Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10 Review: The Stranger

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It's an oldie but a goodie: "The truth shall set you free." And in the case of Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10, we enjoyed an exciting hour of big truths and even bigger revelations. 

Joaquin's murderer, the identity of The Gargoyle King, Veronica's relationship ... the secrets were coming out like gifts during the holidays. We can finally put to rest the mysteries that plagued us during the first half of Riverdale Season 3. And there's still a lot more left to uncover heading into the latter half.

Loose plot threads better beware!

SAT Prep - Tall - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10

Here's the big question from "The Stranger": Were you satisfied with the reveal of Riverdale's current Gargoyle King?

After weeks of lumbering around town and leading our characters astray, the brutish ex-Southside Serpent Tall Boy was revealed as the man behind the mask. We previously thought he got killed, but death was his red herring.

He's back and into cosplay!

With all things considered about the reveal, this twist worked for the identity. Tall Boy was nefarious enough to cause this much chaos around town, we already had a history with him to make it believable, and he worked with Hiram. For the plan to work, "The Man in Black" needed a trustworthy ally he could manipulate.

Tall Boy checked all the boxes to make a satisfying conclusion. Plus, Tall Boy is a terrible enough person that I bought the idea that he would start a gang and kill Joaquin in cold blood.

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A part of me still wishes that one of the characters who were around during the Gryphons and Gargoyles storyline did it.

We spent so much time narrowing down from the visible suspect list for it only to be someone we thought was dead; that reality could be frustrating to most people. However, if it had to be someone, Tall Boy was a good option.

Though, if the Gargoyle King from the '90s turns out to be someone random, this opinion might change completely.

One of the Riverdale parents from The Midnight Club is a psychotic killer who loves quests and dramatic costumes. Let's keep it that way!

What made Tall Boy's revelation even more satisfying was the fact that he didn't buy into the whole Gargoyle King/Gryphons and Gargoyles mythos. He looked more invested in the chaos and criminal gains than the actual lore of the game.

We need to give Hiram credit too.

The early suspicions even made us believe that he was under the spell of the Gargoyle King when in reality, Riverdale's rogues' gallery merely manipulated everything to get what they wanted. It's a complex and masterful plan if you think about it.

Hiram probably laughed in his office seeing people brainwashed when he knew his lackey was under the mask. And he had experience with the game, so he knew the effects of its power to deliver severe damage.

From a criminal standpoint, Hiram had a great thing going. Before, you know, his ally got unmasked, and he got shot.

FP: We all thought you were dead, Tall Boy. Where were you hiding?
Tall Boy: A small town called, “Athens.” I gotta say, it’s good to be back. And Alice Cooper, she was looking extra sweet the night me and my boys broke into her house to scare the c*** out of her and her b**** daughter. That was fun.
[Jughead punches him]
Jughead: Alright, let’s cut to the chase. We know you’re working for Hiram. You’ve been dressing up in that little costume, have his mask on. Now you [Jughead pushes his finger to Tall Boy’s head] are gonna help us take him down.
Tall Boy: You know what else was fun? Carving that simpleton Joaquin’s forehead after I killed him.

The assassination attempt will be an exciting plot to segway from the Gargoyle King/Hiram's crime.

Hiram Lodge controlled too much in Riverdale. His character needed to take a significant step back and face the realities of his actions; he was becoming too all-powerful and God-like. This change puts him back on a level playing field with the other characters,

Plus, we'll have the mystery to work through of who shot Mr. Lodge.

Was it Archie? Did Fred exact revenge? Or did the baby do it after failing to kill Mr. Burns? (Simpsons did it!)

Hopefully, this ties back to the Gargoyle King plot. There are still a few loose threads around, like the identity of who killed Principal Featherhead. If his attacker turned out to be the same parent, that would be a fun tie-in that brings the story full-circle.

In the roller coaster love life that is "Varchie," the pair is officially off-again. And based on their attitude toward each other, Archie and Veronica need a major break. Their inconsistencies have reached levels of exhaustion.

