Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe, as Jughead Jones’s narration tells us, was the heart of Riverdale for decades. Now, however, since the shooting of Fred Andrews, ‘Death Diner’ is slated to be the next rising number in the town’s rising death toll, much to owner Pop Tate’s chagrin. Meanwhile, speaking of death dining, Archie Andrews is burning some toast for his dad’s breakfast-in-bed while pounding back early morning energy drinks, despite Fred’s protest that he’s supposed to be more mobile. Archie reaffirms his vow to protect his father, before being interrupted by a call from the deputy on behalf of the sheriff, who still has no further answers regarding the case. At the Pembrooke, Veronica Lodge is heading to leave when her butler Smithers cautiously warns her to take the side-exit instead. Before she can question this, daddy Hiram enters through the main doors, and question Smithers for her — asking if it’s because she might bump into him. Mr. Lodge gently scolds his daughter for missing all family meals, and she rudely reminds him that the last time they ate as a family he was arrested.
Later, at the picnic tables outside Riverdale High, Jughead, who doesn’t even GO here, informs the gang of what he learned from Pop’s: that the entire staff had quit and it is on the verge of closing its doors, as early as next week. Archie admits that after his dad’s gunnin’ he’s not too keen to return either, and Betty Cooper takes a stand (as Betty Coopers oft do) and declares that she won’t let one psychopath with a gun ruin their place. Jughead notes that he won’t be much help, considering he’s currently dealing with his dad’s incarceration issues, but Veronica agrees to another B&V adventure, with Jughead joking that the duo should get their own team-up video game (spoilers: they used to for iOS). Juggie jets to meet with his father’s subpar court-appointed lawyer, and Archie decides to tag along to drop off some flyers for Sheriff Keller. (Wait a minute — when did Arch’s arm heal? Was his cast so blood-stained he just tossed the plaster?) At the police station Archie confronts Keller about the ‘have you seen this man?’ flyers he’s been distributing and offers to join the Riverdale PD on their patrols, which the sheriff refuses before receiving a buzz on the radio that there’s a ‘53 in Greendale’ and rushing off, leaving a disappointed and frustrated Arch behind.
Meanwhile, FP Jones is sitting with his lawyer to discuss the plea deal he’s being offered, with Jughead pacing the room anxiously. Given the severity of his crimes, the lawyer suggests he takes it. That night, Archie is doin’ the usual and dozing off while sitting up with a baseball bat outside his door when he snaps awake, hearing rattling at the back door. As the door opens, he dives forward with the bat and nearly takes out Jughead, who promptly dies from a heart attack. Jughead notes that Archie’s been looking exhausted and not so good, but Archie quickly changes his subject to the lawyer visit. Choking back tears, Jug tells him that his dad is facing 20 years in jail — and potentially 40+ if he doesn’t take the deal and the case goes to trial. He admits that he’s really scared, and Archie agrees that he is too… hallucinating the hooded gunman just outside his window.
The next morning, Betty is on the phone with Jughead and hashing out a plan she formed last night to help both the Chock’lit Shoppe and FP, when she is surprised to notice that Archie’s bedroom next door has the blinds open, and is completely empty and completely clean. She quickly tells him to meet her at the mayor’s office before calling Veronica, who is doing her makeup WITHOUT BLATANT COVERGIRL PRODUCT PLACEMENT YAS SEASON 2 SLAY. After the call, Veronica heads over to the Andrews for a lil’ girlfriend scolding, walking with Archie to school and confronting him about not sleeping in his room since returning from the hospital. He admits that he’s been staying awake in the landing to keep an eye on the doors because he’s afraid the killer might return, and Veronica provides an anecdote about seeing a therapist, and suggests, at the very least, that he try and speak to the school counsellor about this trauma.
At the mayor’s office, Betty and Jughead ambush Mayor Sierra McCoy on her way to a meeting, and ask her if she could help the town rally behind Pop by naming the Chock’lit Shoppe a landmark or declaring a Pop’s Day in support. Mayor McCoy refuses, pointing out that if she endorses the place and another shooting occurs, she’s doing a terrible job of keeping the town safe; if closing Pop’s is what it takes, then so be it. As she turns to leave, Jughead also asks her her thoughts on shipping his dad off to a state prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and asks her to call the state attorney and request a better lawyer. The mayor again refuses, stating that FP made his own mistakes and that the justice system is fair, and Jughead coldly tells her to remind this as the moment she turned her back on Pop Tate and FP Jones, as Betty stares in horror at how horribly her plan backfired.
