Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
In what’s sure to be a recurring staple of the show, Jughead Jones III’s signature narration starts us off again this week – highlighting the grim reality of Jason’s death to the town now that, with the discovery of his corpse, the tragedy is tangible. Jason Blossom used to be a living, breathing, theoretically twincestuous human being (or as close to one as a jock can get ohoho), and now, as of the 4th of July, he’s just “a corpse with a bullet-hole in its forehead and terrible secrets that can be only be revealed by the cold steel blade of the coroner’s autopsy scalpel… or the telltale beating of a guilty heart.”
Cue guilt. Cue very guilt, as Archie Andrews wakes up tossing and turning in a cold/gently-oiled-abs sweat. Apparently still feeling terrible over the events of earlier that night, Archie texts up literal and figurative girl-next-door Betty Cooper to try and finish their unresolved talkpology, and, potentially, fess up about his July 4th escapade and what he heard. Betty, however, don’t play dem games, and tells him that not only can they NOT talk, she isn’t even AWAKE, and then makes her point by proceeding to turn off her lights in full view of her boxer-clad crush – and she’s so PO’ed she doesn’t even stop to ogle his Lil’ Archie. Archie, in a confused attempt at understanding the purpose of clothes, throws nothing but a loose pair of gym shorts over his boxers and runs on over to Betty’s hou– oh, wait. Nope. Veronica’s h– oops, wrong again. Jughead’s…? No, Archie makes the smartest decision in this situation and runs over to his forbidden former flame Ms. Geraldine Grundy’s house in the wee hours of the morning instead, disproving the age-old myth that men can only have one of their own mistakes on their mind at any given moment.
Ms. Grundy is understandably upset, but before she has a chance to say so, Archie rambles off about how he wants to go back on their deal and how he’s losing his mind not telling anyone, because they have information the police doesn’t: what time the shot was fired. In response, Ms. Grundy and her way-too-oversized glasses work her manipulation magic, telling Archie that not only could she be fired or go to jail (likely), it could mean expulsion or jail time for him as well if he goes public with their secret (less likely). The next morning, Fred Andrews gently confronts his son about where he snuck off to last night, but Archie half-lies and says that he couldn’t sleep because of all this Jason stuff so he went for a jog. On the other end of the good-cop/bad-cop parental spectrum, Alice Cooper walks into her daughter’s room that morning as well (alongside her well-meaning but powerless husband Hal, played by Lochlyn Munro, who quickly gets sent to wait in the car) to inform Betty that they’ll be putting in a lot of late nights at the newspaper over the next couple days, while also taking the time to mock Jason’s death and to I-told-you-so Betty over her friend’s betrayals, passive-aggressively implying she’s forbidden to see any of them again. Well, we all know how forbidding teenagers goes:
While walking with Archie to school, Betty admits that she just needed a little break to separate what her mom expects of her from what she wants for herself from what is actually possible given the whole unrequited love situation. Archie apologizes for everything, and on the condition that he doesn’t tell her mom, Betty happily decides to try and push through the pain because she needs him in her life, romantically or otherwise. At school, though, Archie doesn’t quit feel the same about another friend. (Sorry, Juggie shippers.) Making light of the Jason Blossom memorial candles and photographs all around the school, Jughead sarcastically wonders aloud if he could use the death as an excuse to get out of gym class – an admittedly insensitive joke that a freaked-out Archie doesn’t appreciate. Jughead tries to defend his sardonic humour, but decides to drop the matter and flee when resident jocks (and his frequent tormentors) Reggie Mantle, Moose Mason and a student that I presume, as an Archie Comics fan, is Archie’s friend and the coach’s son Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway) come around the hallway to pick on him.
