Welcome to The Riverdale Review, a continuing series on the ever-popular television drama, Riverdale. We’re slowly approaching the end of this season, and this week we were treated with the nineteenth episode, Fear The Reaper.
Fear The Reaper Episode Recap
The consequences of capturing Jellybean unfold this episode. The viewers wait with bared teeth as the Jones family threaten and interrogate Kurtz for her location. Unfortunately, he’s endlessly devoted to the Gargoyle King – and insists that the only way for them to win JB back is to play a game of Griffins and Gargoyles. As his parents explode, Jughead begins to realize that it’s their only option. He tells Gladys and F.P. that he’s sure if they play, they can have JB back. Let the games begin.
The group follow Kurtz’s quest with heavy hearts and face four challenges along the way.
The first is fairly tame; playing at home, the three are clearly itching to leave and start searching. Kurtz takes advantage of their desperation. Their first challenge is to pick one of three small pouches, each containing either a black or white marble. Pick the black marble, and spill your secret to the group. Of course, the one with the biggest secret to hide picks first – and reveals her black marble. Though Gladys tries to back out of it, Jughead threatens that if she doesn’t say it, he will. With a sigh, Gladys turns to a confused F.P. and admits her sin; she is the new fizzle rocks dealer in Riverdale. F.P. explodes, furious at Gladys for the lie, and for putting their family at risk. He declares that once they have found Jellybean, there will be a reckoning.
The second challenge tests the family’s will. They must steal some treasure from their local tavern. Or, to translate out of G&G, they have to rob Pop’s. Kurtz tells them they should consider the money they steal to be Jellybean’s ransom, and that he’ll use it to get out of town when the game is over. With no other good options before them, the Joneses prepare. They storm Pop’s on fire, quick to get the money and get out – but Pop has been robbed before.
Ready with a gun, he fires on the group and hits F.P. in the back. Jughead rushes to his rescue as Gladys tries to pull him away and Pop cocks his gun. Hearing the sound, Jughead pulls his mask off and begs for him not to shoot. This is enough to make Pop hesitate, but also for Gladys to pull Jughead from the building, as F.P. screams after them to save JB.
Now down a man and on the run, they need a new place to finish their game.
Jughead knocks out Kurtz, and the three of them escape to the bunker. As Jug ponders how they can stay in Riverdale after what they’ve done, Gladys wakes Kurtz with a bucket of water. They demand their next challenge and get it. A battle with the Cyclops.
Jughead is confused, but Gladys’ face lights up with realization. She takes them to the serpent den, previously the gargoyle lair, where Penny Peabody is waiting for them. Kurtz offers both women scythes, and their battle commences. Jughead is on the edge of his seat as the two swipe at each other. When his mother wins, he jumps up to stop her from killing Penny. Barely convinced, Gladys hesitates but comes away with Jughead in the end. They drop her off at the emergency room for the wounds she inflicted, and Jughead faces the final challenge alone.
Blindfolded and driven by Kurtz…
Jughead’s final challenge seems to be two large ice chests, one with a painted gargoyle, and the other with a painted griffin. Kurtz claims that one of them holds Jellybean and that Jughead need only pick a box. He’s too scared to hesitate for too long and runs for the griffin’s box. Empty. He charges at the other- but it’s also empty.
In his confusion, he doesn’t notice Kurtz approach behind with the gun until it’s too late. Kurtz demands that Jughead get in the chest. He calls Ricky to prove JB is alive, and as Jughead gets inside – tells Ricky to kill her. Jughead’s adrenaline kicks in and he breaks through the door Kurtz sealed on him. Outside, he finds Kurtz’s body, and the Gargoyle King looming, but nothing matters more than JB. He runs back to her house to find her – alive and well.
Things turn out okay for the Jones family in the end. Their attorney clears things up with the law, telling a judge they were under duress. Gladys’ hospital visit is a short one, but she comes to a conclusion there; she must leave town. Taking JB with her feels like a given, but Jughead protests. He says she should stay with him, and their father, and try to have a normal life in Riverdale. So, Gladys leaves town as the lone wanderer, with only a promise to return when things are calmer.
