Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
Despite Jason Blossom’s death rocking Riverdale High to its core, some things never change. At least, that’s what Jughead Jones narrates to us (further proving it with his own personal tradition of never shutting up about the tragic murder). Many givens are still givens — the upcoming homecoming dance, the Pussycats performing the morning patriotic Riverdale anthem (complete with Josie McCoy’s brand new slick-ass braids!) and the Riverdale High Bulldogs’ upcoming annual football game — cheerled by the River Vixens — against their long-time rivals, the Baxter High Ravens. (For those of you not versed in your Archie Comics, this is the flagship school of neighbouring town Greendale, and where Sabrina Spellman the Teenage Witch attends. Eeee!) All this tradition is broken by Betty Cooper eschewing hers, and having a heated chat with principal Waldo Weatherbee about her homecoming dance duties, reprimanded her for deferring dance planning to her friend Ethel Muggs so she can focus on the Blue & Gold school paper. Jughead’s narrating notes that this dance is especially a big deal because it’s also a reunion dance, where RH alumni return to the school to relive their pasts… or make up for lost time.
Speak of the Ringwald, Archie Andrews’ mother Mary is doing just that — as she sits down with her son to have a two-year-overdue mother-son breakfast. She defends her decision to leave him in Riverdale while she left for Chicago, but after his drunken calls last week and learning about some of the sinister plots in the town, she’s questioning if she made the right choice. Archie reassures her that he’s fine, and that not everything is bad; he has great friends, he’s closer to his dad, and he’s been singing and songwriting. Mary is elated at this and begs him to play for her before she goes back to Chicago, and he does her one better — and invites her to the reunion/homecoming dance, where he’ll be performing live. Meanwhile, at the Lodge’s apartmansion The Pembrooke, Hermione is on the phone with her lawyer, Paul Sowerberry, and receiving great news: their character testimonies worked, and the judge seems inclined to give papa Hiram a break — he might be out in just a few months. Veronica isn’t as pleased with this news as her mother is, as this could mean moving back to New York away from her new friends — or, more importantly, that her dad could be back on the streets after all his crimes, including potentially being responsible for Jason’s murder. However, Mrs. Lodge scolds her daughter for her lack of support, and reminds her that she’s demonizing him with no proof for any of her theories.
Elsewhere, Jughead walks to his dad’s mobile home with some takeout from Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe… to find, surprisingly, that the place has been cleaned up for the first time in many moons. As a now-clean-shaven FP emerges, he tells his shocked son that he feels good and wants to look the part too. Sitting down to share the donuts and coffee Jug brought, he tells him how he finished reading his manuscript. This confuses things, guys. Every episode starts with Jughead narrating, which has been a point driven in again and again that this is Jug writing his book. However, despite still narrating for us, it’s apparently done being written. One can only assume the passages starting each episode are non-chronological, and are just Juggie narrating the parts that fit closely with each week’s events. That being said, I’m putting way too much thought into this, and will still transcribe Jughead’s entire ‘novel’ for you once we have all the pieces. ANYWAY, Jughead is surprised that his dad was legitimately into it and wasn’t just feigning interest, and even more surprised when he starts asking questions about it — like why Jason, and who does he think did it? Jughead argues that the real question he’s trying pose is if Riverdale is a place of good or evil. FP notes that, like most things, it’s both — and makes one tiny suggestion: while the writing is phenomenal, he suggests Jughead drop the whole Blossom murder topic and find another story to write about.
Later, at school, Archie catches up with Veronica in the halls and apologizes for not calling her after their night of passion, his mom had just shown up out of nowhere. Ronnie brushes this off as fine, and her flippancy regarding it concerns Arch. He asks if they can talk about what happened, but Veronica remarks that it was just a fleeting moment; though she definitely thinks he’s BF material, she’s not looking for anyone right now. He asks if she’ll at least sing their long overduet (heh) with him at the homecoming dance that he told his mom he’s singing at, but she’s distracted by a text from Betty and declines, saying they’re just going to have to pretend their moment never happened before peacing off to meet Betty and her mother-slash-supervisor Alice in the B&G offices. Mrs. Cooper, making sure they’re alone, immediately declares everyone not in the room a suspect in Jason Blossom’s murder, which leads Ronnie into revealing her theory: that her dad, harbouring an epic grudge against the Blossoms, hired someone — possibly FP Jones and the Southside Serpents gang, since he’s worked with them before — to kill Jason. Betty isn’t sold, but Alice is open to all possibilities, and speculates that ‘that gay greaser Serpent’ (Joaquin) is in on it, solely based on the fact that she saw them talking (“it looked like they were conspiring”) in private. Forever disregarding the feelings of others, she has prepared a list of seemingly innocuous questions for Betty to ask Jughead and his father, which offends Betty greatly. Jughead told her that he believes FP is innocent and she believes him; she won’t insult him by questioning him. She storms out to work on planning the homecoming dance with a conflicted Veronica in tow.
