Riverdale’s fall 2018 season ended like a fever dream. A brunette Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) wandered into the Canadian forest with his dog — an awful strategy when attempting to quickly flee the country — while a baffling Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) quarantine plan closed our titular burg off from the rest of the world.
You might expect 2019 midseason premiere “No Exit” to give fans some release from the mounting madness. Then you realize this is Riverdale, and the fever is only going to get more intense. To the point where Archie is trapped in a fever dream after getting mauled by a bear. A bear! And that’s not even the wildest turn in “No Exit.”
So, let’s get down to the most bonkers moments of the episode and try to unravel them. They’re in no particular order, because Riverdale excels in the chaos.
Veronica & Reggie Kiss
This relationship is a long time coming. Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) and Reggie Mantle (real-life Mendes boyfriend Charles Melton) have been acting as partners in all but romance since Riverdale season 3 began. With Varchie done and Reggie walking around the Bonne Nuit shirtless, a hookup couldn’t be far behind.
Veggie’s kiss comes towards the end of “No Exit,” when the pair has successfully bested Hiram for now. As we learn throughout the episode, it’s five weeks after the events of “Outbreak.” The quarantine was lifted, but Riverdale continues to lack its pep. That’s why Hiram and his hilariously-named Gargoyle Gang are still gouging small businesses like Ronnie’s Bonne Nuit.
Some jockeying between the two Lodges transpires, but Veronica realizes she doesn’t need to pay “protection” to her dad and his goons — she should pay the Serpent's for actual protection at a reasonable cost.
Crisis averted. With business booming and Hiram foiled, Veronica and Reggie are feeling sexier than ever. The moment the Nuit clears out, these two crazy kids can’t keep their hands off of each other.
The Serpents Go The Wire Route
Speaking of the Serpents — a former sprawling criminal organization — a lot of the episode is dedicated to figuring out how the biker gang can evolve in a post-quarantine world. Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) wants the group to go legit for a little-explained reason. Simply understand Jughead hates Hiram enough to do the opposite of whatever the “Man In Black” decides. If Hiram was to sell Fizzle Rocks and increase crime rates, Jughead would burn every fizzle and every rock he sees and ban his gang from all illegal behavior.
Eventually, Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner), Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), and Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) are exiled for ignoring Jughead’s orders. However, the Serpent men approach Fangs towards the close of the episode and ask him to go undercover into the Gargoyle Gang. It’s unclear why Choni is left out in the cold.
Cheryl & Toni, Catwomen
During our five-week break, Cheryl and Toni saw the weird quarantine and took it as an opportunity to become cat burglars. They even have kitty-themed crime masks for their covert, biker fashion thievery operations. In a heavy episode, this diversion will lift you up.
Also, Choni says “I love you” to each other for the first time and have sex on a bed covered in money. Sorry, Veggie, this is still Riverdale’s strongest ship.
The Sisters Of Quiet Mercy Aren’t Even Sisters
In an effort to remind us Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) will probably end Riverdale on her way to law school, Riverdale’s leading sleuth expands her legal authority. Betty spends “No Exit” trying to convince the Sisters Of Quiet Mercy — aka the “nuns” who tortured children and tested drugs on said children at Hiram’s behest — to testify against Hiram. Somehow, this will help the traumatized wards of the Sisters, who are homeless and sleeping on the floor of the Cooper living room.
A break in Betty’s quest seems to arise when a social worker reveals the Sisters were disbanded as an actual religious organization over 60 years ago. So these so-called “nuns” have just been criminal human traffickers and human rights abusers waring fake habits for all of Riverdale.
Even though Betty figures all of this nonsense out, and secures homes for all the Sisters’ wards, the kids end up in the last place she wanted them to go: the Farm. After one of the wards was attacked while trying to obtain frizzle rocks, the creepy, still-unseen Edgar Evernever picked everyone up and drove them to Cult Central. Oh no.
P.S. After being found out, the Sisters all die by ritual suicide in the eerie “Gargoyle King’s chambers.” Each woman has the blue lips of a G&G victim and the “Gargoyle King” statue now has the skeleton head of the actual Gargoyle King. The last time we saw the statue, it wasn’t there. Suspicious.
After Archie, now working as a 16-year-old forest ranger, is attacked by that bear, he falls into a near-death fever dream. It’s a darker and deadlier version of of A Christmas Carol, where Archie returns to the three moments he is most ashamed of — the time he didn’t kill the Black Hood, the time he didn’t kill Hiram Lodge, and the time he didn’t kill the “stupid” part of himself — and we realize he seriously regrets not murdering more people. While the whole thing is a little macabre, it’s meant to be a hero’s journey that leads Archie to the self-acceptance and self-forgiveness he so obviously needs to return home. Everyone else may already understand Archie is a young teen boy who should have never confronted a hooded murderer or assassinated his girlfriend’s mob boss dad, but Archie has yet to absolve himself for such normal behavior. These dream trials are the only way to change that.
And, it seems Archie does just that by bashing his dream self with a baseball bat. The only problem is that in the real world, rangers find Archie dead in his cabin. He has seemingly succumbed to his massive animal attack wounds. But Riverdale needs its Red Paladin.
So come back next week to find out how Archie Andrews is resurrected (and eventually winds up back in Riverdale High, bright-eyed and bushy tailed).