Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
Warning: If early pregnancy terminations are something you have trouble coping with, there is a huge trigger warning for the last third of this episode. Read at your own discretion.
After a two-week absence, what better way to return than with Alice Cooper’s shining face? As we see a mock photoshoot of the Coopers (“the Stepfords of Riverdale”), Jughead Jones narrates and recounts the events that led up to the death of Jason Blossom, the eldest Cooper daughter Polly’s lover and future baby-daddy. Hold up, though — can we all agree that whatever ‘In Cold Blood’ novel Jughead’s writing and relaying to us via narration, it probably sucks? I love Juggie as much as everyone else, but to start each episode introducing a theme and closing it off with the same full-circle points, all while reminding us about the same plot stuff you remind us about every week — it makes for good TV recaps, not a good novel. Mark my words: when this season’s done I’m going to lay out all his narration back to back for us all to see, and it’s going to be garbage. As Pop Tate clears his plates at the Chock’lit Shoppe where he writes, Jug reintroduces us to Hal, Alice, Polly and his lady Betty, while setting the scene for Polly’s telling of her side of the events.
In Veronica and Hermione Lodge’s very extra apartment, Polly, currently staying there, sits down with her new roomies, her sister, and Sheriff Keller to explain the missing puzzle pieces she has regarding the story. After she recaps their relationship as we’ve come to learn it this season, she tells the sheriff that after he faked his death they were supposed to meet up, but she got intercepted by her parents and that’s the last she had heard. Junior reporter asks Polly about Jason’s drug dealings and she admits it — but claims it was just one time to secure some non-traceable non-Blossom cash for their getaway. She continues on that he has gotten the drugs from a sketchy south Riverdale biker gang (hmm… what shady biker gang do we know from the south side?) and was supposed to deliver them upstate, but now all the drugs and his belongings are burnt up to a crisp, along with Nana Rose Blossom’s wedding ring that she has given them with her blessing. As Polly dramatically breaks down in tears during her retelling, Hermione ushers the sheriff out while Betty and Veronica stay back to comfort her. Meanwhile, at the Andrews pad, Archie Andrews and his current roommate and best bud Jughead are playing video games late into the night. Fred comes up to tell his son to keep it down or hit the hay (and to complain about the smell) as he has a big day tomorrow, breaking ground on the SoDale contract. He apologizes to Jughead about the demolition of the former Twilight Drive-in, knowing it’s a sore spot, and promises to build something big in its place.
The next morning, the gang (comprised of Betty, Archie, Jughead, Veronica, Kevin Keller and Cheryl Blossom) discusses Polly in the Riverdale High student lounge, and the impossibility of the situation: the Coopers want Polly and not the baby, the Blossoms want the baby and not Polly, and, of course, Polly wishes for the two of them to remain a package deal. Veronica argues that that’s not impossible, impossibility is the time she was invited to both a Vanity Fair and Elton John Oscar party on the same night — which leaves Kevin starstruck — and says that this situation is merely an annoyance… one that she has a solution to. Ronnie offers for the Lodges to throw Polly a baby shower, bringing together the two warring factions in an intimate public setting where they have to at least pretend to be loving and supportive, and, if everything goes according to plan, leading both families to accept Polly and the baby as a unit. She also takes it upon herself to invite Jughead, calling him Betty’s boyfriend — which makes Betty as blushy as it makes a clearly budding-ly jealous Arch uncomfortable. Veronica asks Betty what she thinks of the idea, but before she can respond a livid Alice Cooper marches into the school lounge (a parent, at school? Scandalous) and pulls aside a mortified B and V for a very private conversation. Meanwhile, at Andrews Construction, Fred and bookkeeper Hermione get ready to begin construction and brief the men on today’s first day duties, when foreman Vic interrupts to let them know he’s pulling his crew; Cliff Blossom has offered them two years of steady work on a big project, and they can’t pass up that opportunity.
