By Samantha Highfill
December 12, 2018 at 09:21 PM EST
Diyah Pera/The CW
S3 E8
  • TV Show

I feel like I’ve maintained a pretty steady attitude about this season thus far: Confused but loving it. But after this episode, I’ve got to admit, I’m more confused than I am loving it. I’m not disliking it, by any means, but my confusion has simply trumped every other emotion at the moment. Are you confused by this recap now? Great! Welcome to my world!

The episode starts with our first mass seizure — because one-person seizures are SO last year — which hits the Vixens, including Toni and Veronica. So, of course, Cheryl takes Toni home to care for her, where she also asks her to move in with her, which simply reminded me that we haven’t seen much of these two this season. As for Veronica, her parents take her back to the Pembrooke to look after her, but she quickly overhears them talking about how Hiram wasn’t supposed to go through with something if Veronica could get sick. So basically it sounds like Hiram is the mastermind here, which is not shocking.

But when Hermione and Hiram try to send Veronica to New York, she realizes something big must be coming. Veronica asks Reggie to find out some info on the Gargoyles handing out fizzle rocks while she tries to stop her parents.

While all of this is going on, we catch up with Betty, who is NOT taking fizzle rocks! Well, she’s taking them, but she’s making herself throw up after. Yay Betty! One character we can count on! And when Betty hears about the mass seizure at school, she realizes she needs to speed up her plan. Step one: Manipulate Ethel into taking her to see the Gargoyle King, which is incredibly easy. All Betty does is pretend she’s the King’s new favorite, so Ethel takes her to his chambers so they can compare relationships. Once there, Betty shoves Ethel inside and locks the door. She explains to Ethel that the King is nothing but a hallucination, and once the drugs wear off, Betty will come back and Ethel will see the truth.

And it works! Betty returns a few hours later, and Ethel is sitting there with nothing but a statue of a gargoyle, and I instantly have questions. If the Gargoyle King is a hallucination, how did Alice see him that night at the school when she wasn’t high? Or what about the time he showed up in Betty’s home? Honestly, if the twist were that everyone in Riverdale was high all the time, this show might make a lot more sense.

Betty claims that the King they’ve seen while sober MUST BE someone dressed up as the King, but again, that raises some questions. Regardless, Betty enlists Ethel’s help in essentially kidnapping Sister Woodhouse and tying her up in the King’s chambers so that they can finally get some answers. But they do that only after B calls Veronica, a not-very-great friend for not realizing Betty was missing, and gives her a mission: Veronica and Cheryl need to get answers out of Penelope, but we’ll get to that.

As for Sister Woodhouse, she reveals that the game was started at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. For years, they used the gargoyle statue to scare kids into submission, so some of the students created the game around the idea of the Gargoyle King, and then the Sisters started using it to help focus the patients. But the game was never supposed to get out. With that, Betty and Ethel leave Sister Woodhouse behind and take her keys. They’re going to break out, and they’re taking the other girls with them. (So, apparently, Sister Woodhouse is the only person that works there if tying her up allows them all to run free?! What happened to the one-adult-to-every-five-kids ratio or whatever?)

Before we get to the breakout, let’s catch up with Jug and Archie who successfully reunite with Jug’s mom — who immediately assumes Jug and Archie are a couple — and sister, who prefers “JB” to “Jellybean.”

Gladys quickly invites them to stay for dinner, where Jug catches her up on the G&G of it all before he calls her out on the fact that her “legitimate” business is more of a chop shop. But none of that matters when Penny Peabody shows up and tries to take Archie back to Hiram. Thankfully, JB saves the day with her handy slingshot, which allows Gladys to get some alone time with Penny, otherwise known as the woman who sliced up her son’s arm. (Next: Hiram makes a big move)

Gladys gets Penny to talk about Hiram, and she comes to the conclusion that Jug needs to let Archie go on his own because wherever Archie is, everyone around him is in danger. Archie agrees, so Gladys calls FP and Fred to take their sons away: Jug is to head back to Riverdale while Archie heads for the border (with Vegas in tow, of course). Only, by the time FP and Jug get back to Riverdale, they can’t enter. More on that later.

First, let’s get to Veronica and Cheryl’s mission. After Veronica finds out that the Gargoyles are giving out fizzle rocks for free, she and Cheryl storm a school board meeting. Hermione wants to shut down the school, but Veronica instead calls out the fact that Hiram’s prison is more of a drug factory. Of course, Hiram denies it, though he later tells his daughter she wasn’t entirely wrong. She simply hasn’t grasped how big his plan is: Hiram’s building a kingdom and he’s hoping V will help him oversee the new order. Naturally, she walks away, and she and Cheryl head to question Penelope.

Their torture technique? Covering Penelope in so much maple syrup she can barely breathe and then letting the ants in. DAMN. These are some creative, messed-up teens. All they really get out of Penelope is that Hiram is going to turn Riverdale into a place where their businesses — drugs and prostitution — will prosper. Penelope’s intel leads them straight to Hermione’s office, where they’re too late: Hermione already put in the call … Riverdale is under quarantine as the (tornado?) alarms start to sound.

Back at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, Betty and Ethel figure out a way to convince the other girls to leave: They turn it into a quest. Only this time, they’re running from the Gargoyle King to … the Gryphon Queen! Who is the Gryphon Queen, you ask? Betty, who’s apparently incredibly fast at crafts because she makes herself some wings in no time and convinces the girls to run free. But they can’t run far … because of the whole quarantine thing.

And yeah, that whole quarantine is the reason Jug and FP aren’t allowed back into the city, but instead, are met with many armed men at Riverdale’s border. And speaking of the border, Archie seems to make it to his, and can I just say that Arch dying his hair black is possibly the most magical thing the show’s ever done? He got five times hotter in less than 10 seconds! The Gargoyle King has nothing on that!

As chaos unfolds in town, Hiram finishes up a call with the governor who tells him, “May God have mercy on our souls.” And that’s when Hiram responds, “Not God, governor. The King.” And at that moment it’s revealed that the Gargoyle King is standing in Hiram’s office. So even he is playing the game! Maybe he never stopped? But also, this thing isn’t a hallucination?! I’m confused! Sure, I’m still a little intrigued, but the confusion is certainly taking over. However, I am down for Riverdale to turn into a Gotham City but with sexier teens. That could be fun.

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