Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
Among eerie shots of Thornhill, the Blossom family mansion, we’re back to typical narrative form this week as Jughead Jones tells us all about it. “Every town has one. The spooky house that all the kids avoid.” (To be fair to the kids, wouldn’t you avoid a house that contained that many rich bitches? Are Ponzi schemes contagious?) This house is huge, and it makes me wonder what the budget of this show was like. This beast has its own drive-in gate, swimming pool, lake, tens of thousands of square feet, and, creepily enough, a cemetery. As Jug reminds us, Cheryl Blossom, still grieving over the demise of her beloved kissin’-brother Jason, has been holed up inside her mansion prior to the funeral. As she sneaks into the darkened empty memorial room to share a tender necrophiliac moment, she goes to open the casket – only to discover her brother’s corpse is missing… and there’s bloody scratch-marks on the inside of the shredded velvet-lined lid. As she slowly turns around in horror, she comes face-to-face with her brother’s zombified corpse – complete with dull, dead eyes, rotting flesh and a freshly bleeding bullet-wound, who, despite her screams, grabs his twin sister around the throat. Afterlife with Archie, anyone? Of course, if you’ve seen any cheesy thriller you know that this is just a dream, as Cheryl sits up panting in Jason’s bed (for perhaps the last, but definitely not the first time). She’s quickly reprimanded by her doorway-lurking, wine-for-supper momma Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) for sleeping in Jason’s room, and told that she won’t be permitted to read her prepared eulogy for his memorial, either. It seems that since Cheryl lied a teeeeensy bit about the time she was an accomplice in Jason running away to Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s hometown just prior to his murder, her parents suddenly don’t trust her for some wacky reason.
In his room, a sweaty, topless, ripped Archie Andrews is beating up a punching bag and presumably imagining Alice Cooper’s face on it. (Same. Betty’s mom doesn’t make an appearance in this episode at all and that’s so euphoric to me, you guys.) Since it’s like, the middle of the night, he’s approached by his dad Fred who tells him that he almost misses him focusing on music. Archie rebuts that he’s focusing on getting in shape for sports so he can become the new team captain. Team captains get scholarships, scholarships get music degrees, musicians get bitches. It’s been, what, a week with psycho predator illegal ex-girlfriend Ms. Grundy, and we’re already back to sweaty shirtless Archie? I’LL TAKE IT. The next day, in the offices of The Blue & Gold school paper, Kevin Keller finishes setting up a murder board with the help of Jughead and Betty Cooper, as close as possible to the one that his dad, the local sheriff, had in his office before it was vandalized and stolen with no fingerprints or leads. This little meeting is interrupted by Trev Brown, who is only a little weirded out by their board, popping by to confirm his date with Betty later that night. Once he leaves, Kevin presses Betty on this, and she admits Mama Cooper don’t know ‘cause she’s out of town on a work spa retreat, but that’s okay, as it’s just a cover and not a real date; Betty just wanted an excuse to interview the former football player on what he might know about Jason. Sleazy journalism. Speaking of the football team, practise is currently in session – and Archie gets sacked immediately, to the evident disappointment of Coach Clayton. In the locker room after, the coach confronts Archie about his (Kevin) spaciness on the field, and to incite some friendly competition, offers to give frenemy Reggie Mantle the captain position in one week if Archie can’t catch up in this ‘horse race.’ Reggie, ever-arrogant, tells Archie that he’s going down because the only person that deserves to wear Jason’s old #9 captain’s jersey is him.
