I have to warn you all: The opening images of this week’s Riverdale are truly disturbing. First, there’s Archie, who’s been thrown into solitary after refusing to be the warden’s new Mad Dog. Then, there’s FP and Alice in bed, which is not disturbing on its own — how could it be?! — but is only disturbing in the context that the show cuts straight from the shot of FP and Alice in bed to a shot of Jughead and Betty in bed together. I fully understand that Jug and Betty are not related just because their parents are hooking up in today’s world, but it’s still SUPER WEIRD. Do not give me that imagery ever again, Riverdale.
Also, what’s even worse than the parents-to-kids sex parallel is the fact that Jughead and Betty are having sex in Dilton’s twin bed in his secret bunker!!! They claim that the bunker is the only place where they can get some privacy away from their parents (who seem a little too busy to be watching you all the time but fine). All I have to say is that this is NOT OKAY. First of all, that bunker is super creepy. Also, you have no idea what Dilton did in that bed. Ethel and Ben could’ve consummated their relationship and never cleaned the sheets! AND HAVE SOME RESPECT FOR DEAD DILTON. I’m so disturbed by this, guys. Honestly, I’d rather face the Gargoyle King than that mattress.
Once Jughead gets off that mattress, he figures something out: Every game needs a rule book. And that’s what they need to find. So, after Betty convinces Veronica to stop putting her life on hold for Archie and to “open the damn speakeasy” so that Pop’s doesn’t go out of business — more on that later — she and Jughead revisit the Ethel of it all. It seems Ethel is back in school post-seizure, and Evelyn Evernever is trying to help get her off all of the medication that she just got on to stop the seizures. Just then, Betty starts wondering if there isn’t a connection between the Farm and G&G.
So while Jughead convinces Ethel to make him “worthy” of the game’s “scripture,” Betty joins Evelyn’s school chapter of the Farm, where so far, there are two members: Evelyn and Betty. But of course, Betty’s plan backfires when Evelyn tells Alice, and suddenly, an entire group of Farm members is waiting at Betty’s house to welcome her. Betty quickly loses her temper when she finds out that her mom and sister have told the Farm EVERYTHING, including things that could get them sent to prison, and so Betty outright accuses Edgar Evernever of being the Gargoyle King. That’s when Betty realizes her mom knows something about the game, but when Betty looks like she’s about to pass out again, she heads upstairs. (What IS this seizure thing?! Why does everyone keep acting like it’s normal for all these teens to start having seizures suddenly?!)
As for Jug, he meets Ethel in Dilton’s bunker — his favorite hook-up spot — to play his first game. It starts simple enough: Jughead picks a player and gets his first “quest card.” But when Ethel reveals he has to prove his worthiness by flipping the coin and drinking from one of the sacred goblets — one of which we know has cyanide in it — Jughead nearly quits. But he knows they need that scripture, so he risks his life, and thankfully, drinks from the safe cup. Then, all Jug has to do is kiss Ethel — she claims it’s part of the game; I think she just has game — and she hands over the scripture. But just as he starts to read, Ethel drinks from the other cup, thereby poisoning herself. Jug rushes her to the hospital.
The good news is that the doctors get Ethel the antidote in time, but the bad news is that Ethel’s plan doesn’t end there. Long story short, FP and Alice discover the scripture in Jug’s trailer, and FP throws it in a fire. But by episode’s end, Ethel has put a copy of the rule book in every single locker at Riverdale High. “Soon they’ll join us,” Ethel says as she bows down to the Gargoyle King, who is casually standing in her hospital room. COOL. (Next: Veronica opens her speakeasy)
While all of that was going down, Veronica was busy opening her speakeasy, where Reggie serves as her bartender, doorman, delivery guy, and pretty much whatever else she needs. With opening night approaching, Veronica asks Josie to be her resident singer while Kevin will be the emcee. As for Cheryl and Toni, Veronica asks them to spread the word — or rather, the flyers — of La Bonne Nuit’s opening. But they don’t have to spread the word to the Ghoulies, because Penny Peabody visits Veronica all on her own. It seems Penny wants to offer the Ghoulies’ services of protection, but Veronica’s not interested … not even when Reggie unknowingly brings in a shipment of Jingle Jangle moments before Sheriff Minetta shows up.
Thankfully Reggie thinks fastest when he’s shirtless, so he’s able to get rid of the drugs before Minetta makes his entrance, and that leaves Veronica to figure out her next move. The one thing Penny and Minetta have in common? Her father. But she’s not confronting daddy without blackmail.
Veronica heads out to find Jug, but when she can’t, Toni and Cheryl agree to help her get into the basement of the Whyte Wyrm, which is where the Ghoulies are running their drug operation. The three women sneak in, take a bunch of photos, and only then does Veronica approach Hiram about calling off his lackeys. Hiram’s response? To show up to opening night with a present: He gives Veronica the portrait of her that used to hang in his office. He claims he’s “proud” of his daughter, but she still doesn’t trust him. (What do you want to bet that portrait has a camera in it somewhere?) As for his drug lab, he’s already moved its location, so her blackmail is now useless.
Meanwhile, in juvie, Archie discovers what it means to be the warden’s new Mad Dog, and it means that he’s going to be joining a fight club that takes place in an empty pool. The guards bet on the inmates, who fight until someone’s knocked out. And if that’s not enough, Archie meets a few members of the fighting team and HERE ARE SOME NAMES: Baby Teeth and Thumper. So if you thought Mad Dog was crazy, meet BABY TEETH. (And then someone who just really loved Bambi.)
Archie wins his first fight with two quick punches, but the warden is not happy with his performance. For a fight to be entertaining, the warden says it has to go at least 5 or 6 rounds. And so, Archie comes up with a way to make that happen without killing anyone — because he’s clearly the Muhammad Ali of this prison. In his next fight, Archie lets his opponent beat him up for five rounds before knocking him out with that one, magical Archie Andrews cross.
And when Archie returns to his cell, he’s been given a bunch of Mad Dog’s hand-me-downs, including his TV, books, and more. The warden also gives him a bottle of rum, but instead of seeing it as a potential weapon, Archie throws it through the bars of his cell in anger. So it’s nice to see that jail hasn’t made him any smarter.
But thanks to Mad Dog, Archie is now in possession of a small rock hammer, which Mad Dog hid in one of his books. With it, Archie claims he’s going to escape. You know, because Riverdale is a huge town and he won’t be found the second he escapes jail.
And that about covers everything. Archie is still shirtless and stupid and precious, and this Gargoyle King mystery still has me totally enthralled. Riverdale is bringing it this season.