Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
“What makes a place feel like home? Is it warmth and familiarity? Is it love and acceptance? Or is it simple safety?” This is the philosophical question put forth by our narrator Jughead Jones this week, and one that he, as we’ve come to learn, might know the answer less than most. During his theorizing, we’re treated to an exciting extended dream sequence – AKA pandering to Archie Comics fans – that takes place in a nice group dinner party in the ‘ideal family’ in the 1940’s. Yes, the 1940’s – you know what that means: classic comic wardrobes! For a brief, fleeting moment we get to see what Riverdale would look like if it was bright, colourful and comic-accurate, complete with a retro Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge, and a loving and happy nuclear Cooper family, finally accepting both Jughead’s relationship with youngest daughter Betty and Jason Blossom’s relationship with the eldest, Polly. In fact, everyone seems to be happy and smiling… everyone except for a confused Jughead, who can’t help but conjure up memories of his Southside Serpent gang member father drinking in front of the TV. As Jug shakily goes to cut the cartoonishly-perfect roast for Hal Cooper, he realizes his knife is missing – and has firmly planted itself in Archie, who accuses him of stabbing him in the back. Is this a premonition? Is this an allusion to what happened this summer? The bad blood between their parents? Guilt over kissing Betty? Either way, Jughead wakes up to his cell alarm (5:45 – my man), finishing his narration: “– or maybe it’s a forgotten closet under a well-trod staircase,” as we sadly see that that’s exactly where his new home is.
Groggily, he slumps out of his Potter-esque cupboard-under-the-stairs in Riverdale High and heads to the shower to get ready for the day, only to be horror movie jump-scared by his best friend Archie, who presumably is at the school early for football or music or something. Who knows. Archie, jokingly at first, asks Jughead why he’s here so early, but when Jughead responds with sarcastic sardonic humour instead, he concernedly asks him again for the truth. As Jughead shows Arch his new pad, he tells him that he’s only been here temporarily since his last home (the Twilight Drive-In’s projectionist booth) was demolished, and that things haven’t been good at home since his dad fell off the wagon after he got canned, and his mom took his kid sister Jellybean (who is alive!!!) and left to stay with her parents. (Why didn’t she take Jughead? Favouritism, I tell ya.) Archie offers Jug a couch, but Jughead, too proud and stubborn to ask for help, reassures Arch that this is temporary and he’ll figure things out but warns him that in the meantime, don’t tell Betty – before catching his slip-up and adding ‘or Veronica’ to ward off any Bethead suspicions. Speaking of the online shopping devil, a vengeful Veronica comes home to her fancy apartment with butler Smithers in tow, carrying some revenge retail therapy packages from Glamazon.com. Hermione scolds her daughter for spending more than they have, but Veronica snarks back that she’s sure they can afford it with her cushy new job with her high-school boyfriend, Fred Andrews.
Later, in the Riverdale High student lounge, Jughead and Betty finish explaining what they saw to the group (Archie, Veronica and B-lister Kevin Keller) and they all speculate on where Polly is and who did torch the vehicle-o’-evidence. Veronica jokes that they should just all move, but Betty is freaked that Jason’s murderer is still on the prowl and after her big sister, and, to more than a few raised eyebrows, is consoled by Jughead by putting his arm around her. Awkwardly pretending to not notice this, Kevin suggests they discreetly go to his dad, the local sheriff, to avoid Mama and Papa Bear Cooper learning that the police are involved against their wishes, but Jughead scoffs that Sheriff Keller is compromised as he has to answer to the Blossoms due to their syrupy wealth-derived influence over the town. The group agrees that they need to make sure they keep this from the Blossom family above all else… as Ginger Lopez, Cheryl Blossom’s main crony, begins furiously texting what she’s just overheard. On the way to class, Arch catches up with Jughead and near-jealously confronts him about Betty. Jug admits that they may have had a little moment, and Archie quickly dismisses this as totally fine before letting him know that he talked to his dad, and Jughead’s dad can have his job back at Andrews Construction if he wants it, urging Jughead to visit his dad and ask him to accept the work. After the boys finish their talk, the girls begin theirs – as Veronica also confronts Betty about the slightly-romantic weirdness. Betty bashfully admits that Jughead was there for her when she needed someone, and Veronica swoons and offers her Lodge seal of approval.
