‘Chapter Fourteen: A Kiss Before Dying’ Review

The wait is finally over, and Season 2 of Riverdale kicks off with a bang… or, more accurately, the gunshot bang that closed out last season’s finale. If you’re not yet caught up, check out our Season 1 recap here!

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“Can someone help me and my dad!?” (L-R: KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, Luke Perry as Fred Andrews — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

The episode starts — not being one to break tradition — with the telltale narration by Jughead Jones, over a montage of the Lodge and Cooper families’ ordinary morning routines. He explains that the mayor’s jubilee didn’t change the town as intended — things are still the same, if not worse. With that, we cut to the ‘worse’; Archie Andrews, clearly having no idea how to drive without his license, rocketing down the streets of Riverdale in a pickup truck with his dad Mr. Orange Fred bleeding out from a gunshot wound in the back seat. Jughead remarks that it’s a miracle they even made it to the hospital without wrecking the truck, and we see a blood-soaked Archie half-dragging his unsteady dad down the hospital corridor sobbing and screaming for help (with likely some of the best acting we’ve seen from usually weak-link KJ Apa!). As the nurses and doctors intercept the bloody duo and put Fred on a stretcher, Doctor Steven Masters (a likely reference to short-lived Archie Comics spinoff character The Young Dr. Masters) tries to asks Arch and his old man questions about pre-existing conditions and personal information. As they reach the operating room door, Masters holds the distraught Archie back for sanitary reasons (teenagers are gross), and Arch watches, pleading, as the surgeons start to prep his dad for surgery for a single bullet entry wound, no exit wound, and severe blood loss.

Aaaaand then we leap forward in time. Wait, what? Suddenly Fred Andrews is at Archie’s high-school graduation with his (ex?-)wife Mary, hesitating to take a grad photo of Archie and his friends. As the quartet jokingly egg him on to take the photo before the ceremony, he sentimentally remarks that he didn’t think he’d live to see this day… and Jughead, Betty and Veronica darkly remind him that he didn’t. On cue, the gunman from Pop Tate’s enters from behind them and shoots — and we snap back to Fred, having his shirt cut open on the gurney as his life flashes forward before his eyes. Want to know what’s going to happen? Too bad, because now we’re at the Coopers, with Betty telling her mom Alice all about what almost went down with Jughead (TMI!) until he decided to go Full-Serpent, thoroughly upsetting her mother. Their strangely somewhat-playful mother-daughter chat is interrupted by a call from Archie, with Alice joking to block whoever it is. And now we’re at the Lodges! Veronica is sassily not giving a flip as she drinks her mother Hermione’s special ‘daddy’s coming home’ Cristal in a mimosa for breakfast, but before they can duke it out she gets the call, this time from Betty. (Wait… why did Arch call Betty before his girlfriend? SUSPICIOUS.) Cutting the foreplay, Jughead sits in his jailbird dad FP’s empty trailer doing absolutely nothing before he also gets a call from Betty, heading outside to whip the tarp off his new bitchin’ ride — a biker-ass motorcycle. BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. He even scratched a crown into the helmet!

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How can one man makes crowns so sexy? (Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

Rushing to the hospital, the teenage gang meets up (with their parents Hermione, Alice, and even Hal Cooper in tow) in the lobby and give Archie a huge group hug. As he recounts the events of his traumatic evening, he pauses before CLEARLY OMITTING SOMETHING and lying and saying that the hooded robber fled the scene immediately after gunning Fred down. Comforting him, Jughead points out that he keeps saving lives lately, and he should get a superhero name: Pureheart the Powerful. (You guessed it — comic Archie’s superhero alter-ego.) As the parents come back to update the kids that there are no updates, Mrs. Lodge suggests Archie instead update his mother on the situation while Betty has to remind her mother not to pick a fight with her boyfriend Jughead, which she does anyway — accusing the Southside Serpents of this. Meanwhile, Archie tearfully calls his mom Mary in Chicago to fill her in and ask her to come home, in case they need to say goodbye.

