Riverdale Is A “Changed Town” After Midseason Finale

Hiram Lodge wins once again!

Riverdale High is officially closed down and Riverdale itself is under quarantine after Wednesday’s slightly insane midseason finale, which saw even more teens (including Veronica) suffering mysterious seizures. Somehow, literally everything connected back to Hiram and whatever his plans are for Riverdale, and it became clear he not only controlled the mayor but also the governor, and he’s great pals with the Gargoyle King. 

Meanwhile, Archie and Jughead made it to a salvage yard in Toledo, run by Jughead’s mom Gladys (Gina Gershon) and his little sister Jelly Bean (Trinity Lakins), only to find that dang Penny Peabody was also around, threatening Archie. Gladys immediately jumped into action and managed to pull some info out of her. Hiram’s put a price on not only Archie’s head, but also anyone who’s helping him. 

Knowing that, Gladys called FP and had him pick up Jughead, but she also called Fred, who came to say goodbye to his son, give him his dog, and help him get to the Canadian border. So now it’s just Archie and Vegas, going all Into the Wild

Finally, Betty got out of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, and she did it her own damn self. She even teamed up with Ethel after locking her up long enough for the fizzle rocks to wear off, and they locked up the head sister and manipulated Gryphons and Gargoyles to convince all the kids at the asylum to also make a break for it. Unfortunately they all got out just in time for the sirens to go off, signaling Hiram’s full takeover of the town. 

To get the scoop on some of the biggest moments of the night and what to expect when the show returns in a few weeks, we got on the phone with showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. We learned quite a bit…

What the Heck is Hiram Up To? 

Hiram’s plan is much, much “grander” than last year’s measly scheme to take over the South Side. 

“He seems to want to be, on some level, the mob boss or the crime boss of Riverdale, but it seems in episode eight that it’s even bigger than that. He’s calling some pretty big shots and making some pretty big moves, so that does kind of carry us through the season, and we sort of start to piece together the specificity of Hiram’s plan starting back with the next episode. Why would Hiram Lodge have wanted there to be a quarantine is sort of one of the big, most pressing questions. I can tell you though, he has very specific reasons why, which our intrepid teens are going to uncover.” 

What Does the Executive Order Mean?

Veronica and co. were too late to stop Hermione from sending out the order to shut down Riverdale High and put the town under quarantine, so the sirens were sounding at the end of the episode, and we saw that Jughead and FP were being stopped at the town border (with guns!). 

“Riverdale is very much a changed town. I think it’s almost like a police state. There’s always been dark elements but Riverdale has always been the town with pep—it’s feeling less peppy when we come back, let me say this. And it does feel like the forces of darkness have sort of closed like a steel trap over Riverdale, and our characters are finding ways to rebel or to push up against that stuff.” 

Betty’s Escape

Aguirre-Sacasa says there was a version of the story where Veronica saved Betty and a version where Jughead saved her, but ultimately, Betty doesn’t need someone else to save her. 

“Betty’s the one that saves people. She doesn’t need saving,” Aguirre-Sacasa says the writers’ room concluded. “And we were talking about how, up until now, Betty’s never played the game or been a part of the game. We thought there’s something interesting about Betty having to play the game in order to escape and survive. That felt really satisfying and really cool.” 

Betty also uncovered the game’s origin story: It was invented within the Sisters of Quiet Mercy as a way for the patients to cope, meaning it was born out of madness. That’s one reason the game has been played, but Aguirre-Sacasa says that “doesn’t mean it’s the only way we’re going to see the game played.” 

Whether Hiram’s playing it out of madness remains to be seen, but our instinct is to say he totally is. 

Archie’s On the Road

Archie is on a “mythic journey,” like every classic hero has at some point been on. 

“He’s still got to figure out who he is and what kind of man he is outside of Riverdale. And he’s still huanted by a lot of his mistakes, and he’s still, in his mind, atoning for them. He’s still in the fires. The difference between where he’s at now and where he’s been is even when he’s in juvie, he was surrounded by inmates and people. But when we pick him up in the second half, it’s just him and his dog, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t interact with anyone, but that’s really where Archie’s at. Everything has been stripped from him, and we’ve got Archie has his most elemental.” 

What To Do About Hiram? 

The guy seems kind of unstoppable, and it sounds like he won’t be stopped until towards the end of the season. 

“It’s gonna take a lot, right? It feels like Hiram’s only gotten more and more powerful, and the kids have been facing their own challenges and villains and stuff like that, but one does imagine that it’s going to take every faction coming together to take this guy, as he consolidates more and more power.” 

There’s still a while before we can expect to see anything accomplished, but “right now, I think you see the resistance starting when we get back from the [hiatus],” Aguirre-Sacasa says. “It’s not dissimilar to Star Wars, you know. The Empire wins, and there’s a resistance of people meeting to try to figure out a way to bring down the Empire. We’re definitely building to a huge event, but I’m not quite ready to start talking about that yet.” 

Who Is the Gargoyle King?

While the patients at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy were just hallucinating thanks to Fizzle Rocks, the mystery of the real Gargoyle King is still afoot. 

“There’s definitely more Gargoyle King coming, for sure. We’re going to find out for sure if the Gargoyle King is a real, living, breathing person, or just a hallucination. I can tell you that there is a real living breathing Gargoyle King, though.”

Just don’t ask any members of the cast who it is, because none of them know! 

Gladys and Jelly Bean Make Their Debuts

We’ve finally met the rest of Jughead’s immediate family, and they’re two badass ladies running only a slightly sketchy salvage yard. Gladys is kinda the best, taking on Penny Peabody like it was nothing, and really hoping her son had found his soulmate in Archie. 

“So, you two finally got together, huh?” was one of the first things she said to them, and Archie was all “it’s more of a bromance.” 

Gershon loved that particular line, and totally gets what Gladys was hoping for.

“Whenever I see them in a scene, I’m like, oh, it’s every mother’s dream. My son is gay with his friend who I adore, and now I have two boys,” she says.

Mama Jones proved herself to be a mom not to be messed with, especially when Penny Peabody showed up looking to cash in on Hiram’s bounty on Archie and Jughead. 

“I think Penny is an old relationship, and she never liked her. I think a lot of the girls were jealous of Gladys’ relationship with FP when they were in high school, and Penny was definitely never a friend. So you know, I think like any mother, if I find out she was messing with and actually hurt my son, I want to kill her, or at least put her in her place. I think she’s very protective of the people she loves, especially her family.” 

Cheryl and Toni Move In Together

We have no quotes on this, it’s just a thing that happened. Does it make sense for two teenagers to move in together, especially when both of their home situations are kinda messed up ? It doesn’t really, but they’re in love and it’s very cute and we will take it. 

We’re Here for Veggie

We just…Veronica and Reggie look real good together. And if Archie’s off in the woods of Canada, we say go for it, V. Sounds like everybody’s gonna need all the comfort they can get in these trying Riverdale times. 

Riverdale will return in January on the CW. 

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