Meanwhile, at the sheriff’s office, Papa Sheriff Keller (I’m left to assume at this point that his first name is ‘Sheriff’) explains to a sour-and-dour Mama Penelope Blossom that they have the forensics team looking into the car-roast, and that they’ll keep her posted. Cheryl interrupts with her freshly-gossiped scoop of her own, and offers to tell the adults what Ginger overheard – on the condition that she is reinstated as captain of the River Vixen cheer squad, a privilege her mother nixed after her ‘stunt’ at Jason’s memorial. Cheryl tells them everything she knows (with the story notably tweaked to lean toward the Blossom version of events) about Polly, and hypothesizes, in her Cheryl-esque ‘this is fact, not a theory’ kind of way, that Polly killed Jason and torched his car. To put the pressure on the sheriff further (and to act as a cheap plot device for the show writers), she also tweeted this alternative fact out to all of her @CherylBombshell minions. The laziness of this plot instance is soon realized as a frantic Kevin joins B and V in the hall with the news that Cheryl tweeted about Polly (#PollyCooperKilledMyBrother #NowhereToHide #SharpenYourPitchforks), and that she knows more than she’s supposed to. Mortified, Betty declares that they need to find her big sis before the Blossoms do.
Following the title card (– does anyone do theme songs anymore? The good ol’ days –) Jughead returns ‘home’ to the Jones trailer in the Sunnyside Trailer Park, which is near filled to bursting with unwashed dishes, strewn dirty clothes and empty alcohol bottles. After some cold estranged small talk, Jughead stiffly asks his dad FP (that’s Forsythe Pendleton II, for those keeping score at home) if he’d consider returning to work for Fred Andrews. FP confirms that Fred had called him… but he’d refused, finding it insulting that he treated it as a ‘favour’ when he felt Fred was in the wrong for firing him in the first place. Jug plants the passive-aggressive seed that maybe if he wasn’t such a bum, he, along with his mom and Jellybean, would finally come home – before walking out, not waiting for a response. It seems he has more important places to be, as he quickly joins Betty to help organize a search party in Eversgreen Forest – made up a bunch of their friends, parents, Pussycats and jocks – to locate Polly. After they finish mapping out the search areas, the group disperses their separate routes, with Archie partnering up with Betty. JEALOUS, MUCH? As they walk, he apologizes for everything she’s been through lately and for not being around to help (LIKE JUGHEAD WAS). Meanwhile, Kevin and Ronnie are trekking through the brush and discussing the Cold War that is the Lodge household, and Veronica vows to keep it going until her mom caves and admits her wrongdoing. To punish her mom, she brings back an old NYC tactic – going on a clubbing bender with her favourite celebrity gal pal (in Riverdale’s case, Josie McCoy, of the Pussycats fame), her best gay (Kevin, who is honoured to be considered), and some dimwitted, disposable arm-candy – deciding upon football captain and dumb jock Reggie Mantle, who is absent-mindedly trying to get cell reception out in the thickets. Is this setting up for the infamous Reggonica on-and-off relationship that invaded the comics whenever Archie went for Betty? Gosh, I… I kind of hope not. Reggie sucks, guys. He just sucks. Anyway, Kevin suggests they invite Betty to help distract her, but Veronica worriedly points out that she may be a bit preoccupied at the moment… as Cheryl and Team Blossom flank their search party, bloodhounds in tow.