Meanwhile, Betty’s gay BFF Kevin Keller walks her to the school office, discussing Archie’s body and Jason’s less-desirable deceased one. Kevin flippantly comments that the most traumatizing part of the experience was having to explain to his dad, the local sheriff, what he was doing with closeted attempted-lover Moose down by the river. (PSA: Kevin is not hiding his flamboyance or lust for men at all. You’re either an unobservant parent or in denial.) They make it to the office, just to discover a bouquet of beautiful yellow roses for Betty – the colour of friendship – from a not-so-mysterious gifter signed ‘V’. On cue, Veronica Lodge also enters the office holding a box of imported New York Magnolia cupcakes she had flown in (with Daddy’s illegal money, presumably) and she, too, apologizes sincerely and profusely for her massive screw-up, also offering a hers-and-hers booking for mani-pedis/blowouts at Chez Salon. (Interesting side-note: I noticed that Betty is wearing white here and Veronica is wearing black. This is a clear visual metaphor for the fact that they are definite stark opposites, and also highlighting Betty’s good-girl personally versus Ronnie’s rich and entitled past.) Betty, eager to make amends (and/or defy her mother) quickly accepts Veronica’s apology, though Kevin is a bit more sassily reluctant on her behalf. After Veronica giddily leaves, however, Betty confesses to Kevin that the real reason she accepted the apology was because she doesn’t think Veronica will even remember her name in two weeks – and that she will have already latched on to a new victim by then.
Once class begins, the principal Mr. Waldo Weatherbee (Peter James Bryant) comes on the intercom with Sheriff Keller and Cheryl Blossom to formally update the student body (heh) about the upcoming pep rally (which won’t be cancelled, like every celebratory event at this school) and the whole Jason situation, and to urge anyone with any knowledge or evidence to come forward. Can I pause for a moment and say that this iteration of Mr. Weatherbee, while I still approve, is likely the least comic-accurate of any Archie Comics character? Instead of being an obese, bald, Caucasian man in a suit, he’s a relatively slim but still bald African-American with a cowboy-esque bolo tie. I dig it! Anyway, Cheryl (wearing a suspicious black widow brooch) steals the mic and adds that her family won’t rest until her lover – err… brother’s murderer is found and put to death. #RiverdaleStrong. Of course, this whole announcement makes Archie (who appears to be on his way to class) nervous, and as he guiltily peers in the office, Mr. Weatherbee catches his stare and gives him the stank-eye only a high school principal can give. Jughead, also roaming the halls, also picks up on his former best friend’s guilty conscience (sadly staring at Jason memorials, splashing his face with cold water, the works) and decides to confront him about why he had bailed on their road trip that summer and what he was really up to on Independence Day. (By the way, if this cancelled trip turns out to be the sole reason they are no longer friends I’m going to be a little salty. There’s only so much ‘angsty teenage problems’ drama a dude can take.) Jughead gets increasingly suspicious of Archie, and ends with a line that sounds ripped straight from the pages: “Is there something you want to tell me, pal?”
After the title card, it seems that there in fact was not something that he wanted to tell Jug, as Archie heads into class avoiding his gaze. Despite being science class, comics character Professor Flutesnoot unfortunately does not appear to be teaching. (Perhaps they shifted him to strictly teaching chemistry, or perhaps they exhausted their ‘gambling on the suspension of belief of using goofy names in a dark and gritty drama’ budget on Jughead?) Before class officially commences, Cheryl’s cronies (and some nice cameos from minor comic characters, might I add) Ginger Lopez and Tina Patel are grilling her on why she told the police Jason drowned when he was found shot. Cheryl aggressively takes the defense and slightly amends her already suspicious story to claim that they both had fallen in the water and she made it to the other side but he never surfaced. The teacher (Doctor Phylum? Who do you think you are?) puts everyone into pairs, but unwilling to make things awkward-er by sitting with his partner Veronica, Archie opts to partner with Cheryl instead, potentially in a feeble attempt to cope with his Jasonguilt. In turn, Veronica uses this opportunity to pair with Betty and start patching things up, leaving poor Kevin alone to partner with the sexually-frustrated and coming-on-too-strong closeted bisexual Moose, whose advances he immediately shuts down as a failed one-night stand. Archie, guilt game strong, offers to give their frog an autopsy if it’s too weird for Cheryl, considering her brother is currently being dissected as well. Cheryl declines the offer, and in an attempt to show her detractors how ruthless and stone-cold she is (but unintentionally actually coming off as even guiltier and crazier), she violently slices the frog open while making creepy eye contact with her lackeys.
