Were you right about the identity of The Gargoyle King?
The mysterious and unseen puppetmaster revealed their identity on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 22. With the climactic surprise came with it the reasons for why everything happened these last three seasons.
The Gargoyle King weaved a mighty complicated web! But after three years of murders, manipulation, and medieval tropes, did the final confrontation live up to expectations?
First and foremost, I'm not surprised about the identities of The Gargoyle Kings.
During the review for Riverdale Season 3 Episode 20, I mentioned that Chic was a top suspect for the person who had the runes tattooed on his back. His supposedly dead body never reappeared, and the person who had them done had blonde hair. Hal seemed too much like a red herring.
Chic had an evil edge to him, and he got drawn to the dark side. But, he also had enough hope in him that he wanted to do something with his life. Him agreeing to serve The Black Hood and the original GK aligned to that mindset.
Penelope Blossom, on the other hand, shot to the top of the list after the flashback episode on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 4. She might not have been the current GK, but the odds of her being the one from the 90s seemed plausible.
Penelope served as the Game Master for The Midnight Club, and if Darryl Doily didn't know who started the game, Penelope could've easily done the deed, especially since she admitted to killing him. Plus, Penelope is a master manipulator who has already killed plenty of people in town.
The killer reveal basically wrote itself!
"Survive the Night" provided a satisfying answer for an intricate mystery that spanned three seasons.
These last three seasons were essentially a horror movie trilogy. The overall main Riverdale arc, which has been frustrating at times, succeeded due to the sum of its parts.
Let's look at the chain of events that brought the characters here: Jason Blossom died, which in turn infuriated Penelope Blossom to manipulate Hal into being The Black Hood, which in turn converted Chic, which in turn relaunched Gryphons and Gargoyles into the town and formed the Gargoyles.
The stuff about The Midnight Club was the precursor for pushing Penelope deeper into her revenge plot.
Every single move that the characters made had an impact on the master plan that Penelope manipulated in the background.
Penelope: Hellcaster, care to take a stab?
Jughead: Sure. Arthur Conan Doyle famously said, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In which case, whoever is underneath that mask must have had a connection to Hal, and to you Penelope. But it’s not Jason because he’s dead, even though his corpse is missing. The one corpse that hasn’t been accounted for and who was last seen by The Black Hood ... Chic.
[The Gargoyle King removes the mask to reveal Chic]
If Clifford Blossom hadn't murdered Jason, the current lifestyle in Riverdale would look a lot different.
Penelope might not have dusted off her former title and plotted revenge against the town. The relationships, love triangles, and realities of the current characters would have veered in opposite directions. Everything got affected because of Jason's murder.
The same could be said about the original game played by The Midnight Club. If Principal Featherhead hadn't died, the group wouldn't have separated and led the parents/kids down this path more than 25 years later.
These two moments had significant ramifications for the Riverdale arc.
Though, Penelope's reasoning for starting all this drama came across as a stretch.
Penelope blamed the parents and the town for not helping her when she was adopted by the Blossoms to be Clifford's bride. She also blamed them for not reaching out and comforting her when Jason died.
Last time I checked, wasn't she the one who put the poison in the goblet that killed Principal Featherhead? She committed manslaughter, and when everyone separated, she agreed to the idea and never talked to the others again. Penelope went back to Clifford for love and safety.
Jughead: We won. Didn’t we? We survived the night. We proved that we’re better than this town.
Penelope: That may or may not be true, but kill them. Kill them all!
[The Gargoyles chase after the group as they run away]
In addition to that, Penelope became the ice queen of Riverdale and held it over the parents. Of course, they wouldn't be nice to her; she wasn't nice to them. There's only so much someone can do if they've been given the elitist cold shoulder for 25+ years.
There were a few holes in this backstory and some grey areas that made the timeline a bit hazy. Like, the fact when Chic introduced G&G to Ben.
Was it after his encounter with The Black Hood in the cemetery or before? How early did Penelope cultivate Hal's passion for killing people?
On the other hand, the biggest question I had was: when did Riverdale become Game of Thrones?
Riverdale Season 3 consistently played with light medieval elements to suit the themes of Gryphons and Gargoyles. The junior prom alone increased those references with full costumes and decorations. But, Penelope's midnight challenge took the cake with a night of neverending iconography.
Penelope planned everything done to the second. From the individual challenges to the gorgeous outfits that Veronica, Betty, Archie, and Jughead wore, she made the event into a show.
And she didn't make the challenges easy either!
Archie's fight against the wild bear looked tough and uncomfortable. The fact that he was able to walk after being flung around like a bat was surprising. An average person would need to be carried after a fight like that.
Jughead fared better fighting against a deranged Chic, but if he had made one wrong move, he would've been sliced into pieces.
