After last week’s extremely dense Plot-o-Rama, I’m so taken with the premise of this “Bizzarodale” episode: What if instead of the established Core Four, we spent an hour focusing on Kevin, Josie, Cheryl, and Reggie? This is like the pilot of Freaks and Geeks, when the camera pans from the beautiful, popular kids sitting on the bleachers to the burnouts messing around underneath them — except, in this case, the burnouts are arguably even more beautiful, even more popular kids. Okay, whatever, you get the point.
Lovebirds Tom Keller and Sierra McCoy refuse to have a big wedding, but following some begging from Kevin and Josie, they agree to an after-party at La Bonne Nuit. “If there’s no wedding reception, it means the Gargoyle King has won,” Kevin argues, compellingly.
Josie asks on-again, off-again, summer-fall-winter fling Sweet Pea to be her date, but he declines, on the grounds that he’d like to be her boyfriend or bust. Josie chooses the latter. Kevin’s wedding invitation to secret beau Moose is received equally poorly, given that Moose is daunted by the prospect of coming out to his objectively terrifying dad, Major Mason.
SAT scores are in, and Cheryl hopes hers is high enough for her to matriculate to the family alma mater, Highsmith College (love it). And yet, during Cheryl’s interview, the headmistress explains that a board member has introduced a policy that favors prospective students “outside the alumni pool.” Cheryl has little doubt whose brainchild that was. Her homophobic mother, tidying her whip collection at the Maple Club, confirms she’d hate to see an “aberration” like Cheryl sully the hallowed halls of Highsmith.
In a deeply misguided effort to help out her pal Kevin with his relationship woes, Cheryl outs Moose in her morning PA announcement by dropping a not-very-blind blind item about a closeted RROTC cadet. Toni is furious with her girlfriend for her insensitivity — doesn’t she realize that Toni experienced prejudice from her own family? That’s why the support of the Serpents was so important to her, though now, largely thanks to Cheryl, she doesn’t even have them by her side. Cheryl vows to make everything right, but the damage is done. Kevin makes Moose an ultimatum: If he doesn’t come out to his dad, they’re over.
Archie finds Josie crying in the music room, torn up over dumping Sweet Pea and nervous about her audition with a Juilliard recruiter that afternoon. Archie volunteers to drive her. Later, when she learns she didn’t make it to callbacks, Archie volunteers to be her wedding date. You’ll forgive me if I keep the Archie-Josie stuff brief, but I’m really trying my hardest to savor the pleasures of a Riverdale episode that involves as little of its supposed main character as possible.
Tom and Sierra’s canoodling is interrupted by the discovery of a wax-sealed letter from someone they thoughtlessly failed to invite to their nuptials, the Gargoyle King. He (maybe I shouldn’t be so bold as to assume it’s a “he”) demand they finish what they started so long ago at Ascension Night, or else — hey, how are your kids doing? Be a shame if anything were to happen to them. As it turns out, all the Midnight Club members have received similar notes. They agree to complete the game, if only because it’s their best shot at catching whoever’s really behind the Gargoyle King’s robes. (No, not Tallboy.)
Hermione demands Veronica and Reggie assume responsibility for paying the sizable debt now owed to their mysterious would-be Fizzle Rocks buyer. Reggie suggests they stage a lunchtime robbery of the cash-stuffed safe at his dad’s car dealership, which doesn’t have a security guard on duty during the day. It doesn’t go great, given that — surprise, Reg! — it turns out there is a daytime security guard after all. Reggie, his identity concealed under a gargoyle mask, does manage to make off with a bag stuffed with money, albeit for the price of a bullet grazing his arm. Oh, and then there’s the fact that a dye pack explodes all over the cash when he opens it.
With great trepidation, Reggie, Veronica, and a duffel full of the Blue Man Group’s pooled tips are off to meet with the buyer. “Oh, great, more teenagers,” deadpans Gina Gershon as she steps out of her car, in one of the more delicious line readings in all three seasons of this television program. “Please, don’t break our kneecaps,” Reggie begs the woman he has only just learned is Jughead’s mom. Gladys grants them clemency, sort of: She’ll charge them a fee to (presumably literally) launder the money from the dealership and work with them on a payment plan for the rest, so long as they lend her Reggie’s beloved car and don’t speak a word of any of this to Jug.