Later, Fred heads to Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe to pick up his usual order (turkey on rye sans tomatoes, in case you’re wondering what Luke Perry likes to pretends to eat) from former high-school flame and more recently former-billionaire Hermione Lodge, who is such a stellar waitress she has it memorized and prepared before he even walks in. Before he leaves, Fred also orders a large coffee, as Archie’s late-night grief-punching has been keeping him up. After some small talk, he asks Hermione on another date, but she points out they’re both married. This confuses Fred, because he was SOOOMEHOW under the impression that her ‘secret shady business deal at the drive-in where she used him as a cover to give herself an excuse for attending’ was a date, but he apologizes for the misunderstanding and quickly leaves. Elsewhere, Betty, Kevin and the Lodge daughter Veronica join Archie, who is studying football plays, on the bleachers. Ronnie asks about life in a PG (post-Grundy) world, but Archie is too focused on becoming varsity captain to spend time on anything else. Betty calls him out for using sports as a way to avoid his feelings, his music, and his feelings about music, but Archie protests that he’s just trying to get his life back on track. On that cue, enter Trev’s sister Valerie, keyboardist for Josie and the Pussycats, who has a music mentor-cum-professor that wants to meet with Archie to help with his music on her insistence. Now with no excuse to skip out on music, Archie agrees to call. Right then, Cheryl stops by the interrupt the ‘sad Breakfast Club’ to invite them to Jason’s memorial, but not before expressing dismay at her mother’s inclusive invitation policy and cattily reminding Veronica Val Jean not to steal her silver candlesticks.
In the halls, Veronica, always taking the high road, chases Cheryl down and asks if they can just try to be friends, hypothesizing that her extra-obnoxiousness lately is due to grief (which Cheryl doesn’t deny, either). Considering that just last episode they shared a truck-bed at a drive-in, I’ve got to say: Veronica and Cheryl’s frenemy status is much more compelling than the watered-down version of the classic Archie/Reggie comic book rivalry this show has been giving us, with Reg so far reduced down to nothing more than a ‘sometimes-food’ male antagonist when they have a side plot that requires one. Cheryl tells her that if she really wants to extend an olive branch, Veronica should come to a sleepover she’s having the night before the memorial; she doesn’t want to be alone the night before she buries her brother. Elsewhere, Archie is sitting in the Bulldogs locker room contemplating Jason’s mortality (Riverdale’s official town pastime) when he decides to make the call to Val’s mentor and goes to visit. He explains his dreams and aspirations to the lazily-named Oscar Castillo (played by Raùl Castillo), and how his music really started to kick off after he was inspired by Jason’s death. Oscar is strict and no-nonsense; he’s interested in helping Arch, but Archie has to commit to more writing time, and he needs to be able to physically see his songs in sheet music form, tasking him to have them transcribed by tomorrow. As a former Bachelor of Music student majoring in guitar, I’ll tell you right now, Mr. Castillo: considering Archie only plays basic chords, guitar sheet music benefits no one. I don’t care if you play piano, or whatever you play. We all know the six notes in a guitar G chord. They’re not going to change. You don’t need to see it on a grand staff. Settle for tabs, or lead sheets, at the very least. Anyway, at Thornhill, Penelope and Cliff Blossom give Sheriff Keller a tour of the memorial room and confide in him that they invited everyone in town that has a grudge against them for some reason or another (AKA everyone in town period) and that they plan to try and learn who the killer is during the wake. Cheryl overhears and blasts her mom for claiming that she is manipulative and the one making this about herself.
Meanwhile, fake-Betty is on her fake-date with real-Trev at Pop’s, and she cuts right to the chase grilling him on if he noticed anything weird about Jason before he bit the big one. Trev says to keep this off the record, but remembers how Jason seemed off a few weeks before he peaced, just a little while after starting to date Betty’s sister, Polly. He had become weird and secretive, started ghosting Trev and his other friends, and started hawking his things – even sparking rumours around the team that he was dealing drug for cash. Hark, a new development BLOSSOMS. Elsewhere, Val is in Archie’s room teaching him how to properly notate his music. In the comics, Archie and Valerie briefly dated – are we leading up to this? Gosh, I hope so. This sesh is interrupted by a very bumbling awkward Mr. Andrews, who didn’t realize his son had a girl in his room. He quickly introduces himself as a big Pussycats fan before uncomfortably leaving them to it, leaving the door open a crack and peeking through it as he backs away. CUTE DAD MOMENTS. He don’t want no shenanigans so soon after the last crazy. At the Cooper house, Betty confronts her dad Hal in the garage, doing some amateur mechanic-ing. Since her mom refuses to tell her any Polly deets, she pleads for her dad to tell her the story. Hal tearfully tells his daughter the harrowing story of their breakup: Polly and Jason had a fight – he’s not sure about what – but it was so bad that he had kicked open the door to find an unresponsive Polly in the bathtub; she had self-harmed and tried to take her own life, so, for her own safety, they institutionalized her.
