At this point, how is it that the Gargoyle King’s identity is not a foregone conclusion? If it’s not Hiram Lodge, it’s someone working for Hiram Lodge, right? Is the fact that the clues are so obvious meant to throw us off? Is it one of those red herrings where the guy holding the knife with blood all over his shirt and shredded neck veins in his teeth isn’t actually the killer? What is going on, and why hasn’t anyone said, “Aha! The Gargoyle King is Hiram Lodge?” And why isn’t Jughead doing a Fortnight dance while tra-la-la’ing, “I told you!”
This week’s episode told a tale in three parts, all of which featured one character: Hiram Lodge, officially now known as The Man in Black, which is also the title of the episode. We begin with Archie and Jughead, who — after walking “for days” — just happen to find themselves in a small, rundown town where everyone is high AF on Fizzle Rock and playing Gryphons and Gargoyles. The town is also covered in Gargoyle King symbols, like the ones scrawled into Ben and Dilton’s back in the season’s opener. The men, meanwhile, are all employed by Hiram Lodge, building a private prison/Fizzle Rock manufacturing center outside of town.
Archie and Jughead stumble upon a woman named Laurie (Riley Keogh!) on a farm, with which Archie takes an immediate liking. The farm — and Laurie — take a liking to Archie, as well. Archie takes off his shirt and decides to settle in for a spell, bailing hay and keeping the Riverdale GIF makers busy.
After making out with Laurie for a beat before remembering that he’s still in love with Veronica and not in the opening scene of a Farm Girl porn, he confesses to Laurie that he is Archie Andrews. This eventually gets him a skillet to the back of the head. Laurie calls up the Man in Black and brings him into town, presumably to kill Archie, whom Laurie has tied up in her barn (also known as the second act of the Farm Girl porn). Jughead comes along and unties Archie. Archie strongly considers staying and taking a pair of garden shears to Hiram’s vital organs. Jughead convinces him otherwise, reminding Archie that Veronica would never forgive him for killing her dad (is that really true?). Archie and Jughead thus decide to make a hasty retreat and beat a path toward the home of Jughead’s mom.
Meanwhile, back in Riverdale, Veronica seems to be taking her break-up with Archie well. She decides, however, that she has to raise some quick cash and get her speakeasy out of the red, so she plans a casino night and enlists the sketchy Elio to aid her. Elio gonna Elio. However, Hiram warns Veronica that Elio plans to cheat her. That night, when Elio makes a big run on Blackjack, Veronica challenges him to one game, winner take all (she throws in the deed to Pop’s as her collateral). He hits a 20, she gets a 19, but then she miraculously pulls a 2, giving her 21 and a huge influx of cash. As it turns out, the 21 wasn’t that miraculous: Veronica hired a dealer with quick fingers and cheated the cheater. Veronica even feels a dash of affection toward Hiram for saving her ass, until she finds out from Pops that Sheriff Minetta is dead — decapitated, even — and that Hiram may be behind his murder.
Elsewhere, at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, Betty finds out that the Man in Black (again, Hiram Lodge) is using the facility to test his Fizzle Rock on the mental patients. Betty avoids the Fizzle Rocks for a while, but she does gain a new roommate in Ethel, who is still shipping Jughead (“Ethelhead”). Betty, however, gets caught while investigating files that show Lodge requesting increased dosages of Fizzle Rock. She is thrown into the Gargoyle King’s lair. We do not see what she sees, but it elicits a blood-curdling scream. Afterward, she is forced to ingest Fizzle Rock and, now catatonic, Betty becomes yet another disciple of the Gargoyle King.
So, here’s what we know: Back in the ’80s, Hiram Lodge passed out Fizzle Rock while his friends played Gryphons and Gargoyles. The players got high. Someone died. Now, Hiram Lodge is testing Fizzle Rock at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, where everyone has been brainwashed by the Gargoyle King, and he is also using a small farm town that’s also under the spell of the Gargoyle King to manufacture Fizzle Rock. Everywhere Hiram Lodge is, there is Fizzle Rock, and everywhere Fizzle Rock is, there is the Gargoyle King. Hiram and the Garogyle King clearly have a mutually beneficial relationship, which either means that Lodge is the Gargoyle King, or the Gargoyle King is a business associate of Hiram’s.
Header Image Source: The CW