Well, Season 1 of Riverdale is officially in the bag and what a doozy it was. Join The Game of Nerds as we take a walk down memory lane and recount what happened this year, or check out more Riverdale recaps, news and goodies here!
‘Formulas,’ Jughead Jones would narrate, if this article were an episode. ‘Every second of every day, dictated by formulas down to the minute detail; the ultimate conformity.’ Every episode of this season of Riverdale did run on a basic formula: with every episode loosely revolving around a concept or theme, bookended at the start and the finish with somewhat-pretentious narration from Jughead, who is writing a novel about the events of the summer… and the familiarity is not a bad thing!
Our first episode kicks off with a mystery — one that looms darkly over the entire season, as clues and pieces slowly come to light. On the 4th of July, Jason Blossom, popular highschool quarterback and heir to successful syrup corporation Blossom Maple Farms, had suddenly vanished when rowing a boat across the Sweetwater River with his fraternal twin sister Cheryl. As the story goes, Cheryl had dropped her glove in the drink, and the rowboat had accidentally capsized when he tried to retrieve it. She made her way to shore, and was found sobbing on the rocks by local Adventure Scout leader Dilton Doiley; however, Jason didn’t, and after weeks of the police dragging the river he was declared officially and legally deceased. That same summer, Archie Andrews, working at his dad Fred’s construction site for the break, discovers his passion for music… and, estranging himself from former best friend Jughead, begins a secret affair with his young music teacher, Ms. Geraldine Grundy. Even more eventful yet, the beautiful brunette Veronica Lodge arrives in town at the tail-end of the break with her mother Hermione, both eager to start new lives apart from their wealthy NYC socialite pasts, as the family patriarch, Hiram Lodge, is on trial for embezzlement. Hermione attempts to get a job as a bookkeeper with former flame Fred at his construction company, but he rejects the offer due to her husband’s legal troubles and she instead takes an unglamorous job at local hotspot Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe. Despite both secretly harbouring feelings for Archie, Veronica quickly becomes close friends with girl-next-door Betty, even standing up to condescending cheer captain Cheryl to get her a spot on the squad. Later, at the urging of GBF Kevin Keller, Betty confesses her feelings to Archie at the Jason Blossom memorial dance, but he rebuffs her. Sensing a chance for mayhem, Cheryl invites the love triangle trio to an afterparty at her mansion Thornhill — where Veronica is locked in a closet with Archie during a party game, and the two end up kissing. Archie later apologizes to Betty outside her home, but the damage is already done and their close friendship takes a hit. Elsewhere, closeted football jock Moose Mason meets with Kevin at the river for a secret rendezvous… only to find Jason’s bloated and waterlogged corpse, a decaying bullet-wound in his forehead.
Archie is now wracked with guilt on two counts: both over his kiss with Veronica and strained relationship with Betty, and over the fact that he and Ms. Grundy were on a secret picnic at the river that fateful day in July, and had heard a gunshot — presumably the shot that killed Jason. As she urges him to not go forward with the information as it may expose their relationship, he agrees to withhold the information in exchange for private music tutoring to help him hone his songwriting. Jughead accidentally catches the two together romantically, and argues that Arch should go forward with the information anyway. After some inspirational #dadtalks, Arch decides to do just that, carefully omitting Ms. Grundy from what he saw and heard — and this takes some of the heat off of Cheryl as well, as suspicion was starting to mount over her incongruent 4th of July timeline of events. Meanwhile, Betty is struggling with Archie’s rejection and with her controlling parents Alice and Hal, and in a show of defiance and revenge, befriends Cheryl. However, it soon becomes clear Cheryl is only using Betty to find out more information on her institutionalized sister Polly, who was Jason’s ex-girlfriend, and whom she believes is responsible for the killing. The town decides to dedicate the football season pep rally to Jason’s memory, but Cheryl is reminded too strongly of her brother and runs off in tears mid-Josie and the Pussycats performance, uttering the flustered confusing statement ‘he was supposed to come back!’. Despite their frenemy status, Veronica consoles her, which leads Betty to defy her parents once again to make up with her and Archie. Archie also reconciles with Jughead, defending him in a fistfight against bully Reggie Mantle as innocent in the murder, but he struggles with balancing his football responsibilities and his hobby of music, which his father doesn’t support. The next day after the rally, the first arrest in the case is made — as Cheryl is dragged out of science class when the autopsy results prove that Jason didn’t die on July 4th, and actually died a week later.
Cheryl confesses to Sheriff Keller and Principal Weatherbee that her story wasn’t 100% truthful; Jason had actually planned to run away from home, and the rowboat accident was just a planned alibi to fake his death. She admits that she and Jason, having reached the Greendale side of the river, had also heard the gunshot on the 4th of July and she hypothesizes that the future murderer had taken his first aim that day. He was supposed to call her as soon as he was settled in Greendale but never had (as he obviously didn’t survive that long). Before she can say much else, she is angrily dragged out of the informal interrogation by her parents, Penelope and Cliff. Meanwhile, Betty is furious with her mom (who runs local newspaper the Riverdale Register with Hal) for publishing tasteless anti-Blossom articles including Jason’s autopsy reports, and decides to restart the defunct school paper, the Blue and Gold, to report the real unbiased facts of the case. Recruiting Jughead as a journalist, she tasks him to interview Dilton, who was known to also have been present, about the Sweetwater River gunshot on the 4th of July, but he suspiciously denies hearing anything. Veronica goes on a date with football jock and coach’s son Chuck Clayton, but is horrified to learn that he has been exaggerating the evening’s events to publicly slutshame her. Sensing a story, she and Betty round up a group of girls that the jocks have also done this to, and, with the help of Cheryl and softspoken geek Ethel Muggs, they break into the locker room at night to discover evidence proving a slutshaming competition being held by some members the football team — including Jason. The girls abduct and torture Chuck to obtain a confession and apology, but Betty takes this too far and starts calling herself ‘Polly’ and calling Chuck ‘Jason’. Later denying losing her sanity, Betty publishes the confession and evidence and the football players are removed from the team and suspended, while she and Cheryl make a pact to learn the truth about Jason and Polly. Meanwhile, Fred Andrews meets Ms. Grundy at a Riverdale town function where the Pussycats are performing one of Archie’s original songs, and she assures him that his son really is talented, but he needs to continue to practice. This event turns sour as the adult Blossoms and Coopers get in a cat fight over their mutual dislike for eachother. As an apology to his son for his previously unsupportive nature, Fred later converts the garage to a jamspace. Elsewhere, Jughead confronts a nervous Adventure Scout about the gunshot, and he admits that Scoutmaster Dilton had illegally fired it against the rules during a training exercise, but that he had not hit anything. He approaches Dilton again, and he agrees to come clean to the Blue and Gold about something else he saw that day if they don’t publish news of his gunshot: that he saw Ms. Grundy’s car parked by the river on the 4th of July.
