One of the many, many things I loved about Veronica Mars and Justifed was their ability to successfully merge season-long serialized arcs with episodic stories. Veronica had that down to a science, bookending each episode with the serialized storyline while also giving us a fresh story each week. Riverdale is the opposite of that, and what’s worse is that — while Veronica and Justified operated on 13-episode seasons — Riverdale is dragging one serialized arc through the mud of every episode in a 22-episode season.
The Gargoyle King story feels like it began back during the Clinton years, and literally seven months later, we still do not have a resolution. In the meantime, however, we’ve run through a couple of fake Gargoyle Kings, a prison storyline, a rivalry between Hiram and Archie, a reconciliation between Archie and Hiram, a drug kingpin storyline, former felon and gang member FP becoming the sheriff, Veronica and Archie breaking up then (sort of) getting back together again, the Farm cult, an ’80s flashback episode, a Heathers musical episode, and the return of the Black Hood. But it’s all somehow related to the Gargoyle King, the story that just won’t go away.
There are still two episodes left in this interminably long season.
And here’s an unsettling thought I had last night: The show has spent most of the season hiding Luke Perry’s Fred Andrews character, even before Archie’s mom (Molly Ringwald) came into town this week to watch after Archie while Fred was away (last week was the last episode Perry filmed before he died). Why has Riverdale been hiding Fred Andrews all season long? Is it potentially because he is the Gargoyle King? The show has seemingly ruled out everyone else; it would come as a huge surprise; and it would match a pattern of serial-killer fathers the series started last year with Betty’s dad, the Black Hood. And if he is the Gargoyle King, is he still? Because that would be a hell of a way to write a beloved actor out of a show, and I don’t mean that in a particularly good way. If he is, I suppose they could turn Molly Ringwald’s character into the Gargoyle King. Would it make sense? No. Does anyone on this show apply logic to the storylines? Not really.
To wit: Betty’s Dad, Hal Cooper, escapes a fiery bus crash that kills (and dismembers) every other passenger on board during a prison transport this week, but Hal survives, cuts off his hand to leave it for police to identify, finds a hook to replace it, and tracks Betty down at prom in order to kill her (why? Just because, silly!). Betty manages to both narrowly escape The Black Hood and the Gargoyle King — who Jughead lures to Prom (why? Just because, silly!) — who may or may not be working in cahoots. Betty races to the Farm to warn her mother that Hal is on the loose and probably has designs on killing Alice. Edgar Evernever — who ruled himself out as the Gargoyle King earlier in the episode (or did he?) — offers to let Betty stay on the Farm for her own protection (or to conveniently place her and her mother in the same location for easier killing) and Betty reluctantly accepts.
Elsewhere, because Riverdale always has to keep a few balls in the air, Archie continues his pursuit of a boxing career, which requires that he forge his mother’s signature to fight in a bout that requires he lose six pounds in three days before fighting in another boxing match in an effort to impress a Navy college recruiter so that Archie can join the Navy to please his mother. It doesn’t go well. Archie loses the first bout then passes out before the second one, then he is forced to confess to his mother that he forged her signature and doesn’t want to go to the Navy. Mary Andrews, however, seems cool with it all, and in fact, does an about-face and agrees to support Archie’s burgeoning career of lifelong concussions and eventual CTE.
The important thing about this storyline, however, is that Archie and Veronica are back together “as friends,” which as we all know is a slippery slope to friends with benefits, an engagement, marriage, and a lifelong commitment from Veronica to take care of Archie after the concussions begin to take their toll. Also, Veronica — who finds out this week that Hiram never actually signed over Pops diner to her — agrees to join forces with Archie to go after her father “for real” this time. The last time, when Hiram killed several people and repeatedly tried to have Archie murdered, wasn’t “for real” because Veronica’s personal fortune was not at stake, see?
Two more episodes.
Header Image Source: The CW