I’m going to be honest: I do not fully understand what is going on with the Gargoyle King and … I really like it?! This show is leaning into the mystery of the Gargoyle King, and with every episode, it feels as if things only grow bigger and more out of control, and unlike the Black Hood mystery, this is what I want out of Riverdale. I don’t care if I’m confused because I’m intrigued, and that’s more important.
This week’s episode starts with Betty taking care of Archie while Jughead tells her about his Gargoyle King sighting. Apparently, after Jug saw the King, he followed him to a clearing where ten of his disciples were wearing gargoyle masks and seemingly worshipping him. Archie mentions it could be Joaquin considering he told Kevin about a new gang before running into the woods. As for Betty and Jug’s theory that Warden Norton is the Gargoyle King? Well, that dies when he does.
Betty finds out about the warden’s suicide when she returns home, and when her mother claims not to have known Norton, Betty discovers that Norton was the RROTC instructor at Riverdale High during the days of the Midnight Club. So Betty decides it’s time to start getting answers from the town’s parents.
While Betty works on getting the adults in one room, Archie tells Veronica about the Shadow Lake mines, a.k.a. where he thinks the witnesses that put him behind bars are hiding. He wants to go there, but Veronica makes him promise to stay put in the bunker. She’s got another plan, and it involves looking into his case files for evidence of his innocence. Oh, also, I should mention that this conversation is happening after they had sex in Dilton’s bunker, which is now officially the grossest place in all of Riverdale. I’m betting no one’s washed those sheets in quite some time…
At school, Sheriff Minetta is giving a speech to the kids about how anyone who helped Archie escape is also a criminal, and I’m thinking the gang should’ve thought twice before involving Josie in their scheme because she is a truly terrible liar. But when Minetta sees her weakness and gets in her face, she has a seizure. So maybe those seizures are good for something?
While Jug tasks the Serpents with finding Joaquin, Kevin realizes that Archie’s wound is infected, so Betty suggests he bring him to the medical examiner, who has proven he can be paid off for just about anything. As for Betty, she’s gathered all the parents in V’s speakeasy — she sent fake invitations from the Gargoyle King — for some answers. Someone in that room is a murderer, and Betty wants to know who it is. (Betty is obviously fine being in a room with a murderer because she lived with one for her entire life.)
Betty calls the parents out on all their lies — including the fact that Reggie’s dad hits his son — and Tom Keller admits that Norton confiscated a game manual during his days as the RROTC instructor. Hiram claims that he had no idea that Norton was playing the game, and Hermione thinks Penelope is the murderer seeing as how she was game master. Penelope, however, reminds everyone that Daryl Doiley was also game master, and apparently he was secretly in love with her. Penelope says he poisoned the chalice because he wanted them to ascend together, but she said no. She then assumed the chalices were emptied, but they weren’t.
Years later, Daryl once again confessed his love for Penelope, but when she refused him a second time, he killed himself. He was found sitting in a running car in his garage with his windows up.
Betty’s not buying the story that the dead guy is the murderer, but when FP finds out that his son is still playing the game, he’s done with Betty’s interrogation. FP leaves and the rest of the parents follow.
FP heads straight home, where he handcuffs Jug to the fridge in order to “sober him up” from his G&G addiction. It doesn’t last long seeing as how Jug’s girlfriend wears the most bobby pins in her hair of anyone. (Come on FP, you should know that.) Once Betty frees Jug, he heads out to meet up with Fangs and Sweet Pea, who have found Joaquin. Betty goes to check out Daryl Doiley’s autopsy report. (Next: The Gargoyle King claims another victim)
Meanwhile, the medical examiner fixes up Archie while Veronica realizes that the interrogation footage from Archie’s case has been edited. So while she heads to the mayor’s office to find the real footage, Archie and Kevin head to the Shadow Lake mines. But seeing as how Hiram called in a hit on those boys, Sheriff Minetta was able to kill them all before Archie and Kevin could get there. Well, he killed all but one. Archie and Kevin rushed the sole survivor to the hospital, but he also died.