Since there are sometimes more innocent problems in Riverdale, news quickly spreads of the impending closure of the town’s Twilight Drive-In Theatre, Jughead’s place of work. As he rants about this to his friends in Pop Tate’s, Betty spies Archie and Fred dining with Ms. Grundy following a cello recital, and pieces together the clues pointing to their secret relationship. She and Veronica confront him about this grossness and he admits to it, but asks for them to stay uninvolved. Betty stays as uninvolved as she can by interviewing Ms. Grundy for the student paper with loaded questions, getting her to admit she used to also tutor Jason Blossom but getting no concrete details on her past. Meanwhile, Cheryl is wreaking mayhem again as she films Hermione shadily talking to a Southside Serpent gang leader in the alley outside the diner, which she then rubs in Veronica’s face. Ronnie confronts her mom about this, but she denies any wrongdoing, though we do learn she is secretly bribing the mayor for the drive-in land, as Hiram Lodge is the anonymous buyer. Hal and Alice also visit Fred to convince him to break up Betty and Archie’s friendship, considering him to be a bad influence, but he refuses. Meanwhile, Betty and Veronica research Ms. Grundy and learn that no record of her exists aside from an elderly dead woman, and provide their findings to Archie, who brushes them off. Looking to convince him further, they break into her car during a date night and produce a gun and her real driver’s licence, bearing the name ‘Jennifer Gibson’. Archie is now suspicious and confronts Ms. Grundy about this, but she explains that she was in an abusive relationship and moved towns and changed her name to start over. As the whole town gathers for the drive-in’s final showing, Kevin hooks up with a Southside Serpent named Joaquin De Santos and Veronica catches Hermione secretly dealing with the gang leader again. She later confronts her mom about this, and Hermione admits that her dad had hired the Serpents to hang out on the land and decrease the value, confirming him to be just as shady as the media portrays. Meanwhile, Alice searches Betty’s room for dirt on Archie and finds out about his illegal affair from her diary. Confronting the couple with Betty and Fred, Alice agrees to not take matters to court if Ms. Grundy flees town, which she agrees to do. Once she reaches her new city, however, she immediately goes back to her predator-ing on high school dudes ways, presumably under another fake name. Betty later reprimands her mom for being so overpowering, and, accusing her mom and her disapproval of the Blossoms as the reason her sister is in a mental institution, reminds her that she’s not Polly and Archie’s not Jason. After the drive-in showing, Kevin and his dad return home to find their house broken into and the sheriff’s files on the Blossom murder case stolen. Jughead returns home as well — TO the drive-in, where he had been squatting in the projection booth. Packing up his things, he prepares to move out — vandalizing his former workplace/home on the way. He’s approached by the leader of the Southside Serpents — who he confirms to be his estranged dad, FP Jones — before setting off to find a new place to live.
Later, as the day of Jason’s public memorial service is fast approaching, Cheryl is banned by her parents from delivering a eulogy for her brother as punishment for being an accomplice in his secret plan. Meanwhile, Betty sets up an interview-disguised-as-a-date with former footballer Trev, the brother of Pussycat keyboardist Valerie. (Does that make him a Tomcat?) She learns from their sit-down that Jason was distancing himself from friends, pawning off all his things and even was rumoured to be selling drugs prior to his death, and, wondering why a rich kid would be so desperate for cash and looking to confirm her parent’s conflicting reports on Polly’s wellbeing, decides to sneak off during the memorial to investigate Jason’s room for clues. On the football field Archie has been distracted by his music and by the departure of Ms. Grundy, and to incite some spark Coach Clayton posits a competition between him and Reggie: whoever plays the best game by the end of the week becomes the new football captain. To make things more confusing, Valerie also offers him a chance to meet with a famous music tutor and mentor, but, despite working all night with Val to refine his songs, he turns Archie away due to his lack of experience and practice. Discouraged, Archie considers quitting, but is scolded by Valerie for being so sensitive to criticism in such a tough business. Since the whole town is invited to the memorial, Veronica tries to make peace with Cheryl beforehand and is invited to a slumber party at Thornhill Manor the night before; one that turns out to just be the two of them. Cheryl opens up about her loneliness and how Veronica was the only one who consoled her during her breakdown, and Ronnie encourages her to give a speech at Jason’s memorial anyway, despite Penelope and Cliff’s wishes. Fred is also starting to gain feelings for Hermione after going to the last drive-in show together, and asks her on another date… but she refuses, pointing out they’re both married as his divorce was never finalized. However, after he helps her out of a pinch where she was threatened by the Southside Serpents with a snake-in-a-box for Hiram failing to pay the full agreed-upon amount, Fred flirtily reconsiders his decisions and hires her at Andrews Construction as a bookkeeper to keep her safe. At the memorial Archie gives Jason’s jersey to the Blossoms as a show of respect, and Cheryl crashes the whole thing with an emotional speech and apology to her late brother. As Betty and Jughead use this, as well as Hal arguing with Cliff, as a distraction to search Jason’s room, they’re confronted by the senile half-blind Blossom grand-matriarch Nana Rose, who mistakes Betty for Polly and asks her to keep her heirloom engagement ring safe. Storming out, Betty confronts her dad about Polly’s engagement to Jason and he confirms he already knew — he was just trying to prevent it due to a decades-old blood feud between the Blossoms and the Coopers. Meanwhile, Coach Clayton decides to give the captain’s spot to Archie for honourably giving away Jason’s jersey, but he accepts Valerie’s advice and steps down to focus on his music, letting Reggie take it instead. Coming to terms with the newest set of facts and realizing how far he’ll go to protect his daughter, Betty and Jughead conclude that her father Hal wasn’t at the drive-in and is currently the most likely suspect for stealing the sheriff’s case files… and for the murder of Jason Blossom.
