Warning: This post contains spoilers from Wednesday’s midseason finale of Riverdale, “Chapter Forty-Three: Outbreak.”
The midseason finale of Riverdale’s third season brought a new face to the CW drama: Gladys Jones (played by Gina Gershon), Jughead’s mom and FP’s ex-wife (though have we ever had confirmation they’re divorced?).
The end of the episode brought a potent reunion between Gladys and her former husband, when she called FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich) to come and help escort Jughead (Cole Sprouse) back to Riverdale. If fans were expecting a fraught reunion after Gladys skipped town with their youngest child, Jellybean (Trinity Likins), their greeting was surprisingly warm, even ending with an embrace and a kiss on the cheek from Gladys.
“She’s still probably in love with him,” Gershon tells EW of the crackling tension of their reunion. “They definitely have a thing. He’s been off doing his thing, so I’m sure she’s not happy about that, but there’s a lot of love there. There’s a lot of anger on top of the love, but it’s under there.”
When we mention Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick), who together with FP has made the Falice pairing a favorite among fans, Gershon jokes, “Alice who?”
Gershon fills us in on more of Gladys’ backstory, explaining, “She didn’t graduate high school, but she and FP were married. They were together since high school. Then they had the kids, and she got out of Riverdale. I don’t think she could take it, her situation with FP, and she had to get out of Riverdale to get her own life together.”
When Jughead found his mother and Jellybean living in Toledo, he discovered his mom had become den mother to a group of teenage boys, running a chop shop out of her otherwise legal mechanic’s business. “Maybe it’s a little bit on the shady side, but it’s not hurting anyone. Not in Gladys’ mind anyway,” Gershon says. “She’s got her own moral code. It could be a dodgy one —- as we know, people can have their own codes and they can be really terrible. But I don’t think she’s terrible. She’s a survivor. Gladys is someone who will do whatever it takes to survive and protect these kids around her.”
Gershon stresses that Gladys’ maternal instincts drive her more than anything. But like all Riverdale parents, her good intentions might have hidden darkness. “She has her own agenda. At the same time, she’s a very, very protective mama and you definitely don’t want to be one her bad side,” Gershon says. “She has a strong sense of revenge and protection. She was a Serpent, after all. She has a real code of loyalty, but I don’t think she trusts many people, so you’re not quite sure where Gladys is coming from.”
Speaking of revenge, we saw Gladys dish some out when Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan) showed up in Toledo to capture Archie (K.J. Apa) on behalf of Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos). After Jughead revealed that the nasty scar on his arm came courtesy of Penny and her minions, Gladys took the opportunity to question Penny using her own brand of justice. Penny’s whereabouts remain unknown, but Gladys was seen wiping a lot of blood off her hands. So, did Gladys kill Penny?
“We’re not really sure. She could’ve, and then again maybe she just taught her a lesson,” teases Gershon. “Gladys and Penny never really got along from the old days. I think she tried messing with her before, but listen, if they hurt your kid, you’re going to go after someone. That’s unacceptable.”
When it comes to questions like these, Gershon insists she has no idea what the answers are. “In this show, the one thing I’ve figured out, you literally have no idea. I keep going, ‘Wait, am I the Gargoyle King?!’’ she says, laughing. “I literally don’t know. No one really knows.”
Riverdale returns Jan. 16 at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.