Riverdale season 3, episode 9 review: No Exit

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Did Riverdale just pull a Game of Thrones? Find out which series regular may have died in the roller coaster ride that was the midseason premiere.

Riverdale returned Wednesday with a heart-pounding midseason premiere that pushed our favorite characters to their limits. In the now-quarantined town, Jughead and Betty struggle to maintain the trust and respect of their charges as Serpent King and Gryphon Queen. Veronica tries to hoodwink Hiram and grows closer to Reggie.

Meanwhile, out in the Canadian wilderness, Archie has a life-altering encounter that sends on him on a painful journey down memory lane. Here’s a look at what went down in “No Exit.”

Is Archie really dead?!?

Archie just can’t seem to catch a break. Since crossing the border into Canada, he’s been living in a cabin with Vegas and seemingly taking of care of himself pretty well. However, a chance encounter with a Grizzly soon leaves him fighting for his life.

He manages to radio for help back at the cabin and do some basic first aid. By the time rangers arrive, though, Archie seems to have bled out. Could he really be dead?

Admittedly, it’s never a good sign when a character is found lying motionless with their eyes open. Furthermore, series developer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revealed months ago that a series regular would die in this episode. While no one expected it to be Archie, other shows (most infamously Game of Thrones) have killed off their leads before. It’s a bold move but not an unprecedented one.

On the other hand, Riverdale tried to hype up both Jughead’s and Fang’s deaths last season. Both of them are still alive, so it also wouldn’t be unprecedented for Archie to miraculously survive.

That being said, Archie did technically kill himself, or rather a part of himself, in his dream-like state brought on by blood loss. After shooting the Black Hood and stabbing Hiram, Archie beats his younger, sleeping, carefree self with a baseball bat and that old self disappears from his bed at home. The episode then ends on the poetic note of the rangers finding Archie seemingly dead on his bed in the cabin.

Could that be the note that Archie was always meant to go out on — that in killing an important part of himself and leaning into his dark side, he killed himself entirely?

Well, it would be far more impactful if Archie ultimately survives and learns from his mistake. He needs to realizes that his “weak” side, his compassionate side, is actually his strong side if he’s ever going to move on from his traumatic past.

Getting their houses in order

Betty and Jughead face uphill battles in this episode as the Serpents rebel against their King, and the kids from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy rebel against their Queen.

With the town on lockdown, Cheryl and Toni turn to robbery to make money while Fangs deals Fizzle Rocks to pay his mom’s medical bills.

Jughead cuts an apologetic Fangs some slack. However, he threatens to kick out Cheryl and Toni when they refuse to hand over a fancy glass egg they stole from the Lodge penthouse. Cheryl is also unrepentant about leaving her calling card (a kiss on Hiram’s portrait), which Jug argues put other Serpents at risk.

Cheryl calls Jug out for going AWOL with Archie and for offering preferential treatment to Fangs.  In order to maintain his authority, Jug has no chance but to banish Cheryl, Toni and Fangs.

However, he and Veronica then smash the egg, which Cheryl reluctantly hands over, and use it to declare war on Hiram. The Serpents become Veronica’s protection detail and, thus, sworn enemies of Hiram, so it feels a little hypocritical of Jug to punish Cheryl and Toni for antagonizing Hiram.

Obviously, they can’t go rogue all the time if they want to be part of a crew, but Jug should really extend them an olive branch sometime soon. He does extend one to Fangs, at FP’s suggestion, and asks him to go undercover inside the Gargoyle Gang. Fangs graciously accepts the opportunity, and we have our fingers crossed that he’ll survive.

Betty unfortunately loses her entire crew thanks to Alice, Polly and Evelyn’s meddling. Well aware that housing all of the kids at her place is not a sustainable solution, Betty goes to great lengths to relocate them. Fred, Sierra, Cheryl and Nana Rose agree to foster a few kids each.

However, as word spreads that the Gargoyle King is still alive in the woods and that The Farm is a safe haven, the kids decide to leave with Edgar voluntarily, at least according to Alice.

Meanwhile, Sierra and Betty attempt to take down Hiram by forcing the Sisters to testify. They have them over a barrel when a social worker informs Betty that the Catholic Church disowned the Sisters after Vatican II, meaning the “vow of silence” loophole won’t work. However, Hiram bails the Sisters out, and they commit mass suicide back at the Gargoyle Lair.

Are Hiram’s days numbered?

Based on the promo for next week’s episode, Hiram gets shot, and Hermione and FP appear to be the masterminds of the assassination plot. Even at the end “No Exit,” Hiram seems to be losing control over his new empire.

Both Reggie and Josie pay for Veronica’s attempts to outwit her father but, ultimately, V gains the higher ground with the Serpents backing her. Will Hiram’s reign of terror finally be over next week?

Riverdale Randomness

  • Veggie has officially set sail, but will Archie’s potential death cause complications?
  • Choni finally said, “I love you.” Aww!
  • Vegas has had such a rough year (pun intended). First, he waited for months for Archie to come home from juvie and now he just watched him bleed to death, maybe!
  • What’s with the new “no physical contact” policy at Riverdale High? It feels very Dolores Umbridge. Also, why are the RROTC basically just hall monitors now? And why does Kevin still have no real screen time or actual storylines this season?
  • Veronica was everyone when she called out Hiram for his ridiculous mobster coat.

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Riverdale will return with a new episode on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET on The CW.