Feeling that Polly might be the key to all of this and becoming increasingly worried with her parent’s refusal to allow her to visit or contact her, Betty invites Jughead to have breakfast with her family to secretly look for clues on her sister’s mysterious whereabouts, where they locate a shady cheque in Alice’s purse made out to The Sisters of Quiet Mercy — a strict, nun-led home for troubled youths. Meanwhile, Archie struggles to overcome his stagefright to perform solo for the first time at Riverdale’s 75th Annual Variety Show — even despite show director Kevin securing him a spot on the lineup — and he asks Valerie to perform with him, but she refuses as she’s loyal to her band. Veronica learns of this and offers her services as a singing partner and reveals that she is a talented vocalist, which Archie takes her up on. However, when a disagreement with Josie McCoy leads to Val quitting the Pussycats, Archie changes his mind and absentmindedly chooses her as his partner over Veronica, who feels understandably betrayed — and who is also struggling to deal with the fact that she accidentally caught her mother kissing Fred Andrews at her new job at the construction site. After some fights with Hermione over her fidelity, and out of spite and revenge, Veronica auditions and is asked to join the Pussycats as Val’s replacement — partially since Mayor McCoy had suggested to her daughter to hire another woman of colour as this would maintain the band’s brand image and may aid in impressing Josie’s stubborn jazz musician father, Myles, who is in town to watch the Variety Show. Elsewhere, Betty and Jughead cut class to check out this home for troubled youths and Betty finds Polly — shockingly thoroughly pregnant with Jason’s child — debunking all the lies their parents had told her and arguing that she was sent away for planning to run away with Jason and due to her pregnancy. Betty is dragged away from here by her mother, who was informed of her arrival by the nuns, but not before Polly attacks Alice for keeping Jason’s death a secret from her. Betty later confronts her parents about all the lies and accuses them of the murder, but they deny any involvement and stubbornly try and brush Polly’s story off as the delusions of a mental insane young woman.
Meanwhile, Hermione runs the numbers and notices that Andrews Construction is barely scraping by due to lack of work and likely won’t be able to stay operational for much longer. Fred advises her of his plan to wine and dine the mayor for a chance at the SoDale construction contract where the now-demolished drive-in used to be, believing this to be his last shot at saving his company, and she offers to host it at her swanky apartment. Despite some tension between the McCoys, the presentation goes off without a hitch — however, the mayor has already awarded the contract to another company, and to change the contractor would require two signatures from stakeholders in the anonymous buyer’s company. Hermione, working under the radar, secretly asks her daughter (as the only other owner of Lodge Industries beside Hiram) to sign the document to transfer the contract, but Veronica is frustrated with her mom’s affair and refuses… so Hermione forges her signature anyway. As he prepares to perform, Archie realizes Valerie’s regrets over quitting the Pussycats and urges her to perform with them instead, and, due to some encouraging approval from his dad, he overcomes his stagefright and gets a standing ovation. Valerie makes peace with her old band and they rock it as well, but not without an un-impressable Myles walking out on the performance and reducing Josie to tears. Despite this, Archie thanks Valerie for all her help with a big kiss, and the two begin dating. Elsewhere, Jughead confesses his feelings for Betty and they kiss as well before sneaking out to continue their investigation based on Polly’s clues of where the getaway car was stashed, underneath the old Blossom Maple Farms sign. Upon finding that her story checks out, they rush to inform the sheriff of the evidence… but return only to find both that the getaway car has been freshly torched, and that Polly has escaped from her institution room via a smashed window.
The next day, Archie finds Jughead living in an unused broom closet at school and offers him a spot on his couch; however, Jughead stubbornly refuses and states that this is only a temporary living arrangement as his mom and sister have left his dad, who’s drinking problem has gotten worse. Unwilling to accept this answer, Archie talks to his dad about rehiring FP Jones, whom he had fired long ago, and urges Jughead to do the same. Jug attempts to speak to his dad, but upon realizing he was already offered a job by Fred and had refused, accuses him of being a drunk bum and leaves. As the gang learns about Jughead and Betty’s new relationship and plan a search party for Polly, Veronica decides to punish her mother for forging her signature by going on an online shopping bender and by going clubbing with Reggie, Kevin and Josie. Caving in due to the reckless spending, Hermione agrees to bargain with her daughter and they come to a mutual agreement: Veronica will accept her affair with Fred if she confesses her signature forgery to Hiram. Meanwhile, as one of Cheryl’s spies overheard the Cooper search party plans, the Blossoms crash the search and accuse Polly of murdering Jason, forcing Alice to give a televised plea for her daughter to come home and publicly announce her pregnancy to imply her innocence. However, upon remembering her childhood hiding spots, Betty finds her sister stowed away in the Cooper attack and vows to find her a place to stay. Cheryl, as were all the Blossoms, was previously unaware of the pregnancy, and she renews her truce with Betty to take care of Polly and their niece or nephew, as Betty reluctantly admits that she knows where Polly is and that she currently just needs money. Upon getting her parents involved, Cheryl becomes increasingly suspicious of their intentions and urges Betty and Polly to find another option, as she believes they secretly want Polly out of the picture to raise their grandbaby themselves. Stepping in, Veronica and Hermione agree to provide Polly a room for the time being, as the Coopers have been gaslighting Polly and falsely indicating that she wants to give the baby up for adoption (when that’s really their plan). Meanwhile, FP takes his son’s words to heart and agrees to return to work at Andrews Construction, pretending to not recognize Hermione despite doing shady Serpent business together weeks earlier. Afterward, to celebrate, the Joneses and Andrewses go out for dinner at Pop Tate’s and the adults talk about their history together. It eventually comes to light that FP was a cofounder of Andrews Construction but was dismissed due to theft of work supplies and legal troubles, which forced him to return to drinking and leads Archie to somewhat resent his dad for the unfair acquirement of full ownership of the business. The next day, Jughead arrives at school to be promptly arrested, suspected in the murder of Jason Blossom and for the destruction of evidence due to pyromania convictions and being bullied by the football team in his past. Fred, feeling guilty over his past treatment of FP, lies to the sheriff and provides the alibi that Jughead couldn’t have killed Jason, as he was working for him all summer — falsifying time-cards to prove it. After his son is cleared to go, FP arrives at the station late, drunk as a skunk, and threatens to fight the sheriff. Embarrassed as Betty has seen this exchange, Jughead accepts the Andrews’s offer to temporarily lodge him, but first takes his stumbling dad home to his mobile home to pass out… where Jason Blossom’s monogrammed letterman jacket, plucked straight from the torched getaway car, is secretly hanging in FP’s closet, right next to his Southside Serpents bomber.