Meanwhile, at the Blossom estate Thornhill, a now-very pregnant Polly Cooper is doing some investigating of her own, as she wanders the mansion of the family that took her in as a ward, looking for clues. Peering into an open doorway, she sees a horrifying sight — Clifford Blossom getting dressed next to a wall of wigs, his natural close-cut silver hair in plain sight. CONSPIRACY. Catching Polly spying behind him from the reflection in the mirror, he storms over and slams the door in her face. Back at the school, Alice is busy clacking away at her Macbook when Veronica nervously re-enters the office. Locking the door behind her, she tells Mrs. Cooper how she understands Betty’s reluctance — but she doesn’t feel the same Jones loyalty as she does. Since finding the truth about FP may bring her one step closer to finding the truth about her dad, Veronica backstabbingly offers her services to help Alice in her espionage. Later, at the lunch tables outside (effectively demolishing my ‘they were eating lunch inside because of the snow’ theory from last week), Cheryl Blossom approaches the usual gang (Betty, Veronica, Archie, Jughead and B-lister Kevin Keller) and announces that she’s running for Homecoming Queen and Queen, with Polly as her date. Since Jason and Polly can’t be the Homecoming Couple, she believes this is the next best thing, and lobbies them all to vote for her. Speaking of homecoming, this reminds Archie and he quickly asks Betty if he can perform at the dance, because he kinda sorta told his mom that he would be. Betty is cautious about this, because his songs are pretty slow and depressing for a party scenario, but Ronnie defends him and advises Betty not to worry because she’ll be singing upbeat covers with him — surprising everyone there, but no one more than Archie.
Heading to the empty science lab (the designated private conversation spot), Archie — reinforcing that he’s not complaining — asks Veronica about her change of heart, and she admits that she agreed in hopes that he would in turn agree to a favour she needs to ask of him. Arch, misreading the situation, heads in for a kiss — but V pulls away and tells him about Mrs. Cooper’s and her theories regarding the whole Lodge-Blossom-Jones fiasco, asking him to help search FP’s trailer while Alice distracts him. Archie is wigged out by this, and suggests they just talk to Jughead instead, but Veronica is worried that he might warn his dad. Nevertheless, Archie refuses to help, despite Veronica’s concerns over her father and what kind of man she might be inviting back into her life. After the title card, Hermione is surprised at the Andrews Construction mobile office by Mary Andrews, who was hoping to surprise Fred with lunch. (Is it just me, or are these divorcees way more cordial than most?) Mrs. Lodge notes that Fred is off-site today picking up supplies, and the two talk about Hermione’s employment, and about her husband. She awkwardly brushes it off as karmic payback for being a mean girl in high school, and the two nervously stand around, saying nothing. Ah, high school reunions. Meanwhile, Betty is stringing up lights backstage to prepare for the ACTUAL homecoming reunion when she receives a call from her big sister Polly. Pol notes that she hasn’t found anything incriminating on the Blossoms yet, but she’s trying her best to appear inconspicuous. Betty reminds her of their off-screen deal — if she doesn’t find anything by homecoming, she’s coming home — and Polly laments that she just needs to find a way into the master bedroom, because the Blossoms protect it obsessively. Before she can say much more, the doorknob begins to jiggles and she quickly hangs up. Penelope Blossom enters with Polly’s daily milkshake (what the absolute hell?) and remarks at how famished she must be… what with all the exploring she’s been doing. As Polly, shocked at being caught, stops slurping her suspicious-ass liquid strawberry sugar, Mrs. Blossom curtly reminds her that the East Wing is out of bounds
as that is where they keep their enchanted rose. Polly quickly apologises for invading Cliff’s privacy, and nervously promises it’ll never happen again.