Recounting all the evening’s new information in the student lounge to Juggie the next day, Betty says she asked if she could call her sister, but was told that after Jason’s death Polly had a major relapse and it just wasn’t a good time. Jughead, however, is hung up on the drug-dealing rumours – what rich kid needs all that extra cash? – and theorizes that he wasn’t running away from his parents, horrible as they are, but that perhaps he was running away from people more criminal. Barring a séance, dead men tell no tales, so Jug proposes they use the memorial as an excusepportunity to search The Blossom son’s bedroom for clues. Meanwhile, on the football field, Archie’s head is still nowhere near the game. Having to sneak peeks at his wrist-written cheat-sheet to remember the plays (and STILL messing them up), he’s tackled by Reggie time and time again in his distracted state, injuring his wrist in the process. Reggie, either being self-serving or selfless, urges Archie to sit out the practice to let his hand heal, but if our Arch is skilled at one thing, it’s stubbornly not ever taking anyone’s good advice. A while later, after River Vixens cheer practice, Veronica catches Archie nursing his hand in the hall and gently scolds him for not taking care better care of himself, accusing him of punishing himself for the whole forbidden-love teacher debacle. Archie debates that he’s not punishing himself for that, instead ragging on himself for being too focused on working on music with Valerie to memorize his plays. Ronnie, as she dresses his hand, is clearly jealous over this, but denies it in the most flirty ‘pleasedateme’ way possible, complete with sweetly kissing his hand better. I PREDICTED THIS WOULD HAPPEN. THE TRIANGLE RESUMES.
Later, back at the college, Archie hands Oscar his newly scratched-out sheets, but he could definitely be pleased-ier. He rips into Arch’s ‘juvenile, repetitive breakup songs’ and says that he probably should have stuck with Grundy, ‘cause he doesn’t think he’ll be able to help him or connect with him the way she did. I think I agree with you here, Mr. Castillo. I don’t think you’re going to connect with Archie quite the same way as she did, unless you’ve got heart-shaped sunglasses and can seductively play the cello. That’s two breakups with music teachers in a week, man. I think you need a new ‘type’. Things are going about just as swimmingly at Thornhill, where Veronica attends the most incredibly awkward and snarky dinner party since Colonel Sanders entertained Foghorn Leghorn. Penelope Blossom expresses bitter confusion as to why Veronica is even there – a sentiment echoed by Ronnie, who assumed other girls would be there as well. Clifford, the Blossom patriarch played by Barclay Hope, after an uncomfortable one-sided exchange with the likely-senile and half-blind wheelchair-bound Nana Rose (Rose Blossom. Heh.), tries to break the tension by offering Veronica more maple ham and lecturing her on Riverdale’s weird history with maple syrup, including that the name Sweetwater River originally comes from the town’s legendary maple exports. Guys, I was already done with this show’s maple business before it even began back in Chapter Three. Please, please do not make it a recurring plot thread. My suspension of disbelief ends somewhere in the realm between ‘children named Jellybean Jones’ and ‘maple syrup tycoons.’ Anyway, this was just a psych-out, because Cliff wasn’t looking to diffuse tension at all – he was using this as a segue to bring up Veronica’s incarcerated dad Hiram, and to smugly make her relive the shame of his awful arrest. Cold. Even Cheryl is uncomfortable, but not enough to stand up to her monstrous parents at a volume leader than an under-the-breath mutter. Mustering all her class, Veronica respectfully and gracefully pivots the topic to Jason, which only causes a feud between Penelope and her daughter over Cheryl’s complicity in his fleeing home and her lack of permission to speak at his memorial.