As Polly officially speaks to the sheriff and confirms Jason’s one-time drug dealing for some non-Blossom getaway cash, she mourns the loss of her engagement ring in the blaze that destroyed the evidence. Realizing that they need the Coopers and Blossoms to come together for this baby and for Polly’s wellbeing, Veronica decides to throw a baby shower at her apartment and plans to invite the ladies of each family — as well as Jughead, who is now officially being considered Betty’s boyfriend, to Archie’s secret discomfort. As Alice learns of Polly’s whereabouts from the sheriff, she blasts Betty for stowing her sister away and is subsequently invited to the shower, which she refuses. Since Polly has requested that wants both Penelope and Alice there, Ronnie conscripts her mom, who is skeptical about the shower, to talk some sense into Alice. Meanwhile, Fred Andrews is about to break ground on the SoDale contract when his contractor crew informs him last second that they’re leaving for a higher-paying project funded by Clifford Blossom. Unable to find a replacement crew, he confesses their dire financial situation to Archie, and notes that this deal was vital to the company’s survival — before confronting Cliff about this dick move. Clifford coldly argues that it’s nothing personal, he is just frustrated at losing his bid on the lot, which was originally his family’s, to the anonymous buyer. Since he can’t identify this mysterious figure, he intends to continue to stall construction indefinitely to bleed him dry; Andrews Construction is just collateral damage. As Fred angrily returns to his mobile office, he finds his new temporary crew: Archie and his friends and football players have turned up to help in the interim. After the crew finishes and kicks back for the night, Moose runs back out to grab his phone and sees two thugs beating up a generator with crowbars. Attempting to stop them, they turn their attention to him and beat him senseless as well before the rest of the crew takes notice and shoos the criminals off. As the gang files a report with the sheriff, Fred believes this may be Clifford’s doing, but Archie is convinced it’s the work of the Southside Serpent gang. Despite the urgings of Val, Archie gathers a posse (minus Jughead, who insists that the gang is innocent) and, with the help of Kevin’s biker now-boyfriend Joaquin, storms the Whyte Wyrm bar — the Serpents’ favourite hangout. Confronting the first thug that Moose thinks looks halfway familiar — a jerk named Mustang — Archie is promptly roughed up before the fight is broken up by FP, the gang’s leader. Offended that Archie thinks that his guys would be behind the attack on a company he helped found, he calls Fred to pick his son up and warns his former friend to keep an eye out for Archie, as his brash nature might continue to lead him into some dangerous waters. He’s quickly proven right — as Archie sneaks out of the truck behind his dad’s back.
At the Pembrooke, the baby shower is surprisingly going swimmingly; Betty is named the baby’s godmother, the Blossom ladies have all arrived and are civil… and even Alice, following her chat with Hermione, has shown up with a present. After Nana Rose does her gypsy magic to guess that Polly is having twins (a boy and a girl), Archie storms in during gift unwrapping to confront Jughead, now aware that he was defending the Southside Serpents as his dad is a member, but he is promptly kicked out by Veronica, who is working her hardest to maintain order. These attempts are futile, as a fight breaks out when both Alice and Penelope invite the expectant mother to come live with them. Alice later apologizes to her daughter for everything, but Polly advises that she’s still cautious about returning home as Hal might just try and book her another abortion — an appointment a now-furious Alice had no idea about. She returns home and fights with him over this, revealing that she is still extremely resentful that he had tried to force her to have the same procedure when they were younger. Unable to reconcile with his unwavering lack of remorse, Alice kicks Hal out of the house and tells him to never come back, so Polly can live in a safe and supportive environment. Back at home, Archie talks with his dad and realizes that they’ll always love and support each other despite their fundamental disagreements, and he and Jughead make up, finally understanding his point of view. Later, after FP and Joaquin stow away Jason’s letterman jacket as ‘insurance’ and confirm Joaquin’s relationship with Kevin as a plot to get an ‘in’ with the sheriff, FP shows up at Andrews Construction with a flock of Serpents, ready to work. As Fred excitedly runs off to get paperwork started, FP secretly confides in Hermione that he did some research on the thugs who took down Moose, and learned that they were both from a criminal gang down in Montreal — where Hiram Lodge had previously done a lot of shady business — and he suggests that her husband has caught wind of her affair with Fred and is getting payback. Finally, after some last-ditch attempts to convince her from Betty, Polly makes her decision… and chooses to move into Thornhill with the Blossoms, as Betty and her mom sob at the loss of two family members from their home.