Back backstage, Betty finishes up her lights when her boyfriend Jug brings a box of some more, playfully scolding her for not telling him about dinner. She’s confused, so he tells her about how her mom had tackled him in the halls to invite him and his dad for pre-homecoming dinner, and how he’s a little scared — but overall very ready for this big milestone in their relationship. Betty lies and pretends she already knew, and smiles weakly at Juggie’s excitement. Storming into her kitchen at home, Betty angrily accuses her mom of inviting the Joneses over behind her back to interrogate them, but Alice counters that, on the contrary, she actually invited them over as a show of good faith — she’ll only ask them hard-hitting questions if it comes up as part of casual dinner conversation. Betty won’t play this game, and threatens to tell Jughead about her ulterior motives, but Alice slyly notes how excited Jughead seemed and how crushed he would be if the dinner were cancelled, before smirking and going back to tending her homemade peach pie. Elsewhere, Archie comes home to his parents deciding between pizza or Chinese food for supper, and, with Mary showing an incredible memory of her family’s eating preferences, they decide to order Chinese from Moon Palace. Arch is a little weirded out by this chat, but reassures his parents he’s just not used to seeing them together. As roomie Jughead joins them, the Andrews mention that they’re planning to go to the dance together to watch Archie play, and Mary notes that she invited Hermione as well — making Fred a little nervous. That night, as they lay in bed, Jug strikes up a chat about parents and he and Arch speculate if the latter’s are rekindling (“that would’ve been Little Archie’s pipe dream”). Weirder things have happened — and Jughead tells Archie all about his dad’s shaving, quitting drinking, engaging in literary conversations and generally cleaning up his life, and how he’s thinking about going back to live with him. Archie thinks it’s a bit too soon to make that call, but when Jughead mentions that his dad was asking about Jason’s killer, he panics and quickly gets dressed with a bullshit excuse of needing to grab almond milk for his mom. Jughead calls this lie, and teases, to no amusement, that Archie is probably off for a midnight rendezvous with a raven-haired princess instead.
He’s technically right, as Archie rushes out and knocks on Veronica’s door late that night. Assuring her it’s not a booty call, he quickly tells Veronica that he changed his mind and wants to help; he’s seen Jughead be hurt and let down by his dad so many times, and he doesn’t want to see it happen again. No matter what, the two agree that Jughead cannot know about this… and neither can Betty. Meanwhile, at Thornhill, Cheryl is applying some
Covergirl product placement makeup to Pollykins to prepare for the dance, while rejoicing in their un-enemy status. Polly, embracing her Dark Cooper side, suggests that they ‘borrow’ some of Mrs. Blossom’s retro jewelry for the ‘blast from the past’-themed dance; Cheryl, naughty brat that she is, obliges. Sneaking around the East Wing, Cheryl tells Polly the story of her dad’s silver hair and his wigs, but stops midway through when she finds a certain something in a jewelry box: Nana Rose’s ring, which was given to Polly — and supposedly had been in the car-o’-evidence when it not-so-spontaneously combusted. Polly immediately jumps the offensive, insinuating that Clifford or Penelope stole the ring — HER engagement ring — from Jason and goes to snatch it back, but Cheryl is too quick and too crafty. Grabbing Polly’s wrist, she threatens her — twin babies and all — and tells her to watch herself. Pol storms off as Cheryl looks at the ring, perplexed at the truth of how it got back in her parents’ room. Elsewhere, FP is sitting down with his son and the Cooper’s for a nice dinner. Mama Coop dives right into her direct questioning, asking Mr. Jones how he juggles his construction job with his other duties, as a father… and as a Southside Serpent. As he gracefully and tactfully navigates the tough and insensitive questions (much to Betty and Jug’s un-comfortability), she starts to drill down hard on one line in particular — how he felt when Hiram Lodge bought the Twilight Drive-In plot of land. Before he has a chance to answer, he’s saved by the doorbell — which Betty does not hesitate to answer, before returning to the table with a smirk… and her separated father, Hal.