As the gang waits some more, Sheriff Keller arrives at the hospital and, despite the poor timing, wants to gather Archie’s statement on the crime. Jughead offers to come with, which Archie accepts (to the sheriff’s chagrin). Arch describes his dad’s hooded assailant — approx. 5”10’, 160 lbs, green eyes, homemade Black Hood™ with eyeholes, dark clothes — but Jughead takes some offence at the Sheriff’s noticeably leading questions trying to pin this on a Serpent. Arch confirms there was no snake insignia on the assailant’s jacket, but when describing the events that took place he chokes at the exact same moment, leaving out a chunk of what must’ve really happened… but this time, Jughead notices that something’s amiss. He lets it slide for now and asks the sheriff if it’s possible the motive wasn’t robbery, and Sheriff Keller admits that it is possible it could be a murder attempt staged to look like a robbery; they can’t rule anything out at this time. Meanwhile, Ronnie is confiding in Betty about how handling grief and comforting boyfriends has never been a skill of hers, but Betty reassures her that old Veronica would’ve bolted by now, so new Veronica is doing a fine job. As Archie and Jug head back to the lobby, Juggie stops him and confronts him about leaving details out in his story. Archie quickly changes the subject by enlisting Jughead to talk to his dad’s gang associates to find out more info if he can, as a bunch had just been laid off by Fred prior to the shooting.

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What’s the motive? (L-R: Martin Cummins as Sheriff Keller, KJ Apa as Archie Andrews & Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

Finally, Dr. Masters comes out to give some real news, advising Archie that they were able to get the bullet out and stop the internal bleeding, but that he’s not breathing on his own. Archie pleads to see him, and the doctor advises that he will be able to in an hour or two. In the meantime, despite his protests, Veronica suggests that Arch head home, shower, and change out of his bloody Letterman jacket. He begins to argue, but a nurse also brings out a baggie of his dad’s belongings to bring home, and Betty and Alice reassure him that his dad will be okay; he’s not the type to leave unfinished business. Speak of the devil, as we flash forward to another Fredllucination, where Fred is hesitating to go on vacation from Andrews Construction — now Andrews & Son Construction — because he doesn’t feel like it’s the right time to go. (Metaphors!) Archie assures his dad that he can’t keep their relatives waiting — Uncle Oscar and Grandpa Artie, the latter being an extremely minor and very much alive Archie Comics character. Fred retorts that that makes no sense seeing as they’re dead, before they arrive with a menacing banging on the door — and we snap back to a hospitalized Fred, still unconscious.

At the Andrews residence, Archie and Veronica arrive home before he immediately insists he needs to walk his dog, Vegas, before changing out of his bloody clothes. As the two walk the dog, Arch tells Ronnie about when he was just a Lil’ Archie and his dad made him swear to take on all the responsibilities of dog ownership — but then Fred secretly did all the walking and feeding and vet visits himself. He remarks how no one loves Vegas more than his dad, and Veronica takes a moment to stop choke back worried tears. Back outside the hospital, Juggie quickly meets with some of his Southside crew to find out what they know, and they note that Serpents don’t wear masks but they’ll do some recon and get back to him. Back at Casa Andrews, Archie is finally showering off his dad’s internal organ juice, when Veronica — having a teen-drama sense of timing and no other ideas on how to comfort a boy — decides to strip down and join him for some steamy shower sex. Archie, being a fuckboy, happily obliges. (Aside: how do you get bloodstains out of a cast? Is that grounds for a free new one? I’d ask for some fresh plaster, myself.)

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STEAMY SQUARED (L-R: Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge & KJ Apa as Archie Andrews — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

In the waiting room, GBF Kevin Keller joins Betty with coffee, and expresses his concern for Fred. However, no time is a bad time for gossip if you’re Kevin, so immediately he asks for details of Betty and Jughead’s post-homecoming extracurricular activities. Betty admits that they confessed their love for each other, but now she’s concerned he might be joining the Serpents. Having been down that road with a boyfriend already, Kevin warns her about how bad of an idea that is, but their little chat is interrupted by a new patient arriving at the ER — a severely-burned and heavily-bandaged Penelope Blossom, followed by her daughter Cheryl, more unfeelingly nonchalant than usual. As the duo confronts her, Cheryl rehearsed-ly lies and tells them a completely fictional story of being asleep when the fire at Thornhill accidentally started, and her mother suffering third-degree burns and acute smoke inhalation braving the blaze to rescue her… before smiling menacingly sweetly and asking why they’re here. And here we were thinking Cheryl hit peak unstable last season. Meanwhile, back at Archie’s, Veronica is laying out Fred’s belongings while Archie finishes getting dressed. He seems slightly annoyed by this, and immediately gets more flustered when his dad’s wallet is nowhere to be found. Veronica tries to rationalize about where it could be, but Archie frustratedly explains that all his dad’s important information was in that wallet and that he took it everywhere, before he snaps on her for opening the bag and for even bringing him home and tagging along — and he orders her to leave. Veronica begins to… but then remembers her good-girlfriend mode and refuses to, stating that he shouldn’t be alone right now and recognizing that he’s just lashing out, before she sits back down and holds Archie as he sobs (scratch that — THIS is the best acting we’ve seen from KJ. Actual tears!).

