This post contains spoilers for Riverdale.
Check out last week's review here.
After a week off for Thanksgiving, Riverdale returns to help you dust off your “wtf?” faces. No matter which thread you pull at, it seems everything’s coming back to the Midnight Club, and that includes the unfortunate choices being made in the present as well. Archie’s on the run (and marked for death, apparently), Jughead might be on game crack, Betty’s in serious danger, and Josie is the latest seizure victim. Faced with all of this, the adults of Riverdale do their best to keep their heads buried in the sand. But, if they care about their kids, they’re going to need to get said heads back in the game.
For those who might not remember, Warden Norton committed suicide before the show’s brief break. Maybe it was because he failed his King, maybe it was because he failed Hiram Lodge. Hell, if Jughead’s right, maybe they’re one in the same. Point is, we don’t know his motivations, but we now know there’s been more blood on the Gargoyle King’s hands than we were previously led to believe… kind of.
When Betty wrangles the Midnight Club into the speakeasy, it’s with the intention of getting some answers out of the tight-lipped parents of Riverdale. Unsurprisingly, Fred Andrews is the first to nudge the gang to listen to give her what she’s asking for. They do give up some details eventually but, as usual, those details are lies. Penelope Blossom details an unrequited love affair with Daryl Doylie that ultimately resulted in his suicide. It’s a very good story! Totally believable and utter bogus.
Because of the continued lies, Betty digs deeper into the Gargoyle King on her own. Jughead’s been deeply involved as well, but this week his focus is on Joaquin. The ex-Serpent has shacked up with a group calling themselves the Gargoyle Gang. They’re exactly what it says on the package, but they don’t’ seem to know any more about the Gargoyle King’s identity than Jughead and Betty. At least Joaquin didn’t before he died. I’ll save the long explanation as to why Joaquin’s death is so annoying for when we all have more time. For now, the point stands that Betty’s running mostly solo.
Before we get to the rest of her story, we have to take a pause and focus on town idiot: Archie Andrews. Do his friends make him stupid? He was almost a fully functioning human being in Leopold and Loeb Detention Center. Was it because he had to be? Who the hell knows! Point is, he’s out again, and he is back making the most unfathomably stupid decisions with all those good intentions of his. After solid sleuthing on her part, Veronica finally manages to get her moron boyfriend exonerated. Doesn’t matter: Archie’s playing runaway because Hiram’s scary. The thing about his half-baked decision to leave Riverdale is that it is rooted in some truth. Hiram’s not going to stop. But the unbelievable ego Archie has, believing that he will somehow defeat Ronnie’s evil dad without his friends? It’s legitimately fascinating. Maybe the kid got hit too hard in football one too many times, who knows?
As it turns out, Gargoyle Kings don’t like Nancy Drew types sticking their noses in their business. Big Creepy and his followers storm the Cooper residence. Jughead can’t kick the door in and come to the rescue this time, so FP goes with the ladder into the bedroom route. Strangely, there’s no resolution to this scene. There’s terrified hugging, and then we’re back in the kitchen and FP’s gone. You don’t have much time to focus on that weird skip, because Alice is shipping Betty off to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy where she’ll be “safe”. Friendly reminder that these crazy ladies still practice conversion therapy and that every single time Alice seems to start being a good mother she throws it all away with monstrous choices like this one. She’ll be going to The Farm with Polly and the babies, but who even cares at this point?
We don’t get much more of Betty’s story this week, because instead of focusing on her kidnapping, we have to listen to a pointless goodbye between Veronica and Archie. Camila Mendes, JK Apa, and Casey Cott all do a tremendous job in the scene (special shout out to Casey since he’s in it all of three seconds), but Archie’s leaving is so needlessly dumb that it all falls flat.
“Manhunter” comes to a close with Betty quietly entering the art room with the Sisters. It’s possible she’s sedated, because she seems pretty chill about the whole situation. That chill melts away once she realizes that every girl in the room is painting a different version of the Gargoyle King. It’s a beautiful shot, and a masterful close to this week’s arc, but I just can’t stop focusing on the greatest injustice of the episode.
Alice Cooper is an absolute wretch, but this week’s “the worst” crown doesn’t go to her. Penelope Blossom is literally incapable of telling the truth, but it doesn’t go to her either. No. It goes to Hermione Lodge and her utterly reprehensible desktop. They’re called file folders, you hot damn mess. Get it together, woman! Your daughter needs you. Hell, your town needs you. You’re better than this!
Messy desktops aside, you know what to do if you had thoughts on this week’s episode!