Now THAT was an intense and action-packed hour of drama!
While one mystery closed its chapter, Riverdale Season 3 Episode 6 weaved new layers into the tangled web that is the Gargoyle King mystery. This darkness hooked us right from the start to that jaw-dropping twist that came from nowhere. (Seriously, that orphanage twist answered so many questions.)
Riverdale Season 3 has been on its A-game lately. This development is a far cry from the days of The Black Hood mess.
At this point in the mystery, we have to come to terms that everyone in Riverdale is fundamentally at fault for the evil.
Sure, Gryphons and Gargoyles triggered the darkness they held deep in their hearts, but the citizens enacted all the pain themselves. The parents were culpable for their crimes, and the teens were responsible for playing the game.
Is the Gargoyle King the true monster in this scenario? Determining the big bad villain became a lot harder to spot.
From the evidence Betty uncovered alone, the parents were responsible for covering up two murders, lying, and possibly still being involved in the game. Plus, one of them killed Darryl Doily; that much became perfectly clear from Penelope's and Alice's lies.
The adults and teens are playing pieces in a game of their own creation. Maybe we should stop asking ourselves who the Gargoyle King is, but maybe why they don't stop succumbing to the temptation of this game?
If the citizens stopped playing the game or following GK's orders, the game couldn't continue. This evil that tore up the town is a manifestation of their own decisions.
I wouldn't even be surprised if multiple GK's were involved at this point.
But, for the sake of this mystery, let's hope there is only a linear solution. The bonfire with the cult members made it seem as such.
Betty had the right idea by calling all the adults together to talk.
Even though Alice told her the truth during Riverdale Season 3 Episode 4, that tale was just her side of the story. We wouldn't know if it was the complete truth until we heard from the other parents involved. Betty's investigative skills were top-notch this week.
Still, the Riverdale parents continued their tried-and-true formula of impeding the investigation. Why couldn't they all just come to the table and be honest?
By them continuing to hide the facts, all they did was help the Gargoyle King by covering up for him/her. And, it meant that more teens would still be playing the game. Josie wouldn't have suffered a seizure if they had come clean years ago!
The parents showed once again how thoughtless and idiotic they could be in a serious situation like this. For those who weren't minions to GK, helping Betty was the best course of action.
(Side-note: wouldn't it be hilarious if the twist was that the parents were the current minions of the Gargoyle King? It would explain their baffling actions to cover facts up all these years later.)
Hermione: Alice! We promised each other we would never talk about this. I mean, who else did you tell?!
Alice: I only told Betty to protect her, so she wouldn’t play the game
Betty: And it worked, I’m not playing the game. But many of your kids are; this is about protecting your kids. Do you care?
Sierra: Care?! Josie had a seizure this morning. I should be with her right now, not here rehashing the past when it has zero relevance.
Betty: Attorney McCoy, it is relevant! Your daughter is playing the game. Along with Kevin and Cheryl, and even your son Reggie, Mr. Mantle. No matter how many black eyes you give him.
Marty: I would never hit my son.
Betty: Another lie.
Darryl Doily's suicide-turned-murder offered an intriguing red herring for this mystery. His death was obviously going to be a murder, so it gave us as viewers leeway to not dwell on the absurdity of the suicide story.
Someone killed Darryl, plain and simple. We (as the intrepid investigators) were able to use the time to pick out the suspects and place the pieces together.
In the end, Sheriff Keller, Hiram, Penelope, Hermione, Marty Mantle, Alice, and FP came out as the most suspicious. Hiding evidence, appearing at strange times, and covering up the murder were all elements you'd expect in a scary movie. They've all moved to the top of the suspect list.
Plus, Skeet Ulrich rushing into Betty's home after the torment from GK channeled all the Scream vibes. He can never escape his Billy Loomis days; he will always be the suspicious, murderous boyfriend.
Speaking of the attack, I loved the appearance of the Gargoyle King at Betty's home. Many iconic horror elements were included to amplify the tension that the characters felt during their ordeal.
For instance, the perfect horror trope was when the lights went out, and the shadow moved in the distance. You knew what was going to happen with a figure appearing, but the thrill and excitement of the big reveal pulled you in.
The disturbance at the door, the flashing lights, and the discovery in the bedroom were elements that all heightened the tension. Alice and Betty experienced their own mini-horror movie at the hands of their tormentor.
Plus, the subtle nod to the horror movie Halloween (i.e., the tombstone and skeleton on the bed) was a nice touch!
Someone went the extra mile to leave that sadistic message. My inner horror movie fan lives for these artistic elements.
We can all agree that Alice is fully brainwashed by The Farm.
There's no way a sane Alice would allow her daughter to be committed to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy after everything that got discovered since Polly's stay. She would be reaching Penelope Blossom levels of cruelty if that were the case.
Though, this baffling move created one of Riverdale's best plot twists yet. Bravo to the show for weaving in the connection between the SOQM and the Gargoyle King/Gryphons and Gargoyles.
We now have an explanation for why the orphanage was so evil, and how it became that way.
Of course, the Gargoyle King would be corrupting the poor and unfortunate souls of the orphanage. His influence impacted a new generation, and it proved that this game tied to many of Riverdale's stories that came before Riverdale Season 3A.
In addition to that, the reveal created many new questions.
Is the influence new or has it been going on for decades? Did Polly, Charles, and Cheryl see it when they were inmates? What other establishments and people are impacted as well?
The cliffhanger of the paintings was the metaphorical cherry on this amazing sundae.
"Chapter Forty-One: Manhunter" stood out visually compared to the chapters that came before it.
