We’re back! Wow, two weeks off from Riverdale seems like an eternity. Was I the only one who tuned in last week only to be surprised not to get dose of America’s craziest teens? I’m starting to worry that this show is affecting my brain, and not in good ways.
During the past two weeks, all of Riverdale High has been getting super into Gryphons & Gargoyles. Everyone in the school, regardless of social status, is into this hyperlocal version of D&D. Mayor Lodge announces that three more students took their lives. She bans G&G and is setting up a crisis hotline overseen by Kevin Keller. Because why would you assign that to an adult?
Betty gets a call from Dr. Curdle Jr. He’s been digging in the morgue archives. Dilton’s suicide reminded him of an old case from when his dad was coroner. I’m actually not surprised that Dr. Curdle Sr. shared grizzly case stories with his son. That seems like it would be pretty normal for a family named Curdle who were coroners. Betty shows the file to her mom. The corpse in the file had blue lips, just like the kids who died playing G&G. Betty wants her mom to tell her what she knows about G&G.
Flashback! It’s 1980s Riverdale High! And…oh my God, the regular cast is playing their characters’ parents. This is going to be fantastic. A teenaged Alice Cooper in all her Serpents-meets-Madonna glory, is taking a pregnancy test in the girls’ room. Hermione Lodge walks in, dressed like a Catholic school girl at public school. FP got Alice pregnant. Cheryl’s mom walks in, apparently she was a super prissy hall monitor as a teen. Josie’s mom was political even in high school. She’s calling for the end of apartheid in lipstick on the girls’ room mirror.
Betty/Alice and Cheryl/Penelope go at it in the bathroom after Penelope insults her.
Cut to the guys. FP Jones is being cajoled the rest of football teammates into going streaking. Hmmm, pre-Serpents FP. Oh man, KJ Apa just walked in with Luke Perry hair and I can’t stop laughing. FP agrees to go streaking with Fred for moral support. We’re not even up to the title card and we’ve already got in our shirtless KJ Apa for the week. Baby Luke and Skeet end up in Saturday detention for their in-school streaking. Also in detention are other future Riverdale High parents. I almost expect Betty to chime in here, “Um mom, this is the plot of The Breakfast Club.”
Cut to a very 1980s Saved By The Bell-esque title card.
Alice isn’t happy with FP, whose name she goes out of her way to say is Forsyth Pendleton Jones Jr. She lets everyone know how displeased she is with him. I’m going to throw this out there right now. It’s weird that their kids all went for each other too. Wait, what? The principal is played by Anthony Michael Hall? And he wants a 1,000 word essay on why they’re all here today? Anthony Michael Hall then tells them, “I’ll be down the hall in my office, because I have nothing better to do.” Come on, Betty! Your mom is now just stealing bits from The Breakfast Club for her story!
Kevin/Tommy Keller sneaks into detention. Because that’s what people want to do on a Saturday, sneak into detention. Apparently Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy’s adult fling started in high school.
To pass the time, Penelope suggests, “How about a round of Secrets & Sins?” Sierra’s secret is that she and Tommy have been dating on the sly for a few months. Fred wants to stay in Riverdale his whole life. Spoiler alert: you do. He tells the others, “I could even see myself running for mayor one day.” Spoiler alert: you do. He’s going to stick around to look after his dad, who’s sick. Alice lets out FP’s secret that he lives in a trailer park and not on the North Side. FP says he won’t hit his kid when he’s a dad. FP wanted to be the first Jones to go to college and not join his old man’s gang. Spoiler alert: You don’t, and you do. Penelope Blossom grew up at the Sisters of Quiet Murphy Orphanage. She was adopted by the Blossoms because she had red hair. She was being groomed to be Clifford’s sister and then his “life companion.” Whaaat? That Blossom family really can’t get any more gross. Hermione calls incest for what it is, which leads to a Penelope and Hermione catfight.
That fight just earned everyone three more Saturdays in detention. Detention brought them all together as friends. Hermione Lodge breaks into Mrs Crabapple’s drawer in order to get back her Game Lad, but they find a boxed game of Gryphons & Gargoyles. The game has a rep for being central in a bunch of urban legends and Betty’s mom suggests they all play. Everyone’s in.
“Defeat the Gargoyle King and receive the supreme reward.” Everyone selects their characters: Alice – Sorcerous. Hermione – Thief. Josie – The Siren. FP – Dead Eye, Luke – The Radiant Knight. Penelope is the DM. They quickly get way into it. Penelope Blossom soon suggests taking the game off the board and playing around the school. The Wedding Stone, the new quest, requires pairs. Penelope sends FP off with Hermione and Fred off with Alice. Sierra is bummed that she has no one to pair up with. Penelope says she paired up who she paired up because she’s in the mood for a little chaos. Penelope somehow got the Hope Diamond-like stone into the second to top shelf of a vending machine. How the heck did she manage that? FP and Hermione almost kiss, but Hermione pushes him away. This episode is making me really appreciate Cole Sprouse’s acting skills. He has all of Skeet Ulrich’s mannerisms down.
Alice and Fred have a chat in the empty journalism room. Fred can tell something’s wrong with Alice. Alice tells him that she’s only happy when they’re playing G&G. Fred agrees.