Back at Riverdale High, hot new Reggie Mantle™ is making pouty kissy lips at a locker all alone by himself (?) when he’s approached by none other than rocker girl MIDGE. MOTHERFUCKING. KLUMP. I’ve been calling for Midge to show in the show since MY FIRST RIVERDALE ARTICLE, GUYS. They didn’t release any casting call, they didn’t announce any casting, I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. And can we just say Emilija Baranac is lovely? Midge. Jesus. MIDGE. ‘The Klumpster’ jumps right into it and asks Reggie to score her some jingle-jangle — a hot new Riverdale drug that was mentioned in passing last episode and I hoped it was just a one-off and not this season’s Sticky Maple FML — for her boyfriend Moose and herself. (Fun fact, ‘Jingle Jangle’ comes from the name of a 1969 hit song by The Archies. You’re welcome.) After Midge departs, Reggie catches Archie hesitating outside the office to school counsellor Ms. Burble, and immediately starts teasing him for considering seeking help and for looking so exhausted. Archie changes his course of action and instead asks Reggie for something to keep him awake, like a BAD BOYFRIEND, and Reggie offers to get him jingle-jangle, which will keep him up in more ways than one — if you catch my drift.
Elsewhere, Betty is hosting a meeting in the officers of school paper The Blue & Gold with Ronnie and Kevin Keller to plan out a saving grace for Pop’s, and Veronica questions why Betty chose this particular hill to die on. Betty reminisces about all the important times there — stories of meeting both of them there, all her special times with Jughead and Archie and family and friends — and how she wants to save these memories so Jug doesn’t have to lose anything else. This sweet sentiment is interrupted, however, by the dreaded ‘parent visiting me at school’, with Mr. Lodge showing at the door with flowers. As he takes his daughter for a walk outside for the chat she’s been avoiding, he opens up about his time in prison and wanting more than anything to return to his family despite the difficulties it would take adjusting, and he asks her to meet him halfway. Veronica admits that she would love for things to return to the way they were, but now that the blindfold is off to his shady activities she can’t put it back on and pretend things are normal. She leaves to return to her friends, and Hiram, asking about what they’re planning, offers to help with the Pop’s event any way he can.
Meanwhile, back in the Southside, Jughead is having a less wholesome meeting about his objectives, talking with his Serpent crony Tall Boy (yep, his name’s Tall Boy) about how he yelled at the mayor and it didn’t even help so this means the system is rigged against him. Jughead suggests to break his dad out of jail, but Tall Boy laughs this idea off and says that what a Serpent really needs is a Snake Handler. OMINOUS. Back at Riv High, B & V walk into River Vixens cheer practice, and are introduced by returning captain Cheryl Blossom to their newest recruit — Josie McCoy, of Pussycats fame. Wasting no time, Betty immediately asks Cheryl if the Vixens can waitress at Pop’s for an event, but she flat-out rudely refuses, with a double-cherry-on-top no. This isn’t the worst news, however, as later in class principal Mr. Weatherbee has a dramatic announcement: former music teacher Ms. Grundy has been found murdered in Greendale. Archie, unable to process the information that his former gross illegal flame is dead, gathers his books and rushes out of class.
At home, he provides his conspiracy theory to his dad: someone is going after the people he cares about to send him a message, but Fred points out that there’s no evidence connecting the two events at all and that he needs to stop worrying so much. Meanwhile, Jughead follows through with his visit to Tall Boy’s Snake Handler — a shady Southside lawyer named Penny Peabody, whose cramped office is situated in the back room of a Serpent tattoo parlour. Penny, baring her tattoo so show that she’s a Serpent too, tells Jug upfront what she knows: his dad’s been offered a garbage plea deal, and he’s been looking to try and do anything to lessen the time. She suggests that while this particular case has no loopholes to exploit, if he can get the victim’s family — the Blossoms — to publicly forgive him, the judge may show leniency and give him time served with parole. Appreciative, Jughead offers to pay her for her counsel but she refuses it, citing this as a favour between friends. Archie, however, has moved his theories to fresher waters, and now approaches Alice Cooper with Betty by his side with the same idea. Alice agrees with Archie’s request to poll her sources for autopsy details on Grundy’s death to see if the MO’s match, and, after he leaves, chides her daughter for spreading herself thin for lost causes like this one and informs her that Pop is selling his Shoppe to an anonymous buyer… sound familiar?
