Alice and FP better update their voter registration in time for the midterms, because they are now residents of Bonetown. The newly recoupled ex-couple’s pillow talk is about how relieved they are that the town has seemingly put the mysterious carnage of Griffins & Gargoyles behind them. Little do they know that their kids are basking in their own postcoital bliss, inside (ew) the late Dilton Doiley’s secret gaming bunker. On a scale of creepy places to have sex, where Mary Shelley losing her virginity on her mother’s grave is a 10, this is probably, okay, pretty low, but it’s definitely not a zero.
On a hunch, Jughead asks Princess Etheline for the G&G player’s manual, but excuse me. He hasn’t earned the privilege to read the “scripture,” let alone to call her Princess Etheline. Nevertheless, she invites Jughead — and Jughead alone — to meet her at the bunker. “You’ll never be worthy, no matter how hard you try,” she says to Betty.
All right, um, whatever, Betty has another lead to follow anyway: Duchess Ethelette’s new friend Evelyn is helping to wean her off her extremely necessary-sounding anti-seizure meds. Could the Game and the Farm be related? The only thing less likely than one spooky cult taking hold of a small town is two entirely unrelated spooky cults coexisting in a small town. Then again, Riverdale is basically a Hellmouth. Betty drops by Evelyn’s peer support group at school. This, too, is called the Farm, although a more accurate name would be The Classroom With a Circle of Chairs in It and No Attendees Besides Betty, Who Is Only There to Gather Intel on Evelyn’s Dad.
Dial a secret number in the phone booth in the back of Pop’s, say a secret word, and you’ll be escorted into Veronica’s brand-new speakeasy: La Bonne Nuit, a very stylish, Art Deco spot that even has — luxury of forbidden luxuries — valet parking! Shortly after Veronica resists Penny Peabody’s attempted shakedown for Ghoulie “protection,” the boxes of supplies Reggie has been sweatily and shirtlessly lugging around downstairs coincidentally prove to contain an unexpected mother lode of jingle jangle — just as Sheriff Manetta shows up for an inspection. Oh, and he’d like some money too, please.
The kids manage to dispose of the drugs, but Veronica has no doubt who’s really behind these sabotage attempts: her father. With the assistance of Choni (who I would like to see 300 percent more of, by the way), she’s able to snap a series of compromising photos of the jingle jangle lab now operating in the basement of the Lodge Industries–owned White Wyrm. That’ll do nicely as blackmail! She’ll take $10,000 a week; thanks, Daddy, love you, see you at dinner.
We finally learn what dark business the warden has planned for Archie: A guard pulls him from solitary confinement (where he’s been held for a fun and definitely not at all traumatic period of several weeks) and leads him to “the pit.” Nothing good has ever happened anywhere called “the pit.” Here, in an empty swimming pool, the warden sells tickets to bare-knuckle boxing matches between inmates. The guards, having placed bets on the outcome, raucously cheer the boys on.
Time for Archie to meet the rest of the boxing crew, which includes a worse-for-wear Joaquin. “Name’s Baby Teeth,” a scrawny boy who looks like Leo circa 1993 introduces himself. “May not look like much, but I leave a mark.” Would that I had a fifth non-thumb finger on my left hand so that I could tattoo B-A-B-Y T-E-E-T-H across my knuckles.
Archie’s first match sees him fell a truly giant dude with a single uppercut. (When did Archie get injected with supersoldier serum, anyway?) Winners get special perks, so Archie requests burgers from Pop’s for himself, Baby Teeth & Co. for lunch. But the warden warns Archie a one-punch fight won’t cut it next time — he better put on a show.
Jughead finds dozens and dozens of lit candles awaiting him in the bunker, not to mention Duchess Ethelette resplendent in a crown and veil. It’s time to play the game. Rather than the “radiant knight” or “arcane invoker,” Juggie chooses the avatar of the “hellcaster,” which I can only imagine is to G&G what the thimble is to Monopoly.
Duchess Ethelette presents him with two unhappily familiar chalices, filled with blue liquid. She demands he drink one. He agrees: He’ll flip a coin to choose between the goblets, one of which is laced with cyanide, on the condition that she hand over the scripture. Happily, he survives. And happily — for his dungeon mistress, anyway — he also agrees to kiss her (is that rule really in the scripture?) before she finally gives up the manual. Next thing Jughead knows, Ethel has downed the poisonous contents of the second goblet.
She wakes up in the hospital with Jughead at her side. She’ll be okay, although she’s been cuffed to her bed for her own protection. The princess smiles a creepy, blue-lipped smile at her hellcaster. The game is only just beginning.
Betty is unpleasantly surprised to discover that Evelyn has summoned a full diplomatic delegation from the Farm — including Alice and Polly, but no Edgar — to the Coopers’ living room. Adding a dose of Schmientology to their Shmeaven’s Shmate vibes, they’d like to hear about every single bad thing she’s ever done in her life, if she’s got a few minutes. Betty refuses, but is horrified to learn that Alice has already told the gang about disposing of the corpse of Psuedo Cumberbatch — and arguably even more horrified to hear that her mother spilled something about a past experience with G&G, too. On the bright side, the Farm’s snack spread is pretty appealing.
What kind of father would miss the opening night of his teenage daughter– slash–underworld rival’s first speakeasy? Hiram brings Veronica the portrait of her that used to hang in his office as one hell of a weird congratulatory gift.
Emcee Kevin — I’m a little disappointed he’s wearing a ruffled tuxedo shirt, not a full Joel Grey getup — summons Josie, the club’s chanteuse in residence, to the stage for a a very sultry version of “Anything Goes.” Her singing is, as always, lovely, but the clear highlight here is the insane silhouetted backup dancers doing choreography that is part “Partition” video and part what if snakes were sexy?
Over in the pit (another good name for a speakeasy), Archie decides to lengthen the fight not by beating the hell out of his opponent, but by allowing his opponent to beat the hell out of him for several rounds. After sealing the deal with another knockout, the unwilling champion finds his cell decked out with the late Mad Dog’s hand-me-downs, including the TV. Archie trashes his belongings in a rage, which seems mostly inconvenient to himself, but uncovers a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo (cute) with a rock hammer hidden in its hollowed-out pages.
The next morning, Archie announces to his boxing friends his intention to lead them in an escape. Bring me my poster of Raquel Welch in a fur bikini, posthaste!
To Jughead and Betty’s dismay, his father and her mother have found the G&G manual he hid in the Joneses’ trailer. Despite their protests, FP throws their biggest clue into a fire.
Well, on the bright side, without the rule book, no one else can play. Just kidding: We’re onto some Jumanji shit. At school, every Riverdale High student finds that a copy of the manual has appeared in their locker.
“Soon they’ll join us, all of them, my king,” purrs Duchess Etheline to the Gargoyle King, looming over the foot of her hospital bed.