Speaking of icy bitches and slicing open dead amphibians, Alice is bribing to be present at her daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s autopsy to ‘gain all the details she can for her article.’ (See: gloat to a dead teenager.) British Dr. Curdle (AKA THE GROSSEST NAME FOR A CORONER) tells her that there’s definitely plenty of suspicious activity going on, including ‘marbled veins, signs of scavenger activity, ligature marks on both wrists and a hint of cryo-necrotic (freezing the corpse) preservation.’ Ewww. Meanwhile, Betty, Veronica and Kevin are walking through the Riverdale High courtyard and chatting about turning Moose down, and Kevin admits that despite Veronica shipping it, he didn’t want to make things muddy with Moose’s new girlfriend Midge. Always in the habit of putting his foot in his mouth, right as they approach Archie’s table he says: ‘as terrible as it is to say, sometimes I wish he’d just stay in the darn closet,’ completely lost on what’s so heavily on the other three’s minds – the Betty/Veronica/Archie/closet business from that weekend. On Veronica’s I-want-you-to-fix-things-with-Betty insistence, Archie plays the three an early draft of a new love song he’s been working on, but these lyrics hit too close to homie for Betty and she starts to cry, saying that this is too much and that she thought she could handle it but she can’t. She runs off and Archie chases after her, but she throws his own line back in his face: ‘I can’t give you the answer you want.’ He goes to argue back, but bam! Deus ex Weatherbee as the principal beckons for Archie to come have a private chat with him instead. DUN DUN DUN.
Surprise! Archie is sleeping with him, too! (Joking.) Mr. Weatherbee asks Archie why he avoids eye contact about every time Jason comes up, and he doesn’t buy his‘ I just don’t feel well’ nonsense excuse either. Archie, apparently accustomed by now to simply walking away from any and all accusatory conversations about Jason Blossom, busts into the middle of Ms. Grundy’s sick cello jam sesh because he needs someone to talk to. Ol’ Geraldine assures him that he shouldn’t be freaked out and that Mr. Weatherbee just wants to take care of his students, and Arch pops the tricky question, asking if that’s all he is to her – and suggesting that if there isn’t anything more then he might as well fess up. Desperate to save her own skin, manipulative Grundy scrambles to tell him that she toootally loves him and not just his hot ginge bod, so they reaaaally can’t go to Weatherbee now or they’ll have to end things, oh nooooo. To punctuate her statement, she kisses him with the empty passion only a music teacher can muster. Of course, there’s a wrong place and a wrong place to illegally kiss and fondle your teacher, and in the unlocked music room in full view of all windows and doors is definitely not the smoothest move – a point proven as a sulky wrong-place, wrong-time Jughead spies his former friend macking away through the windowed door.
Elsewhere, Veronica struts down the aisle of twerking Vixens in a cheer rehearsal when Cheryl interrupts, loudly announcing that all eyes will be on her during the pep rally, and she refuses to crack in front of the town. Deciding the performance needs more spark, she calls for a quick break while she steps aside to contact Josie McCoy to see if The Pussycats are available to back them. While they stretch, Veronica tries to make friendly small-talk with Betty, but she can no longer hide her pain and lashes out at Veronica with some saucy barbs. This turns into a flat-out spat, with Betty making the point that her life with Archie was better before she got here, and Veronica arguing that Betty was just walking on eggshells and quietly pining after a guy who doesn’t like her back and that she can’t make Archie like her. Cheryl, delighting in chaos, breaks up this fight to announce that Josie and the Pussycats will be performing, and Betty takes this opportunity to invite Cheryl to Chez Salon with her, Veronica’s gift card’s treat. Cheryl accepts, and her and Catty stroll off, leaving a sour Veronica in the dust.