As per the plan, Ronnie and Archie are sneaking outside the Jones’ trailer, and Arch — wearing the tux the Blossoms had specifically fitted for him a few weeks back — finds the spare key exactly where it was always hidden when they were kids. The team enters and begins their search. Elsewhere, Penelope is sitting down with an exasperated Polly and explaining how she came to be in possession of the ring again. Faux-crying, she explains how the day Jason abandoned his family name he threw the ring back at them in rebuke, before leaving Polly to get ready for the dance — making sure she drinks her new milkshake before it melts. (I can’t put my finger on why this bothers me so much. Maybe it’s because milkshakes are so unhealthy and it’s daily, maybe it’s because everything the Blossoms do is sinister and weird, or maybe it’s because as random, unexpected, unexplained and as suspension-of-disbelief-breaking as this maple syrup being forced down our throats. It just bugs me. A goddamn strawberry milkshake with a cherry and sprinkles and whipped cream on top and a barber’s-pole striped straw. Stop it, Riverdale.) Back at the Cooper family dinner, things are faring about as well — Hal is telling the table passive-aggressively about how he’s been sleeping in his editorial office at the Riverdale Register, and how it gets chilly since Alice’s brick-through-the-window redecorating. FP, though thoroughly enjoying this, breaks up their spat by reminding them of their homecoming as kids, where he overheard Homecoming King and Queen Halice arguing about… well, we don’t find out — because Alice yells at him to shut up. He argues that he’s happy to oblige if she is, and that he’s done playing her little games he’s been dealing with all night. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to peace out for the dance, Betty coldly opts out of the peach pie and drags Jughead out.
Meanwhile, at Thornhill, Polly is out like a light, due to an all-natural babies-friendly sedative administered to her via milkshake. Cheryl asks her parents, who are checking on her, if the story was true, and they confirm that it was (but really, they’re Blossoms, so who knows?). Clifford mentions how it’s true that Jason abandoned the family, and mentions his regrets of trying to groom Jason for his syrup empire when it’s now clear that Cheryl should have been the rightful heir. As she turns to go to the dance, Mrs. Blossom stops her and asks one more thing: where’s the ring? Cheryl tells her parents about how she panicked and flushed it, so if Polly accuses them of anything it’s her word against theirs. Her parents, though looking thoroughly stressed, praise her for her quick thinking. However, back at FP’s trailer, Archie is calling it quits. Veronica wants to keep looking, but Archie argues that they’ve checked everywhere twice and if there’s no evidence there’s no evidence — and that should be a good thing. He reassures her that even if her dad does turn up guilty, he’ll be there for her — and the two kiss in the glow of headlights driving past the window. Ronnie breaks off early to check her text (millennials, amirite) and, upon seeing it’s from Mrs. Cooper, quickly locks up and ushers Archie out. Elsewhere, at the school, Mr. Jones drops off Betty and his son, but Jug sends his girlfriend inside so he can hang back and talk to his dad. Closing the truck door behind him, Jughead tells his dad about how he’s thinking he’s going to come home. FP offers to do him one better — he thinks the whole family should get back together, and says how he’s got a place and a job lined up in Toledo, where Jughead’s mom and sister Jellybean can join them. Juggie asks why they can’t stay in Riverdale, and his dad points to dinners like they just had and Jason Blossom’s murder as evidence that the town just isn’t for them.
As Bette Davis Eyes (my personal jam tbh) blares over the dance’s speakers, Fred Andrews walks in with his two main bitches on his arm, reminiscing about when this was his life. Meanwhile, Jughead quietly tells Betty that he wants to talk to her about something after the dance. Betty agrees, but breaks off to confront Cheryl, who is noticeably Polly-less. Cheryl convincingly lies and says that Polly cancelled her and feigns annoyance before fake-storming off. Meanwhile, in the powder room, Alice Cooper cattily confronts Mary Andrews about being seen with Fred and his paramour. Mary responds that Alice has been playing the same game since junior high, and it was even tired back then. Further proving that the Andrewses are the only adults in this town that are actually adults, she calmly replies that Fred is a big boy that can do as he pleases, before returning to reapplying her lipstick. Alice is going to respond, but rushes out when she receives a call. On the dance floor, Betty is hunting for Archie and Ronnie until she finally spots them — talking in private with her mom. Before she can approach them, Principal Weatherbee introduces her to Mayor Sierra McCoy, who would like to go over the night’s itinerary with her. SAVED BY THE BEE. As Mayor McCoy drones on about the possibility of a political internship, Betty zones out as she can’t stop focusing on Ronnie’s conversation with her mom and Archie’s with Jug — who have now caught her staring.