In less swanky conditions, Hermione Lodge is busy scraping pans in the kitchen of Pop Tate’s when she hears the familiar jingle of the door. Checking out all that dadgum ruckus, she finds a box sitting in the middle of the dining room floor. Apparently in the custom of opening her boss’ packages, she bends to down to open it and recoils in horror at what’s inside… Gwyneth Paltrow’s hea– err… a rattlesnake! Ack! Meanwhile, back at Cooperhill, Betty hears a familiar sisterly voice giggling coming from the basement, but instead finds her father morosely watching old home videos alone. Also spending time with mementos from the past, Ronnie and Cheryl bond over old photos of Jason from one of Cheryl’s old scrapbooks, in her comparatively more lavish room than Jason’s (presumably because he sold everything of value). Veronica has to ask – why was she invited for comfort company instead of her usual gargoyles Tina or Ginger? Cheryl, sincere as she gets, admits that when she had her pep rally meltdown Veronica was the only one there for her, and her ‘friends’ would never do something like that. I feel it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Cheryl is a sad, emotionally lonely girl, seeking attention and gratification through means of popularity – a common trope for her type of character, but not an unwelcome one. In the opening-up zone now, Cheryl also shares that she wants to be able to publicly speak at Jason’s memorial – not for selfish reasons – but so all the town gossips know that she’s sorry for her part in everything and that Jason deserved a better family than he had. Veronica encourages her to speak up anyway and offers to help, but Cheryl says, with only the slightest hint of hyperbole, that her parents would kill her if she did.
Back at Pop’s, Fred Andrews returns inside with an empty crate from disposing of the slither delivery, and presses a shell-shocked Hermione on why she didn’t go to authorities for something for like this instead of calling him. She admits that she didn’t call the police because she doesn’t trust anyone else in this town – and because she knows the snake-in-a-box was a warning from the Southside Serpents gang. She tells him that Hiram is involved in some debts to them, but refuses to give any further information because she doesn’t want to involve him further. Lady, if you get the one lone decent parent in this town killed, I swear to God… Meanwhile, Betty is getting ready in uncharacteristically-dark colours (it is a memorial, after all) when Jughead walks in to take her as his friend-date… and DAMN. Cole Sprouse can rock a suit, homeless or not. Now it’s time, folks; the memorial is about to begin! As we zip past the Thornhill entrance gate (inscribed with the Latin motto ‘Radices Currere Abyssi’ – literally ‘Roots Run Deep’, likely alluding to the family’s probable rampant incest and/or obsession with maple trees – and the roman numeral MCMXLI, which is 1941) we get our first look at all the guestpects that the Blossoms have invited. As Hermione offers her condolences, Penelope whispers in her ear (Hail Hydra) that she knows she’s basically only here to float on behalf of Hiram Lodge, much to Hermione’s stunned confusion. Now, that’s the second time the Blossoms have been openly bitter toward the Lodge patriarch, so I feel he’s done more shady business in town than his wife realizes. Elsewhere in the manor, in a much more pleasant Lodge-Blossom exchange, Ronnie checks on a black-clad Cheryl to make sure she’s ready. She sends Veronica ahead so she can take a minute for herself. Elsewhere-elsewhere, in a massive show of respect, Archie (attending with Valerie!!!) takes it upon himself to retire Jason’s captain’s jersey by giving the cherished #9 back to Mrs. Blossom. Penelope can’t stop staring at him though, and even strokes his hair, telling him how similar he is to the dearly departed and calling him his disgusting full given name Archibald. If you’re keeping score at home, this is about the seven-hundredth time the show has subtly or blatantly compared Archie to Jason. Was the Blossom hit maybe intended for a different redhead quarterback?