In an abandoned Spanish classroom, Alice marches up and down the aisles between desks, angrily explaining how Sheriff Keller (Riverdale’s shittiest confidante) told her all about Polly’s stowing away in The Pembrooke apartment complex. Betty and Veronica defend their actions, which are directed toward keeping Polly safe as opposed to locking her in an asylum or forcing her to give her baby up. Alice argues that it’s for the best for Polly — but Betty counters that that’s not her choice to make, and invites her to be a ‘loving, supportive, normal grandmother’ at the baby shower (which she lets her mother know she thinks is a great idea), or to stay away from Polly. Back at Chez Andrews, Fred is pacing and frantically calling every crew of contractors he can think of (on a landline, like a dad), trying to find a couple of men that can be spared for the SoDale project. Archie walks in as he hangs up, and questions his dad’s apparent frustration, but he brushes it aside and asks about Archie’s date with Val. Arch doesn’t want to drop it though and presses further, telling his dad that he always has to be candid and open about his feelings. REVERSE DAD-TALKS. Reluctantly, Fred admits that Clifford Blossom stole his crew, and the deal wasn’t just lucrative — it was vital to the survival of Andrews Construction. Archie expresses shock and surprise at this, as he has no clue the company was failing or even doing poorly at all. As his dad wallows, feeling sorry for himself for failing, Archie reassures him (somewhat unconvincingly) that he’s not going to lose anything.
After the title card, Betty is sharing a nice Lodge family supper at The Pembrooke and poses the idea of a baby shower, to Polly’s surprise. She likes the idea, but says she wishes her parents — or her mom, at the very least — would come without fighting with her, and Betty and Veronica promise to make it happen. Another stipulation: she wants Penelope Blossom there. She had declared her an unfit mother, and she wants the opportunity to prove that she’s not. As Betty and Veronica hesitate, Hermione pulls her daughter away for a word and expresses her concerns of having both the Hatfields and the McCoys in their fancy apartment. Furthermore, she’s trying to avoid the Blossoms because she thinks they’re making a play on the SoDale land by forcing a halt in construction, and she doesn’t want them (or Fred, for that matter) to find out that her husband Hiram is the anonymous buyer. Doubting the idea of the shower altogether, she asks if Alice Cooper even wants to come. Veronica admits that she does not, but that she was hoping her loving mother could talk some sense into her, mom to mom. Elsewhere, at the Blossom manor Thornhill, Cliff Blossom’s fancy-carred exit from his luxurious gated driveway is blocked by Fred Andrews and his old pickup. The two men exit their vehicles, and Fred confronts the other over his screwjob. Clifford, failing to convince Fred it’s nothing personal, explains how the Blossoms built their maple empire on that lot (ggggrrrRRRAAAAH) and were in the process of negotiating for it before it was purchased under their noses. He plans to halt construction indefinitely and bleed the anonymous buyer dry until they can reacquire the land at a better rate. Fred, however, angrily accuses Cliff of bleeding him out dry as well (guilty) and of being a pompous ass (guiltier), threatening to come at him with everything he’s got. Calling his bluff, Cliff points out he doesn’t have anything, and calmly returns to his car to wait for Fred to move.
Fred storms back into his office and tells Hermione that the meeting went very well, insofar as he didn’t knock Cliff on his ass, inadvertently reassuring her that the Blossoms have no idea who the buyer is either. Angrily getting up to investigate the sound of tires outside, Fred finds his new crew — Archie has brought along a group of guys to help. Along with Jughead, Kevin, Moose Mason and a random-ass nobody because apparently Reggie wasn’t in the budget this week, he reassures his dad they can work evenings and weekends after extracurriculars in the interim, at least until he finds a new crew. That’s so frickin’ heartwarming, you guys. Later, at the Chock’lit Shoppe, Hermione has a little sit-down with Alice. Ignoring her barbs, Hermione asks Alice what her endgame is, and Alice complains that Polly is just a teenager and can’t possibly raise a child. Hermione rebuts that they did it, and pleads with her to come to the shower — because if she isn’t supportive about this now she will regret it for the rest of her life. This strikes a chord with Alice and her always-too-bright nails, and she contemplates it. Back at the job site, the new crew is moving rocks. Random football player guy compliments Kevin on his physical prowess and he jokes that he prefers his contact sports one-on-one — a lewd potential reference to his tryst with Moose, which isn’t lost on Mr. Mason. Meanwhile, Jughead (AND HIS BEAUTIFUL MUSCULAR ARMS, OH MY JEEZ) jokes that if music doesn’t pan out, Arch can always fall back on manual labour. Archie had his fill working in construction this summer, though, and admits that he’s only doing this because his dad always has his back. Jug comments that he knows how it feels to not want to follow your dad’s path, before bitterly remarking that Mr. Andrews has his back too… more than some people (coughdaddyissuescough).
