Warning: Spoilers for Riverdale season 3, episode 7, “The Man in Black,” ahead.
The Riverdale kids were going through it this week, and The Man in Black, a.k.a. Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), was largely to blame. Archie (KJ Apa) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) are on the run. Veronica (Camila Mendes) is on the verge of losing her business. Meanwhile, Betty (Lili Reinhart) is on the verge of losing her mind at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy home. Let’s check in.
Archie & Jughead
Jughead and Archie clearly have different ideas about what it means to be on the run. The boys are trying to get far away from Riverdale until they come across a farm and Archie wants to stop for the night. The place is noticeably creepy, as Jughead points out, but Archiekins insists on stopping. They’ve been traveling for a few days and Jughead still hasn’t been able to reach Betty, but he knows she can handle herself and Archie needs his help more. As they step onto the property, they’re stopped by Laurie Lake (Riley Keough) and her little sister, who are armed with a shotgun. Archie and Jughead attempt to lie about who they are but Laurie doesn’t buy it. They still don’t reveal their names, but they admit that they’re on the run and got robbed on a train. Laurie offers them food and shelter in exchange for help around the farm. All the men in the town are off working somewhere.
As the boys settle in for the night, Jughead expresses his concern over the situation again, but Archie reassures him that they’ll be fine. The next day, Archie does the farm work while Jughead heads into to town to take pictures. The town is mostly abandoned, with weird symbols written everywhere. Major Children of the Corn vibes. Jughead comes across an elderly woman who informs him that Jingle Jangle and Fizzle Rocks have ravaged the town. The symbols started appearing when Fizzle Rocks became popular.
Back at the farm, Laurie offers to let Archie and Jughead stay for a few more days. Our overly trusting ginger lets her know that he feels right at home on the farm, but Jughead wants to move on. Laurie and Archie kiss, although he quickly puts an end to it (because he’s not over Veronica)—but it prompts him to come clean about who he and Jughead really are.
Continuing to explore, Jughead comes across a group of young girls playing G&G. After he reveals that he’s also an active G&G player, Jughead starts asking questions about the town. He quickly learns that the Man in Black owns the town and that all the men are off building a prison for him. The prison also makes Fizzle Rocks. Jughead realizes the danger they’re in and heads back to the farm to find Archie, whose naiveté finally gets the better of him; he’s chowing down on farm-fresh eggs when Laurie knocks him out with a frying pan. A black car carrying Hiram Lodge pulls up to the farm right as Jughead gets there. Jug frees Archie, who is tied up in the barn, and they argue over whether they should run or stay and fight Hiram. They finally decide to make a run for it after Jughead explains to Archie that Veronica will never forgive him for killing her father. Their new plan is to get help from Jughead’s mother.
V barely has time to mourn the end of her relationship with Archie because she’s dealing with a war at home and at work. After reading in the paper that Sheriff Minetta is missing, she decides it’s time to get out of her house and away from her scheming parents, who may or may not be bumping people off. Hermione (Marisol Nichols) walks in on Veronica packing her things and pleads with her to stay. But, having finally had enough of her family drama, Veronica starts living at her speakeasy. She might not have that shelter for much longer—business is slow—but she hopes that teaming up with the rival mob boss’s son Elio (Julian Haig) for a casino night should get them back on the right track.
News of this new partnership reaches Hiram, who confronts his daughter about getting involved with Elio’s family and insists that she should start trusting her own family. After all of the Archie drama and the recent Sheriff Minetta news, Veronica makes it clear to her father that she wants nothing to do with him.
The casino night gets underway and Hiram is proven right when Elio starts taking the house for everything at the blackjack tables. Veronica confronts him and challenges him to a single hand. If she wins, he has to leave; if he wins, she gives him the deed to Pop’s. It looks like Veronica is about to lose everything, but she pulls through by hitting on 19 and getting 21. She later reveals to Reggie (Charles Melton) that her father warned her about Elio’s plan and he helped her fix the game to come out on top.
After the casino night, Pop (Alvin Sanders) confronts Veronica about getting the diner/speakeasy mixed up in organized crime. As she starts to defend her father for coming to her rescue, Pop breaks the news to her that Sheriff Minetta’s body was found decapitated. It’s clear once again that Hiram is dangerous and not to be trusted.
The other characters might have it rough, but at least they have their freedom. Betty is locked away and trying to convince the Sisters of Quiet Mercy that she’s normal by faking her answers on a Rorschach test. She’s trying to stay sane by refusing to take the Fizzle Rocks that the sisters are giving the patients. When the timing is right, she’ll make her escape—but not before getting a good look at what’s written in her medical file.
Putting a wrench in that plan is Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser), who moves into Betty’s room to give her the lay of the land. Poor Ethel is still delusional about the Gargoyle King, which means she fits in well at the home, where everyone (the sisters included) is loyal to him. She makes it clear that she’s the queen bee in the hospital and tells Betty she needs to start respecting the pecking order.
Betty asks Ethel to introduce her to the Gargoyle King, but she’s told she isn’t worthy. Sister Woodhouse brings patients to the Gargoyle King’s chamber when they misbehave, though. Later while wandering the grounds, Betty unearths more clues: She sees a Blossom maple syrup truck pull up to the facility, even though the cafeteria doesn’t serve syrup. Hiram Lodge also pulls up in his black car. Yes, this guy…again.
Recognizing her need to escape sooner than later, Betty pushes forward on her mission to get the info she needs and get out. While exploring, she stumbles upon the Gargoyle King’s chamber. Betty is about to sneak in when Ethel catches her and forces her to go back to her room. She claims she was just trying to find the infirmary, but Ethel makes it clear that only patients requiring medical attention go there. Time for a new plan.
During recreation time, Betty picks a fight with Ethel over G&G and fakes a seizure to get admitted into the infirmary. She sneaks out of bed and breaks into a drawer to find her medical file. The file reveals that Betty and the other patients are being used as lab rats for Fizzle Rocks under Hiram’s authority. She tries to escape through the hospital basement but the passageway used in previous escapes is now bricked up and Betty is caught by Ethel and Sister Woodhouse. The sister forces her to take the Fizzle Rocks, and then they finally take her to meet the Gargoyle King. It’s unclear what happens to Betty during this meeting, but the episode ends with Betty taking the same Rorschach test, this time giving all of the real answers she tried to hide the first time around. She’s now fully under the influence of the Gargoyle King.