'Riverdale': Breaking Down the Ending of "Outbreak"

Tonight's Riverdale midseason finale was, in a word, intense. Various stories that have been building over the past few weeks finally came together to reveal Hiram Lodge's plan -- and it's far more insidious than anything fans might have expected.

Spoilers for tonight's episode of Riverdale, "Chapter Forty-Three: Outbreak," below.

For the past few weeks Archie (K.J. Apa), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Betty (Lili Reinhart), and Veronica (Camila Mendes) have each been players in their own stories. Archie and Jughead travelling the countryside in an attempt to escape Hiram (Mark Consuelos), Veronica trying to handle her business while also working to bring her father down back in Riverdale, and Betty simply trying to survive while stashed away at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Tonight, though that all changed.

Over the course of the episode things appeared to begin to unravel for Hiram. Archie and Jughead got major insight from Jughead's mother, Gladys (Gina Gershon) about Hiram's endgame -- total control of Riverdale -- while Veronica started putting two and two together about her father's plans as well as the fact that he is (apparently) behind the seizures that have been happening among the girls of Riverdale high. And Betty? She realized that Hiram has been using the Sisters to test his drugs, drugs that cause them to hallucinate the Gargoyle king.

Just as Veronica and her friends are poised to stop Hiram -- and Hermione (Marisol Nichols) as she is the mayor -- however, the villainous man wins yet again. Hiram used his influence and control to set up a citywide quarantine. That's right, no one was allowed in or out of Riverdale by orders of the governor. While it wasn't clear exactly what Hiram has planned for Riverdale, the final moments made it very clear that whatever they are they Gargoyle King is very much a part of them. Hiram may not be the Gargoyle King himself as many have theorized, but he's certainly taking orders from him.

So what's next? Honestly, that ending throws everything into question. If Hiram isn't the Gargoyle King, who is? It's starting to seem more and more like there might be some sort of sinister supernatural figure pulling the strings. Those strings also seem to involve turning Riverdale into some sort of haven for debauchery and vice. Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) told Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Veronica that whatever the plans for Riverdale are, they include people on Hiram's side being able to pursue their own enterprises which for Penelope means prostitution. Mix that with Hiram's drug production and you've got a pretty dark set up.

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That said, there's still hope. Jughead and F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) didn't make it back to Riverdale before the quarantine was dropped into place. Archie and Fred are also both far away from Riverdale at the appointed hour as well. With a few key players outside the confines of the town, there's still a fighting chance for Hiram and the Gargoyle King to be taken down.

What did you think of tonight's episode of Riverdale? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.