Veronica has better luck… sort of. She’s able to find the video and send it to herself before she’s arrested for breaking into her mother’s office. Not surprisingly, Hiram doesn’t bail her out. Instead, she calls Fred to tell him to go after Archie, and Fred is nice enough to call attorney McCoy, who gets Veronica out of jail. Furthermore, McCoy uses the video that Veronica found to get Archie his freedom! Buttttt there’s an issue. More on that later.
First, we have to deal with Joaquin, who was found wearing one of the gargoyle masks. Joaquin tells Jug about the quest cards that Warden Norton was following, and he also explains that the symbol on Archie’s hip means sacrifice. Archie has to die. Jug then asks who was sending the quest cards to the warden, and Joaquin claims he once saw Hiram meet with the warden. So naturally, Jug marches right into Hiram’s office to accuse him of being the Gargoyle King. But Hiram tells Jug that’s impossible… because the Gargoyle King is not a real thing. If Jug is looking for a murderer, he suggests Clifford Blossom, Hal Cooper, Tom Keller, or even FP. He claims they all make “solid suspects,” and clearly he isn’t wrong about all of them. (Please don’t let Hal Cooper once again be the answer to this mystery.)
At the morgue, Betty reads Daryl Doiley’s autopsy report, and it turns out that he was already dead before he got into that car. He died from oleander, a poisonous plant. The medical examiner is confident he was murdered. With that, Betty meets with Tom Keller, the sheriff at the time of Daryl’s death. She asks why he covered up the murder, and Tom claims he was protecting all of them. But when it comes to oleander, only one member of the Midnight Club grows it in their greenhouse. Aaaand all roads lead back to Penelope Blossom.
Penelope meets with Betty, where she explains that if she had killed Daryl, she wouldn’t have used oleander because it leaves traces. (That checks out.) She then tells Betty that it was Alice who wrote the article about Daryl’s death, so why did Alice cover it up? So maybe all roads lead back to Alice? Like I said, I’m confused.
Betty returns home to ask her mom, but before Alice can say much, the power goes out in the house. Then, the Gargoyle King shows up in their living room. Alice and Betty run upstairs, where they find Daryl’s headstone and skeleton in Betty’s bed. Someone’s used spray paint to cross out Daryl’s name on the headstone and written in Betty and Alice. Just then, FP sneaks in the window of Betty’s room. And when Alice tells him the Gargoyle King is there he … hugs her?! Dude, that is not what she needs right now!!! The Gargoyle King is in the house!! Who knew FP would be so bad in a crisis?
Speaking of FP not being on his game today. That son he handcuffed? Welp, he’s free to find a dead Joaquin. Someone dropped off Joaquin’s body, complete with blue lips and the “sacrifice” symbol on his forehead, and that means one thing: Jug has to get to Archie.
Aaand that brings us back to Archie. Just as Veronica’s preparing his welcome back party, he calls and tells her that he can’t come home, even though he’s a free man and Minetta is going to prison. Hiram is still out there, which means everyone Archie cares about is a target. “When I first met you, you were it for me,” Archie tells Veronica, who agrees that they’re “endgame.” Veronica tries her best to convince Archie to come home, but instead, Archie says goodbye. He’s hitting the road… with Jughead, who’s not going to let Arch out of his sight.
But Jug might regret his decision to skip town with his bestie because his girlfriend might need his help. The episode ends with Alice deciding to head to the Farm, where she feels safe, and when Betty doesn’t want to go, Alice sends her daughter to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, where everyone in painting class is working on a portrait of… the Gargoyle King.
I’m not entirely sure how this is going to be a season-long mystery — or even if it is — but so far, the pacing of the Gargoyle King mystery is really working for me. The way this episode escalated it by him showing up at Betty’s house?! I’m into it. I’m also into the incorporation of the Riverdale parents. This is definitely my favorite mystery the show’s done thus far.