Like I do when I’m sour, Veronica visits Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe after school to hang out with her newly-waitresses mother Hermione. However when Archie comes in to pick up an order, Hermione, apparently not sensing the cold awkwardness between the two, suggests that Archie walks Ronnie home. On the way, the two sadly lament Betty’s deserved disdain towards them, and Archie shares some memories of an 8-year-old Lil’ Archie kissing whizkid Lil’ Betty and asking for her hand in marriage for tutoring him through reading in the second grade, and her responding to ask when she’s 18 and she’ll say yes. They both feel terrible for hurting her, but Veronica reassures Archie that he just needs to give her time. Can we take a minute and just note how fortunate it is that Betty did not see these two walking down the street together? That’s a whole fresh can of worms that luckily (for now) remains closed.
Meanwhile, Cheryl and Betty seem to have forgone mani-pedis, as Cheryl gives Betty a makeover at Betty’s place. She (probably emptily) apologizes for how much of a witchy witch she’s been, and sows anti-Veronica seeds of propaganda. Predictably, it doesn’t take long before she steers the conversation back to Betty’s sister and her brother’s ex Polly, and it doesn’t take long after before she’s positively grilling Betty on her. Betty simply asks why he’s asking so much about her sister and Cheryl snaps, calling Betty a dumb cow and accusing ‘crazy tweaked-out’ Polly of shooting Jason. Betty kicks Cheryl out of her house and in another show of horrible word choices, threatens to kill her if she doesn’t leave. ELIZABETH, YOU’RE SMARTER THAN THIS. Elsewhere, Archie finally gets home and finds Jughead waiting on his step, presumably camping out in the line to sleep with Archie, and he doesn’t want to keep silent. He (alongside his sweet-ass suspenders) calls out Archie for what he saw in the music room, and asks if that’s why he’s been a weirdo since summer. Archie admits that it’s one of the reasons, and unable to hold it in any longer, finally confesses about what they heard at Sweetwater River on the 4th of July. Jughead urges Archie to tell someone, but Archie argues that he can’t. Always the voice of reason, Jug deduces that Ms. Grundy cares more about herself and is manipulating Archie, before reflecting over how the old Arch always tried to do the right thing. Things escalate, and Archie begins to threaten Jughead as he goes to leave, but good ol’ Fred opens the door and invites Jughead inside for some take-out. However, Archie answers on his behalf:
The next morning, Alice enters Betty’s room, and like a reaaaal psycho bitch does a sage cleansing to clear the bad Cheryl juju, suggesting that maybe the family sacrificed Jason themselves to the pagan god of Blossom. Betty, however, has Cheryl’s comments on the mind and asks if Polly, in her psychiatric group home, even knows about her ex-lover. Alice says she has told her, but claims that half the time Polly doesn’t even know what day it is. Betty asks if she can visit her sister, and Alice goes sheet-white, immediately changing the subject to praising Betty for ridding the home of Cheryl, but ragging on her for not learning her lesson. Here’s my theory, fam: Alice Cooper is a crazy controlling psycho-wiener and Polly is mentally fine. That’s also why she’s so eager to get rid of Archie and Veronica (like she did with Jason), and that’s why she keeps refilling Betty’s Adderall when she ‘forgets’ to. I cannot wait for Betty and/or Polly to snap and just verbally eviscerate this woman.
Anyway, the next day at school, Betty continues to defy her mom and apologies to Ronnie at the lockers and admits she was right about everything. Veronica accepts the apology, and tells Betty that maybe this is just an instance where a friend is better than a BOYfriend. Later, in the way too fancy tricked-out student’s lounge, Reggie is bro-gossiping to his boyz about Weatherbee chatting with him about Jason, before douchily asking Moose what he was doing with Kevin down by the river anyway to be able to find the body together. (He jokingly calls it an unsolved mystery, which Archie’s Weird Mysteries fans should appreciate.) He says it would be ridiculous to accuse a jock of killing Jason, and that it was more likely a scrawny, pathetic, moody serial-killer type – like Jughead – and turns on our favourite beanie-wearer to ask him if he ‘did stuff to the body after?’ Jugheads hits back with a snappy comeback and Reggie hits back with a snappy fist – or he would, rather, if Archie didn’t jump to his defense. The two football players tussle, smashing a vending machine Archie’s face in the process.