As the crew calls it a night, Fred thanks them all and directs them to the soda mini-fridge (construction has great fringe benefits), before Moose realizes he forgot his phone out there and runs back out — just in time to see two shady hoodie-clad gentlemen smashing the generator with crowbars. As he calls for them to stop, they turn on him and the crew is none the wiser — until all power goes out inside the trailer. Just as the two thugs put pedal to the mettle, the gang runs out to find a severely battered and beaten Moose on the ground. As they tend to him, he admits he had no clue who did this to him… but that they told him they’d keep coming back as long as they keep on working. Sheriff Keller shows up to the scene, and Fred explains what happens, suggesting Clifford Blossom had something to do with this, which the sheriff doubts. Instead, Archie offers up the idea that the Southside Serpents gang is involved, since this used to be their old turf. Jughead disagrees with this theory, stating that when he worked (/lived) at the Drive-In, the Serpents were never a problem, and Moose didn’t see any slithery insignias either. The sheriff resigns to call up Cliff Blossom, but confesses that he doesn’t think the lead will go anywhere. Confrontational and feisty as ever, Archie abrasively points out that it won’t go anywhere because he’s in the Blossom’s pocket(book), before Fred tells him to knock it off and that he’s not helping. Kevin is notoriously silent in this scene. Does he side with his dad, or his friends? AM I THE ONLY ONE ASKING THE REAL QUESTIONS HERE? Elsewhere, at The Pembrooke we get a two-second scene of Betty and Veronica telling Polly that Alice is technically inviiiited before Pol asks Betty to be the baby’s godmother. That’s the whole scene. Another quickie (heh) — Archie is pacing his room while his girlfriend (maybe? Are we labelling it?) Valerie Brown tries to calm him. Not wanting to sit around and do nothing, he grabs his coat and rushes out to do something — and, as Val puts it, hopefully not something he’ll regret.
Suddenly it’s daytime, because Riverdale time doesn’t work the same way as our piddly mortal time. (Alternative option — the lighting guy didn’t know which scenes go where.) Jug sits with his girlfriend and Veronica at Pop’s and tells them all about what happened when Archie busts in, humorously still holding his jacket. What the hell? Archie confronts (always the confronting) Jug about not answering his texts, and asks if he’s in — he and Moose are going to go to Serpent territory to rough some guys up and get answers. He explains how Kevin’s boyfriend (Joaquin! Remember him? Amendment to my ship name article: Joaqkeller) can get them into a bar where the bikers frequent, and they can call the sheriff to bring the baddies in if they spot them. Jughead is very not in, because he’s rational and there’s indication it even was the gang, and because that’s, like, stupid dangerous. Betty agrees that it’s dangerous, and points out that the Southside Serpents are drug dealers according to Polly, which puts a defensive Jughead on edge. Notice how sketchy he is about Serpent stuff this week? WONDER WHY? Jug argues that it’s just all around a bad idea, and Archie remarks the worst angsty insult he can think of before storming out:
Later, at the Whyte Worm bar, Arch, Moose and Kevin arrive with Joaquin, who gives them a few pointers on how not to get filleted before heading in. As Kevin and Joaquin play some billiards, Moose and Archie scope out the joint for potential bruisers. Moose admittedly can’t remember any details about the perpetrators, but thanks some random guy may be one of them, despite being from the back and having no other reason to think so. That’s good enough for a bloodthirsty Archie, who confronts the guy and asks if he likes beating up teenagers. (Dumbass. You’re about to find out.) The dude remarks that this isn’t the first time a Riverdale High Bulldog came in to cause trouble (Jason!) and stands roughing him up before King Snake FP Jones descends the staircase dramatically and calls for ‘Mustang’ to back off of him, saying he’ll take care of it. Ohhhh… Jughead’s dad’s a Serpent? Since when? That must be why he was so defensive! The More You Know.™ As FP kicks the three students out of the bar, he makes Archie stay back and questions why he’s there. Archie tells him his reasoning, and Mr. Jones is offended that Archie thinks his gang would be any part of that — he helped found Andrews Constructions and was just working there last week. Speaking of Andrews, Fred pulls up in his pickup with a grim look on his face right behind Archie, ordering his son to get in. Meanwhile, at the baby shower, Veronica lets in and greets two-thirds of the Pussycats (Val and Melody Valentine — Josie McCoy is nowhere to be seen) as Jughead sweetly sets out a platter of mini-cupcakes, joking to Betty about how organizing a baby shower is on his bucket list. The cute moment is short-lived — as Alice Cooper walks in the door, awkwardly holding a present. She expresses that she’s glad that Polly here and safe… her and the baby. Starting to cry, Polly embraces her mother for finally accepting her pregnancy. The moment is shorter-lived than the last, as Cheryl bursts in with a fancy expensive stroller, Penelope Blossom in tow, wheeling in Nana Rose’s wicker wheelchair. Cheryl ‘jokes, so not jokes’ that in return for the gift, a nervous Polly only has to make her godmother. Penelope approaches her as well and apologises for her past actions, asking Polly’s forgiveness for the way she treated her (and pissing off a protective Mama Cooper in the process). Them Blossoms always gotta be flashier than everyone else.