As everyone finishes taking their seats, Betty, perplexed as she is confused, spots her dad getting in a brief snarky argument with Cliff Blossom at the minibar, who is accusing Hal of being a drunk. This is quickly interrupted as sad music signalling the start of the ceremony begins, and Cheryl enters – but she’s ditched her black funeral ensemble for the all-white get-up she wore the day Jason and she rowed across Sweetwater River for the last time (with gloves reunited at last!). To her parents’ abject horror, she breezes past them to take the stand unpermitted, and delivers an emotional heartbreaking eulogy, darkly reminiscing about the time Jason urged her to combine birthday parties with him, unbeknownst to her at the time that he was trying to protect her from the fact that no one wanted to attend hers. You know, I always just kind of assumed that Cheryl talked Jason up and he was just as abhorrent as the rest of his family, but it seems he might in fact have been a somewhat good guy. As Cheryl breaks down in sobs, Veronica, true to form, heads up to comfort her. Quick to diffuse the scene, and wanting harsh words with her daughter, Penelope adjourns the memorial extremely early for a light lunch in the winter salon, just as Fred walks in late to pay his respects – barely missing the 3-second memorial service. He’s approached by Hermione, and in an effort to apparently get even more involved in her criminal mess, he reconsiders her bookkeeping job application for Andrews Construction with the promise of less snakes. She gratefully (and way too romantically) hugs him in thanks, before the two awkwardly break free, pretending there’s no chemistry between them. Do I smell an inter-generational Lodge/Andrews double-date? Betty and Jughead also take this opportunity to break off from the crowd to platonically head toward the bedrooms, sneaking into Jason’s to hunt for clues. Even in the comics, these two have the cutest friendship. I friend-ship it. However, to their horror, they’re not the only ones in the room.
Nana ‘Peter Capaldi in drag’ Rose wheels out from the corner, flaunting her unnecessary single paprika streak in her otherwise salt-and-no-pepper hair. Old people can get away with anything these days, I tells ya. Nana is happy to see Betty ‘again’ – but only because she thinks she’s the older Cooper sister, whom she was apparently quite fond of. Betty plays along, so as to not spook the life out of the old crone, and quickly learns more than she bargained for – as Rose is pleased to see ‘Polly’ was smart enough not to wear the old Blossom family ring to the memorial, and comments on how her upcoming wedding with Jason was the only thing she was still living for. Sufficiently upset and freaked, Betty and Jughead swiftly excuse themselves and exit the room. Now, there’s a lot of instances of evidence in this show that seem to suggest that Polly is really Betty’s split- or former personality. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of this theory. Pros? Well, she called herself Polly a few weeks ago. Also, Nana Rose confused her for her sister, the home videos only had one girl in them, she gets overly sensitive about all Polly issues, she has a crush on Archie (who is often compared to Jason), her controlling mom refilled her Adderall prescription for her while both her parents seem to avoid the idea of her meeting with Polly, and she is clearly mentally unstable. It’s definitely possible, with people who would feasibly know both girls (Trev, Archie, etc.) could just be ‘playing along’ to help avoid a relapse. However, as far as cons go, Nana Rose is senile and blind in one eye. Also, many people seem to remember Polly that don’t really know Betty that well, and they did cast an actress in the role for a future episode. (Tyler Durden, anyone?) I guess this is just one thing we’re going to have to wait and see! Anyway, elsewhere in the mansion Penelope marches Cheryl into her Archie-Comics-pop-art-inspired room and tears her a new Blossom, calling her selfish for her actions and being borderline emotionally (and physically) abusive. She promptly bans her daughter from the River Vixens (or somehow has the authority to cancel the whole team? It’s unclear) and threatens to ship Cheryl to a European boarding school before storming off – as a mortified and sorry Veronica watches from the doorway.