Stopping them in their tracks, Hal and Alice Cooper approach a stalemate, facing down Penelope and Clifford Blossom. Parent showdown! The battle of who’s more dysfunctional as a parent rages on, as the two couples argue over Polly’s whereabouts – the Blossoms claiming that Polly is to blame for Jason’s grisly fate as she could have snuck out once before, and the Coopers, flabbergasted, denying any connection. Penelope snaps that the Blossoms and Sheriff Keller (who doth protest) all know that she’s guilty, and once they find her they plan to go public so everyone else will know too. Later, Alice touches up her makeup with show-sponsor-and-product-placement-extraordinaire Covergirl concealer (and way-too-bright lime green nails) as Betty asks if she’s sure they’re making the right choice. Mrs. Cooper rebuffs that they’re in damage-control mode, since the Polly-cat is out of the institutionalized-bag, and that this next step is necessary. Cue next step, as Alice and fam hold a press conference in front of the church (a deliberately-chosen backdrop, to guilt the Blossoms away from smearing the family) to clear the air around the rumours. Alice announces to the town (but honestly, mostly to the Blossoms) that Polly was in a care facility, but was under constant monitoring, including the time of Jason’s death, before dropping the bombshell that Polly would never hurt Jason – as she was pregnant with his baby. Distraught and confused, Cheryl and her parents storm off in a huff as Alice turns on the (probably faux-)waterworks and pleads for her eldest daughter to please come home.
Later that night, Jug walks Betty home (because apparently her parent’s car was too full of Blossom voodoo dolls and half-empty maple syrup jugs to drive her?) under the guise of ‘protecting her from the psycho killer’. They’re holding hands, guys. It’s hella cute. One-track Betty ruins the cute moment AS PER USUAL by stressing about Polly and blaming herself for her disappearance, but Jughead defends her and argues that if anyone’s to blame, it’s her parents. She reminisces fondly about the last time Polly ran away (when she was nine) before remembering where they found her, getting struck with an idea, kissing Jughead goodbye (Eeeee!) and running inside. Grabbing a flashlight, Bets makes sure her parents aren’t home before sneaking off to the creepy dusty attic – filled with relics like Ouija boards and terrifying dollhouses – calling for her sister. She turns, and… Aah! Jump scare! Polly!? Nope. Just a full-body mirror, like all spooky storage areas have. Then… Aah! Jump scare! Polly! The real Polly steps out from the shadows, shushing Betty from screaming and begging for help. After bandaging her sister’s injured leg and hearing her tale of how she got in the house, Betty asks her why she left, and Polly explains how she refused to wait around for someone who was never coming and resolved to run away to the farm alone, just like her and Jason had planned – only she has no money to do so. Betty suggests she stay home now that everyone knows about her pregnancy anyway, but Polly claims that their parents are trying to force her to give up the baby for adoption. On cue, the door below creaks as Halice returns home, and Betty, before rushing back downstairs, promises Polly she will figure something out for her if she just stays hidden for a few more days.
Elsewhere, a plaid-shirted FP Jones walks back into Andrews Construction, where a plaid-shirted Fred Andrews remarks that he didn’t think he’d plaid-shirted show up. Construction workers. Both men admit this arrangement wasn’t their idea, but Fred apologizes for not reaching out sooner and FP admits he just wants his son to look at him and not see a piece of garbage. The two shake on the rehiring just as bookkeeper Hermione Lodge enters, and to her horror, she is ‘introduced’ to’ the new man being hired – her personal tormentor from the Southside Serpent gang due to her husband Hiram’s shady dealings from prison. The two pretend to vaguely remember each other from high school, and the second Fred leaves to take a call, she confronts FP about his hiring. He assures her that he’s trying to go straight and this is legitimate and not a shakedown; her gang debts are now squared as Hiram has settled up, and he asks her to keep his Serpentry a secret from Jughead with the admittedly clever threat: “Here’s the thing about snakes: you don’t step on them, they got no reason to bite.” Meanwhile, at the Cooper Coop, Betty approaches her parents around the table and asks them if, when she’s found, Polly will come back to live with them. Alice, unwittingly admitting that the only reason Polly was banished was due to her pregnancy, advises that of course she can come home. Pressing further, Betty asks where the baby will sleep, and Alice flat-out lies and says that Polly has decided to give the baby up for adoption, a sentiment echoed by Hal as the only option. Betty, clearly not inheriting her dishonesty skills from her parents, slyly smirks that she was ‘just curious.’