Back outside the bar, Fred confronts FP about ‘returning’ to the gang life, and FP argues that no one else would hire him after he got fired. Fred doesn’t accept the blame for his criminal notoriety, and blames him for trashing his equipment — but FP is again offended, and asks if he really thinks that he would try to hurt them after everything they do for Jughead? Instead, he offers to ask around and find out if any of his guys know anything. Fred, ashamed of his accusations, thanks him — and FP reassures him he’ll pull out of this financial rut… but he should keep an eye on that boy of his, as we see that Archie has definitely fled the passenger seat of the truck. At the shower, Nana Rose is performing ‘dementia Gypsy blood magic’ on Polly to determine the sex of the baby, and comes to the (probably false) conclusion that it’s twins — a boy and a girl, like it’s aunt and dad are. Later, as they open gifts, Polly opens up her mom’s — and finds her childhood nightlight, which she saved from when she was a kid. (Refrain from commenting about how cheap and lazy the gift is refrain from commenting how cheap and lazy the gift is refrain from–) Cheryl wants their present next, but before she can unwrap anything else, Archie busts in, as he’s wont to do, and, making a scene, confronts Jughead about not wanting to go to the bar to protect his dad. Betty comes to break things up and Archie tells her that Jughead’s dad is a Serpent, which seems to shock and upset her as she was never told. Archie tries to cut in deeper, but Veronica breaks it up telling them this is Polly’s day and to get with the program or get out. Archie storms out as Betty gives Jughead dirty looks and Polly unwraps an ancient dirty rocking horse that Great-Grandfather Blossom used to play with, before Cheryl blurts out that they want Polly to come live with them at Thornhill. This invitation sets Alice off, and she accuses the Blossoms of trying to steal her daughter by waving a blank cheque around. The two moms get in a fight, and Polly breaks it up claiming how this ridiculous fighting is the reason she and Jason were kept apart in the first place, and that this is why he was killed, before storming out on her own shower.
After the baby shower, during cleanup, Betty urges her mom to talk to Polly. Alice does, and Polly finally confronts her calmly about sending her away to keep her away from Jason. Mrs. Cooper spells out her fears of Polly getting hurt or killed, but Polly argues that instead she got to feel alone, unloved and unwanted. Short of apologizing, Alice tenderly asks Polly to come home and she’ll make sure she never feels that way again. Polly wants to, but has reservations over her dad’s reaction — worried Hal will just ‘make her another appointment.’ This comment confuses Betty and Alice, and Polly explains how before she was sent away, Hal had made her an appointment for an abortion so she doesn’t have to ‘live with her mistake’, without even taking into account what she wanted. Back at home, Fred depressedly sits at the table with a beer (and a cutting board fill of like uncut spring onions or something?), not even reacting when Archie comes back home to explain himself. He says how it doesn’t matter what they both do; they tried all they can, and it wasn’t enough. Choking back tears as he delves back into his life story, Fred explains how his whole life has been spent trying to build stuff, and everything he built — a family, a good life for Archie, a business — all failed. Archie, in an effort to cheer his dad, notes how someday when he has a kid, he would be beyond proud if the kid wanted to go into the trades like his grandpa instead of following his path into music. Meanwhile, back at Veronica’s, Betty reenters the living room after putting Polly to sleep (What? She’s like 4 months pregnant, she’s not incapable!) to Jughead, who is eager to explain himself. He apologizes for not telling her about his dad sooner, and admits he was ashamed of him. Betty reassures Jughead that she wants to know everything about him, but suggest they talk to his dad about if he knows anything about Jason.
