If season 2 of Riverdale was all about discovering the identity of the Black Hood, season 3 is all about the Gargoyle King.
Since the beginning of the season, kids all over town have been playing Gryphons and Gargoyles, a role-playing game with decidedly deadly consequences. Its victims include Ben Button (Moses Theissen) and Dilton Doiley (Major Curda), who both hoped to “ascend” and meet the game’s shadowy villain, the Gargoyle King — who is also a real person in Riverdale.
During Rotten Tomatoes’ recent visit to the set, most cast members (including Cole Sprouse) were mum about their thoughts on the identity of the Gargoyle King. Only Casey Cott, Riverdale’s Kevin Keller, was kind enough to offer even a joking guess: Jughead’s (Sprouse) sister Jellybean (Trinity Linkins).
“I think it’s like an 8-year-old — insane — it’s like Pinky and The Brain,” he quipped. “Jughead’s Pinky and Jellybean’s the Brain.”
Cott added that the actual Gargoyle King costume gives the set a very different mood as “it’s freakin’ weird. It’s this massive, very strange-looking thing.”
Thanks to the season’s fourth episode, “The Midnight Club,” we know the Gargoyle King’s costume existed 30 years ago. And thanks to Betty’s detective work, we can also surmise whoever killed Principal Featherhead (Anthony Michael Hall) is involved in the current spate of ritualized murders and suicides — if not the same person.
Below, we’ve put together a current list of Gargoyle King suspects along with a preview some of the show’s upcoming storylines.
As one of the two principal gamemasters during the 1980s G&G craze, Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) still makes a compelling suspect —even if she weaved a convincing alibi for Betty and the reconvened Midnight Club, throwing Dilton Doiley’s father, Daryl, under the bus in the process. Her details all feature the ring of truth — down to Daryl’s morbid obsession with her — but she’s still a Blossom and therefore capable of just about anything. Considering her willingness to commit Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) last season and her involvement in the Lodge/Ghoulies cabal, orchestrating multiple murders across three decades does not seem like a stretch for her — and a slow-motion kill spree does not require a strong motive.
Of course, Penelope seemed as surprised by the Ascension Party prep as everyone else, which stands as the best evidence for her innocence — at least in Featherhead’s death — even as she seems a likely suspect for anything in Riverdale.
When we asked Boltt about the Gargoyle King’s identity, she offered a sly, “It’s not who you think.” She also added that Penelope has “really crazy, dark stuff coming up” in her story. “If you thought it was bad, it only gets worse … some sticky situations will arise,” she said.
Some of it may have to do with Claudius Blossom (Barclay Hope), who was conspicuously absent from “The Midnight Club’s” flashback to Penelope’s first encounter with Clifford at Pop’s. “I think it’s a bit of a curve ball,” she said. “It gives us something to play with in the upcoming episodes.”
Last year, Hiram (Mark Consuelos) was certainly a possible mastermind behind the Black Hood (since the panic was good for his ultimate ends). But this year, Hermione (Marisol Nichols) seems the more likely Lodge behind the cow’s head mask of the Gargoyle King. As mayor, solving the latest crisis will solidify her position in town — even if it is a crisis she manufactured herself. Nichols told RT she really hopes it is not Hermione.
“That means I die,” she said — not that Riverdale villains always end up on the pavement. Betty’s father, Hal (Lochlyn Munro), a.k.a. the real Black Hood, is still in prison waiting for his daughter to come to him for advice.
In the short term, Nichols said Hermione is “definitely reaching her breaking point with what she’s willing to do and not willing to do,” and “will redeem herself in terms of not being Hiram’s shadow so much.” But could that attempt at redemption include pinning a string of seemingly senseless murders on Hiram?
For as long as Hiram remains on the show, he’ll always be a default suspect in any Riverdale mystery. But during our conversation with Consuelos, the actor hinted that Hiram may have known about Gryphons and Gargoyles infiltrating the Leopold and Loeb Juvenile Detention Center.
“It’s a way of controlling,” he said. “Anything he does is a way of controlling the outcome for him.”
The Gargoyle Gang glimpsed in this week’s episode certainly echoes the Red Circle, which Hiram helped along in both of its manifestations. And if everything really is about control for him, than G&G offers a level of control heretofore unseen on Riverdale.
But that introduces another question: Was he the Gargoyle King the night of the Midnight Club’s Ascension Party, or did that Gargoyle King inspire him? If so, is Hiram really working for that King? And considering his association with Warden Norton (William MacDonald), is the whole point of the SoDale prison to help the Gargoyle King find more willing players?