As she arrives home, Veronica gets a call, and immediately storms inside to confront her daddy about buying out Pop’s to purchase her affections. He denies being the buyer and asks his daughter to sit so they can talk civilly, but she does neither and asks him if he or Hermione hired someone to shoot Fred Andrews after he refused to sell his shares of the SoDale contract to Lodge Industries the day prior. They both deny this as well, and Veronica, still hurt over her dad’s lies, provides Hermione the letter he had sent her via lawyer, threatening her mom if Ronnie doesn’t testify on his behalf. Barely batting an eye, Hermione tells Veronica that Hiram didn’t write this letter — she did. Unsure what to believe, Veronica storms out. Meanwhile, Betty and Jughead take a stroll to the Blossoms brand-new mansion — Thistlehouse — to ask for a favour. Sitting down with Betty’s sort-of family (in more ways than one) in the conservatory, Jughead asks Cheryl and burned-up Penelope for their favour. However, Burnelope and her daughter don’t want another reminder of their family’s recent sordid history running loose and angrily refuse. As they storm out, Jughead offhandedly remarks how he would blackmail them if he didn’t feel so bad for them. Why is everyone in Riverdale so broken?
At the autopsy, the coroner points out to Alice that Ms. Grundy was violently strangled to death, and suggests that this was a crime of passion and personal hatred. Speaking of passion, Archie is at home licking a butter knife. However, as he gazes out the window his mood is immediately ruined, as he sees the masked gunman waiting just outside. Without a moment’s hesitation he burst through the back door and tackles him, pulling off the hood to reveal none other than Reggie — who exclaims it was ‘just a prank, bro’. Genius. Annoyed at Archie’s ‘overreaction’, he states that he’s just here to deliver dat JingJang and notes that only a lunatic would being a bat to a gunfight anyway. Say it with me, folks: STOP (clap) GIVING (clap) ARCHIE (clap) BAD (clap) SUGGESTIONS. The next morning, Alice visits the Andrews to update on what she learned: this was a murder in a different town with a different murder weapon and different apparent motive; it appeared to be a crime of passion, and since there was no forced entry it’s believed she knew the killer. However, Archie can’t stop fixating on the fact that her strangulation was caused by the cello bow he had bought her before she skipped town.
At Pop’s, Juggie and Betty ask Pop Tate about the sale, and he shamefully admits he sold out to ChugMo liquor stores. As a last supper, Jughead asks Pop to make his dad his favourite meal one last time — which Pop recalls with ease — and Betty, with a burst of admiration and inspiration, advises him not to sign the sale contract because she can fix this, before rushing out. In the Vixens locker room, Cheryl is nearly-nude (SCANDALOUS) when Betty charges in for some fun girl talk with her underwear-clad frenemy. Cutting to the chase, she admits that she kept a copy of the familicide Clifford Blossom killing Jason Blossom video, and that she will wide-release it publicly I’d Cheryl refuses to grant FP mercy. (Jughead might not be hardcore enough to blackmail, but Betty is.) Cheryl, uncharacteristically and nervously devoid of control, agrees, on the condition that she provides any copies of the footage to Cheryl and destroys any other trace of it, and Betty guarantees that she will — if Cheryl also lends her the Vixens for her Retro Night event at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe.
Meanwhile, Ronnie is sitting melancholy in the B&G offices, sadly scrolling through pictures of her and her dad — actually, the same picture repeatedly, if you look closely — on her phone, when Jughead enters, and, despite never being a close confidant, (AND THE FACT THAT HE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE DID THE WRITERS FORGET) asks if she wants to talk about what’s up. She asks him why he decided to forgive his dad after everything and join the crusade to free him, and he admits it’s because he changed and started to try. Recognizing Veronica’s dad issues, he points out the situations Archie’s dad and his dad are in, and notes that if there’s even a minuscule chance her dad is actually trying, she should try and cherish her time with him all she can. Meanwhile, Archie is meeting with Sheriff Keller to discuss his theory on Grundy’s killer, and bares his soul about his affair with her and how her abusive ex-husband might have found out. Keller thinks it would be a good theory — but Greendale PD interviewed the ex already and his alibi checks out. Disheartened, Archie starts to question if everyone is right and he is losing his marbles. (That’s what happens when you live off of uppers and energy drinks and never sleep, fam.)
As the Vixens scrub the vicious graffiti off the outside of Pop’s to prepare, Betty is sitting with Jughead in the courthouse as Cheryl begs the judge for leniency by testifying — on behalf of the Blossom family — that they forgive FP Jones for his part in the cover-up of her brother’s murder. The judge sympathizes, but as there were no extenuating circumstances, the sentence remains. Catching Betty’s menacing gaze, Cheryl quickly blurts out that her father threatened Jughead’s life if FP didn’t comply, which is not exactly a lie, even if the timing is off. The judges stays the trial in light of this new evidence, and Jughead tearfully hugs his dad for their small win. Later, at Pop’s, Betty (in her retro roller waitress outfit) sits with Jug (in his retro paper chef outfit) and complains that no one’s coming to their Retro Night, when the seal is broken by Alice Cooper, fiendishly arriving to write an obituary for Pop’s over a root beer float.
