Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
Starting off on a somber tone, this episode kicks off with Cheryl Blossom solemnly singing Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone’ at Midge Klump’s funeral, surrounded by the rest of the black-cheer-uniformed River Vixens and a good chunk of the town. Jughead Jones cuts through this with his narration about the return of the angel of death, before we see him, along with others, interrogated by Sheriff Tom Keller. In his statement, Jughead argues that the behind-the-scenes footage he shot should prove the return of the Black Hood, while Ethel Muggs, sobbing, confesses to writing the menacing letters but pleads her innocence. Moose Mason, in his, is clearly in shock, while Archie Andrews asks Keller a question of his own: if they ever found any evidence linking Joseph Svenson to the Black Hood murders, because he’s not so sure they got the right guy. Sheriff Keller refuses to entertain the idea, and stubbornly insists that they got their man.
We see Cheryl finish her song at the funeral, before she makes a stone-cold vow: that she and the rest of the cheer squad will avenge their fallen sister. As everyone lays their roses on the casket and sets to leave, Sheriff Keller approaches Mrs. Klump to offer his condolences and promise to bring justice to her daughter’s killer, but she slaps him before he gets the chance, screaming that he was supposed to be protecting the town. Cheryl, overhearing this as she storms off, confronts Keller with an angry promise: his days of failing the town are numbered. Later, at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe, Jughead posits his theory to the gang that it’s a copycat killer, suggesting that it’s possibly Chic. Betty, not wanting to give away the secret of the murder, quickly stops Jughead and points out that she had brought her brother to town. Archie repeats his theory — that Svenson was never the Black Hood — and argues that just because he was wearing a hood that day and acting maliciously doesn’t make him the Black Hood, and he could have just been a (possibly unwilling) accomplice. Later, as they leave the diner, Jughead plants the seed of doubt of Chic’s innocence in Betty’s mind, while Veronica makes Arch promise that he’ll keep sane and steady this time.
That evening, Sheriff Keller knocks on the door to the Cooper house to talk with Chic, and Hal — oblivious to his actual crimes — promises to bring him to the station first thing in the morning. Alice scolds him for ‘throwing Chic under the bus’, but Betty diffuses this as ‘overprotective mom syndrome’ before he can get too suspicious. Later, after Archie fails to catch up with a shadowy figure as he walks home, he sits with his dad and suggests he skip town to avoid the Black Hood’s second coming, but Fred refuses to leave his son by himself. Meanwhile, Hermione Lodge discusses using this tragedy to go door-to-door reassuring townsfolk, and Hiram tries to get Veronica to talk Cheryl into getting Sheriff Keller —now a liability since he’s no longer on their side — fired, but Ronnie refuses. The next morning, Betty stops her mom on the way out and suggests that Chic skip town instead of speaking to the sheriff, but Alice points out that that is looks even more suspicious.
At school, Betty talks to Jug and vents her growing concerns about Chic since he mentioned it, and the two realize that they both spent time at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy and may have overlapped during Svenson’s caretaker days — possibly giving credence to Archie’s ‘multiple Black Hoods’ theory, and the two agree to investigate. Meanwhile, Hermione shows up at Thistlehouse — but not to offer her condolences as much as convince Cheryl to write an op-ed asking for Keller’s head. Passionate about the ‘inadequate law enforcement’ in town, Cheryl agrees. Later, as Jug and Betty meet with the Sisters, they blackmail their way into accessing the records for Charles ‘Chic’ Smith and Joseph Svenson, and find that there was a two-year overlap in their times there. However, as they flip through Chic’s file, they come across something more disturbing: the photo is not of the man Betty has been calling her brother, and Sister Woodhouse confirms that that photo is indeed of the Charles Smith who stayed there. (!!!)
Elsewhere, Archie does exactly what he promised Ronnie he wouldn’t, and goes to Svenson’s foreclosed house. However, as he’s peeking through the boarded-up windows, the shadowy figure runs past again. He turns the corner to confront the hooded man in all black, before he turns around and reveals his face as a featureless mound of black fabric as well. Two similarly-dressed men round up behind Arch and beat the living hell out of him. (!!!!!) Kicking themselves for not finding this out this bombshell sooner, Betty and Jughead rush home to tell Alice — just to find Chic menacingly waiting with her. Immediately furious, Betty exposes the truth about the imposter to Alice in front of his face, and Chic unsuccessfully tries to gaslight Betty’s facts before realizing he’s outnumbered. As they round up on him, he grabs a knife from the counter and cuts Alice’s hand before trying to stab Jughead before Betty knocks him clean out with a rolling pin. (!!!!!!!)
