The Riverdale parents… We love ’em, we hate ’em, we love to hate ’em. This week, “Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Midnight Club” gives us an insight into their teen lives and their involvement with the Gryphons and Gargoyles.
After Gryphons and Gargoyles (G&G) manuals popped up at every Riverdale High locker, adults are taking extra
futile steps to prevent the kids from playing. At home, Betty finally confronts Alice about the game with some evidence – the coroner she and Jughead bribed found a file about a similar case (mysterious death, blue lips) around the time Alice was in high school. Alice finally complies and agrees to finally come clean.
Welcome to the flashback! Prepare for lots and lots of 80’s hits!
Gradually we meet our main players, before they became the adults we know now: the rebellious Alice, who just found out she’s pregnant; FP, the star football player, lying about his family’s Southside origins; Hermione, a pristine daughter of an immigrant mother, looking for a way out; Penelope, a mousy overachiever; Sierra, a political activist; and Fred, a musician athlete, with a heart of gold (so no changes here).
After one day all of them, for various reasons, get in Saturday detention, the teens decide to take this time and actually get to know each other, to share their dreams, fears, and struggles. We found out that Sierra McCoy/Tom Keller romance isn’t a new development at all. The couple was madly in love in high school, and they had to hide their relationship from their bigoted parents. Hermione is already dating Hiram Lodge, who she hopes is gonna be her ticket out of Riverdale. Fred Andrews, on contrary, plans to stay here forever, because he loves this town, but also needs to take care of his sick dad. One of the bigger revelations comes from Penelope, who as it turns out, was adopted by the Blossoms from the infamous Sisters of Quiet Mercy orphanage to be groomed to become their son’s wife. Yikes.
A fight breaks out amidst confession time, and the kids get additional three Saturday detentions. Forced to spend more time together, they actually start to get close and become sort of friends. One Saturday, while trying to get her, um, Gamelad out of the teacher’s drawer, Hermione finds a mysterious board game, Gryphons and Gargoyles. Having nothing better to do, the parents gang decide to play it.
They get sucked in pretty fast and agree to continue playing even after completing the detention. They form the Midnight Club, getting together late at night at school, dressing up in silly costumes to fit their chosen characters. Somewhere in the process, Alica and FP start sorta dating, as well as Fred and Hermione. One night the gang bumps into another team of players, that includes Hiram and Tom, and decide to join forces and play all together.
One day, all players get letters from the alleged Gargoyle King in their lockers, inviting them to the Ascension party. Everyone thinks one of the Game Masters set it up, which we later find out isn’t true. To the party, Hiram brings Fizzle Rocks, the 80’s version of Jingle Jangle, and everyone, except secretly pregnant Alice, take them. The drugs-infused shenanigans ensue, and Alice breaks from the others in the process. On her way back to the classroom, she starts seeing very weird things: from creepy writings and Fresh Aid filled chalices in the bathroom to the Gargoyle King himself in the halls. While running away from the creature, she almost runs into principal Featherhead who, she assumes, learned of their trespassing. She manages to get unnoticed and runs home.
The next day, Alice tries to find out what happened to the rest of the Midnight Club, and Hermione tells her Fred’s dad passed away while they were at the Ascension party. In another news, principal Featherhead is missing.
After the funeral, Alice confesses to the rest she saw Featherhead that night. Penelope insists they keep it a secret because being high and trespassing on the night the principal went missing isn’t the best look for them. A week later, the principal is found dead, with blue lips, at the school’s broom closet.
Alice confronts the Midnight Club and demands to know what happened after she left. But the rest turn on her instead, stating she’s the only one who actually saw Featherhead that night, and conveniently left early. Also, everyone denies wearing the Gargoyle King costume, the one Alice saw in the hall. After plenty of arguing, the gang decides to burn the game manual and scatter the rest of the game elements across the town, so it can’t be traced to them.
With the game destroyed, the Midnight Club is officially over. Everyone goes their separate way: Fred gives up on his musical dreams and starts working at his dad’s construction company; Sierra and Tom break up in hopes to reconnect when the timing is better; FP caves to his abusive father and finally joins the Serpents; Penelope clings closer to Blossoms for stability and protection; Hermione returns to Hiram; and Alice herself tones down the bad girl act and catches herself a fella named Hal Cooper…
After her mom finishes the story, Betty still has plenty of questions. Mainly, who poisoned the chalices that got Featherhead killed? Alice doesn’t know the answer but is pretty sure it’s someone from the Midnight Club. When Betty wants to dig deeper, Alice begs her not to get involved. She explains how intoxicating and therefore dangerous G&G is. Betty promises not to play but she won’t stop the investigation.
The next day, Betty arrives at the bunker to tell Jughead about the Midnight Club but instead, she finds him, Cheryl, Toni, Sweet Pea, and Fangs playing the game. Clearly not well, he insists it’s all making sense now and soon he’ll ascend and meet the Gargoyle King.
What an episode! I had high hopes for this one and for the most part, it did not disappoint! Sure, it didn’t really move the plot, and didn’t answer that many questions, but boy oh boy was it fun! This episode is the exact type of quirkiness I need from Riverdale! It may be silly, but unlike the rest of the episodes, this one was silly intentionally, and therefore I don’t get as mad.
First and foremost, I just gotta mention young Alice! Ugh, the stylist’s mind! The styling overall was very cute. The only one I didn’t love was Penelope – this supposedly mousy, goody-two-shoes character didn’t exactly much well with Madelaine Petsch’s stiletto nails and Kylie Jenner lips (yes, I know Madelaine’s are real).
The soundtrack choices for the episode were a little too on the nose, but every single one of those songs is a bop so I’m not complaining. If it ain’t broke and all that.
I enjoyed exploring the parents’ dynamics we didn’t really see before; FP unsuccessfully hitting on Hermione was hilarious. I honestly didn’t expect McKeller feels to hit me this hard, but they sure did. I don’t know why, but for some reason knowing the fact they had such a genuine love in high school and had to wait all these years to get back together was very touching.
On the other hand, I was very disappointed we didn’t see Mary. Where was she?! As much as I enjoyed getting few of my questions answered about the freak show that is the Blossom family, I felt like Mary would’ve been a much better fit for this plot than Penelope. And Madelaine could’ve played the other redhead mom just as well. Maybe even better.
I also felt like the parents falling into their “adult” roles felt a little too contrived. I’m not really mad, cause I understand they had just one episode to put this all in, but still, some decisions felt kinda unearned. I don’t really get why FP decided to join the Serpents after all, and Fred’s decision on completely giving up music seemed a little overdramatic.
Also, just an observation, but it’s interesting how at the end the boys – FP and Fred – gave up their dreams of better life and ended up following in their fathers’ footsteps; while the women – Alice, Penelope, and Hermione – all ended up basically attaching themselves to a more powerful/successful men, to achieve that “better” life.
The last thing, I saw some people complaining about how unrealistic it is that all the parents went to school together and dated each other, and now their kids are at the same school, dating each other. Let me tell you, as a person not from a small town, but from a secluded, tight-knit neighborhood that very much much feels like a small town, this is not far fetched at all. You’d be surprised.
So what do you think? Is yet another Riverdale parent a murderer? Who is hiding under the Gargoyle King costume?
Next week, Jughead continues losing himself in the game, and the juvie plot is back! Yay…