The two pull up to the Jones motorhome (who can drive? Betty? Jughead?) and Jug introduces his girlfriend to his dad. Cutting to the chase, Jughead asks his father about the drug deal, citing Polly as a source. Unable to lie around it, FP admits that they were helping him out and using him because no one would suspect a clean-cut kid like Jason Blossom. Jughead lets FP know that the cops now know, so they should come knocking soon, before Juggie lets the real question out: “Did you have anything to do with Jason Blossom’s death?” Evidently very hurt by this accusation, FP chokes up as he admits that he may be a terrible father but he’s no killer. As they leave, Betty asks Jughead if he believes his father, and he says that he does. He asks if Betty does, and she avoid the question by saying how she believes Jughead. The two kiss. It’s great. Bethead4ever. Meanwhile, at the Cooper home, Hal is watching baseball when he’s interrupted by Alice clicking the TV off and THROWING THE GODDAMN REMOTE, YEAH! She angrily confronts him about making an appointment behind her back. When he doesn’t deny it, she hits him and accusing him of doing the same thing to Polly that he did to her. Wait, what!? Am I sympathizing with Alice Cooper right now? Hal explains how this is the very reason he didn’t involve Alice — because she’d overreact. While his wife’s jaw is agape in absolute disgusted shock, he explains how she wasn’t ready for a baby yet and Polly isn’t either. The two argue over it, and Alice declares that Polly is moving home. Hal protests this, saying how he will not be party to raising a child with Blossom blood (maple syrup), and Alice furiously asks him to get out. When he refuses, she breaks down in tears and screams at him to leave before wailing on him and reminding him of what he now knows she’s capable of. More wait, what!? Rejecting the notion of ‘what people would think’, Alice asks one more time for Hal to leave — she doesn’t want him around when her daughter comes home. Hal stomps up the stairs as Alice chokes back sobs.
At the Andrews house, Jughead walks in on Archie noodling on his noodler (that’s a guitar, for all of you readers that aren’t as rock-and-roll as I am) and apologizes for not telling him about his dad sooner. Archie forgives him and understands wanting to have his dad’s back, but lets Jughead know that he can talk to him about anything, before whispering ‘you’re like my brother’. Jughead, calling him out on his ‘bro whisper’, offers his assistance in anything else he can do to help Archie and his dad, but Archie assures him the only thing left to do is to hope for a miracle. Back at the trailer park, Joaquin is helping FP stow away evidence, including Jason Blossom’s letterman jacket. Joaquin reassures FP that things are going good with Kevin — he thinks they’re legit — but sadly expresses concern that they’re actually falling for eachother. (FROWN EMOJI. WHY CAN’T GOOD THINGS BE REAL. KEVIN GETS TWO SECONDS OF SCREEN TIME. JUST GIVE HIM THIS ONE THING.) FP confirms that Kevin is just a play to have an ‘in’ to the sheriff, and reminds him that they all have a role to play… even him. The next day, Hermione and Fred don their hardhats to become a two-man crew until they get callbacks from crews in nearby towns of Greendale (where Sabrina the Teenage Witch is from) and Centerville (where Archie Comics side character Brigitte Reilly is from). FP interrupts, letting them know that that won’t be necessary — he’s got a group of Serpents that are looking for work, promising that he won’t leave him hanging this time. This would be touching if the previous scene wasn’t here; now it’s just suspicious. FP confirms that if there’s any trouble, they can handle that too. As Fred walks off to brief the crew, FP steals a minute of Hermione’s time and tells her of his findings — the crowbar vandals were a group of guys from Montreal, and they both know who has business in Montreal: Hiram. He hypothesizes that he caught whiff of her affair, but questions who could have ratted her out. PLANTING THE SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION AND DOUBT.
Back at The Pembrooke, Betty reassures Polly that their mother had no idea about the abortion appointment, and they both express surprise that she kicked their dad out, but take it as a gesture proving her love and support for the baby (or babies) — she can finally come home. We cut to a cab (Casano Cubs, guys. Good rates) pulling up with Polly inside, and she gets out with a suitcase… to the front gates of Thornhill. NO. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO. Ugh. Back at the Cooper home, Alice strokes her finger over the family picture taken at the beginning of the episode, before Betty enters alone, in tears. Sadly, she whimpers that she tried, before the mother and daughter break down into tears and hug each other. I’ve got to say, watching hard-as-nails Alice Cooper have an absolute breakdown is the saddest thing I’ve seen in this show yet. As Polly makes her way to the mansion door, she’s welcomed by Penelope and Cliff, who smugly and menacingly usher her inside, with a smirk that almost says ‘we won’. It’s so bleak, Jughead doesn’t even bother to narrate the closing of the episode.
What now? Where do we go from here? I just feel so SAD. I guess we’ll find out on next episode of Riverdale, Thursday nights at 9/8c on The CW or on Canadian Netflix!