Later, in the school student lounge (because apparently lesson not learned regarding discussing sensitive information in public spaces), a plaid-shirted Betty tells a plaid-skirted Ronnie what she knows and contemplates renting out an apartment for her sister, but Veronica offers to talk to her mom about it because a pregnant lady needs doctors and vitamins and – “she needs her family,” adds Cheryl, barging in. Pulling Auntie Betty aside into an abandoned science classroom (because Blossoms understand privacy), Auntie Cheryl tells Betty that for once, they want the same thing – to be aunties – and asks how she can help. Betty, untrusting, tells Cheryl the bare minimum without giving away her location, and admits that Polly needs cash. Cheryl vows to ask her parents, stating that Jason’s baby is a game-changer – they’re all on the same team now. After school, Arch and Jug wait in the construction trailer for their dads to get off work, and, to celebrate FP’s hard-working first day back, suggest they all celebrate by going out for dinner. Fred isn’t so sure, but FP offers it as his treat. At Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe not long after, the four sit down for a bite as that dads reminisce about their high school wonder years. Among other juicy tidbits, we learn that Fred fronted a band called the Fred Heads, FP was the big man on campus and they had a game-less VW called the Shaggin’ Wagon. Mr. Jones dismisses all this talk, assuming Jughead wouldn’t want to hear about sports and conquests, as he took after his mother with his nose in a book. Archie confirms that this is still the case, and that he works on the school paper with Betty. Before his dad can quiz him further on Betty, Jug changes the subject back to the Fred Heads as Pop Tate comes to pick up the tab. Fred settles up, but FP gets a little testy about this as he had promised to pay the tab. He makes a scene by calling Pop back to the table and angrily telling Jughead, who is now offering to cover dinner, to put his damn money away. Telling Fred that Fred owes him this, he pays for dinner.
Meanwhile, at the Apartment De Lodge, Veronica gets ready to go out clubbing in her glitziest outfit, flaunting it in her mother’s face. To prevent this, Hermione admits to kissing Fred Andrews and forging Veronica’s signature and promises that she will tell Hiram about switching the construction company… just not yet. Not satisfied with this answer, Ronnie heads out for her night on the town despite her mother’s scolding demands. At the club – The Roving Eye, which I don’t believe Kevin mentioned in his episode one rundown of Riverdale’s hotspots – the four kinda-friends Reggie, Josie, Kevin and Veronica dance to Tove Lo provocatively before settling into a booth, sweaty and exhausted. Amongst drinks, Kevin asks Veronica if this bad-girling is helping, and she tells a story of when her family was at its lowest – the day her dad was arrested. The police took everything they had, but her mom consoled her by reminding her that there’s one thing that could never be taken away: her name. Veronica states that she is simply lashing out because her mother took that very thing away from her by forging her signature on the Andrews Construction contract bid. Sadly, she reflects that her mom took it away from her like it was nothing… like she was nothing.