Later, at Pop’s, Archie is grabbing a bite with Val (!!!) and dejectedly hypothesizes that Ms. Grundy was doing what she does best: lying about his prowess. Valerie hops on his back for wallowing, and criticizes his inability to take criticisms. She admits that making it in music is hard, but poses a question for Arch to mull over: “Who’s telling you you can’t do music? Your coach? Mr. Castillo? Your dad? …or is it just you?” Meanwhile, at Betty’s house, Hal desperately demands to know what’s up with Betty, as she dragged him out of of Thornhill and hasn’t spoken to him since. (Can we take a moment to praise how lucky the town of Riverdale is that resident psycho-bitch Alice Cooper had prior engagements this week and couldn’t show up to cause a scene?) Bets drops the bombshell of her sister’s secret engagement… and, noting that it has nearly no effect on her dad, is hurt to realize that he already knew about it. Prying into more secrets, (remember when her mom said that she didn’t want any more secrets between the family? Good times) she asks him to come clean about what else he’s hiding, and what Clifford and he were arguing about. Hal admits they were arguing because Cliff’s grandfather and his grandfather had co-owned a maple syrup conglomerate, and Pa Blossom decides he didn’t want to share Pa Cooper’s cut, and murdered him in cold blood – hence the perpetual bad blood between the two families. Are. You. KIDDING. Me!? I’m sorry, but that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t care about what my great-grandparents did with anyone else’s. It has no bearing on my life anymore; it’s ridiculous to hold a grudge about things that happened before you were born. Why are you still arguing about it decades later!? This is a goddamn maple-flavoured Romeo and Juliet. I can see the headline now: THE MAPLE SYRUP MURDER. You can do better than this Riverdale. I feel sorry for you, Lochlyn, for having to recite such a godawful ridiculous monologue. So that’s the reason he hates Jason. That’s why Polly is locked up. Syrup is thicker than blood, guys. Just… ugh. Hal warns Betty not to interfere with Polly business before storming off, seething.
Back at Casa Lodge, Hermione and Veronica recount the day’s events and express their sorrow towards the Blossom family, but also gratefulness that they have each other’s backs. Keeping with her promise to tell her daughter if she was in trouble, Hermione tells Ronnie that she needs to share with her what happened at the Chock’lit Shoppe last night. Before we get to see her reaction, we cut back to the school in the wee hours of the morning (I think? Riverdale time), where Coach Clayton has Reg and Arch called into his office. While they both showed fire and hustle, the new Bulldogs captain’s spot this year has to go to Rrrrrrrr… Archie?! While Reggie was the clear better player, Archie showed a true leader’s spirit when he made the call to retire Jason’s jersey. Reggie concedes defeat, but, flattered, Archie politely declines the new #17 jersey, as he has enough self-realization (for once) to recognize that he doesn’t have the luxury of putting all of his focus into football. In his place, Archie nominates Reggie as the new captain, before playing some guitar in the student lounge with Val watching. Jug closes us off again the same way we started as we watch Jason’s funeral from afar: “Every town has one. The spooky house that all the kids avoid.” Cheryl, finally finding some solace, hallucinates Jason watching over her as she mourns at the headstone. Back in the school paper office, however, Betty is less comforted – telling Juggie that she doesn’t know who her parents are anymore. Jughead, concerned over Hal’s comments of ‘doing anything to protect Polly’, wonders aloud how far that ‘anything’ goes. Betty chimes in with the realization that whoever stole Sheriff Keller’s files must have been one of the few townsfolk not at the drive-in that night – someone like her dad. To Betty’s solemn approval, Jug adds ‘The Coopers’ to their list of suspects on their murder board – a notion not unfounded, as we proceed to watch Hal Cooper rifling through hastily-removed photos and sticky notes and documents that belong on the wall in the sheriff’s office. NO WAY. “We need to talk to Polly,” Jughead caps us off, setting up next week’s mission.
THEORY TIME. What if Jason and Polly (ship name Jolly?) went to elope, and Halice killed Jason and locked up Polly to prevent the maple-tastrophe? God, I can’t wait to find out. Catch Riverdale at 9:00 PM (EST) on The CW or Canadian Netflix, after Supernatural!