We'll never forget their tearful telephone goodbye on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 6. The breakup will always be in Riverdale's top 10 most heartbreaking moments.

The issue, on the other hand, was that they changed too much since their breakup. Regardless of "getting with" Reggie, Veronica and Archie acted like they didn't even know each other.

Shouldn't these two be in an unshakable true love story?

Related: Riverdale Season 3 Episode 9 Review: No Exit

Neither could approach the harsh truth of their situation or speak openly with one another. Sure, Archie leaving town was a terrible decision, and his bear attack was traumatic, but this was the woman he supposedly loves. Why didn't he fight for her?

Maybe we need to accept the fact that they've closed the book on their relationship? After everything that happened through the years, they might not be able to move forward anymore.

A break and fresh start might be what they need. Plus, Reggie is pretty handsome, so Veronica has an excellent rebound ready.

Workplace Romance - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10

On the other hand, I felt Reggie's frustration of being relegated as the rebound.

Veronica treated him like a back-up once Archie returned to the mix. Granted, she had some issues to deal with and didn't want to hurt Archie's feelings, but Reggie ended up hurt as a result.

Him swiping on Bumble (#productplacement) suited the typical dating response nowadays.

Reggie: I’m not down with it, Ronnie. Archie taking off like that. It’s not cool.
Veronica: He’s an extremist, Reggie. For all we know, he walked all the way back to Riverdale from Canada. And right into the pressure cooker of school and the SATs.
Reggie: All I’m saying is the Archie I saw last night was ... he’s different.
Veronica: And I don’t disagree. He is different, Reggie.
Reggie: And if it’s permanent? And he’s not your “Archiekins” anymore?
Veronica: Look, I know what you want me to say, but I just can’t even think about that right now.
[Reggie leaves frustrated]

He's single, he has no commitments, and the person he wants to be with is keeping him on the hook. How could you not say "same" to something like that?

I'm glad Riverdale didn't drop this relationship.

It would've been easy to end the love triangle once Archie returned since it was only a kiss. But now these characters can explore a new dynamic with seeing their ex date someone else. And by choosing this stance, the romance will have more value as a plot point.

If "Varchie" returns or if "Veggie" lasts, it will be a natural development for the characters, and that's precisely what it needs to be.

In Archie's case, he needs to talk to someone. Like, a weekly visit with a professional therapist to work out his issues.

Archie Andrews has gone through A LOT during his tenure on Riverdale. Being on the run and surviving a bear attack is only the tip of that mess of an iceberg. His attitude is only going to get worse from here if he internalizes everything and withdraws from the world.

The vision quest from Riverdale Season 3 Episode 9 clearly affected him. And the impact from his breakup and the education hurdle only chipped away at that raw nerve.

Related: Riverdale Round Table: Archie Sees Red (Herring)

The last thing we need is the return of volatile Archie from Riverdale Season 2.

Volatile Archie made reckless decisions and nearly drove himself to death; him drinking from the bottle this time was the telling sign that he could return. Archie might be heading into another round of tailspins.

Brace yourselves, Riverdale fans. These next few weeks might be a bumpy ride.

Betty: No one else understands what she’s capable of. No one but you. She just gave my money away, Dad. Mom gave all my money. Like my education meant ... nothing.
Hal: It means everything. And I’m sorry, Betty. But here’s the good news. Betty, you’re gonna have colleges lining up to give you scholarships. Weren’t the SATs this weekend?
[Betty slowly nods]
Hal: How did you do?
Betty: Pretty good, I think.

Alice reached a new level of selfish insanity that defied any logic or respect we had for her.

Throughout Riverdale Season 3, we knew that she found a sense of peace with the cult-like commune, and it reassured her mind after the mess with Chic. Plus with Polly onboard, Alice allowed herself to give up control to find happiness.