Veronica's challenge, on the other hand, was a manipulative means to force the group to finish the challenge. Even in a life-threatening situation, Penelope can't help but control the pieces. And Betty's challenge hurt her more emotional than physical.
The treatment of the challenges suited the G&G style that had gotten introduced beforehand. It made sense that The Gargoyle King would do something like this for their revenge plot.
The point when the night jumped the shark, however, was when Cheryl, Toni, the Pretty Poisons, and the Southside Serpents came rushing in to save the day.
Look, Cheryl is a master of the bow; she's living her best Speedy life that's inspired by Arrow. I've made peace with this since Riverdale Season 2. However, when the gang members started shooting arrows at the Gargoyles and fought in the forest ... that crossed a line.
Riverdale's tone has changed too much and too often to suit the plot. This climax pushed the needle too far in one direction that it made me say, "What show am I even watching?"
Riverdale is a great dark drama, but it has to get back on track somehow.
The start of that change could be in the romance department. If you're keeping score, Archie and Veronica are officially back together.
Sorry "Veggie" fans! Veronica's earlier expression gave it away; she wanted to be with Archie. At least Reggie can now find someone who will truly love him with all their heart.
Veronica and Archie shared a tender moment in the woods that exuded love and happiness. It almost made you forget how toxic they once were. Hopefully, they'll get their act together and work out their issues.
The couple gets a third chance. This time could be the charm.
Over at The Farm, Cheryl finally understood what Betty went through trying to convince everyone of the evil deeds. You could sense her frustration at Kevin and Fangs when they doubted her without proof.
But without the organs, the pair would never believe her.
Alice's surprise turnaround was a shocking twist. She always seemed to be the most dedicated to Edgar's mission; they were planning to get married, after all. When she handed Juniper to Cheryl and helped her escape, you knew that something was going on in her mind.
At first, the potential of her breaking through the brainwashing seemed like the obvious conclusion. The rumors and Betty's disappearance added plenty of doubts. Plus, Edgar's expedited "Ascension" was too convenient to ignore.
The twist of her being an undercover informant for the FBI is shocking, to say the least!
You have to give it to Alice (and Mädchen Amick); she sold that true believer persona like it was second nature. Alice's performance of delusional cult member was so believable that she convinced us to hate person she had become. It's mind-boggling to think that her entire storyline was a lie.
Edgar: The Ascension is upon us. Tonight.
Alice: The Ascension? Tonight?
Edgar: Yes, preparations are being made.
Alice: I need to find Betty. Have you seen her?
Evelyn: She escaped ... with Toni Topaz.
Edgar: She was never a believer like you, Alice. So, we will ascend without her.
Edgar: The Ascension is upon us. Tonight.
She most likely went undercover to save Polly and stop The Farm. And with her supposedly dead son as her handler, she had all the preparation she needed to get the job done.
Hopefully, she's safe and sound. Wherever The Farm ascended to, she'll need to keep her act together long enough for Betty and Charles to find her.
One of the best parts of Riverdale Season 3 Episode 22 arrived during the ending.
The editing between the flashforward and the present within the Chock'lit Shoppe had the creepy tone we've all grown to love from Riverdale. The tease was a mix of haunting foreboding with classic 50s charm.
Riverdale Season 4 is shaping up to be the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" season based on the murder mystery.
With plenty still left up in the air (like the disappearance of The Farm and Penelope on the run), nothing got resolved entirely. Another murder mystery might muddy things up. However, a murder mystery hooked us in the first time, so the expectations are pretty optimistic right now.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Chic looked great with his red hair. Sure, he had gone mad and developed a Jason Blossom complex ... but he looked cute.
Sister Woodhouse being alive was not the twist we needed in our lives. Her arrival came across as pointless and unnecessary.
- Hiram is a petty man. He couldn't let Hermione and Veronica live a happy life; he had to take them down with him. We'll have to see if Hermione gets thrown behind bars like him too.
Kevin: They left me. I wanted to go, but they said that somebody had to stay behind to explain what happened.
Archie: And what did happen?
Kevin: The worthy ascended, of course.
Betty: Who did? Where’s my mom and Polly?
Kevin: Gone. Everyone is, and we’ll never see them again.
Is it bad to have some gleeful satisfaction over Kevin getting left behind by The Farm? Serves him right for his bad attitude.
I don't believe the FBI agent is truly Charles until we get a DNA test or some form of proof to back up this claim.
- If there's one thing that could break up "Choni," it's Cheryl keeping the body of her dead brother around. There's no way Toni will be fine with this.
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Survive the Night"?
Where did all the members of The Farm go? Will Penelope ever return to exact her revenge? Who died in the flashforward?
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.