Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
‘Everything is the same, yet nothing is the same’, as Jughead Jones’s narration fills us in on current happenings a week after the Southside High absorption: basketball season is starting up, which Archie Andrews is trying out for, and the rest of the town is preparing for their annual Pickens Day festival to celebrate their town’s founder. However, Jug’s typing of the Riverdale story is interrupted by history teacher Mrs. Haggly, looking considerably younger and less Caucasian than she did in the comics, warning him to pay attention to Cheryl Blossom’s oral history report presentation. Cheryl, decked out in very America-inspired garb, continues, telling the class via slideshow how it was her great(x3)-grandfather who funded the settlement of Riverdale along Sweetwater River, and how General Augustus Pickens was actually hired by him to help with the colonization — petitioning the day to be renamed to the mouthful Colonel Barnabas B. Blossom Day as the final class bell rings. Meanwhile, the Lodges — Hiram, Hermione and daughter Veronica — are sitting down with business partner Fred Andrews as well as the mayor and sheriff to discuss expanding Pickens Day to all-out festival to distract the south side from outrage regarding their school closure. Mayor Sierra McCoy and Sheriff Tom Keller are cautious that this is just a SoDale commercial, and worried about the Southside Serpent gang presence, but Lodge Industries is one step ahead and hired them as security. Archie comes home and interrupts this chat, and the Lodges hastily pack up and leave, asking for a decision from the mayor in the morning.
Later, the Coopers are having breakfast and Hal asks Chic, his long-lost son, how long he plans on staying with them, and (despite Alice and Betty’s scolding him) grills him on his life. Chic admits that the owner of the hostel, Marcel, also books him clients, and stabbed him that night when he refused to work, and he offers to expand on his line of work and collection of scars if necessary. Betty is surprised to notice he has the same scars on his palms from digging his nails in as she does, but momma bear Alice quickly changes the subject to their pancakes. Meanwhile, FBI Special Agent Adams provides Archie with an agreement securing his father’s immunity regarding any potential charges against Hiram Lodge. Frustrated, Archie asks how they can speed this along and get back to his normal life, and Agent Adams suggests he find a way to get Hiram to like him to gain access to his inner circle. Later, at school, Betty updates the gang about her brother, and Veronica suggests she bring him to to Pickens Day to meet people help acclimate. As Jughead throws a bitchfit about Serpents being asked to provide security, he leaves (much to Betty’s jealous chagrin) with Toni Topaz to interview her grandfather — the oldest living Serpent — for his oral history report. As Archie and Ronnie leave in the halls, Arch confesses to Veronica that he wants her dad to like him more, and she suggests he join the wrestling team — her dad’s favourite high school extracurricular, to the point where he bankrolls the team and sits in on practices. Archie immediately decides to drop basketball for this.
Elsewhere, Jughead is at the home of Toni’s grandfather Thomas Topaz (played by the legendary Graham Greene!!!), who tells Jughead that the Serpents are based off his Native American Uktena tribe culture. (Sidenote: while the Uktena tribe does not exist, there is a lot of lore surrounding the ‘horned serpent’ Uktena. Yay, real history!) However, Grandpa Topaz tells Jughead an unfortunately all-too-familiar story: the Uktena didn’t evolve to become the Serpents, they were slaughtered by the early settlers, and the survivors banded together as the Southside Serpents as a way to survive. Jughead is aghast at the whitewashing of history and the fact that this is so widely unknown. Meanwhile, Veronica sits down with Josie McCoy, who has some reservations about reforming the Pussycats for the Pickens Day event, when Mayor McCoy comes home. Acting extremely coldly to Veronica, she scolds Josie for not focusing on her solo careers and promises to continue this chat when they have more privacy. Meanwhile meanwhile, Betty is pulled away from family bonding time with a phone call from Kevin Keller, suddenly remembering where he recognizes Chic from — he’s a camboy that does all sort of video webcam pornography for money. (Also, what an awkward thing to confess to your friend — ‘I recognize your brother from the porn I watch’?)