Elsewhere, FP tweedles on his guitar with Archie backing him up and Jughead fiddling on the drums (like he played in the Archie Comics band, The Archies!) in the garage/soundproof jam room. Complimenting Archie on his skills, he goes to the mini-fridge to grab a beer, before a tense Jughead, worried about his dad’s clear drinking problem, reminds him that it’s a little bit late for alcohol. FP, eager to make things right with his son, agrees that he probably shouldn’t drink because he has a big day tomorrow. Archie, being so damn curious-to-the-point-of-confrontational this episode, asks what he meant by his comments about his dad owing him earlier. Jughead says to quit while they’re ahead, but Archie pulls the oblivious passive-aggressive ‘it’s just a question’. FP explains, increasingly angrily, that he co-founded Andrews Construction with Fred, but he took some shady jobs for extra cash (citing ‘Jellybean, Jughead and hospital bills’ as the reason. Hmm…) and got in trouble. Fred bailed FP out, but, considering him a liability, made him sign a contract agreeing that the bail money was him buying his shares of the company, despite their value being worth much more than that. Bitterly, and with a perturbed Archie and a disappointed Jughead looking on, FP remarks that he needs something a bit harder than beer, before taking a flask out of his discarded jacket’s pocket and taking a swig.
Meanwhile, later at Pop Tate’s (the Riverdale hub for… well, everything), Betty sits down with the Blossoms to discuss options. Penelope and Cliff reassure her that they want what’s best for the baby, and that money will never be an issue with them. However, they want to offer emotional support as well – and ask Betty where Polly is currently staying. Sensing a trap, Betty declines to answer, and Penelope claims to understand, reminding Betty that they are part of the Blossom family now and that they will be protected ferociously. Cheryl, meanwhile, looks uncomfortable at this – like she doesn’t trust her mother’s intentions. Back at the Andrews jam cave, Archie apologizes to Jugs for bringing it up, and they both admit they had no idea. They start to disagree, taking their dad’s own sides, but FP interrupts by re-entering, asking Jughead if he’s ready to go. Jughead quickly stashes his dad’s flask in the couch before bundling up the jacket and heading out, as Archie, deep in thought, watches them go. Back back at the club, the server returns with the news that Ronnie’s card has been declined and reported as stolen. Giddy at this, she covers the tab in cash, explaining to a confused Reggie that this is how the Lodge women roll; this means her mother is ready to negotiate.
Returning home, a slurring FP flops on the couch and offers his bed to Jughead, who is helping unlace his boots. Jug, agreeing to stay living at home, updates his dad on his ‘ahead of the class’ grades and the rest of the family: how his mom got a job at a call centre to pay for online classes, and how Jellybean is helping her study. Smirking, he remarks how Jellybean wants to go as ‘JB’ now to seem cooler, noting that any 10-year-old who listens to Pink Floyd couldn’t get any cooler. It’s a sweet, tender moment… or it would be, if FP wasn’t already passed out, drunk and exhausted. Meanwhile, a very bothered Archie is staring at his bedroom ceiling. His dad comes up to ask how the jam sesh went, and Archie confronts (CHILL OUT, ARCH) his dad about what FP had told him. Fred argues his side of the story, explaining how FP would steal company materials and sell them for extra profit – and how he gave him more than one ‘second’ chances. He explains to his son his business philosophy: you can try and save a drowning man, but not if he pulls you down with him, but Archie sadly responds ‘yeah, and who cares if Jughead ended up drowning too.’ Back at The Pembrooke (Veronica’s apartment building and a reference to Cheryl Blossom’s comic book hometown), Veronica sits down with her mother to negotiate. Admitting that they’ve done things to upset each other, they set their terms. Hermione wants Veronica to accept her affair, as she does not yet known what exactly she feels or where things will go, but she does know that Hiram is in jail due to his own poor decisions, and that he may be there for a long time. Veronica must also stop with the clubbing, online shopping and excessive spending. Agreeing to this, Veronica wants Hermione to keep the affair outside of the home, and to tell Hiram the truth about the signature forgery. While noting that she was only trying to keep Lodge Industries from partnering with less-than-legitimate businesses, Hermione also agrees to these terms.