With more impeccably bad timing, Archie then gets a call from the sheriff to come look at a police line-up of suspects they’ve rounded up. As Archie looks at each perp with their hoods on and recalls back to the shooter’s face, he dismisses each, one by one. Meanwhile, Veronica is at the hospital, updating the gang on his location. Betty suggests they go provide him some company, but Veronica instead asks her and Jug to search th scene of the crime Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe or his wallet in case it wasn’t stolen, while Jughead posits his unfounded theory that it was a hit and not a robbery. They exit on his motorcycle, with a slightly concerned Betty hanging on tight. Elsewhere, Hermione is praying in the hospital chapel when Veronica joins her, and coldly asks if she’s praying for Fred’s recovery or death. Hermione is shocked at her daughter’s accusation, but Veronica presents Jughead’s hired gun theory to her. Mrs. Lodge frustratedly points out that Veronica is always trying to find ways to demonize her father, but Ronnie clarified that she doesn’t think it was Hiram — she thinks it was her, with Fred refusing to sell her his company as motive. Hermione warns her mija that her disrespect will no longer be tolerated in this family, and threatens that she’d slap her… if she were a violent person. Back in the lobby, Archie has returned and is being offered condolences by Josie and the Pussycats and Reggie Mantle, recast and played by new actor Charles Melton. Can we talk about his perfect eyebrows for a second? Or his hair? Or his cheekbones? He only had five words this episode, but hoo damn. Anyway, Archie is called into his dad’s room by Doc Masters, and advised to talk to him positively to coax him out of his coma.

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Hand me the keys, you fucking cocksucker! (KJ Apa as Archie Andrews — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

Archie talks to his dad, but he’s off on coma-future-hallucination-land again, this time congratulating Archie at Pop Tate’s on his decision to propose to Veronica. He advises Pop of the good news, and he responds (rather stupidly) that ‘time sure dies’ before menacingly pointing at Fred’s freshly bleeding gut wound. Speaking of blood at Pop’s, Betty and Jughead arrive at the not-yet-cleaned  crime scene and disgustedly step around the pool of it to look for Fred’s wallet. Pop comes out of the back with a mop to warn them that they’re closed today, but they advise him that they heard about what happened and are just here for the wallet. He notes the police already checked around but they can look, before adding that not a single penny was stolen from his register. Jughead feels like this confirms his theory, because what kind of thief doesn’t leave with cash, but Pop clarifies that he’s seen many thieves over the years and this was no thief — this was the Angel of Death, come to Riverdale. Betty concludes that the wallets not there, and Pop offers to make them a bite to eat, which Jughead (to Betty’s dismay) takes him up on.

As they eat, and Jug does his best DeNiro about his increasing appetite, Betty confronts Jughead about putting on the Serpent jacket and what it meant. Jughead argues that there was ten bikers there that he wasn’t about to say no to, but Betty calls his bluff and says that he wasn’t faking the look on his face, and points out that now he now rides a motorcycle as well. Jughead protests that the #snakelyfe was his dad’s way and not his, and that she doesn’t have to worry about his Southside foster family because they’re covering for him with the social worker but he’ll actually be staying at his dad’s trailer. HASTY PLOT DECISION CHANGE ALERT. He opens up and admits that the bike, the jacket and the trailer are all ways to feel like FP is still part of him, even though he’ll be locked up for a long time. Betty just pleads with him not to get hurt, and not to hurt someone else. Back in the ER, Cheryl is pleased that her mother is finally awake. She informs Mrs. Blossom of the false version of events she’s been telling everyone (she really supposedly ran back inside to save a portrait, if you’re wondering why she wasn’t in the blaze at the end of last season. HASTY PLOT DECISION CHANGE ALERT) and warns her not to contradict it or she’ll tell everyone what really happened in the barn with Mr. Blossom. Wait… was he murdered and not suicidal!? Being a psycho bitch, Cheryl kinks her emotionally abusive mother’s breathing tube while she outlines how much control she has over her now, watching her gasp for air before sweetly smiling and letting her breathe.

