‘Riverdale’: Did SPOILER Just Die in “No Exit” Cliffhanger?

When we last visited Riverdale, fans were left with a distinct sense of unease. While Betty had finally gotten an upper hand on the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, thanks to the machinations of Hiram Lodge all of Riverdale was placed under quarantine -- no one in, no one out. Tonight, however, that sense of unease gave way to a distinct feeling of horror, especially in the last moments of the episode.

Spoilers for tonight's midseason premiere of Riverdale, "No Exit", below.

Tonight's episode picks up five weeks after the ominous quarantine, but while things are supposedly "all clear" in Riverdale, things certainly aren't quite right. Cheryl and Toni have taken up not-so-secret lives as cat burglars, Veronica's at odds with her father who is using actual violence to threaten her business, Betty is stuck with all of the kids from the convent, and Archie is in Canada. None of those things are particularly surprising -- after all, this has been par for the course with Riverdale this season -- but it's how it all comes together in the last few minutes that leaves us with more questions than usual.

It's something of a two track breakdown. First, one of the things Betty is focused on all episode is getting the Sisters to testify against Hiram Lodge and, after discovering that they haven't had any church affiliation for a very, very long time, finally has them in position to do so. Except, someone pays their bail and they disappear. A phrase scrawled on their cell wall alerts Betty that they went to the convent, specifically the Gargoyle King's lair. Sure enough, that's where she finds them. All of the nuns lie dead on the floor, their bodies in positions of praise for the Gargoyle King, their lips blue. And as for the Gargoyle King? The statue that Betty beheaded is suspiciously intact, much to her horror.

If you weren't spooked by that, it's the more stunning track that may do the trick. Early in the episode, Archie is mauled by a bear. Gravely injured, he retreats to his cabin and attempts to treat his wounds before passing out on the bed. He ends up "dreaming" that he has to play Gryphons and Gargoyles, first with the very dead Cassady Bullock and the other Shadow Lake boys. As he plays, he gets a quest card that tells him to confront a masked figure, which he does by going to Pop's and defeating the Black Hood. When he returns to the cabin, he has to play with Warden Norton. After getting another quest card, it initially asks him to kill the Gargoyle King then it shifts to kill the Man in Black. Archie does that only to return to the cabin where he has to play with Betty, Veronica, and Jughead all dressed as they were in the series' pilot.

Archie doesn't want to play, but they tell him it's the only for him to be free of his sins and return to Riverdale. This leads to Archie going into his own bedroom to find his sleeping self where, despite Fred trying to convince him otherwise, Archie takes a baseball bat to his sleeping self only to discover there is nothing there. In the real world, however, help finally arrives at Archie's cabin where he is bloody and unresponsive in his bed -- seemingly dead.

So what does this all mean? While anything is possible, it is highly unlikely that Archie is actually dead despite what it looks like. Archie is, after all, a key character in the series so it doesn't exactly make sense for him to die. Also? We kind of know that this isn't the end of the line for Riverdale's boy next door. The official synopsis for the upcoming January 30th episode of Riverdale notes that "a spiraling Archie sets out on a new path."

That said, it certainly seems that Archie's hallucinations had some sort of actual impact. He did, after all, say that he had to kill his past self -- the part that is "weak", "bad", and "stupid" -- in order to be stronger so one can probably safely assume that Archie is going to be dramatically different going forward. As for the issue at the convent, it just confirms what viewers have already guessed: the situation with the Gargoyle King is far from over, the mysterious figure harder to defeat than any foe they've faced before.

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Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

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