Though Betty blames herself for Polly’s decision, Alice is already coldly (pretending to be) over it and switches her attention to writing an exposé of the Blossoms’ crumbling maple syrup empire, as investors are flocking to town concerned over their loss of an heir. Cheryl, sensing the need to prove herself to these wolves, invites Archie to join her as her dare for the annual Blossom tree-tapping ceremony, as appearances matter and he was the only one who stuck up for her when she was under investigation for her inconsistent story. Archie politely declines as Valerie wouldn’t approve, but he is later approached by Penelope who bribes him with a guaranteed spot at the Brandenburg Music Academy, causing him to reconsider. Despite his friend’s suspicions of her ulterior motives, he accompanies Cheryl to the event, which is deemed a success. At Betty’s request he attempts to talk to Polly as well — she suspiciously has been ignoring her family’s calls and texts — but she reassures him that everything is okay. Enjoying the presence of such a well-rounded young man in Cheryl’s life, Clifford invites Archie to another banquet as her date, promising more perks if he does so, and later gifting him a custom guitar as a ‘thank-you present.’ Meanwhile, the Lodges learn that lawyers are coming to take statements for Hiram’s trial and Veronica isn’t entirely comfortable with the prospect of potentially needing to lie for him. Concerned about further repercussions of her dad knowing about the affair, she urges her mother to come clean with Fred about everything, including Hiram’s identity as the anonymous buyer. Later, after witnessing Ethel deliver a sad personal poem in class, Veronica approaches her to check on her well-being and she admits that her family life has been difficult as her parents have been fighting over money. In an attempt to make reparations for her past New York snooty bullying ways, Veronica secretly pledges to befriend and help Ethel and she invites her over for dinner. As Ethel again brings up her family problems at the table, Hermione realizes and privately informs Veronica that her dad was an investor that Hiram had embezzled from and screwed over — a revelation that disgusts Veronica, as she begins to realize how many lives her dad has ruined. Feeling guilty, she invites Ethel over again and gifts her all her nicest clothes and jewelry, but Ethel reassures her she’s content just being friends and doesn’t need constant buying. Betty also confronts Cheryl about her sister’s silence, suspecting foul play, but Cheryl alleges that Polly just doesn’t to talk to them — and, to rub salt in the wound, confirms that the ultrasound has proven she is having twins. Nevertheless, she reluctantly agrees to ask Polly to reach out to her family. Using Archie as an inside man, the Cooper ladies finish their story on the Blossom takedown and take them to the Riverdale Register to publish… only to learn that Hal has fired Alice and changed all the locks and passwords as payback. Angrily, she throws a brick through the window before leaving, accidentally letting slip that she’s hiding her feelings and truly does care about her older daughter, implying that this exposé has just been a coping mechanism. Hermione, true to her word, also comes clean to Fred about the identity of the anonymous buyer and her suspicions regarding the trashing of his job site, and he angrily storms out, before later returning and laying out the ground rules: he wants a larger pay cut, he wants everything to be strictly legal, and any romance between him and Hermione is officially over.
Meanwhile, as he’s getting his suit fitted for the banquet, Archie asks Clifford for one favour — help for his dad’s company, with Cliff agrees to. During the dinner Archie dances with Polly, who passes along the message that her family needs to back off; she’s suspicious of the Blossoms so she’s here as a sleuth, and they’re going to blow her cover. After Clifford makes it clear that Archie is truly here to keep loose cannon Cheryl in check, implying that he wants them to stay together as a couple. Cheryl overhears and a fight ensues with her father, with Archie following her to console her. Grateful, she kisses Archie, but he rejects her and goes to leave, despite her warnings that the Blossom shower of gifts will end if he dies so. As he does, he overhears Penelope and Cliff engaging in a shady conversation where they confirm that they were the ones who had tipped off the police sent Hiram to jail, planning to go after Hermione next. Elsewhere, Veronica gets the bad news that Ethel’s dad is in the hospital due to a suicide attempt, and hysterically destroys her infamous pearl necklace given to her by her own father. Visiting Ethel in the hospital with Betty, Mrs. Muggs recognizes Veronica and shades her for her father’s role in all this, shocking Ethel, who now sees Veronica as two-faced. Veronica later approaches her at school, giving her time to calm down, and Ethel forgives her, realizing she was the only one there for her after all. Pissed at all the time spent with Cheryl and ignoring her, Valerie subsequently dumps Archie as well, suspecting he had sold out to them. On a happier note, elated at the news that Polly is just a spy, Betty invites her mother to write for the Blue & Gold school paper in the meantime to get her exposé out there. She and Jughead also express concern over Hiram’s potential thirst for revenge against the Blossoms and add him to their list of murder suspects, while Cheryl coldly scratches out Archie’s face in a tree-tapping ceremony photo… as well as Polly’s.
Later, as Jughead gears up to ignore his birthday for yet another year, Fred gets ready to leave to Chicago to officially finalize his divorce with Archie’s mom, Mary — despite their son’s pleading for them to give it another chance. At school, Arch confides in Betty about her boyfriend’s secret upcoming birthday so that she can take Jug to their annual traditional double-feature at the theatre in Archie’s place, but she takes it upon herself to throw him an ‘inner circle only’ birthday bash, and even invites FP… who declines, also advising her that Jughead hates surprises and celebrating himself. Nevertheless, she persists. However, when Chuck returns from his suspension and approaches Ethel to apologize, Betty slips back into her ‘dark Betty’ mode for a second and makes a scene trying to get him to leave her alone — before Ethel reassures her everything is fine. Concerned over her own hidden mental instability and Jughead’s secrecy, Betty has a chat with her mom about openness in relationships, and Alice notes that she had shared everything with Hal… and she regrets it. She suggests that sometimes it’s better to keep some things private. Meanwhile, Veronica angrily reminds her mother and lawyer that she refuses to testify on her father’s behalf, even despite the reassurances that her testimony will only be as a character witness. After learning from Archie about the overheard confession from the Blossoms, she begins to dig deeper into her dad’s financial business and finds that Blossom Maple Farms had been paying a sizeable monthly payment to Lodge Industries — up until her dad’s arrest, when it promptly ceased. Veronica brings up her’ theory to her mom — that it was a bribe to keep quiet about something, and that the police were tipped off to arrested Hiram when it became unaffordable — but Hermione kiboshes the notion of going public as it may implicate her husband in Jason’s death for revenge reasons, and she’s honestly not sure if he was involved or not. Concerned and in a bad mood, Veronica later challenges Cheryl’s authority in cheer practice and even turns all the other River Vixens against her as well. In retaliation, Cheryl seeks out Chuck and convinces him to join her in some mayhem against their mutual mortal enemies, Betty and Veronica. As Betty takes Jughead to the movies, the rest of the inner circle gets ready at Archie’s to throw the surprise bash — with the host wasted drunk from his recent breakup and parental issues. At the same time, Veronica receives a threat from her father via his lawyer that she better testify, suggesting that Hermione may get dragged down with him.
