Let’s Ponder Oleander And Riverdale’s Conspiracy Of Silence

by Erik Amaya


“Dilton Doiley’s dead dad did it?”
For all the time Riverdale has been on the air, it has lacked for one sentence which perfectly distills the show to its weird, trashy essence. The above line, spoken by Betty (Lili Reinhart) while talking to the re-assembled Midnight Club gets to the meat of the program’s compelling silliness. It also sets off a line of investigation which puts Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) in the frame for the murder of Daryl Doiley and, potentially, the real identity of the Gargoyle King.
Although, the show also tried its hardest to set up Tom Keller (Martin Cummins) as a potential suspect, but that led to another interesting angle: the conspiracy of silence among the Midnight Club and the lengths they went to in order to keep their names away from Principal Featherhead’s (Anthony Michael Hall) death. Keller approved an autopsy report indicating suicide despite the fact Dr. Curdle Sr. found traces of poisonous Oleander in his system. Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) wrote the story in the paper declaring the suicide as fact. Tom was part of Daryl’s Gryphons and Gargoyles group and Alice, well, she saw the Gargoyle King.
But so did F.P. (Skeet Ulrich). Or, at least, he believed it was a hallucination all these years. It was one of the few useful pieces of information gleaned from Betty’s parlor scene and yet Betty and Alice missed it. Did the others, high on the illicit Pop Rocks, also “hallucinate” the Gargoyle King?
During the scene, Penelope also suggested Daryl was the man behind Featherhead’s death; though it was accidental as he was supposedly in love with her and wanted the ascend with her the night of the party. But as Betty pointed out, it’s pretty convenient to throw this on Daryl, who is not alive to defend himself. It also introduces to key questions: who created G&G to begin with and are their two Gargoyle Kings? Betty seems to think the same person set everything up 30 years ago and in recent days, which suggests the culprit must be someone in the Midnight Club’s age group, a member, or someone slightly older. Like, say, a teacher at Riverdale High. That person may have tested the game on Warden Norton, who was the ROTC instructor at the time.
And really, Warden Norton is the big wrench in any compelling theory. He makes the game bigger than Riverdale and his vague connections to the Midnight Club — via Tom Keller and Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos)  — makes it hard to pin a good suspect down. If nothing else, he’s given us the game’s symbol for sacrifice, which will no doubt continue to be a big feature as Joaquin’s (Rob Raco) corpse featured it and the file folder on Hermoine’s (Marisol Nichols) computer somehow had it as part of its icon.
Meanwhile, it will be tough for the Riverdale Four to learn the truth as they are all now divided. Archie (KJ Apa) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) are reenacting The Outsiders, Veronica (Camila Mendes) is broken up about breaking up, and Betty has finally found herself at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy; though it seems the Gargoyle King has his bony fingers in that questionable convent as well. In fact, let’s ponder the group’s separation as we watch a preview of next week’s show. Archie and Jug find their way to a Smallvile-esque farm, Veronica consoles herself with gambling and Betty faces off against the horrors at Quiet Mercy.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.

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