All hell broke loose in the quiet, sleepy town of Riverdale on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 8. It's the dawn of a dark new day.
Hiram's evil puppet master moves on the ever-changing chess board earned him his biggest victory yet. He got (mostly) everything he wanted heading out of the midseason finale. And his future is looking brighter by the minute.
As much as I hate to admit this: the Gargoyle King played a great long-game. The plan was a masterful move.
"Outbreak" provided much-needed answers to the plot's motive.
How was Gryphons and Gargoyles created? Why is it so powerful? What do Hiram and the Gargoyle King ultimately want? Those were just some of the questions that surrounded the mystery at every turn.
Before the story could dive deeper into the Gargoyle King's next phase, some plots needed to be resolved. We couldn't have a situation like Riverdale Season 2 again where more threads and questions were added instead of conclusions. That only resulted in a mess.
Thankfully, the answers we got here provided new layers to what we already had, while also closing the chapter on developments that were brought earlier.
Sure, the midseason finale didn't exactly feel like an ending since the Gargoyle King is still causing chaos. But, it's a thrilling end to the calm before the storm we'll no doubt face in the new year.
Hiram was the victor in this battle.
At every turn when Veronica challenged him, he had already made two moves ahead to counteract. The perfect example was when he contacted the CDC himself. He bypassed her threats of seizures to plant the seeds of doubt.
Hiram is a master. You could see the hesitation forming on Alice's face whenever he lobbed answers back at Veronica in their verbal tennis match.
The Gargoyle King chose the perfect accomplice to be their right-hand servant. Without Hiram selling Fizzle Rocks or making deals, the Gargoyle King wouldn't have the moves necessary to control the kingdom.
The pair, along with their Batman rogues gallery from Riverdale Season 2 Episode 21, is very close to achieving everything they wanted.
Riverdale's quarantine was a jaw-dropping twist. I'm shocked this path is happening because it will drastically change the tone of the series. The quiet town will look more like Gotham City.
While comic book shows are an addictive and fun guilty pleasure, Riverdale shouldn't lose what made us fall in love with it: teen drama mixed with dark mystery. For the betterment of the town, we need our heroes to save the day.
One of those heroes is Veronica.
Hiram made a big mistake by accidentally getting his daughter involved in the River Vixens attack. Based on the hushed, angry conversation between Hiram and Hermione, it's more evident than ever that the seizures were planned.
Could it be poison? Something airborne? The attacks on Betty, Ethel, and the River Vixens were calculated moves to create panic. (We've heard this evidence before.)
Hermione and Hiram's attempt to send Veronica to New York only cemented their criminal guilt. They're definitely involved, and the attacks were man-made.
Cheryl: You can stay here for as long as you like. Even ... permanently?
Toni: You mean, like, move in with you?
Cheryl: I’m cuckoo bananas for you, Humphy. Won’t you move in?
Toni: As long as I’m the big spoon.
[They kiss on the bed]
It's a shame that Veronica's pursuit amounted to nothing.
According to Hiram's confession, her accusations almost got everything right, but the timing was too-little-too-late. If she had reached that conclusion earlier, we would've had a different story. Instead, we got Hiram basking in his victory, Hermione regretting her part, and Penelope drenched in maple syrup.
She was so close to saving the day. She and Cheryl will get them next time, and it will be glorious!
I loved Veronica's role in leading the charge against the Gargoyles. (I'm lumping Hiram, Hermione, Penelope, and all the accomplices in here because they're all involved.)
Throughout Riverdale Season 3, Veronica tried to atone for her part in Hiram's dealings. We can't forget that she helped her parents claim the Southside, but she turned over a new leaf to undermine her parents from causing more harm.
Instead of falling back into bad habits (like a gorgeous ginger we all know), Veronica's character development stayed consistently in an upward motion.
While her friends had their own conflicts to deal with, Veronica carried the main arc during the midseason finale with strength and determination. I liked that she brought out the big guns and tried to take over the mayor's office. Only Veronica would have the guts to do that.
She deserves more empowering scenes like that.
The same goes for Cheryl; they made a great pair. Like B&V, we need more B&C.
Were Gladys Jones and Jellybean Jones everything you had hoped?
The long-awaited introductions delivered two new characters that I can't wait to see again. Jellybean was so much fun and cheeky. She had all the wit to clap back at anyone who did her wrong, and she's a master of the slingshot.
For Gladys, Gina Gershon did an amazing job balancing the tones of a concerned mother and former criminal.
In the few moments we saw her, I immediately picked up on the type of character she was: nurturing, funny, and protective. That all translated due to Gina's great portrayal.
Gladys: Oh, I recognize that rooster top. Archie Andrews!
[Gladys hugs Archie]
Gladys: Gosh, you sure grew up!
[She stares at them and smile]
Gladys: Ohhhh! So, you two finally got together, huh? I always knew there was something going on between you.
Jughead: Uh, no, we’re not together “together.” We’re just on the road together.
Archie: Yeah, like a bromance.
When you add in her complicated history with FP and Jughead, there's a huge well of story here that could be mined. (Sorry #Falice fans, but FP totally still has feelings for Gladys and vice versa.)
Hopefully, this reunion won't be the last we'll see of them.
Even with the bitterness about the abandonment, Jughead and Gladys still had a pretty civil reunion. Sure, Jughead threw some cold shoulders and pointed remarks her way, but the love hit right from the start.