The next morning, Veronica joins her mother at the breakfast table and tells her about her weird experience with Mayor McCoy last night. Hermione admits that Sierra is likely uncomfortable and untrusting regarding Veronica’s growing involvement in the family business, but if the coldness persists she’ll have a chat with her. Elsewhere, Archie is limbering up for wrestling tryouts when Mr. Lodge approaches him, surprised to see him there and asking about his weight class. Chuck Clayton overhears, and interjects that if he were in Archie’s class he’d crush him, before the coach blows the whistle to huddle everyone in. He introduces his former team captain, Hiram ‘The Ram’ Lodge to the team, and has them pair up. With Hiram (and Sheriff Keller) looking on, Archie loses to his practice partner Kevin, quickly and repeatedly. Later, as Kevin excitedly brags about his Betty, she admits she fell down an internet rabbit-hole while researching her brother and that she’s fascinated by the whole culture. This meeting is interrupted by Jughead, looking to return to the Blue & Gold school paper with a new article about the Uktena tribe, and how Colonel Blossom hired General Pickens to massacre 400 innocent Uktena men, women, and children. He pitches the story to editor Betty, thinking honouring this man is disgusting, and Betty pushes back and asks him to try and get a quote from event organizer Hiram Lodge. (Jughead attempts to, but is a bit obnoxious about it so gets hung up on.) Meanwhile, Veronica approaches Archie in the music room, having heard about his tryouts. He’s optimistic, as Kevin has agreed to give him some one-on-one practices, but Veronica also tells Archie that if wrestling ain’t his thang he can always curry her dad’s favour by singing with her and Josie at the Pickens Day event.
At home, Betty is working on homework when Chic storms in, furious that Marcel got rid of all his stuff — including his laptop and webcam. Betty tries to console him, but he angrily points out that he doesn’t consider this a long-term arrangement. As she later paces back and forth upstairs, deep in thought, she decides to take her own laptop, webcam and equipment and leaves them outside Chic’s door. Without a word, he gathers the equipment up and slinks back into his room. Elsewhere, Archie and Ronnie are practicing songs in her room when Hiram stands there watching, having previously said in anger that Archie was forbidden from sneaking in her room. However, he notes that after seeing Archie wrestle he now feels less threatened by his manhood. Veronica backs Archie up, but, realizing that he’s doing the opposite of getting into Hiram’s good books (and also wanting to prove himself), Archie changes his mind on the musical performance and vows to return to wrasslin’ tomorrow. Later, the Coopers have another family meal with Chic, but Hal spends the entire time berating him and advising him that he’s just filling the void Polly left. Having been abandoned his whole life, Chic accepts this fact and is not bothered by it one bit. Meanwhile, Coach Kleats calls on The Ram to show the wrestling team his signature fireman’s carry. Picking Archie — the only one without his hand up — as a volunteer, Hiram lights Archie up as he advises the class of the proper time and way to do the move, all while muttering threats in Archie’s ear. Elsewhere, Toni frustratedly reads Jughead’s article aloud to him, taking issue with him describing her grandpa as too old and beaten down to fight for his own reparations. She admits that she gets his anti-north rage, but shines the paper at him and disappointed-ly remarks that this wasn’t his story to tell. ‘Jughead Jones: Always The Worst.’
Meanwhile, Mayor McCoy has also caught wind of the article and forbids her daughter from performing at Pickens Day, fearing a riot. Josie protests, as she has already promised Veronica, and asks what her mom’s deal is with her lately, and Mayor McCoy breaks down for Josie how the Lodges do business. Later, Josie storms into the school music room as Veronica is rehearsing and angrily tells her she’s out; she refuses to be manipulated by a Lodge like her mother. Elsewhere, Penelope Blossom is in Pickens Park placing flowers on the statue of General Pickens when Cheryl approaches, conflicted over her conscious as ever — this time over Jughead’s article. Penelope, of course, already knew all of these grisly details in their family history and is proud of it, as it gave them all that they have today. In the locker room, Archie thanks Kevin for helping him practice and admits that he’s taking his attempts to impress Mr. Lodge personally now, while in Betty’s bedroom, Chic questions the gift of the laptop and why Betty came back for him — her real motives. She admits that there’s a darkness in her that she doesn’t understand, and she thinks that he has it too and can help her make heads or tails of it, but he coldly passes on the offer to open up and walks away.