Phase one of Cheryl’s penance “megaplan” is enlisting Toni to shoot blackmail photos outside the Maple Club, leverage enough to convince Penelope to revoke the Highsmith’s legacy ban, and resign from its board. Phase two: Sufficiently confident in her chances of admission, Cheryl schedules a second interview, but cedes her time with the headmistress to another qualified candidate by the name of Ms. Antoinette “Perfect SAT Score” Topaz.
Big news out of the Mason household: Moose came out to his dad! And the Major took it … surprisingly well? Moose and Kevin are Moovin once more. When Cheryl apologizes to him, Moose excitedly confides in her about his and Kevin’s planned tryst in “some secret bunker.” Cheryl advises he bring along some fresh sheets. “A lot of people have had sex on that cot,” she says, in another of the more delicious line readings in all three seasons of this television program.
The Midnight Club (including Hiram, up and walking with a cane) sneaks into the high school, determined to find the chalices, flip for their fates, chug chug chug, and get out of there as soon as possible. Penelope distributes the antidote to cyanide in little vials, which her former classmates down in order to inoculate themselves for the next few hours. I’m not sure this is how poisons work, but I always enjoy watching people drink from spooky little vials.
But the Devil’s own drinkware is nowhere to be found. What they do find is a cow skull (I think Riverdale’s prop department must have bulk ordered a ranch’s worth) and the not exactly friendly phrase “Got You” scrawled in what looks like blood on a classroom projector screen. What if this was only a diversion?
In Riverdale Standard Time, it is apparently Teen Sex O’Clock, because that is what almost of our pals (minus Archie and Josie, mid-rehearsal) are up to when their panicked parents call. But Kevin doesn’t pick up. Having I hope to God taken Cheryl’s advice and stopped by Bed Bunkers & Beyond this afternoon, the boys are doing some post-coital cuddling when a mob (a herd? a flock?) of Gargoyles breaks into the bunker.
They drag the boys out into the forest, where the Gargoyle King and his chalices of very spiked punch await. Right as Kevin steels himself to take a sip, the Gargoyle King is felled by one of Cheryl’s arrows, and the forces of parental good descend on the ceremony. (You should always tell a friend when you’re going into a secret sex bunker; it’s just good sense.) Lo and behold, the mask-wearing gang members are really RROTC cadets, and wearing the Gargoyle King’s robes is none other than Moose’s father.
Interrogated by FP, he denies the chalices were poisoned — he only wanted to scare the boys. His explanation is shades of Chris Cooper in American Beauty. Wee woo, wee woo, wee woo, time for a flashback: Back in high school, Major Mason was close with his RROTC buddy Tom Keller, until one day he tried to kiss Tom. When his parents found out, they sent him off for Gargoyle King–flavored conversion therapy at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, a predictably traumatic experience. Seeing Tom and Sierra get married — and Moose fall in love with Kevin, the spitting image of his dad — broke him.
FP and Jughead find Jellybean and Gladys waiting for them back at the trailer — they’ve come to “stay a while,” which is nice, if not unsuspicious. Gladys and JB, I am delighted to report, are indeed up to no good. With Sheriff FP easily manipulated by his beloved baby girl and the mayor in Gladys’ debt, these two are poised to run Riverdale. I love a good mother-daughter crime team.
Sierra and Tom ultimately decide that a simple town hall ceremony, minus any party, suits them just fine. Robbed of a captive audience of wedding guests, Archie and Josie nevertheless flirtily duet to “People Like Us,” and I would just like to state for the record how happy I am that it is now Riverdale canon that Archie has casually memorized the Wild Party OBCR.
Given his father’s recent misbehavior, Moose is moving to Glendale to stay with his aunt. He shares a sad, sweet good-bye kiss with Kevin, who takes this opportunity to remind us that Moose’s actual first name is Marmaduke. Thanks, Kevin!
As her last and most labor-intensive gesture to Toni, Cheryl has recruited her a new gang-ily of girls in bold lips, throwback hairstyles, and leather (checking all the boxes). Toni is touched. She christens her new criminal sisterhood the Pretty Poisons, and to Cheryl’s credit, she loves her girlfriend enough not to tell her this is a terrible name.
Also, Archie and Josie kiss, to which my only response is this Nancy Pelosi clapping at Trump GIF.