Ever in trouble with the law…
We join Archie on the other side of town with Josie and Veronica, facing the repercussions of his fight last episode. His opponent, Randy, was rushed to the hospital but didn’t survive his injuries. A group of his sisters weep for him, and Archie is quick to tell the doctor that Randy was on drugs. The businessman who set up the fight, Elio, rushes to protect his name and go on the offensive, claiming that Archie killed Randy in the ring and that any drugs he had were given to him by Archie.
His legal defense is headed by Veronica, but that isn’t Archie’s only concern. They learn that Elio isn’t providing Randy’s sisters with the insurance money that they are owed. At first, Archie had denied the winnings from his fight, which came alongside an offer to join Elio’s gym, but now he had a better idea. The dead of night provides the perfect cover to intimidate Elio. Archie approaches, hoping that threats will be all he needs. Though a little force is added in, there’s no bloodshed to get the money that is owed to him as winnings. In the meantime, Veronica and Josie rework one of her performances at La Bonne Nuit into a charitable event. Josie asks Veronica to leave her father a ticket, hoping against hope that he will come to see her, so she can prove that she is good enough to join him on tour.
Josie’s performance is a hit, of course, and adds a substantial contribution to Archie’s winnings. After the performance, Archie visits Randy’s eldest sister. The money and an apology don’t seem like enough to Archie, but she’s thankful for what he could do. Archie’s story concludes in two ways. First, Josie reveals that her father did see her show, and invite her on tour with him. She admits that the two were never “endgame” and that she’s grateful for the time they spent together. The two mutually split, happy to remain friends.
The second conclusion is found in a meeting between Elio and Hiram.
We learn that Hiram was backing Elio’s gym and that Elio is concerned about what Archie could do to it. Hiram declares that he will take care of it – and when reminded of his truce with Archie, says that there are two Archie Andrews’. One, who saved his life at the hospital, and another, who pointed a gun at his head. The Riverdale Reaper.
Betty can’t seem to catch a break this season either. We start by solving last week’s mystery – that her father wanted to come home. In a meeting between Betty, Veronica, and Hiram, Betty asks that her father be transferred out of his current prison an hour away, and into Hiram’s new one in Riverdale. He agrees, and Betty sails on this small victory. More sleuthing and her inside contact in the Farm lead her to a couple of discoveries. Namely that her mother and Edgar are getting married, that they plan to adopt Polly’s twins after the fact, and that Evelyn is not who she says she is. Calls to other schools Evelyn has attended show that she has been enrolled in junior year multiple times around the country. Betty gives this information to a social worker and asks her to do what research she can.
While she’s waiting to hear back, Betty visits her father to tell him the good news and vent a little.
As she relays her disgust that Juniper and Dagwood are to be adopted by Edgar, Hal offers a solution. Ask Penelope to help her! She is uniquely placed to do so, as the twins’ grandmother and because of the way she was raised into the Blossom family, as Clifford’s child bride. Penelope agrees but doesn’t succeed to Betty’s hopes. She negotiates the release of Dagwood – who Penelope calls Jason Jr. – but only at the cost of Edgar keeping Juniper.
As Betty returns home to mull over her options, she has a surprise visitor. Her social worker is behind the door with a grim face. She admits that Evelyn is actually 26, and not 17. Betty is unsurprised and relieved to have her suspicions confirmed, but her social worker isn’t done. She hands Betty a marriage license and reveals the real surprise. Evelyn is Edgar’s wife, not his daughter. In her panic, Betty calls Toni and begs for her to get her inside the Farm.
The two stage a rescue mission for Juniper
On their way out, they are sidetracked by a janitor approaching and dart into a furnace room. Waiting for them there are Edgar, Alice, Polly, and all of Betty’s other friends and family taken by the farm. Polly takes Juniper from Betty’s arms in the shock as she looks around at everyone clad in white.