Later, Archie waltzes into Hiram’s study in The Pembrooke and boldly demands to know why he doesn’t like him. Mr. Lodge admits that it’s partially due to his dad’s affair with his wife, but mostly because he doesn’t think Archie is good enough to take care of her. Arch snaps back that he took care of her just fine when Hiram was incarcerated, but before this can come to blows Veronica comes home, and they quickly lie and say that they were just planning some one-on-one training. Staying true to his word, the next morning Hiram calls Arch up early in the morning to come outside, and the two go for a jog and healthy power breakfast at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe. Hiram warns him that this is just to ease some of the stress on Veronica’s plate, and from now one he will tolerate him until she moves on with some other boy. SICK BURN. Meanwhile, Ronnie has breakfast with her mom, but is still upset about Josie. Hermione offers to talk with Sierra, but Veronica comes to the realization that the Lodge family just has a different way of doing things, and declines. In the south side, Jughead sits down with Thomas Topaz to apologize (after an obnoxious pre-apology rant about his viewpoints that just made me more annoyed with him) and Grandpa Topaz says that he now needs to do something to help heal this old wound — and he’s got something in mind.
Later, at wrestling tryouts, Veronica surprises Archie on invite from her father, who is speaking to Coach Kleats privately while eyeing Archie up. This conversation soon becomes public knowledge, as Kleats pairs up Archie for a spar with Chuck — despite the difference in weight class. After a tense match with a bunch of near-pins, Archie finally takes Hiram’s wrestling advice to heart and knocks Chuck to the mat, as Mr. Lodge watches on expressionless, before slowly joining in on the applause as Archie pins him. The next day, as the town gets ready for Pickens Day, Hal Cooper decides to stay home and not be seen with his son. As Hermione approaches the McCoys and chooses not to confront Sierra, Hiram meets with Archie and congratulates him on his victory, inviting him to his study that evening to discuss business. Meanwhile, as the Coopers enjoy their first sorta-family sorta-outing, daddy Hal interrupts this by storming to the festival after all and loudly declaring that he snooped on Chic’s computer and that he wants him out of his house. He and Alice argue, and he leaves when she threatens to kick him out again — with Penelope Blossom curiously watching him go.
Fred takes the stage to thank everyone for coming, and invites their musical guest to perform — Veronica and the Pussycats. (As her old band takes the SoDale stage, with her relaxed, Josie looks genuinely crushed.) However, this performance is interrupted by Jughead and the Southside Serpents picketing the park with tape over their mouths, staging a silent protest against the holiday. Toni cuts the song off early with a megaphone, declaring to the crowd what they represent and demanding the town honors the Uktena tribe and their unwilling sacrifices. Thinking quickly, Hiram takes the SoDale Stage behind her and praises her moxie, initiating a round of applause for living in a town where young folk can stand up for their beliefs. Jughead removes his mouth-tape and makes toward the stage, but Grandpa Topaz holds him back — this isn’t his fight.
Later, as Penelope picks up Hal as a john (!!!!!), Chic knocks and enters Betty’s room with a confession: he watched her sleep his first night here, because he was trying to figure her out. However, after witnessing their parents fight, he gets it: she’s alone here. He tells her that the reason he cams is to get away from the darkness he feels inside, and, as Jughead begins to narrate, she asks him to show her how. Meanwhile, Archie meets with Hiram in his study to discuss being brought on as an intern at Lodge Industries, as he has been impressed with Archie’s character. Thinking this over, Archie silences a call from Agent Adams as he accepts. The next day, the city officials meet in Pickens Park with the Lodges to discuss how to proceed on the latest vandalism, and Hiram suggests — likely in a bid to further the civil war of Riverdale — that they blame it on the Serpents… as we see that the statue of General Pickens has been decapitated, red paint flowing down his neck.
Everyone’s down a different dark path! Who will be redeemed first? Check out Riverdale every Wednesday on The CW, or streaming on The CW app or international Netflix! Keep an eye on The Game of Nerds for all your Riverdale reviews, recaps and fun stuff!