Jughead shows up to his party after his date but is promptly annoyed and frustrated (as was to be expected) for everyone making a big deal about his birthday, and moreso with Archie for being so complicit in his drunken state when he’d normally know better. This frustration soon turns to anger, and Jughead storms off to the garage as Cheryl and Chuck crash the small intimate party with the entire school invited, kegs in tow. As the party gets wild (and Archie and Veronica get drunk and flirty), FP shows up with a present, furthering Jughead’s annoyance at all this — and at Betty, considering his dad is trying to kick a drinking problem. The couple fights, and Jughead indicates that their relationship was a mistake before trying to leave, but is stopped by Cheryl and Chuck. As FP heads back to the party, he pulls Joaquin away from a makeout session with Kevin into Archie’s bedroom for a private intel talk, where they stress over the growing narrative that Hiram may have been involved in the murder — as Alice, in Betty’s bedroom across the way, spies through the window on the two gangsters. Archie also tries to get drunkenly back with Val but is rebutted, and dejected and devastated he drunk-dials his dad and begs him to call off the divorce proceedings. Meanwhile, Cheryl and Chuck decree that no one can leave until they play their party game, which basically involves tattling on other people’s secrets. Veronica goes first and coldly and falsely insinuates that Cheryl killed Jason because of their incestuous relationship, followed by Dilton, who tells everyone about Archie’s 4th of July trust with Ms. Grundy. Chuck pipes in, telling everyone all about Dark Betty — only to be punched out by Jughead, and a brawl ensues, only to be broken up by FP, who kicks Chuck out and sends the rest of the partygoers home — except for Jughead and Betty, who he demands work things out. The two head to Pop’s for a days, and open up about their secrets and do just that. Meanwhile, a sobering Archie is having a heart to heart with Veronica in his trashed home when the two kiss as well, before going to bed together. The next morning, after Jughead slyly catches her leaving Archie’s bedroom, Veronica takes his words to heart and agrees to testify, somewhat misleadingly, that her parents love her — an effort that she receives a new pearl necklace for. However, as she heads to school, she confides in Betty that she thinks her dad is involved in the murder somehow and they add him the board. Back at home, as Archie finally finished cleaning up the enormous mess, he’s greeted by Fred coming home… who, worried about his emotional state, has brought Mary with him.
During a mother-son talk, Mary begs her son to play music for him before she goes back to Chicago, and he vows to do just that — at the upcoming homecoming dance and high-school reunion organized by Betty, despite not being scheduled to play. Meanwhile, despite news of the testimonies appearing to lessen his potential sentence, Veronica is increasingly suspicious of her dad. As Alice calls Betty and Veronica into a meeting to discuss potential suspects of Jason’s murder, she lets her theory loose: that her father Hiram had hired FP and the Southside Serpents to kill Jason after their falling-out with the Blossoms. Alice, having previously seen FP and fellow Serpent Joaquin plotting in Archie’s bedroom, is all for this theory — but Betty is insulted at her suggestion of inconspicuously questioning her boyfriend, and tells her mom to drop it. After she storms out, however, Veronica privately offers her assistance in Alice’s investigation if it will help prove or disprove her father’s innocence. Meanwhile, Jughead has excitedly learned that his dad has finally cleaned up, as he has been shaving, cleaning his trailer, going to work and has stopped drinking. FP has even read Jughead’s novel about Jason Blossom and engages him in conversation about it, but ultimately suggests he focus on a different topic. As Cheryl approaches the gang at lunch and informs them that she is bringing Polly to the dance as her homecoming co-queen date, Archie asks Betty if he can perform, but is denied due to his mellow songs. Veronica, having previously declined to perform with him, changes her mind and offers to play an upbeat cover with him, and then later privately explains that she changed her mind in hopes that he’d help with her and Alice’s investigation. However, Archie doesn’t want to hurt Jughead and refuses. Elsewhere, Polly has been sneaking around finding weird happenings at Thornhill, but nothing of consequence. She calls Betty and they reaffirm her deal of her coming home after homecoming is nothing is found, but Polly is sure that the master bedroom must hold some clues. This call is interrupted by Jughead, who is beaming over Alice’s invitation for him and his dad to attend a family dinner; a dinner that Betty was unaware of. Fuming, she confronts her mom, but Alice unconvincingly reassures her that she has no ulterior motives and is just trying to bury the hatchet. Jughead later gushes about his dad to Archie, but Archie starts growing suspicious of FP’s questioning of Jughead over Jason Blossom and decides to run over to Veronica’s in the middle of the night to declare his intent to join the investigation; he’s seen FP disappoint Jughead multiple times and he wants to make sure that he isn’t involved in the murder. Elsewhere, getting ready for the homecoming,Polly convinces Cheryl to help her sneak into the master bedroom to find some retro jewelry,, but they instead find Jason’s engagement ring in a jewelry box. Polly is angry, confused and distraught, but Cheryl refuses to give it back to her and threatens her. Later, Penelope sits with Polly and tells her the story of Jason throwing the ring in Clifford’s face as a final rebuke, before giving her her daily milkshake. As Polly passes out from the sedatives lacing it, Cheryl tells her parents that she had flushed the ring to hide any evidence, and Clifford proudly tells her that he was wrong; she does have the guts to run the Blossom empire.