Later, Hermione tells her family of her successful using of Cheryl over dinner while Ronnie excused herself to take a call from Archie… only the voice isn’t Archie’s, but that of one Nick St. Clair. The rapist sicko tells her how he and his two friends will return Archie… for a million dollars in ransom, as compensation for his permanent limp from his Lodge-orchestrated ‘car accident’. He hangs up to further pummel Archie, who his men have gagged and tied to a chair in a warehouse. However, when Veronica tells her parents about this, they refuse to cave to crooks and pay the ransom, for fear of risking exposing their own mobster ways. Frustrated, Veronica storms out, but Hiram reiterates to his wife that Archie isn’t blood, and it would set a precedent if they pay. The next morning, Kevin Keller storms Vixen practice and demands a retraction from Cheryl for smearing his father in the Riverdale Register. Cheryl refuses, and reiterates her point that the sheriff is incompetent and that her and the cheer squad will see to it that justice is served.
Meanwhile, Chic finally comes to in the basement of the Cooper house tied up, and they start grilling him for answers. He rightfully points out that he never claimed he was Charles Smith, he had just said his name was Chic — which is true — and that the real Charles was his roommate. With a malicious smile, he tells them about how he heard all about them, and how one time Charles had shown up at the door to meet his family that never went looking for him and was turned away by Alice… so he OD’d on jingle-jangle and killed himself. As Betty chases her distraught mother upstairs, Alice breaks down and tells her that this is the truth — she had turned away the boy in the photograph once, assuming him to be a salesman. She sobs as she blames herself for ‘killing her son’, and tells a bewildered Betty to stay here as she has to go — before rushing out the door without another word. As this is happening, Archie pleads with Nick to let him go, as his dad may be in danger from the Black Hood, but Nick couldn’t care less. He admits that he’s doing this as his father is embarrassed by him, and he plans to use Archie ‘make his bones’ and prove himself.
Not taking no for an answer, Veronica later sneaks into her dad’s study and figures out the pin to his safe… only to find there’s not enough in there. Regardless, she takes the money and calls Nick, agreeing to meet him alone at Pop’s in an hour. Meanwhile, Kevin meets with his dad and tells him not to take the article to heart — but he already has, as he distractedly glances over his Black Hood flies and admits that he may have cut some corners and prematurely ended the case to get it over with. Their talk is cut short by a car alarm — and they rush out to see his patrol car with a smashed window and red spray paint changing it to read ‘SHERIFF KILLER’ on the side. Later, Ronnie meets with Nick, and he shows her a pic of Archie’s battered face as evidence that he’s alive. However, he quickly deduces that the tiny handbag is neither big nor heavy enough to fit all six zeroes, and calls her out on having no real plan to get the rest of the cash. Instead, he offers her collateral: give him the date and night together that ‘he’s owed’ (SLIMEBALL) and he’ll let Archie go. Disgusted but out of options, Veronica agrees.
Elsewhere, Alice busts into FP’s trailer in full meltdown mode, and collapses into his arms admitting that Charles was his son in high school, and that she ‘killed him’. As he holds and comforts her (and my heart breaks), Betty is waiting at home when she gets a call with a familiar ringtone — ‘Lollipop’ by The Chordettes. Terrified, she answers and hears the familiar pitch-corrected voice of the Black Hood. He admits to killing Midge and framing Svenson, and she covertly takes notes of key words and phrases he uses — before quickly hanging up as Jughead approaches and saying it was her dad on the other line. Rattled she tells Jug that she doesn’t believe Chic and wants to go back to the hostel where she found him. Meanwhile, Nick St. Cunt sets up a video feed in front of an extremely messed-up Archie to livestream his ‘date’ with Veronica to him. Archie weakly threatens to kill him, and Nick agrees that he probably would — and that’s why he’s not letting him go, declaring that he’ll kill Archie himself when he’s done.
