Really, we should’ve seen it coming.
Riverdale‘s mid-season took a smart step in not revealing the identity of the Gargoyle King — unless, maybe it did? — to set up a new status quo for the series. It also introduced some fresh ideas and maybe did away with a true irritant. Nonetheless, some of the air is out of the balloon as the series heads into a winter hiatus.
One thing still fresh on the show, though, is the arch behavior of Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch). Whether villain or hero, there’s something so wonderfully theatrical to her. Call it the Blossom influence, but her dialogue, reactions to people, and calling out her mother as a viper before her phony seizure all serve as reminders that Riverdale has had far too little of Cheryl as an active character this season. And since the episode gave her a renewed focus, it will be interesting to see if she and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) really do move in together. Considering the situation about to unfold, it may be the safest place for Toni.
Meanwhile, Archie’s (KJ Apa) plot continues to bore. And now that Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is riding head-on into the maelstrom, it is impossible to think his story will resonate until he returns to town.
But the real winner in this week’s episode is Betty (Lili Reinhart), who pulled a fast one on Sister Woodhouse (Beverly Breuer) by evading the forced ingestion of Fizzy Rocks and learned the truth about the Gargoyle King at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. As it turns out, the convent is the source of Gryphons & Gargoyles; a game developed as a therapeutic aid after several inmates turned their delusions into an adventure. But Woodhouse never meant for the game to leave the grounds as it is “born of madness.” Betty and Ethel (Shannon Purser) were able to use this information to help the rest of the inmates escape. Granted, it took Betty becoming the Gryphon Queen to do it, but that seems like a natural extension of her story at this point. Maybe Alice (Madchen Amick) will finally accept that the convent was no good and rotten to the core.
Or maybe she always knew that considering the links between the Sisters, the Farm and Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos).
Hiram, for his part, has moved into the next phase of his SoDale plan: locking down all of Riverdale. As he admitted to Veronica (Camila Mendes), the Fizzy Rocks and the game are part of a long term plan. But he avoided telling her about the Quarantine he, Hermione (Marisol Nichols) and Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) apparently knew about from the jump. But one question remains about Hiram, is he locked into the madness of G&G and hallucinating the Gargoyle King or is he the thrall of the very real person dressing up as the King?
Which, for the moment, we’re going to assume is Edgar Evernever, the unseen face in all of this.
Putting the town under quarantine prevents the sort of scrutiny Veronica was hoping to bring down on her father. Granted, the governor is apparently in his pocket, but now her concerns will sound like the ravings of a seizure victim. But the Quarantine also leaves us with a number of questions to ponder over the winter break. Will the series pick up immediately after the night of the quarantine or present Riverdale a few weeks into the lockdown? Did Fred (Luke Perry) get back to town before the road closures? What did Gladys (Gina Gershon) do to Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan)? Will Jughead and F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) think to use the Sweetwater River as a way back into town? Will Cheryl ever have a normal human reaction to anything?
Riverdale returns January 16th on The CW.