Meanwhile, the Jones/Cooper dinner is about as tense as you can imagine, with Alice constantly asking loaded questions to try and trip FP up. As Hal arrives at Betty’s invitation (to punish her mother), the stories get juicier and FP begins to tells the story of their homecoming, when he caught Alice and Hal fighting. Alice angrily cuts this story short and Betty and Jughead promptly leave the uncomfortable dinner for the dance. However, while this dinner was taking place, Archie and Veronica had broken into FP’s trailer to search for evidence, but came up empty-handed. As FP drops his son off at the dance, Jughead privately sits with him and tells him of his plan to come home. FP is honoured, but instead suggests they move to Toledo to live with Jughead’s mom and sister, admitting that he had made arrangements and found work out there. Jughead considers the possibility, but decides he’ll have to talk it over with Betty first. As the parents all arrive at the dance, Betty can’t help but notice Archie and Veronica hushedly speaking with her mother, but she’s intercepted by the mayor and Weatherbee, discussing the evening’s plans. By the time she’s able to break free, her mother has left — and Archie and Veronica have no time to talk, as they’re about to hit the stage. As the duo performs, Sheriff Keller raids FP’s house on an anonymous tip, and find the Jason Blossom murder gun in the back of a closet. After the show, Betty confronts her two friends in the hallway and they admit to their breaking in on Alice’s request — just as Jughead rounds in. Betty forces them to tell him if their misdemeanour, but, realizing that Alice’s dinner was the distraction that allowed them to break in, Jughead assumes that Betty was involved in the scheme and tearfully tells her about his just-made decision to move to Toledo. Before they can fight it over too much, they’re interrupted — Kevin busts in to tell them Jughead’s dad was just arrested for Jason’s murder. Unwilling to believe it, Jughead runs off and trashes his dad’s trailer before going missing. Concerned over the state of the town, Mary begs Archie to come back to Chicago with her — a plea overheard by Fred, ruining any chance of rekindling that had been going on. As Cheryl suspiciously watches her parents tearfully rejoice in the finding of their son’s killer, it is revealed she secretly held onto the ring — not flushed it. Meanwhile, as Betty frantically searches the town for Jughead, she encounters Archie and Veronica at Pop Tate’s — who declare FP’s innocence and their belief that he was framed; they had thoroughly searched his trailer just an hour prior, and had found no gun.
Deciding to fess up to their parents to try and gain direction on what to do, the trio is promptly scolded and told to drop it, as FP was caught; end of story. Not convinced, Archie, Betty and Veronica sneak out of their subsequent groundings to find Jughead and tell him the truth. At the bus station, however, Jughead is trying to return his ticket to Toledo as his mom had just rejected his suggestion of coming for a visit over a phone call. Buying a ticket for tomorrow morning to Florida instead, he’s told he can’t stay the night — and the gang finds him in the one place open 24 hours, Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe. Upon apologizing sincerely and telling him of their belief toward his dad’s innocence, the four rush to tell the sheriff. However, he doesn’t buy it; FP has just confessed to the entire thing. In his confession, FP lays out how Jason had come to the Serpents for a getaway car, and was expected to deliver one shipment of marijuana in exchange. When FP later realized who he was, he snatched him after he crossed the river and held him tied up in the Whyte Wyrm basement for ransom. Before they could get word to the Blossoms, Jason broke free and FP shot him, stuffed him into the freezer and later dumped him in the lake once the river was done being searched. He also further admitted to torching the getaway car and stealing the sheriff’s case files. As Jughead goes near-catatonic with numb shock, the gang brainstorm ways to prove FP’s innocence at school — when Jughead approaches Cheryl, who is being bombarded with condolences, and apologizes on his dad’s behalf. Cheryl pummels Jughead before running off to the bathroom, where she admits to Betty her difficulty coping and how things don’t feel resolved. As a result of this altercation, Jughead is requested to finish his school year from home, despite protests from Archie. To his frustration, Fred does nothing to fight this decision, as his sole purpose is to keep Archie safe. As the two argue over this, Fred angrily blurts out that Archie should just go to Chicago to live with his mom already, and Archie agrees out of spite. Meanwhile, Betty and Alice are woken up by an intruder downstairs and find Hal, going through papers. He admits that he was the one who stole the sheriff’s files, and since FP had taken responsibility for it he had returned to destroy any evidence that might lead back to him. As they question him further, he admits that the ancient Cooper/Blossom blood feud wasn’t just an old murder — great-grandfather Cooper and great-grandfather Blossom were brothers… making Polly and Jason distant cousins and their babies a product of incest. Now understanding his rash decisions in dealing with the relationship and pregnancy, Alice frets over what the Blossoms might do, and, assuming they killed Jason to do preserve the secret, they storm over to Thornhill to drag Polly out. Though Polly and Cheryl are disgusted by this revelation, Penelope and Clifford already knew and are fine with it — fighting and failing to keep Polly in their home. Elsewhere, Archie has tasked his lawyer mom to dig into FP’s case, but she admits to him and Jughead that it seems pretty straightforward and there’s not much she can do… but she does note that it’s strange that his one phone call was to Joaquin. Jughead meets with his dad to have a final pre-incarceration chat, but this eventually turns to an argument when FP refuses to admit any remorse for his actions, and he angrily asks Jughead to never visit him again. As this is going on, Archie, Veronica and Kevin approach Joaquin and demand answers, and he admits that he believes FP did kill Jason as he helped hide the body and clean up the scene. However, he’s unsure if Hiram was involved — but he did overhear FP and Mustang, the only other member involved in the abduction, mentioning ‘some rich guy’.
As Jughead calls Betty and confesses that he can tell his dad is hiding something, Joaquin takes the group to Mustang’s rundown apartment… only to find him dead in the bathtub from a heroin overdose, with a H.L.-monogrammed bag of cash nearby. As police are called and Joaquin and Kevin flee, Hermione and Fred arrive to take their kids away and urge them to stop this dangerous sleuthing, and Hermione declines to comment on the bag seemingly belonging to Hiram Lodge without a lawyer present. Later, upon collecting the passports and legal IDs, she breaks down confessing that she’s unsure of his guilt, but that she’s not innocent either. Cheryl also confronts her mother about the inconsistencies in their stories regarding Jason’s reason for running away, and, following the clues in her parent’s past statements, asks if it was somehow related to the family business. Frustrated at her questioning, Penelope marches her out to the warehouse to show her the truth behind the family business. Elsewhere, as Joaquin skips town, he confides one last bit of information to his boyfriend: the location of the ‘insurance’ that FP had given him, and that the reason for the one phone call was to tell him to abandon it. On his tip, the gang heads to the spot under the old Blossom Maple Farms sign and a bag with Jason’s letterman jacket. Upon inspecting it further, they find a USB drive hidden in the lining and pop into a computer, where they watch in awe the horrifying last moments of Jason’s life via security cam footage: where, after being tortured by Mustang, Jason is shot in the head by his own father, Clifford Blossom, who also takes the engagement ring from his pocket. As Betty calls Cheryl and warns her to get out of the house, we learn that a narrative eventually comes out that Clifford had visited and intimidated FP into confessing to the whole thing by threatening Jughead’s life, and he had killed Mustang and planted the Lodge evidence as well to pin it on his rival. As Archie says goodbye to his mom and plans to stay in Riverdale, Veronica learns the bittersweet news that her dad was acquitted and is coming home. Finally, as the police round up on Clifford, who has holed himself up in his warehouse, they find he has committed suicide and hanged himself; a maple syrup cask of heroin spilled at his feet.