What I enjoyed about their reunion was the open and honest motherly relationship she had with him.
Riverdale is not consistent with parents' treatment toward their children. One minute they're honest and loving but the next they're undermining their kids and acting like they're stupid. It's a complicated mess overall.
In Gladys's case, the cards were on the table about how she felt and what Jughead needed to know. She wanted to be honest with her son to repair the bond; telling the truth protected him more than lying.
Plus, she did something not many Riverdale parents ever do: she apologized to him for HER mistakes!
Gladys became a favorite just for that clarity alone. Though, getting revenge on Penny Peabody for how she hurt Jughead also helped. Karma had a field day on that payback.
Jughead: Was it a quest from her master? Is Hiram more than the “Man in Black,” is he the Gargoyle King?
Gladys: You are so caught up in this damn game, you can’t see three feet in front of you. The big prize isn’t Archie’s head ... it is Riverdale, Jug. If you had your wits about you, you would realize that Hiram chased you out of town just to get you off the chessboard, so you were as far away from Riverdale when he made his big play.
Jughead: So, it’s not about ascending to the kingdom, it’s about claiming the kingdom.
There's no way that Archie will leave Riverdale permanently.
Hiram has the whole county looking for the "Red Paladin," so someone will find him eventually. Let alone the fact this character is Archie Andrews!
Still, Archie's goodbye scene with Fred broke my heart.
Fred would've dropped everything to leave with his son had Archie agreed. He loves his child so much; that's the type of good-hearted person he is. But Archie did the right thing by telling his dad to stay.
He couldn't risk Fred getting further involved. Fred's life would've been at risk if another one of Hiram's assassins appeared.
We'll always have their emotionally-filled goodbye at the clearing. The music was tearful, the separation of road and forest nicely symbolized the differing worlds, and Vegas' appearance made the moment even more heartbreaking.
Out of the three main plots, Betty's adventure at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy ranked at the top for being the most developed and illuminating.
Firstly, yay! She's not a Gargoyle King minion! Our Riverdale Round Table here at TV Fanatic worried about losing her involvement in solving the mystery since she has a talent for deductive reasoning.
In particular, sobering up from Fizzle Rocks connected all the dots for her.
Betty: Ethel, I’m back.
[Betty opens the chapel doors]
Betty: Are you okay?
Ethel: I don’t understand. It’s just a statue. But I saw him.
[Betty sits down in front of Ethel]
Betty: We all did because we were high on Fizzle Rocks. The Sisters feed us drugs that make us susceptible to visions they suggest. They let us play the game and then they use our delusions of the Gargoyle King to scare us into submission.
By the time she and Ethel got clean, Betty had the mystery wrapped up. She knew the intricate web of Hiram's operation and how it connected to the Sisters. It's been said before, but Betty is a genius!
Plus, she's also kind-hearted. She buried any ill will towards Ethel so that her frenemy would be safe and clearheaded. Betty proved yet again why she's one of Riverdale's best heroes.
Gryphons and Gargoyles' origin, as well as the Sisters' involvement, made so much sense.
Of course, a game of pure madness would've had to have originated in a place of equal feeling. And, a game of that power wouldn't be able to stay quiet for long. Past patients or employees of SOQM probably introduced the game to their friends in the real world.
Someone probably made a few physical copies which started the initial infestation. (Theory time: my guess would be Hiram and the Gargoyle King mass produced some copies to drop into Riverdale and other towns to take control in this attack.)
In the Sisters' care, anything that helped them alter minds worked for them.
Once this mystery is finished, let's cross our fingers that the asylum is shut down for good. Between gay conversion theory and testing drugs on patients, the asylum needs to go. Being the cause of G&G's creation should be the final nail in the coffin.
Sister Woodhouse: The children who come through our doors are broken. It’s our sacred mission to fix them using whatever tools necessary.
Betty: Does that mean the Sisters created Gryphons and Gargoyles? As a tool?
Sister Woodhouse: Misbehaving children have been brought down to this room since the asylum opened. That statue scared them into submission. Some of them, the more disturbed ones, created a fantasy realm ... a game ... to cope with the fear of the one they named, “The Gargoyle King.” We embraced it as a therapeutic tool and it worked because it embeds itself in the minds of the players. It makes them complacent, focuses them.
Betty: If that’s true, then how did the game get out into the world? Did you give it to Hiram?
Sister Woodhouse: It was never meant to leave these walls. It’s too powerful. A game born of madness.
Ethel: A madness you helped nurture. And now people like Ben and Dilton are dead.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Cheryl and Toni are moving in together! Their romance moved fast, but it was all worth it for that scene.
Moose and Kevin got hot and heavy very fast. Hopefully, it's not the Fizzle Rocks fizzling them on.
Betty in the Gryphon Queen costume = stunning!
Could Betty's portrayal as the Gryphon Queen be a foreshadowing to her foiling the Gargoyle King's plan? Might this be a Black Hood-level type of adversary?
Hiram not being the Gargoyle King was the best choice for this mystery; he would've been too obvious.
Penny is most likely alive after her torture session (and she's probably pissed!).
- Is the governor brainwashed too, or did Hiram/Hermione lie to him?
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Outbreak"?
What chaos will be caused by the town's quarantine? Did the origin of Gryphons and Gargoyles live up to your expectations? How will Jughead and FP get into town?
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.