Slowly, as the diner fills with customers, Josie and Melody Valentine (apparently they couldn’t afford Hayley Law in the budget this episode so ⅔ of the Pussycats just had to do) storm in and demand why Betty posted all over on social media that the Pussycats were performing a special free concert at Pop’s. Betty admits she thought it would be better to beg forgiveness than ask permission because Josie’s mom — Mayor McCoy — would’ve never allowed it, and she tries to convince Josie about how much she loves this place. Melody joins in, and Cheryl offers to fill in for Valerie (who’s out with a norovirus/budget cuts/fear of heights), and Josie eventually relents. As the Cats feat. Cheryl perform an impromptu concert on the roof of Pop’s with a sweet pop cover of Kelis’s horrible hit ‘Milkshake’, Archie shows at the diner but can’t stop reliving his dad’s assault. Waitress Veronica applauds his courage in coming while leading him to a booth, but her smile is ruined when her parents walk in the door. Hiram quickly notes that he’s just here to support her, but Veronica, taking Jug’s advice to heart, forgives them and asks for a new beginning with total transparency. Overjoyed, Mr. Lodge decides to make a charitable donation to Pop’s from Lodge Industries to celebrate.
All is not well, however, as Alice Cooper notices Tall Boy and some Serpent goons enter and begins to film them on her phone. As Jughead reassures Betty they they’re just here to enjoy the food like everyone else, Cheryl approaches Bughead and asks them to hold up their end of the bargain as she lied under oath for them, which they do. Outside, Reggie stops by Midge and Moose Mason’s car to deliver the JJ, which Alice ALSO notices and films. Later in the night, Pop Tate calls Betty out for all she’s done for him and announces that he plans to keep the Shoppe open for as long as people keep coming. As the patrons applaud, he also extends his family to the Lodge family for their generous contribution, which will serve as a cushion to keep the place running even when times are slow. However, as the crowd cheers and gathers around Pop, Hiram privately reassures his wife that they’re not in the charity business — as of five minutes ago, Lodge Industries owns Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe, and Pop has been allowed to stay on as manager in exchange for his silence. THAT FIEND. As Hermione praises his deviousness, he praises hers — thanking her for lying and saying that she wrote the threatening letter to herself. As bad of influences as they are together, I think I love the evil secretive power couple of the Lodges, unpredictably pulling the strings and unspoken-ly covering for each other’s fibs.
Watching from a distance, Veronica convinces Archie that he’s been through enough to meet her dad today, and he reassures the gang that he’ll be okay as long as they’re around — while shooting shady glances at Dilton Doiley, resident military enthusiast, who is waiting for him in the parking lot. Back at Thistlehome, Cheryl approaches her mother and shows her a ‘little present’ she got for her — forcing her to watch the tape of her husband killing her son. Together, they watch the video in menacingly calm silence. And at the Pembrooke, Veronica comes home from the event to find a young new butler — Andre — in Smithers’ place. Mr. Lodge hastily tells a suspicious Veronica that her only internal ally against him had to rush to visit his sick mother overseas and didn’t leave a forwarding address. Meanwhile, Jughead is making a sandwich when he gets a call from his dad in his cell, angrily confronting him about seeing Penny Peabody. Jughead admits that he had no choice, and FP, even more worried that she said it was a favour instead of accepting payment, hurriedly tells him not to contact her or answer her communications ever again before hanging up.
Back at Pop’s, Alice congratulates her youngest daughter for the event, but points out that several drug deals went on tonight and that there’s no way Riverdale’s Scarface donated to Pop’s for altruistic reasons, backhandedly accusing Betty of giving the Southside a toehold and safe haven in the north end of town. Meanwhile, Archie meets on Sweetwater Bridge for a secret rendezvous, hopefully much different than his secret rendezvous were with Ms. Grundy. Dilton provides him a pistol ‘for safety’, with Archie paying him and reassuring him (or himself?) that he’s not crazy. REPEAT: DON’T TAKE REGGIE’S ADVICE. As Jughead’s narration tells us, Archie slept that night for the first time in weeks… before waking up to a living nightmare. Observe: as Midge Klump and Moose Mason park beside the river and take some jingle-jangle (spoilers: they’re just druggie Pixy Stix) before making out, the hooded gunman approaches with a flashlight… before raising his gun and splattering their blood all over the inside of the car. MIDGE. NO. YOU CAN’T INTRODUCE MY BAE JUST TO KILL HER OFF. IF SHE’S DEAD, I SWEAR TO POP…
Will Midge make it, and less importantly, Moose? Find out tonight as more of the story unravels and more victims are revealed, and every Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on The CW! If you don’t have that channel, Americans can watch for free on The CW app, and the rest of us schmucks can check it on Netflix the following Thursday morning!