Riverdale Season 3, Episode 4 Recap: Griffins & Gargoyles & Grunge

Culture

Warning: Spoilers for Riverdale season 3, episode 4, “The Midnight Club,” ahead.

Riverdale took us back in time with “The Midnight Club,” a nostalgia-packed episode set in the ’90s, but with an ’80s soundtrack and featuring plenty of teen movie references from that era (think Heathers and the Nightmare on Elm Street series). The whole episode was modeled after The Breakfast Club and even included one of the film’s stars (Anthony Michael Hall) playing Principal Featherhead. Strangely enough, fellow Breakfast Club alum Molly Ringwald was nowhere to be found, even though she plays Archie’s mom. Seems like a wasted opportunity, but c’est la vie.

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KATIE YU

At Riverdale High, the school administration is working hard to keep the students from playing Griffins & Gargoyles after the rule books appeared in everyone’s lockers thanks to Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser). The town officially bans the game after an order from Mayor Lodge (Marisol Nichols), stemming from the deaths of Ben Button and Dilton Doiley. Over in the school paper office, Betty learns from her coroner contact that the circumstances surrounding Dilton’s death are eerily similar to another mysterious death that happened at Riverdale High in the ’90s. She goes home to grill her mother about her experience playing G&G and our journey to the past begins.

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DEAN BUSCHER

All of the Riverdale kids play the high-school versions of their parents in this episode. Alice (Lili Reinhart), Hermione (Camila Mendes), FP Jones Jr. (Cole Sprouse), Fred Andrews (KJ Apa), Penelope Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), and Sierra Samuels (Ashleigh Murray) all find themselves in weekend detention. Alice is pregnant with FP’s baby, but he doesn’t know and is just trying to hook up with as many girls at Riverdale High as he can. Fred is doing the whole artist/athlete thing while caring for his sick father. Penelope struggles to adapt to life in the Blossom household after being adopted and groomed to be her adoptive brother’s future lover. Sierra is carrying on a secret relationship with Tom Keller (Casey Cott) that neither of their parents approve of because it’s interracial.

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None of them normally run in the same social circles, but they try to put their differences aside and break the ice with a game of Secrets & Sins. They all start to reveal personal things about themselves, but the game ends up causing an argument between Hermione and Penelope. The fight gets the whole group four additional weekend detention sessions. Being stuck in detention for that much time brings everyone together and a new clique starts to form. Hermione decides to break into their teacher’s desk looking for her confiscated Gamelad (Riverdale’s version of the Gameboy), but discovers a copy of Griffins & Gargoyles instead. Looking for any way to pass the time, they decide to play.

Penelope leads the group as game master and everyone else chooses their roles: Alice is sorceress, Hermione is the thief, Sierra chooses the role of siren, FP chooses to be a deadly deadeye, and the group decides that the knight is the most fitting role for Fred. Everyone gets really into the game, and they start making plans to play even after their detention sessions are over. They start calling themselves “The Midnight Club,” because they break into the school at night just to play. It becomes clear that they’re addicted to playing when they stop using the game board and start LARPing (live-action role playing) around the school.

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Riverdale

The CWDEAN BUSCHER

It looks like this experience planted the seeds for the present-day relationships between the adults. Alice and Fred had a brief makeout session before she ended up dating FP (whom she’s currently seeing in present day), Hermione and Fred started hooking up while she was also casually seeing Hiram (that romance was revisited in season 1), and, as mentioned, Sierra and Tom tried to date on the DL (and started seeing each other again in season 2).

Back in the game, the members of the Midnight Club are running through the halls of Riverdale High in character when they run into Tom Keller and other students also in the middle of playing Griffins & Gargoyles. The groups agree to join forces and play together. All the players arrive at school one day finding invitations to an ascension party in their lockers. Assuming it was sent by a fellow player, they all accept the invitations and meet in the detention room for the party; chalices and other goodies are set up. FP gives everyone fizzle rocks to trip out on for the party but Alice (still with child) decides not to indulge. Everybody is getting a little wild, which starts to bother Alice. After using the bathroom, Alice finds two chalices on the bathroom sink, with graffiti on the walls commanding her to drink from one.

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Ignoring the messages, she leaves the bathroom and sees Principal Featherhead coming into the school. Alice runs in the opposite direction and turns a corner, only to find the Gargoyle King roaming the halls. Naturally, she flees the school in terror. The next day at school, she learns that Archie’s father passed away during the ascension party and that Principal Featherhead is missing.

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KATIE YU

It’s obvious to everyone that they’ve taken the game too far. Featherhead’s body is discovered in a janitor’s closet at school and the Midnight Club realizes he must have drunk from one of the chalices. The coroner rules the principal’s death an accidental suicide and the Midnight Club decide it’s best that they disband. Everyone agrees to destroy the game, scatter any evidence, and take the G&G secret to their graves. Without the Midnight Club, everyone ends up back in their normal lives. Fred quits music and sports to work at the rock quarry, Hermione goes all in with Hiram, Alice hides her rebellious side and starts dating Hal Cooper, Penelope gives into her family and starts dating her adoptive brother Clifford, and Sierra and Tom agree to go their separate ways.

In the present day, Betty goes to Riverdale High looking for proof that her mother was telling the truth. After finding the original chalices used in the game hidden in the school’s trophy case, she sets off to find Jughead in Dilton’s bunker. Unfortunately for Betty, Jughead is there but fully immersed in a game of G&G with Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) and some other Serpents. He gleefully informs Betty that he’s reached level three and is on his way to ascending to meet the Gargoyle King. Betty is horrified…and the episode comes to an end.

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