’s talking about. Then there’s a mention of all of it “happening again,” and this might be my new favorite mystery.

And that’s not the end of it. When Betty and Jug take Ethel to the hospital, they pay Ben a visit. He’s sitting in an open window talking about how he’s ready to “ascend” and be with Dilton. He says it’s “all part of his plan.” Then he throws himself out the window. (And it sounds like he hits the ground rather quickly, so was he only like one story up? Are we sure he’s dead?)

Other things to note:

So there you have it, half of this episode worked for me, and the other half sort of worked. Oddly, the “Jailhouse Rock” scene feels like the appropriate level of crazy for Riverdale, but Archie’s pep talk was too much. But I did love Mad Dog. (Seriously, what happened to him?!)

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