The next day, as the first bell rings at Riverdale High, Jughead walks into the offices of the Blue & Gold school paper to nervously find Principal Waldo Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller waiting for him, suspiciously checking out their murder wall. Asking Jughead to come downtown with them, the sheriff and principal escort Jughead out of school, with Jug, terrified, sputtering for a shocked Archie and Betty to call his dad as they march past them. In the interrogation room, Sheriff Keller explains how Jughead’s prints were found by forensics on the car, alongside Betty’s – no surprises there – but was shocked to learn from Jughead’s records that he had previously done a stint in a juvenile delinquent centre for attempted arson on Riverdale Elementary. Jughead protests that he was just playing with matches and that that’s a pretty tenuous connection, but that’s not all the sheriff has on him. Sheriff Keller pulls out Jughead’s school records, which, aside from showing that Jughead was lying about his good grades, show a long history of being bullied, by the football team in particular – including Jason Blossom. Unwilling to answer his whereabouts on the week of July 11th, Jughead refuses to say anything else until he has a lawyer present.
Elsewhere, at Thornhill, the Blossom family mansion, Penelope is quizzing her daughter on Polly Cooper and her personality traits and habits, and making Cheryl increasingly uncomfortable and suspicious. Back in the interrogation room, Jughead pleads that his visitor, Betty, believe his innocence. She does, and promises she won’t let him be made a scapegoat, and that they’ll get him free. Jughead asks if his dad has shown yet, and Betty nervously tells him that Archie and his dad have, before sadly adding that no one knows where his dad is. In the hall, Sheriff Keller complains to Fred that Jughead is making things worse for himself by giving lip instead of an alibi, but Fred lies and covers for him, saying that Jughead was tearing out drywall for him that week, and that he has the time-cards to prove it. DAD OF THE YEAR. Walking Jug out of the station, they’re finally accosted by FP, who claims his phone was dead so he didn’t get the message. Angry at the sheriff for accusing Jughead, FP tries to storm the police station in a drunken rage, and nearly comes to blows with Fred for trying to stop him until Jug asks him to stop making things worse. Agreeing, FP stumbles home, asking Jughead to come with, but Archie and Fred offer to give him a place to stay instead. Mr. Jones agrees that that’s probably for the best, but Jughead dejectedly says that he wants to go home with his dad. Touched, FP grabs him and promises to get his act together in the next month or two and to bring their family back together. Angry, Jughead lies and tells his dad he believes him before the two hug and walk off, Betty trying to console him before they go.
Back at the Lodge’s, Hermione and Veronica anxiously wait for the phone to ring, while Hermione nervously talks herself up for the conversation she’s about to have. The phone rings, and she accepts the charges from Yonkers Penitentiary. Before we hear the conversation, we cut to some more shady business, as Archie watches his dad forge some time-cards under Jughead’s name, stating it’s the least he can do. Later, at Pop’s, the whole gang waits with Polly for the Blossoms to finally set things right. As Polly states she’s thankful for Betty always watching out for her and being her guardian angel, Cheryl walks in. Seeing for herself that the pregnancy is real, she goes quiet – even after Polly offers her condolences, and we all know Jason is her favourite topic. Betty questions where her parents are, and Cheryl hesitates before answering: “You need to leave. Now.” She explains that she doesn’t think her parents want to help; she thinks they want Polly out of the picture. She pleads that she find another option, for her and Jay-Jay’s baby. Not allowing her to return to the attic, Veronica offers her her home – and we cut to Polly thanking Hermione for her hospitality, allowing her to stay as long as she needs. Meanwhile, Archie is blowing up an air mattress for Jughead after all, who says that he’s not giving up hope on his dad just yet. As he starts his closing monologue about hope, we focus in on FP stumbling around his trailer, bottle in hand… past the open closet, where Jason Blossom’s monogrammed letterman jacket – freshly plucked from the now-toasted car – is hanging right in front of FP’s Southside Serpents bomber.
WHAT!? More clues and misleads every week, I tells ya. What happens next? You’ll have to wait a bit – catch Riverdale next on the evening of Thursday, March 30th on The CW or Canadian Netflix!