Oh Archie, even with being miles away from Riverdale, your hometown troubles always find a way to mess with you.
Our favorite boy-next-door's life hangs in the balance on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 9. But even with the fear, the bear attack might've been the best thing that could've happened to him. Might we be getting a new and improved Archie?
Archie can use this resolution for 2019. Hope could still be alive, regardless if it's a fever dream.
"No Exit" picked up weeks after Riverdale's quarantine ended when the town returned to normal. And the blowback from the town-wide drama was ... non-existent.
Riverdale Season 3 Episode 8 built the quarantine cliffhanger as the Gargoyle King and Hiram Lodge seizing complete control of the town. Hell had arrived in Riverdale and it would be mass chaos. However, from the looks of the characters, nothing changed.
It's almost as if the development crossed their fingers and said, "take-backsies."
What was the point of Hermione even signing the quarantine bill? An arc had been built for a potentially dark latter half of Riverdale Season 3, but that potential was squandered in favor of same-old-same-old.
Answers need to be provided about what happened during the quarantine.
Unless Hiram, the Gargoyle King, and their accomplices did something super illegal during that time, everything that happened to get the quarantine instantly amounted to filler. That conclusion would be a disappointing result, especially with the positive momentum amassed before this.
Surprisingly enough, Archie got the most character growth from the quarantine and Hiram's impact. (And he wasn't even in town!)
Archie's annoying qualities are no secret to fans of Riverdale. In fact, we discussed this bad habit and why he needed to change. All of these poor decisions was what led him to the isolation in the Canadian woods.
But, who would have thought it would take a fever dream caused by a bear attack to knock some sense into him?
During his final hallucination scene with Fred, I cheered happily for Archie's self-realized monologue. He needed to come to terms with the fact that he caused his own problems and only he could pull himself out of his spiral. Archie is his true worst enemy.
His breakthrough came too-little-too-late in the grand scheme, especially after all the pain and chaos it caused to the people he loved. However, his realization offered up a glimmer of hope. Maybe Archie would finally learn his lesson and change?
We can only cross our fingers that he'll implement his inner monologue into his life. Well, if he "survives" his blood loss. (Come on, he'll totally live.)
Archie: This isn’t real. You guys are all dead.
Cassidy: You keep saying that but then how are we here? Talking with you?
Archie: I’m dreaming. I must be, or I’m hallucinating from the loss of blood.
Cassidy: Or we’re here and this is real?
Archie: No, I went to juvie after being framed for your murder.
[Archie points at Cassidy’s three friends]
Archie: I found you three in mines after Sheriff Maneda gunned you down.
Hiram: If what you say is true, and we are dead, then it sounds like it’s all your fault. If you ever want to return to “Eldirvare,” you’re gonna have to play ... and win. Come on, one round at least?
Archie: One round.
Archie's vision quest of sorts had an interesting mix of Twin Peaks creepiness and Riverdale drama.
I loved the symbolic metaphors of him conquering the enemies that tore him up inside. Before the character could grow and change, he had to face the foes that led him astray. The Black Hood, Hiram, and of course Archie's bad decisions were the inner bosses that plagued his development.
Mixing that theme with Gryphons and Gargoyles created the perfect connection.
His journey was structured in a way that shed light on his past while also showcasing the decisions and conflicts that kept him from returning to Riverdale. And playing the game allowed him as the Red Paladin to work out his inner demons by facing the cards that were dealt.
In addition, Cassidy, Warden Norton, and Betty as the Game Master acted as his metaphorical spirit guards. Each one discussed a layer to Archie's self-discovery that he had to face. Without it, Archie could never fully heal.
Cassidy subtly told Archie to look inwards to find the cause. Warden Norton made Archie face his poor decisions. Betty symbolized his past and how Archie could achieve peace.
The entire journey felt developed and satisfying; both on a visual level with its editing and tone, and from a plot standpoint.
Riverdale has the ability to achieve these thought-provoking stories with its characters. Hopefully, more plots get this much attention to detail because a captivating journey makes the thrilling payoff more impactful than just the climax.
With exception to Hiram Lodge, Veronica came out as a clear winner during Riverdale's post-quarantine life.
La Bonne Nuit enjoyed a business resurgence that many clubs wished they had after a quiet first year. And, she stood up against her father and won! Whatever Marie Kondo-type positivity she added into her life, she needs to keep doing it. The universe gave back to her in style.
Her partnership with the Southside Serpents will be for the betterment of Riverdale's story.
For the last few chapters now, Veronica's focus on the club stood at the periphery of the main Gargoyle King tension. We didn't need nor cared about Elio's betrayal or the club's money issues. The added bits mostly came across as filler.
With her story now connected to Jughead's gang plot, the club furthers the tension between the core group and Hiram/the Gargoyles. Plus, with Josie's music career and Reggie's romance included, we have a well-rounded story that ties together.
La Bonne Nuit won't simply be the nightlife hangout; it will be the spark for much more conflict. That's a positive start for something small that needed to change.
Veronica: Daddy made it very clear that if La Bonne Nuit was to continue operating in a post-quarantine Riverdale, I’d have to give him 10% of my earnings for the privilege.
Reggie: If you start paying him for protection now, you’ll never stop.
Veronica: But ... there are ways to minimize that price.
[Pop hands Veronica a ledger]
Veronica: Five percent feels fair. And once Daddy reviews these well-cooked books, he’ll be none the wiser.
