There are midseason finales, and then there is Riverdale’s “Outbreak.” This fall finale gave us an evil statue, a kidnapped nun, and the Gryphon Queen — and that’s just in Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) hellish Sisters Of Quiet Mercy subplot. In Riverdale proper, our teens were battling mobster schemes of “biblical” proportions and the tough “Should we move in together?” conversation (the answer is yes!). Also, Archie (KJ Apa) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) are still terrible on-the-run criminals.
After such a wild, bumpy, and Gargoyle King-y journey, let’s break down “Outbreak’s” most bonkers turns as witnessed by the core characters. Riverdale really did love it separate storylines for Season 3A, didn’t it?
Veronica Lodge & Cheryl Blossom
Finally, Veronica (Camila Mendes), everyone’s favorite mob daughter-entrepreneur-River Vixen, is leading an episode after a very passive season 3. If only Veronica wasn’t in this position because of her father’s quarantine scam.
That is Hiram’s (Mark Consuelos) mysterious, Legion Of Doom-style long-con: a town-wide quarantine. By the end of “Outbreak,” Riverdale has been cut off from the entire world, all because some alleged seizure disease is supposedly running rampant there.
Speaking of seizures, Ronnie’s storyline opens with a mass seizure at Riverdale High. Many of the Vixens, Veronica and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) included, are afflicted. If Toni is involved, so is her girlfriend Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch). Soon enough, Cheryl, Veronica and a very loyal Reggie Mantle (Charles Melton) team up to figure out what new deadly scheme is afoot.
The investigation leads Cheryl and Veronica to a bizarrely small parent-principal conference about the chaos at RHS. There, the girls demand answers. Cheryl’s mom Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) fakes a seizure in response. Meeting adjourned, interest peaks. Penelope is in on the Lodges’ mass deception.
Cheryl and Veronica eventually get answers out their parents in very different ways. At the loft, Hiram congratulates his daughter for her detective work (he is using the new prison as a Fizzle Rocks factory and trying to expand said drug empire amid the seizure panic). Hiram heavily implies his plot is so much bigger than Veronica assumes. While all of Hiram’s speechifying is fairly obscure, Penelope doesn’t have the luxury, because V&C tie her to a chair and and douse her in sugary maple syrup with an ultimatum: explain Hiram’s plan or become an ant farm’s dinner.
This is how the girls learn about the quarantine.
Veronica and Cheryl end the episode attempting to stop Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols), the mayor, from setting her husband’s master plan in motion. But they’re too late. She has already called the governor to request a strict quarantine. With the sheriff (Henderson Wade) murdered “gangland” style, marshall law reigns over Riverdale — and Hiram Lodge is judge, jury, and executioner.
Merry Christmas, everybody!
Archie Andrews & Jughead Jones
Archie and Juggie’s section of “Outbreak,” simply exists to sweep away some old garbage and make room for some new characters. Meet Gladys (Gina Gershon) and Jellybean “J.B.” Jones (Trinity Rose Likins); say goodbye to Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan), a villain whose obsession with pesky teens never quite made any sense.
At the top of the episode, Archie and Jughead finally make it to Toledo without getting kidnapped. They find the Jones women flourishing in a Midwestern junkyard. Immediately, Jughead is jealous his mom abandoned him in Riverdale but is now nurturing so many other wayward teen boys. J.B. develops, or remembers, a crush on an extremely ripped Archie at the same quick pace.
Afterthe entire group enjoys a nice junkyard feast, Penny pops up to squawk some threats at Archie, who still has a bounty on his head courtesy of Hiram. J.B. responds by hitting Penny in the face with a slingshot. No one messes with J.B. Jones’ man! Soon enough, Gladys, using a knife, is interrogating a tied-up Penny as retribution for that time Penny tortured Jughead in season 2.
By the end of the episode, Gladys is washing so much blood off of her hands. Penny Peabody is dead.
Before Penny’s death, she explained Hiram’s bounty extends to anyone found helping him. That means people like Gladys, J.B., and Juggie are at risk. Finally, Archie decides to go it alone and head to Canada, a plan Juggie suggested way back in season 3’s premiere.
Mrs. Jones calls two
90s heartthrobs Riverdale dads, to take the boys on their separate journeys: Fred (Luke Perry) and F.P (Skeet Ulrich). Fred drives Archie to the border… and gives him Vegas the dog to take with him? Archie is a fugitive illegally crossing a border. He cannot also be in charge of a dog. He can barely take care of himself. Yet, there Red is, wandering into the night manning a flashlight, holding a dog leash, and trying not to get abducted while wandering to the Great White North.
While Archie stumbles toward supposed freedom, Jughead and F.P. race back to Riverdale. They’re met with police, who are enforcing Hiram’s quarantine with the help of so many guns. We’re left wondering what cockamamy plan the Jones men will hatch to save the Cooper women they love.
We didn’t lose our girl Betty following last week’s kidnapping and drugging scheme by the Sisters Of Quiet Mercy after all. When we check in with Betty, we learn she’s been puking up her daily dose of Fizzle Rocks, narrowly avoiding Hiram’s drug trials.
With her wits still about her, Betty locks No. 1 Gargoyle King acolyte Ethel (Shannon Purser) in the King’s “chambers.” After a few hours trapped in a dark stone room, Ethel sobers up from the Rocks and realizes the Gargoyle King isn’t haunting the space — a creepy statue simply fostered hallucations of the dark lord. Now that both Betty and Ethel’s eyes are open about the Sisters’ disturbing machinations, they capture Sister Woodhouse (Beverley Breuer) to grill her about Gryphons & Gargoyles, Hiram, and the Gargoyle King.
Finally, we learn the game’s origin story. Unsurprisingly, it was born of obsessive madness.
Betty and Ethel leave Sister Woodhouse in the Gargoyle King’s chambers and try to free their fellow Sisters inmates. The girls don’t want to go, so B&E create the Gryphon Queen as the Gargoyle King’s hopeful foil. Betty gets to put on a bunch of sticks and Coachella crystals to cosplay as the Queen. With everyone hopped up on Fizzle Rocks, her terrible arts and crafts works; all the troubled girls and gay conversion “therapy” boys flee the Sisters.
Someone please burn this place down.
The most Riverdale of Riverdale quotes: “Was it a quest? From her master? Was Hiram more than the Man In Black? Is he the Gargoyle King?”
— I’m with Gladys: Give us the Jarchie ship we deserve.
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