Related: Riverdale Season 3 Episode 8 Review: Outbreak

While her multiple attempts to get Betty to join failed miserable, she at least respected her daughter's choice to live her life separate from The Farm. So, this complete shift to the character raised all the alarms, and it felt like a slap to the hurdles they overcame these last three seasons.

The Farm was not worth the epic destruction she caused to her relationship with her daughter.

Betty said it best to Hal: Alice giving away ALL of Betty's money summed up that she didn't care about Betty's educational future.

Alice crossed so many lines that her decision can't be something that's quickly swept under the rug. And once again, she fell back into the bad habit of caring about someone or something else over her child's needs.

I can only assume that she's so brainwashed by The Farm and Edgar Evernever that she would make this hurtful decision. But, Alice did stuff like this in the past, like committing both Polly and Betty to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.

Where does the line between brainwashed and self-involved end?

Farm Fascination - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10

Betty's reunion with Hal exuded serious Silence of the Lambs vibes.

The aesthetics of the room had the perfect tonal mix of creepy horror movie and tension. Even with Hal behind a glass wall, his presence had a looming threat to it. Though, Hal will never in his life be a scary villain.

Riverdale made the right decision in not making Hal the Gargoyle King from the '90s.

The revelation would've been too easy of a solution to tie up loose ends. It's lazy writing to dump previous plot development and exposition in the lap of an obvious villain. In fact, the flimsy reveal was a stretch at best.

I breathed a sigh of relief when it was all simply a ploy to get Betty back into his life. And we have to give Hal some credit; his evil genius plan actually worked for once.

This new budding relationship between Hal and Betty will no doubt come into play as Alice and The Farm grow in focus.

Betty needs an ally now that her mother and sister have gone full brainwashed. Her father is a psychotic serial killer behind bars, so she'll have someone to bounce ideas off of and think like a villain. We could see the beginning of an ongoing Silence of the Lambs/True Detective-like scenes going forward.

Though, Betty needs to make sure she doesn't get corrupted by the meetings. Hal wouldn't oppose turning Betty into Dark Betty once and for all.

Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:

  • Could Archie have shot Hiram? The plot teased that he could've done it since he had motive and opportunity. Would the red herring of its obviousness be a red herring in of itself?
  • Riverdale's editing team shouldn't have revealed Hiram getting shot in the weekly teaser. The twist would've been a jaw-dropping and shocking moment, but they gave it away beforehand and ruined the impact.
  • Penelope Blossom is going to get her brothel one day. She's throwing that goal into the universe, and she's pushing hard for it.
  • The Blossoms are cursed. This is the third dead Blossom in the span of two years Riverdale time. Whoever killed Claudius had to have done it to hurt Hiram.
  • FP loves his moment as sheriff. He had a lot of swagger strolling up to the camp to reveal his new job. Good for him and Hermione for finally standing up to Hiram!
  • The odds of Tall Boy's death staying a secret are pretty slim. Someone is going to find out. Fangs, Sweet Pea, and Jughead should be freaking out; someone will eventually crack.
The Big Test - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10

Now, over to you, Riverdale fanatics!

What did you think of "The Stranger"?

Will Betty ever forgive her mother for what she did? Is this indeed the end for Varchie? Did the reveal of the Gargoyle King live up to your expectations?

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.

Chapter Forty-Five: The Stranger Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (14 Votes)

Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10 Quotes

Jughead: Dad?
FP: “Sheriff Jones” now, boy. Listen up! You’re looking at the new law in Riverdale.
[The Southside Serpents cheer]

Betty: No one else understands what she’s capable of. No one but you. She just gave my money away, Dad. Mom gave all my money. Like my education meant ... nothing.
Hal: It means everything. And I’m sorry, Betty. But here’s the good news. Betty, you’re gonna have colleges lining up to give you scholarships. Weren’t the SATs this weekend?
[Betty slowly nods]
Hal: How did you do?
Betty: Pretty good, I think.