[Reggie reads through the book]
Reggie: Has anyone ever told you, you’re a badass?
Speaking of Reggie's romance, we called it during our Riverdale Season 3 Midseason Report!
Veronica and Reggie were sending out major sparks during the last few weeks now. And with Archie behind bars, the pair got a lot closer during their business partnership. This romance had been a possibility for a while now; it's surprising it didn't happen sooner.
Riverdale needed a new love triangle after the Betty/Archie/Veronica story closed its book (for now).
Even with the shipping, Riverdale's tone made it apparent that Betty/Jughead and Archie/Veronica were unshakable, and that any outside kissing/hookups were fleeting. Creating a triangle that has legitimate stakes makes their dynamic fresh and interesting.
Reggie could legitimately end up with Veronica. Archie could end up with Veronica .... or Betty. (During Archie's hallucination, it was Betty who was reassuring Archie. We shouldn't ignore that clue.)
It doesn't look like Riverdale will be going back on this after a week's time. And it shouldn't be something dropped too quickly.
What does need to change is Jughead's sexist double-standards.
Did he really just kick Cheryl and Toni out of the gang but give Fangs TWO opportunities for a second chance? Jughead didn't even bat an eyelash removing his female friends. Not cool, Jones.
Sure, the severity of their offenses differed, but he made a stance and showed more leeway to one than the others. You could even see the disappointment on FP's face when his son didn't stand by his word.
Jughead doesn't have a good grasp of his leadership responsibilities. We might need to admit that his flaws are deeper than we originally thought.
Also, how stupid was Fangs for spilling the secret when Jughead told him explicitly not to?! This entire encounter was annoyingly frustrating overall.
Archie: I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to play with you guys.
Veronica: You have to. It’s the only way back.
Archie: Back to what?
Betty: Eldirvare. Riverdale. Innocence.
Betty fought a losing battle. She had all the right intentions and the determination to help the teens from the asylum, but she couldn't stop the negative influences from getting in her way.
Just like Warden Norton would say, Betty was dealt a bad card.
The Sisters' vow of silence, Tyler buying Fizzle Rocks, Polly and Evelyn recruiting the teens; these hurdles were all barriers meant to keep Betty from succeeding. Even though she conquered every single one, no route would've led Betty to get everything she wanted.
And sometimes we have to accept that fact: our hero would have to fail at certain points throughout the journey.
Betty did an amazing job as the Gryphon Queen to ensure their safety for as long as she could. You couldn't deny that she cared about her fellow asylum friends. But, she couldn't control the feelings of others.
Hopefully, the teens won't be brainwashed by The Farm too much and turn against her. (Let's face it, that's exactly what's going to happen.)
Archie: I’m not playing the game with someone who died from it.
Warden Norton: I didn’t die. I ascended to the kingdom.
Archie: Then what about Joaquin? Did he “ascend” too? That was his reward for stabbing me, wasn’t it?
Warden Norton: That was the card Mr. Dos Santos drew. His do or die moment. You know all about those, don’t you, Archie? Didn’t you have one yourself?
Archie: With the Black Hood, yes, and I stopped him. But, I’m still trapped here ... in this hell.
At least Betty got one victory, albeit in a shocking and depressing way.
The fall of Sister Woodhouse and the Sisters of Quiet Mercy tasted so sweet. Not blue crush sweet, but a "delicious milkshake from Pop's mixed with pettiness" sweet.
All of their lies and criminal dealings finally caught up to them with no place to turn. For a moment in time, they were cornered, and Betty and Sierra McCoy were living for the satisfaction. We were so close to taking down Hiram that we could taste it!
However, this is Riverdale, after all. Good karma doesn't last too long.
The Sisters committing suicide at the asylum was a shocking twist.
Sister Woodhouse's previous stance made it seem like they weren't the biggest believers in the Gargoyle King. However, the blue lips disproved that theory. The Sisters either were secret believers or they followed the same method they knew from the past.
Betty needs to follow the money. Even if it leads back to Hiram, it's the only clue she has now that her last lead died.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Cheryl and Toni wearing the cat-like masks for their thefts might be the most dramatic (and natural) Riverdale-ism that we've had in a long time.
Did we really only get less than two minutes of Kevin screen time? Such a waste.
Riverdale's writing staff must love writing in reasons for K. J. Apa to get shirtless. There must be a bet or game they play. I'm not complaining about his strategically placed bear wounds, but the number of scenes isn't lost on anyone.
- Betty's, Jughead's, and Veronica's outfits from the hallucination must mean something for Archie's inner thoughts. For example, Betty's dress was the same one from the homecoming dance on Riverdale Season 1 Episode 1, and her words talked about going back to his innocence pre-drama. Could this mean he secretly wants the life he could've had with Betty had Veronica not arrived?
Hiram was inconsistent with his shakedown of Veronica. He started with 10, then went to 15, and then back to 10 as a courtesy. If he's arguing for money, he needs to stick with an offer first.
Who else couldn't look away from Hiram's outrageously fluffy coat? The fluffiness undercut the tension of the scene.
- Fang's chance of survival while going undercover with the Gargoyles: optimistic or dead man walking?
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "No Exit"?
Will Archie survive the severe blood loss? Are you shipping Reggie and Veronica's new romance? Which hallucination creeped you out the most?
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.