Archie is icing up his shiner at home, and speaks cryptically to his dad about ‘this issue’ he has with ‘this girl.’ Are you ready for some DADVICE? Fred tells him that even if it costs him, doing the right thing is always worth the sales price. That evening, though the rainy pep rally is full of pep, Archie throws some salt up in here by telling Ms. Grundy pre-game, with Jughead watching from beside the bleachers, that he plans to go to Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller tomorrow, and if she chooses not to go with he will do everything he can to keep her out of it. After, Archie goes to Jug and tells him his plans, apologizing for everything and asking him to be his friend again. Jughead leaves this be discussed… over many, many burgers at Pop’s. On his way to the field, he bumps into Betty, and tying up all his loose ends at once, she appears to forgive him out of ‘you have a black eye’ pity, maybe? To kick off the rally, Josie’s mom Mayor McCoy grabs an umbrella and dedicates the game to Jason and introduces her daughter’s band and the River Vixens’ twerktastic routine. Comically, Josie, Melody and Valerie sing a sort of hip-hop version of ‘Sugar, Sugar’ – a song originally by The Archies.
After the song, Coach Clayton takes the mic to introduce the Riverdale Bulldogs, and they burst through the banner… except Cheryl takes one look at that redhead in the number 9 quarterback’s jersey and doesn’t think ‘Archie’ – instead, she thinks ‘Jason’. Distraught, she runs off and cracks in front of the town (ergo exactly what she said she wouldn’t do), leaving the rest off the Vixens high and not-so-dry. Everyone sort of pulls a ‘bystander effect’, but our Ronnie’s not that type of girl and chases after her, closely followed by a more reluctant Betty. Veronica catches up with a sobbing Cheryl in the change room, as she is finally coming to terms with her brother’s death and showing the most humanity we’ve seen from the Queen C so far. Veronica tries to comfort her enemy, but Cheryl says she doesn’t understand – he was supposed to come back. Well, isn’t that some cryptic Sabrina the Teenage Witch noise? Nonetheless, she lets Cheryl cry on her shoulder as Betty watches from a distance.
Later, as they’re packing up, Betty commends Veronica for her big heart and her bravery for comforting Satan and invites her for a milkshake at Pop’s. Betty gets a classic vanilla and Veronica gets a double-chocolate, further underscoring the tonal differences between the characters and highlighting their base personalities by comparison. (I swear this is legit. I’m probably not making stuff up.) The two make a deal: no boy will ever come between them again. I’m giving it two episodes, maximum. However, at that moment a pair of aforementioned boys enter – but since ‘tis the night for forgiveness, Betty, after some consideration, invites Archie and Jughead to join them. The four sit and laugh and have a great time and everything feels exactly right as it should be… begging the question, ‘how long before this goes south?’
The next day – the fateful Tuesday mentioned in last episode’s monologue – Archie goes to Weatherbee’s office to come clean. PAUSE FOR A SECOND. Jughead said last week that the autopsy would be performed Monday and stuff would go down Tuesday. Now scroll up and read this entire recap again. I’ll wait. There’s no way this is the next day after his autopsy. At bare minimum, there’s at least one full day in between, or every characters decided to change outfits and go back to school for a round two. What’s going on? Anyway, Archie doesn’t get a chance to put his courage to use, as the principal and the sheriff march right past him to Dr. Phylum’s biology class. Guys, this is it. The officials are on a mission, and they stop and stare at… Jughead!? Wait. No. This can’t be right… and thank god, it’s not. Cheryl, who is sitting in front of Jughead, stands up and asks if they’re here for her because of the autopsy. Mr. Weatherbee suggests that they take this outside to not upset the other students, but Cheryl comments that they’ll find out soon enough anyway. As she offers her wrists out for handcuffs, she confesses that she’s guilty. Jughead’s monologue kicks in, proving each episode more intense the last, and says that that wasn’t the biggest shock they came to learn: see, Jason Blossom didn’t die on July the 4th…
What!? No way. Catch the next Riverdale on Netflix or The CW at 9:00 PM EST every Thursday, after Supernatural!