Excusing herself, Betty approaches her friends, who lie that they had stopped at Pop’s. Before she can press any further about why they were chatting with her mother, they ask her if they can table it for now because they have to head up to the stage. As Mayor McCoy introduces them, Archie and Veronica rush out and perform a poppy kick-ass cover of Kids in America. As the crowd is bumping, FP looks out the window of his trailer to find the police heading up his front step, Sheriff Keller leading the charge with a warrant. As the cops trash the trailer, we see the characters watching Archie and Ronnie perform; Betty looks understandably pissed, Jughead, Mary and Fred are jamming out, and Cheryl, curiously, looks guilty as hell. As she chokes back a sob and rushes out of the school, the police find a lockbox hidden in the back of FP’s closet. Intercut with the rocking performance, Sheriff Keller presents the box to a surprised Mr. Jones — and the revolver that’s inside — asking for an explanation.
Later, as Fred and Mary are slow-dancing, Mary asks her husband about Veronica, and Fred confirms her suspicions that he thinks they are an unofficial item. She playfully calls the Andrews men such players, as Hermione (the playee) wallflowers on, sadly. Meanwhile, Kevin (hey, look, screentime!) tells his boyfriend Joaquin that not only is this his first time bringing a boy to a dance — it’s his first time having a boyfriend, period. Jughead interrupts to ask where the rest of the gang is, and Kevin, after lamenting (like the rest of us) that his sole character purpose is to give other characters directions to other characters, tells him he saw them out in the hall. After Jug leaves, however, he catches his dad crashing the dance and talking to the mayor, and breaks off to go see what this is all about — as Joaquin slinks off into the shadows. In the halls, B is confronting her friends about conspiring with her mom, and the two defend what they did. As Betty questions what exactly they did, Jughead walks out at the most inopportune time to see what’s up. Betty asks the two shamed if they want to tell Jughead, or she will — and Archie and Veronica bravely confess to searching FP’s trailer. Jug is understandably upset, and is not reassured by the fact that they didn’t find anything, either. However, Veronica accidentally lets slip that they headed over then when he was at dinner, and Jughead finally puts the pieces together — or so he thinks. Angrily confronting Betty about the dual purpose of the dinner, she confesses she knew of her mom’s motives — but she didn’t know Archie and Veronica were going to be sneaking around. Jughead angrily lashes at them for all lying to him, and, to a tear-stricken Betty, remarks:
What a perfect time for some bad news, huh? At this moment, Kevin busts in the hall — Hermione, Alice and the Andrews in tow — and warns Jughead that he overheard Sheriff Dad and the mayor discussing FP’s arrest… for the murder of Jason Blossom. Rushing out the doors, Jug books it to his dad’s trailer, tearing through the police tape as he breaks in the door. Finding the freshly-cleaned place trashed, he goes full Citizen Kane — smashing things left and right before collapsing in a weeping puddle on the floor. Meanwhile, at Casa Cooper, Betty angrily confronts her mother, asking if she was the one who tipped off Sheriff Keller, and she sincerely responds that she was not — but she’s glad that she’s finally done with the Jones family. Betty counters this, admitting she loves Jug, and warning her mom not to push her tonight, before storming out to go look for him. At The Pembrooke, Hermione and her daughter are having a different kind of conversation: Hermione is worried FP will confess to all of Hiram’s dealings with his gang. If he does, and Hiram is found to be involved in the murder, she agrees to cut all ties with him, but both Lodge ladies are concerned that they may not be able to walk away from this all so easily.
Elsewhere, at the Andrews house, Mary invites Archie to come stay with her in Chicago once everything cools down, because she’s worried about what kind of town Riverdale has become. However, Fred, clearly not meant to overhear this, sighs; all hopes of rekindling his marriage shattered. Finally, back at Thornhill, Cheryl is making sure Polly still has a pulse while her mom has a breakdown over her son’s murderer finally being caught in the next room. As Clifford coldly comforts her (and implies he will have FP killed), Cheryl glances down at her nana’s ring in her hand, decidedly not flushed. As Betty rushes into Pop Tate’s to see if Jug has been by, he indicates that he hasn’t — but she’s not the only one looking. Archie and Veronica, despite Betty’s insistence that she’s not talking to them, quickly ask for a minute of her time — and tell her about how they had already searched the closet where the sheriff found the lockbox with the murder weapon, and found nothing; FP is being framed.
OH GEEZ. Two more episodes left, how are we going to handle the suspense? Catch Riverdale every Thursday at 9/8c on The CW and coming soon to Netflix USA!