Possibly the biggest long-shot guess, Weatherbee (Peter Bryant) is of the appropriate age to orchestrate all the murders and run a game for Warden Morton. He also has reason to kill Principal Featherhead, certain members of The Midnight Club, and the current crop of Riverdale teens. He could even be the original author of G&G. Of course, that depends on where he was 30 years ago. We’re assuming he was a young teacher and possibly interested in eliminating Featherhead in his own grasp for (admittedly mediocre) power. If that is the case, the current G&G craze could be his response to the last two years of murder and upheaval in his backyard. If anyone is going to kill his students, it will be him.
Or maybe he was hoping all the Southside Serpents at Riverdale High would fall easily to its spell.
While Cott was joking about Jellybean, her mother Gladys (Gina Gershon) could actually be a suspect. She is part of the Midnight Club’s age group and was presumably around when F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) and Alice were an item. Perhaps Alice was her original target the night of the Ascension Party. Of course, one big reason to discount her is her presumed location: Toledo.
Nevertheless, the character’s debut in the series will offer a fresh danger to the Riverdale gang.
“I think she is just like [F.P.] was in the first season,” Ulrich said of the character. “Just such a wild card; you just don’t know what’s coming.”
If Gladys is revealed as the Gargoyle King, it would keep Riverdale’s murderers row confined to parents of the core characters while offering a new twist, as Jughead often saw moving in with her as a respite from his troubles in town. His last attempt to leave for Toledo left him in tears when she told him it wasn’t a good time to join her. But in the December 12 episode, Jughead will finally make his way there for a visit.
“A lore that has sort of been hinted at since season 1 and loose ends do get addressed,” Sprouse said of Jughead’s time in Toledo.
As for Jug’s G&G campaign and attempts to ascend, Sprouse said, “I think FP chaining him to the fridge actually did some good.” While there will be no time for gaming while Jughead and Archie are on the road, Sprouse suggested Jughead’s flirtation with the game is at an end.
The mysterious leader of The Farm has his fingers in just about every pie despite being unseen thus far. He compelled Polly (Tiera Skovbye) early on and quickly swayed Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) to his cause over the summer. His daughter Evelyn (Zoé De Grand Maison) has been present whenever any of the characters experienced a seizure. And, perhaps most importantly, he knows about The Midnight Club’s Ascension Party the night Principal Featherhead was murdered; in fact, he knows about all of Alice’s indiscretions.
As to motive, it may just be another way to exercise his control over people. Assuming The Farm is a traditional, no-good cult, Evernever is drunk on the power his followers give him. It is the same sort of power G&G players seem to give the Gargoyle King. And if he was the same Gargoyle King Alice saw in school bathrooms, it may have been his first taste of the control he cultivated on The Farm.
While his connection to everything is pretty thin, the show has made an effort to introduce Dr. Curdle Jr. (Nikolai Witschl) and make sure you know his name. Perhaps they learned from last year’s Black Hood fake-out that it is important to set up a red herring suspect early and not introduce him two episodes before a big reveal. Should he turn out to be the Gargoyle King or even a fake-out, he’s not a Johnny-Come-Lately like Riverdale High janitor Joseph Svenson (Cameron McDonald) was.
But Curdle and his recently deceased father could make for an interesting reveal. Though we’re still inclined to believe Betty is correct and there has only been one Gargoyle King the whole time, Curdle’s father could be the game’s author and the Gargoyle King who killed Featherhead. Plus, if it runs in the family, the motive could be the simple thrill of killing people or leading people to end their own lives.
While Curdle Jr., who would be at home on Gotham, may seem like an obvious phony suspect, we’re not ready to assume he is a complete red herring just yet.
Curiously, Archie (KJ Apa) is the person least connected to the G&G mystery, but Apa told RT he believes someone “definitely human” is under the Gargoyle King’s mask.
Meanwhile, Archie’s road trip with Jughead will reveal a changed man.
“I think [prison] made him a lot stronger, a lot harder,” Apa said. “I think it kind of desensitized him, in a way. I feel there may be a little bit of post-traumatic stress after coming out of prison.” He revealed that Archie will be angry at the world for a time, even as he is angry at himself for letting things get to this point. “He can’t blame anyone else really but himself,” the actor added.
Apa also teased that any future contact with his father Fred (Luke Perry) will be seen as more “man-to-man instead of boy-to-man” and that he may look at the Riverdale mysteries in a whole new light should he ever return to town.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.