New camera angles, the contrast between light and darkness, and the position of characters heightened the tension and drama. But, it's the underlining uneasy feeling that came from these artistic elements that tied the whole piece together.
For instance, having the camera focus on Betty from an angle while she interrogated the parents at the speakeasy symbolized her position of authority at that moment, and the distress she felt with the weight of the mystery. Her words steered the conversation while the adults merely added to the complicated web being formed.
Another stylistic element was positioning the camera directly at Kevin in the hospital.
We don't get many camera angles focused directly at the character's face in a stationary mode. This angle brought us into Archie's POV and how the scene came across to him. The editors wanted us to feel Archie's plight and the snowball of events happening around him.
It's these small moments that make a big impact. Alone, they're fun and exciting, but together they create an eye-catching and visual story.
Joaquin: From the moment he was locked up, he was already marked.
Jughead: Marked with what?
[Jughead draws a symbol on his palm]
Jughead: This symbol? The warden branded on Archie’s hip … what does it mean?
Jughead: Pick him up!
[Sweet Pea and Fangs lift up Joaquin to the tree]
Joaquin: Sacrifice. It means … it meant that Archie had to die. I’m sorry, Jug, I know he was your pal.
Jughead: Oh, Archie is alive, Joaquin.
Joaquin: Then it won’t be for long.
In contrast to the Gargoyle King developments, the moment Archie achieved his freedom felt underwhelming by comparison.
Veronica proving his innocence was the accomplishment we had all been waiting for the last few episodes. The core group worked to undermine Hiram, and Archie struggled with life-threatening abuse behind bars since his trial. Suffice it to say, Archie’s incarceration served as one of the main plots.
So, the fact that this significant, defining scene was rushed didn’t properly equate to the time we had put in to follow this mystery.
[She pulls out her headphones and shuts the laptop]
Hiram: Are those Archie’s case files?
Veronica: He’s not going to be behind bars ever again, Daddy. That’s a promise.
We needed more than just quick moments of Veronica basking in this victory before Archie left town. There didn't need to be fireworks, but a bit more fanfare would've been nice. Especially with the punishment Veronica suffered breaking into her mother's office to get the video.
Which, by the way, seemed so sloppy for criminal masterminds like Hiram and Hermione. Why leave such damning evidence on a publically accessible computer?
That development seemed out of character.
Though, I was pleasantly surprised that Archie's name got cleared this early into Riverdale Season 3.
Usually, this type of plot gets stretched to the midseason finale to drag the story, with then a rush to clear his name in the final few minutes. And there were a few of those moments that toyed with the idea of the plot continuing.
Having all of Archie's witnesses murdered, for instance, threw a serious wrench into the plan. Whenever all possible leads get eliminated, odds are the twist would've resulted from a miracle, last-minute discovery. Thankfully, Riverdale forwent that structure.
The decision provided a concise end so that the characters could focus on the more prominent "A" plot. With the Gargoyle King's influence growing each week, more attention needed to be placed to build out the biggest mystery.
Riverdale has learned from the past complexity of Riverdale Season 2 to focus on more thorough and developed plots. This growth has paid off greatly here.
Archie: Ronnie, when I first met you … you were it for me. Everything I could ever wanted. I saw our whole future.
Veronica: Because we’re endgame, Archie.
Archie: I hope you know how much I love you.
Veronica: If you loved me, you would come home.
Archie: God, Ronnie, you know in your heart that I’m right about this. It just hurts to admit it.
Veronica: Don’t you make me say goodbye, Archie Andrews, because I don’t wanna hear it back. I can’t. I can’t.
[She drops the phone, cries, and Kevin consoles her]
It's a shame that Archie won't be reunited with Veronica after all the work the group put in to get his freedom.
You could feel the heartbreak when he said his goodbyes on the phone to Veronica. Camila Mendes did a fantastic job exuding the growing sadness upon realizing that her boyfriend wasn't coming home. Her demeanor shifted, and she captured each second her character crumbled with heartbreak.
K. J. Apa also shined during the phone conversation. He looked pained, conflicted, and the acting decisions he made felt true to Archie's character. He loved Veronica so much, and this farewell felt like their worlds were ending; it was the perfect goodbye for "Varchie."
Camila and K. J. have such great chemistry together, and they don't even need to be together in a scene for it to translate.
Though, we'll have to wait and see if this end will last. Riverdale isn't one to keep their 'ships apart for too long.
Varchie have broken up in the past, and Archie said he couldn't stay in town while Hiram (and the Gargoyle King's followers) was still around to potentially hurt him again. These villains stand in the way of the couples, so the stakes have been raised to conquer the enemy.
Plus, both Archie and Jughead left town together. Their goodbye won't be a permanent thing.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
R.I.P. Joaquin! He didn't have it easy during his final day, and he deserved another shot with Kevin. Hopefully, the group finds out who murdered him.
Josie's seizure was surprising because her fear of Sheriff Maneda triggered it, but it could also be connected to her playing Gryphons and Gargoyles. Betty never played the game, so are all the cases connected or not?
Marty Mantle was exactly like the conniving and snobby man you'd expect him to be. Kudos to Betty for calling him out about hitting Reggie!
What do you think Archie wrote Fred in his goodbye note?
- How did no one notice the changing coffee amount in the video footage?! The edit wasn't even a subtle change.
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Forty-One: Manhunter"?
Did your heart break during the Varchie break-up? Is Hiram the Gargoyle King, or is he just another accomplice? Will Hiram ever get what's coming to him?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.