'Riverdale' Goes 'Breakfast Club' In '90s Gargoyle King Origins Story
I know that this week’s Breakfast Club inspired episode of Riverdale was meant to be a fun way to deliver the Gargoyle King’s origins story, but I found the whole episode weirdly depressing. In it, Mayor Lodge bans Riverdale students from playing Gryphons & Gargoyles, which is the best way to ensure that every student plays it. Alice doubly warns Betty against it, and Betty agrees not to play, but only if Alice spills about what she knows about Gryphons & Gargoyles. Alice knows a lot.
Most of the rest of the episode is a flashback to the ’90s, where we witness the Riverdale parents — as high school students — forced into Saturday school together for what ends up being five weeks. There is where they would forge a bond. They got to know each other. They became friends. They paired off (Alice with F.P., Sierra with Tommy Keller, Fred with Hermione, but also Fred kisses Alice, and FP nearly kisses Hermione) and they also discover Gryphons & Gargoyles in the desk of the teacher. They quickly become addicted to the game, exchanging their 1990s via 1950s attire for G&G outfits — swords, crowns, cloaks — and name themselves The Midnight Club. They continue playing the game, joined by another group of kids (Tommy Keller and Hiram Lodge among them). It gets out of hand. They start doing drugs while playing (“fizzle rocks” supplied by Hiram in what must be a precursor to Jingle Jangle).
Meanwhile, someone is helping to set up the game behind everyone else’s back. The Gargoyle King shows up, as do two chalices in the school’s women’s restroom that Alice — the only character not on drugs (because she’s pregnant) — refuses to drink from. That night, however, Fred’s dad dies during the ascension and Principal Featherstone (aptly played by Anthony Michael Hall) disappears. His body is discovered decomposing and with blue lips in a school closet a few weeks later. The Midnight Club makes a pact never to speak of their presence on school grounds the night that Featherstone died.
Beneath the guilt of all that, The Midnight Club also disbands and each goes their own separate way. Fred — torn between a career in music or one in baseball but determined to stay in Riverdale — sells his guitar and starts a construction job. Hermione — determined to get out of Riverdale — hooks up with Hiram Lodge. Keller and Siera break up because the pressure of a mixed-race relationship is too much to handle. Alice cleans up her bad-girl act, exorcizes her crush on F.P., and hooks up with Hal Cooper, while F.P. resigns himself to a life as a Serpent. Meanwhile, we also find out that Penelope grew up in the Sisters of Quiet Mercy orphanage and that she was adopted to be groomed as the future bride of her adopted brother, Clifford Blossom (ew). After the Midnight Club disbands, Penelope resigns to that fate, as well.
It is a depressing episode in a weird way, if only because we see all of the Riverdale parents basically aspiring to the very same kinds of lives that their children are presently aspiring to, but in the end, they all resign to their preordained lives in Riverdale. It’s not hard to imagine that the Riverdale kids all end up trapped in the same cycle — Jugghead a lifelong Serpent, Archie taking over his dad’s construction business, Betty ending up the town reporter, and Hermione marrying for status after working at Pop’s for the next five years. It’s made even worse by the fact that all the Riverdale parents are played by their kids in the ’90s flashback, and trust me, in 2040 when Riverdale is revived, all of the kids will be back as their parents, watching their children go through the same struggles but ultimately ending up trapped in Riverdale.
In any event, although she is more determined than ever to investigate the identity of the Gargoyle King, the flash to the past does convince Alice not play Gryphons & Gargoyles in the present. Unfortunately, it’s too late for the rest of the school and, especially, Jughead, who is already amped up on G&G and ready to ascend and meet the Gargoyle King. He’s now part of the cult.
The episode offers more clues about the Gargoyle King — he’s been around since the ’90s and he may have targetted either Alice or Principal Featherstone with the chalice back in the day — but it doesn’t do much in the way of inspiring credible theories. It seems certain that it was someone in the parents’ generation. Maybe it was Hiram, who created the game in the ’90s in order to boost the sales of fizzle rocks but was caught by Principal Featherstone, so he killed him, and now he’s back because he needs to boost the sales of Jingle Jangle. Or maybe it was Tommy Keller trying to pull some Romeo and Juliet meets D&D business in the ’90s and angry now because he’s no longer Sheriff?
I’m not sure, but what I am sure of is that it’s really weird that Alice straight-up told Betty for the first time that F.P. was Chic’s father and it elicited zero reaction from Betty, who now knows that she shares a half-brother with her boyfriend.
Header Image Source: CW
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