Learning that the Blossom maple business was really a front for a Montreal-based heroin empire, Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller decide to crack down on crime in the town, starting with the Southside Serpents. As FP is still jailed for his multiple offences related to lying and mishandling of a body, he’s approached and asked to give up the names of other members for immunity, which he declines, insisting that the Serpents are only involved in petty crimes and not the heroin business. Meanwhile, Betty and Veronica both separately express their frustration that their parents are acting normal, as Veronica is still cautious of her dad, and Betty has seen her family fake normality before and that’s what got them into this mess. Betty and Archie are later called into the principal’s office to represent the town at the upcoming Jubilee, but Betty refuses as Jughead was a large part of the investigation and is only not being invited due to his father. Frustrated at this unfairness and the town’s secrecy, Betty resolves to write a scathing article for the Riverdale Register pointing out the injustice and hypocrisy. Speaking of honesty, Veronica senses her cue and tells Betty that she and Archie have started dating, which Betty is actually fine with as she has Jughead now. Archie, however, seems a little bit torn — and he tries to talk to Betty about his regrets; a conversation she quickly shuts down and avoids. As he takes his Jubilee song to the Pussycats to perform and she takes her article to her parents to publish, both are rejected; Archie’s song as it’s too personal, and Betty’s article as the town has a growing anti-Serpent mentality and Hal and Alice are afraid she will be hurt for writing something like it. Meanwhile, at Andrews Construction, Fred angrily finds that his crew of Serpents has been replaced on orders by Hermione, who wants to keep the business’s appearances cleaner for Hiram’s return. Reminding her that she doesn’t have that authority, Hermione then makes a formal offer to buy the business from Fred, which he frustratedly says he will consider. Elsewhere, Cheryl is grieving for her losses at home but is continuously berated by her cold and unloving mother for her tears. She later meets Veronica in the River Vixen locker room and eerily calmly makes her team captain in her place, as she has decided to step down. Veronica brings her concern over this strange exchange to Betty, who has decided to publish her article at the Blue and Gold and bring Polly back to school, as she is fed up with obeying her parents’ wishes blindly. As Archie and Jughead return home, they are met with a lady from Social Services, who has rejected Fred’s offer to foster Jughead; unless there are any major changes in FP’s case, he will be moving with a family in the south side and transferring to Southside High by the end of the week. Convinced to make a major change happen, Archie begs FP to name names — but he still won’t budge, reassuring him that Jughead will be fine and warning him to not let him withdraw into himself. Later, approaching Jughead and Veronica eating lunch, Cheryl apologizes for attacking Jughead and gives him her expensive brooch to pawn off. Before Veronica can ask Cheryl about what’s going on, they are whisked away by Kevin, who shows them Betty’s locker — plastered with pages of her article and an anti-Serpent threat written in blood. Polly later confesses this to their mother, who scolds Betty for going behind her back. Betty strikes back over all the dishonesty and asks her mom about the fight they had on homecoming. Initially refusing to open up, she breaks down and later tells her daughter about her high-school pregnancy and how she and Hal had disagreed on how to handle the baby. He had eventually won and sent her to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy and given the baby boy up for adoption, but she counts this as one of her life’s biggest and most shameful regrets.
When Jughead doesn’t show up for school the next day, they get a call confirming their worst fear — feeling unwanted and pushed aside, he had left for Southside High and appears to be withdrawing within himself. Rushing to save him from just that, the gang finds the opposite: Jughead fitting in and getting along with his peers. As Betty reiterates her fears of losing Jughead, Veronica gets a cryptic text from Cheryl. Rightfully deducing it as a suicide note with the intent of drowning herself in Sweetwater River, the gang finds her just as she succeeds to break through the ice and go under. As the current has taken her, Archie punches a second hole in the ice to drag Cheryl out, and luckily resuscitates her back to life. However, when Veronica takes her to the Pembrooke to warm her up, she is treated coldly by Hermione. Since she had previously suggested Veronica use sex to manipulate Archie into getting his dad to agree to the deal, Veronica storms out to go to the Jubilee. As she meets up with Archie, she confronts him over his distant nature regarding them and his seemingly longing looks towards Betty, but he reassures her half-truthfully that he only has feelings for her. Inspired by his bravery, the Pussycats also announce that they’ve reconsidered his song choice and allow him to play it instead. After he finishes, he passes the mic to Betty, who has reconsidered her decision to attend so she can get a message across. As Jughead arrives, fresh off a jail visit to his dad, she is given the courage and launches into a tirade against the town’s treatment of each other… and to her surprise, is given a standing ovation. After the Jubilee, despite her constant warnings that he and Hiram would not get along, Fred refuses Hermione offer and opts to maintain ownership of his company. Meanwhile, Cheryl, mad with grief and yearning for a fresh start not built on drug money, burns down Thornhill as her mother lashes our ar her. Heading home after the Jubilee, Betty and Jughead confirm their love for eachother and start having sex in FP’s trailer, while Veronica and Archie do the same in the Pembrooke. Betty and Jughead are interrupted, however, by a group of Serpents and Southside students at the door, who offer Jughead protection out of gratitude for his dad’s integrity, and offer him a spot as a Southside Serpent. To Betty’s horror, he accepts. The next morning, Archie leaves Veronica early to meet his dad for breakfast at Pop’s, as that usually means they’re having an important talk. However, as Arch washes his hands in the diner, he exits to find Pop being held up at gunpoint by a masked assailant, who then turns on Fred. Despite Archie’s attempt to dive in the way, he watches and attempts to staunch the bleeding as his father is shot and slowly loses consciousness on the restaurant floor.
Are you ready for more action in Riverdale Season Two: Who Shot Fred Andrews? Stayed tuned to The Game of Nerds for all your Riverdale news!