Hermione wants to know what went down with FP and Alice. FP says it was nothing serious, but the more they’ve been playing G&G, the more he thinks they could be more. Hermione suggests he take a shot.
Alice and Fred kiss in the library. Cut to Betty saying whoa whoa whoa, you and Fred Andrews? I need more Fred Savage in The Princess Bride interruptions like this from Betty today. Alice jumps back into her story and explains that the group would sneak into school late at night to play the game. Sierra is seen leaving a window unlocked that they later sneak into. They dubbed themselves The Midnight Club. FP’s got a coffee can crown on his head. Lolz. I’m glad Jughead’s crown made it into the show.
This episode has great music. And greater costumes. Another group is running around the school playing G&G too. Daryl Doiley, Dilton’s dad, found it in the restricted section of the library. Can we talk about how there’s a restricted section in a public high school’s library? I mean, Hogwarts, sure. But Riverdale? That said, it’s nice to see Major Curda still getting screen time episodes after his character was killed off. The members of The Midnight Club get a weird invite in their lockers from The Gargoyle King.
It’s the poisoned chalice game! Uh-oh. Hiram Lodge, who is part of Daryl Doiley’s crew, brings pop fizzle rocks and shares. He explains, “they’re new. they just hit the streets.” Dilton compliments Cheryl on how well she put together the whole Ascension Party setup in the room. She’s like “Me? I thought it was you. It was like this when I got here.” Uh oh…
The Fred Heads played an impromptu concert. Fred Andrews sings and guitars. Now we know where Archie inherited “My music…” from. Hermione is on tamborine and backing vocals. Josie is on bass and singing. FP is on drums. Betty is on keyboard. Fred sings “We are the dream warriors…” Oh boy…
High on fizzle rocks and the game itself, everyone is going a little crazy, all except for Alice, who is sober. Hermione and Reggie’s dad are making out, as are Fred and Penelope.
Red emergency lights go on as Alice pukes in the toilet. “Flip for your fate” is written all over the bathroom in lipstick. Two chalices are on the sink. Alice bolts. People are running by. She encounters The Gargoyle King in the hallway and runs. Principal Featherhead somehow heard of their trespassing and turned up to investigate. Alice runs from the school. She spends the night calling the midnight club, but no one picks up. She has no idea what happened to everyone else.
The next day, Alice stops by the principal’s office, but he’s not in yet. Hermione has a wicked hickie on her neck. She tells Alice, “FP was supposed to tell you. Fred’s dad’s died” while everyone was at the Ascension Party. Fred found him when he got home.
Principal Featherhead was declared officially missing a few days later. Fred’s pissed at himself for letting his dad die alone while he was playing a stupid game.
Alcie asks if anyone else saw Featherhead. Penolope gets in her face and tells her she didn’t see anything – none of them did. She doesn’t want them all implicated for trespassing, drugs on school property, etc.
Flies and smells fill Riverdale High. A janitor finds a dead Featherhead in a closet. He’s got blue lips. There are those Gargoyle King carvings on the inner door.
The Midnight Club meets. Alice asks who was wearing The Gargoyle King costume. They’re all like, what are you talking about? Hermione asks Alice what she did to Featherhead. Alice wants to know who invited them to The Ascension Party. Josie suggests destroying the game. FP suggest a spit pact that they never talk about G&G again. Everyone agrees.
It’s the next day of school and Tear for Fears is playing over the montage of everyone not talking to each other. Man, this show’s music really is awesome tonight.
The game changed them. Hermione becomes a mob doll. Tommy and Sierra break up. “Maybe when we’re older things will be different,” Sierra tells him. Penelope tells Brother Blossom, “The world outside is too dangerous” and falls into his arms. FP hangs up his varsity jacket for a Southside Snakes jacket and tries beer…because as a jocks, he’s totally never tried beer before? The biker girl, Alice trades her leathers for a big lie. Alice flags down Hal Cooper in the hallway. The Midnight Club avoided each other after that. “We’d become strangers again,” adult Alice explains. Since this episode leaned so heavily on The Breakfast Club, I kind of wish this scene ended with a Riverdale version of “But we found out that each of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal.” Penelope’s could have been “…and a quasi-incestous maple syrup heirress.”
Cut to the present. Betty has questions. “Okay but who poisoned the cops?” Alice has answers. “His death was ruled suicide under suspicious circumstance.” Betty: “How did (whoever put together The Ascension Party) know that Featherhead would show up?” Alice: “They couldn’t have known.” Betty: “So Featherhead was an unintentional casualty?” Alice: “When you play the game, the more you talk about it, the more at risk you are.” Alice goes on to say, “The game gives you permission to hurt or kill yourselves, your friends,” and “In the end, it’s just death Betty.” Alice wants Betty to promise not to investigate it. Betty says she can’t.
Betty tells Alice about seeing The Gargoyle King in the woods. Betty promises to not play the game. The next day at school, Betty finds the Midnight Club’s initials Alice carved into the window sill during detention. She opens a trophy case and find the goblets hidden in the back. “Hiding in plain sight the whole time.” …Which means that the goblets that Ethel was playing with can’t be the same goblets, right?
Betty heads down into Dilton’s lair only to find Jughead, Cheryl and some Serpents playing the G&G. Jugs is in deep and sporting some serious crazy eyes when he tells Betty, “It’s all making sense. I’m level three.” Wait, is this Scientology?