This post contains spoilers for the Riverdale Season 3 midseason finale.[hhmc]
As Riverdale breaks for its midseason hiatus, its central town is in utter turmoil. (What else is new?) Hiram Lodge has set into motion a plan apparently years in the making, closing down Riverdale High and expanding his drug empire after successfully running Archie and Jughead out of town. Also, Betty and Ethel Muggs just sprang all of the girls housed in the Sisters of Quiet Mercy asylum—which birthed the addictive and deadly role-playing game of Gryphons and Gargoyles, which has overtaken the towns youth. Wednesdays midseason finale perfectly encapsulates the season its putting on pause—the good and the bad. But as the show moves forward, there are some questions well definitely need answered sooner rather than later.
Wednesdays installment was a wild, deliriously fun ride, peppered with all the sorts of things that make this season shine—especially Lili Reinhart, whose performance this week is one of her best to date in the series. (Though it would be hard to go wrong by putting a character in a wacky costume and having her claim to be the Gryphon Queen.) But over time, the episode—like this season as a whole—strained under the burden of its own mystery, as well as contrived plot devices and manipulated points of view. At this point, fans should hardly be surprised by that; Season 2, which spent way too much time spinning out its Black Hood whodunit, had a similar problem. Still, its hard not to wish at certain moments that our favorite teens could spend a little less of their time on these convoluted mysteries, and a little more time doing teen stuff. Itd also be nice if each episode didnt actively try to make the mystery last as long as possible.
This season, Riverdale took its embrace of crazed delirium to the max, going all in on two bonkers mysteries. First, theres Gryphons and Gargoyles and, by extension, the Gargoyle King: the students of Riverdale High have gotten swept up into a role-playing game that quickly becomes their sole focus, with players so devoted theyll die for the game. Meanwhile, a terrifying monster covered in (and also made from?) branches and twigs has been skulking around town, ambushing people in the woods and even their homes. And then theres the Farm, which Polly insists is not a cult—though it sure seems like one. These two mysteries appear to be related . . . somehow . . . but why or how they are remains the biggest mystery headed into Season 3.
Perhaps the biggest key to understanding this season will be something Hiram said at the end of last season—that “steps have been taken to dissolve the very glue” that holds Archie and the gang together. At the time, it seemed like he was referring to framing Archie for murder. But perhaps that appraisal was shortsighted. Given Hirams ties to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, where the game of Gryphons and Gargoyles first started, it seems possible, even likely, that he had a hand in its spread to the public—both back when he first played the game as a teen, and now. The game is a powerful tool; it was used by the nuns to breed complacency among the asylums more “disturbed” residents. And what more could an aspiring emperor want than a town full of complacent subjects? The teens of Riverdale have always been the ones to throw wrenches in all of Hirams nefarious plans; why not try to thwart them by getting them hooked on a distracting game?
Hirams plans for Riverdale itself remain a bit murkier—largely because its still not clear who hes answering to. We know that Hiram used his wife, Hermiones, status as mayor to forcibly shut down Riverdale High, probably in the hopes of snatching up the land for cheap like he did with Southside High. Meanwhile, hes also been pumping an old drug, Fizzle Rocks, back out onto the streets. (R.I.P., Jingle Jangle; alas, as Veronica said this week: youre so last year.) But it seems Hiram is not simply trying to build a kingdom for himself, as he claimed to Veronica. At the end of the finale, Hiram toasted a motionless Gargoyle King—which could have been an actual person, or just an empty suit. At this point, it remains possible, if not probable, that Hiram really is the Gargoyle King. More likely, theres still a piece of that puzzle missing, perhaps at the Farm. Whatever Hirams playing at, though, he promises its “practically biblical—years in the making.”
Archie, at least, is out of his way; our favorite redheaded goober officially struck out on his own with his dog, Vegas, in the midseason finale. Their destination? The border—although which border was never made clear. Things are a little more complicated for Jughead and F.P. Jones; they were still on their way back to Riverdale when the Lodges placed the city under quarantine, meaning they can no longer enter the town. That likely wont sit well with Jug, who is both determined to stop Hiram and (probably) worried about Betty, whom he hasnt spoken with in days.
Perhaps the most confusing aspect of this season is those seizures. So far, it appears only women get them; first, it was Betty—and this week, the Vixens all got seizures at once. (Penelope Blossom also had a seizure during a school meeting, but its unclear if she was faking it as a distraction; like a few other dangling plot threads this season, the moment was never revisited.) It remains completely unknown what causes the seizures, or why they strike when they do. Put that at the top of our list of questions we want answered when this series returns, right next to this one: what on Earth are Betty and Alice Cooper going to do with all these newly freed teens of Quiet Mercy? And also, we cannot stress this enough: seriously, what is up with the Farm?
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