She turns to Toni, only to realize that she’s been convinced too. She pleads with her mother, tells her that she can’t marry Edgar because he’s married to Evelyn, but she knows that already. Betty becomes increasingly flustered, demanding to know what this is about. Evelyn answers in a single word. You. It’s all about Betty.
As the group begins to quietly murmur “join us” to her, Edgar steps forward. He insists that she is where she should be. He tells her to look around at her friends and family in this room. This is where she belongs. Every breath and ruffle of cloth against skin is heard as the murmurs grow to a loud chant. Edgar’s words are intoxicating, and Betty (and the camera) seem to sway back and forth with their echo. Just as you wonder if she might accept, Betty remembers the sight of Alice and Polly holding Juniper and Dagwood over a bonfire, early in the season, and dropping them into the flames.
She catches her breath, almost as if to say something – and then darts out of the room. Edgar only sighs, disappointed. He orders the other members to catch her, and people in white robes follow Betty through the snow and bang on her car windows. She leaves them in her dust and rushes home, watched by the whole group.
At home, she’ll only find more bad luck. When she walks in the door, Veronica confronts her, asking where she’s been all night and saying that she’s been calling. Confused, Betty asks what’s wrong – and Veronica is forced to be the bearer of bad news. She reveals that the truck transporting Betty’s father, along with other inmates, was in an accident. Hal didn’t escape – but there were no survivors.
Thoughts on Fear The Reaper
So, what ending do you think we’re gearing up for? With only a few more episodes to go, loose ends are being closed off. Hal is dead, and Gladys has left town. Still, though, we have a lot of questions. Is the Gargoyle King really a person? Or is he just an idea, personified by a bunch of crazy G&G players in cosplay? What are Hiram’s plans for Archie? Will Betty join the Farm? She seems to be the only person in town resistant to their charms. Will Betty be able to free her mother and Polly and Juniper from the Farm? What will Penelope do with Dagwood – raise him herself? Would Betty allow that, knowing what she does about Cheryl’s life? What will Jughead’s next move be, now that Gladys has skipped town? Maybe he will help Betty.
See, I could go on, but it wouldn’t really give me any answers. It’s incredibly frustrating how the show seems to give us more information every episode, but only to answer questions we never had.
A prime example is Evelyn’s age and relationship with Edgar.
Interesting? Of course! Did I wonder if something was up with her? Duh, she’s part of a cult taking over Riverdale one person at a time. But was I asking any questions about her before this week? No. Do I wish they had given me more information about other things instead? Absolutely.
Strangely enough, of all the high school characters on Riverdale, I always thought Evelyn was more convincing than others as 14 – 18 years old. Of course, all of the actors are over 20; our four main characters range from 21 to 26 years old. Evelyn’s actress, Zoe De Grand’Maison, is 23 years old. As far as looking young, though, it varies. I suppose it’s just amusing to me that the show casting 20-somethings as 16- and 17-year old’s had the guts to tell us that the girl who looks the same age as everyone else is actually a decade older.
In this light, we can also look at Josie and Archie, who dealt with their breakup with more understanding and care than I have known any teenager to put into a relationship. At least we have an answer to that particular question, I suppose. Another loose end all tied up. Perhaps they’re gearing up for a season-end reunion for Archie and Veronica? I suppose we’ll have to see some more of Reggie before the end, then.
Speaking of people we need to see before the end, Luke Perry’s appearances have been few and far between this season.
It’s understandable, given his recent passing, but one must assume that they’re writing him off by the end. It’ll be harder to do that if he hasn’t been involved in any of our plotlines until now. Maybe he’ll be killed as a bystander? Or will get amnesia and move away? Honestly, anything is on the table… Makes me sad just to think about.
Finally, a fun fact for this week! The Riverdale Reaper, Elio’s nickname for Archie this episode, was actually a character we knew about! With all the chaos, it’s easy to forget this side character. He was a serial killer from about forty years before the series started. So when you hear someone say the Riverdale Reaper, remember that it’s a sore spot for many of the townspeople to this day.