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“Things are going to be different now, Mommy. Better. You’ll see.” (Nathalie Boltt as Penelope Blossom — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

In the lobby, Archie is grabbing a sip of water when Veronica approaches with a present: a new wallet for Fred that she had her butler Smithers pick up. Archie notes that she’s the best girlfriend ever and that he doesn’t deserve her (true) before starting to tell her what really happened at Pop’s. Starts, that is, until Jughead, Betty and Pop Tate interrupt with trays of food for the waiting room party. Later, in the cafeteria, B, V & J all plead with A to open up about the truth… and he does. Archie confessed that he hasn’t told anyone because he’s so ashamed, but after his dad was shot he froze — he didn’t attend to his dad, he didn’t stop the shooter — he just froze and closed his eyes while the assailant put a gun to his head and took Fred’s wallet and did whatever he needed to do, and he blames his cowardice on his dad’s condition. Furthermore, since he probably has Fred’s wallet with his personal info, and he, Fred and Pop are witnesses, he’s worried that the shooter might come back for them. After, he heads to his dad’s room to check up on him, but there’s already another guest — Cheryl Blossom, kissing him on the forehead. She states that she’s given him the kiss of life, just like he gave her at Sweetwater River, before leaving with a ‘toodles’. Crazy.

Archie begins to talk to his dad about Veronica, and Fred begins to dream about her too — more specifically, her wedding day with Arch. As bagpipes play at their traditional Scottish wedding, Veronica walks down the aisle to meet her kilt-clad fiancé at the altar, with Pop Tate officiating because of course he is. It seems like everyone’s there: all the Coopers, Lodges, Pussycats, Moose Mason, Dilton Doiley — and the Blossoms, even the deceased Jason and Cliff — before the shooter comes down the aisle after Ronnie, pointing a gun straight at Archie. In a panic, Fred dives in front of the bullet to protect his son… and in the hospital room, his eyes snap open. In a relieved shock, Archie alerts the nurses. Once they’ve gone, he apologizes to his dad for not doing more at Pop’s and vows to always do whatever it takes to protect him from now on, but Fred weakly tells his son that that’s exactly why he come back: to protect Archie. Meanwhile, outside in the rain, Betty and Jug step out with him offering her a ride home on his motorcycle, and her pointing out her mom’s likely murderous reaction if he were to do so. As he turns to leave, Betty hesitates before stopping him, and tells him that,regarding their discussion at Pop’s, whatever he needs to explore to find himself, she will always support him and they two kiss in the rain. WE MISSED YOU, BUGHEAD KISSES.

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BUUUUGGHHEEEAAADDDDD. (L-R: Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper & Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

As Jug pulls up to his dad’s trailer, he’s horrified and shocked to find his Serpent associates already inside with a very bloody and banged-up interrogation victim tied to a chair. He questions what the hell they’re doing, and they remind him that this is what he asked: to find potential suspects. This unfortunate guy, however, is innocent — he was just running his mouth about the shooting at the Whyte Wyrm gangster bar. Jughead panics and asks why they’re even there, and they say that they wanted to show him that they’ll do what he asks, and so he’ll tell his dad that they have. With or without a jacket, Juggie, you’re a Serpent. Also coming home to criminals, Veronica Lodge returns to the Pembrooke to find her mother talking in the kitchen… to her father, Hiram, who came home early from jail to surprise her. MARK CONSUELOS, DOE. He gives his daughter the same lecture about disrespect before calmly asking her to kiss him hello. Veronica coldly does so, before telling them both that Fred woke up — and she just knows that they’re all soooo happy about that.

Jughead begins to narrate the closing, and tells us that Mrs. Andrews is home now and that Mr. Andrews is safe recovering in bed, but that Archie has kept his promise to stay vigil and protect his father. As he tells us this, Arch calmly sets up a seat by the door with a bat, waiting. The real trouble, however, isn’t in Riverdale at all tonight… but rather across the river, in a town called Greendale. As a handsome teenage boy named Ben finishes his piano sonata, he turns to his familiar-faced music teacher — NONE OTHER THAN MISS JENNIFER ‘GERALDINE GRUNDY’ GIBSON CHILD PREDATOR COUGAR LADY — and asks how he did during his home nighttime lessons at her place. She kisses him goodbye (LITERALLY, BECAUSE SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE) and heads back inside to pick up some scattered fallen sheet music before noticing that the window is mysteriously open. She ponders this for a second… her last second, actually, as the Angel of Death appears begins her with some sort of a rod and strangles her to death until there’s blood running onto the floor. THE. END.

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Justice. (L-R: Sarah Habel as Ms. Grundy, ??? as ‘the Angel of Death’ — Picture Source: The CW/Netflix)

Holy dear mother of god, that’s shocking! I hated her, but I never wanted THIS. (Okay, maybe a little.) But why is there a killer targeting people close to Archie, and not the redhead himself? 

You’ll just have to find out some more tonight — and every Wednesday night — on The CW at 8 p.m EST or on the CW app for free! (For our international folks, check Netflix tomorrow!) Don’t forget to follow The Game of Nerds for all your Riverdale needs!

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Author: Jordan

@jordanrolufs on Twitter!

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