Meanwhile, Jug and Bets are in Centerville, booking a room into the seedy hostel they scraped Chic from, and go up to his room — The Shining #237 — for some answers. After some neighbours refuse to talk, the nice Spanish lady in the room next door recognizes his photo as ‘the nice one’, and wishes he rest in peace. Jughead asks if was an overdose, but she states that she never saw him with any drugs — but rather the last time she saw him was just before a big fight he had had with Chic, and later she found bloody sheets and pillows in the dumpster. Rushing home, Bughead confronts Chic over Charles’s murder, and Jughead beats the hell out of him when he refuses to confirm which version of the story is true, as Veronica gets ready for her ‘date’, deciding to wear her locket Archie got her. Later, as Betty sneaks Grundy’s revolver in her purse, she gets a calls from the Black Hood, requesting that she turn Chic over to him to silence the potential of their involvement in the past murder coming to light — but before she can decide, FP and Alice burst in. Pulling Jughead off of Chic, FP drags him outside and scolds him — saying that this is the Coopers place, and they get to decide how to proceed. At the table, Betty and Alice mull over their options, and Alice decides the best course of action is telling Hal everything.
In the Five Seasons hotel room, Nick and Veronica are flirting lightly, as Archie furiously watches, tied to his chair. As she makes the two of drinks, he starts to rage, and kicks the table. Realizing that he can rock his hair this way, he continues to do so while Nick’s guy is distracted warming his hands in the other room. When he finally comes to check on the sound, he finds a broken chair… just before Arch rounds behind him and knocks him unconscious with a broken piece of it and steals his handcuff keys. Sneaking around the other guard, he flees into the night as Veronica broaches the subject of Nick’s date-rape roofie tactics, but he changes the subject and pulls her up to dance. Battered and bloody Archie bolts as fast as he can to the hotel, as Veronica reveals the name of her perfume is tellingly ‘Diabolique’. As he gets close to kiss, however, we cut back to Hal freaking out on Betty and Alice about the situation and demands they go to the police. Alice, to show that’s impossible, comes clean about everything about the murder — except she conveniently leaves out Betty’s involvement in the cover-up.
Instead of going to her room as she’s told, Betty sneaks downstairs as her parents argue. Pulling out her revolver, she throws Chic his coat as she puts on hers, and she tells him that she’s going to untie him and they’re going to leave out the basement door. Terrified of the gun, he complies. Meanwhile, Archie busts down the door to Nick’s usual suite to find Nick, unconscious on the floor. He kisses Veronica and she confirms that she roofied Nick by hiding one in her locket, literally giving him a taste of his own medicine. Turning the tables, she calls Papa St. Clair and requests a milli for their troubles. Meanwhile meanwhile, Chic and Betty wait in the graveyard at night, and Chic asks who was the one calling her with the weird ringtone, but she says he’ll find out soon enough. Asking him instead, she asks again if he killed her brother (following the Black Hood’s phone advice that people won’t confess to some sins unless faced with certain death), and he quietly and sincerely admits that he didn’t mean to lose control. Suddenly, a shadowy figure appears in the distance, and Betty tells him it’s the Black Hood — the man who called her — before suggesting that he run. He doesn’t believe her, even after she counts down his head start, but as the Black Hood gets closer he bolts — with the man following suit after sharing a knowing glance with Betty, who whispers her goodbyes to the man she thought was her brother.
That night, Kevin enters his dad’s study to find him thoroughly drunk by himself. Sheriff Keller tells his son that he’s been asked to step down as sheriff until the new mayoral election, with Fred getting elected meaning him keeping his job, and Hermione meaning doom. Kevin tries to argue the injustice, but Tom tells him that this might be a good thing, as the next sheriff may actually catch the Black Hood. Meanwhile, the Lodges come home to find a pile of money on the table. Veronica fills them in, and tells them that Archie is waiting in the study to hear their explanation of why they wouldn’t pay the ransom or even call the St. Clairs about it. Archie, however, forgives Hiram and tells him that he’ll prove himself once and for all by making his own bones with the Black Hood. As Jughead narrates with a dumb metaphor about emotional prisons, Betty gets home and tells her upset and drinking mom that she ‘got rid’ of Chic — lying and saying that she took him to the bus depot. She and her mom embrace and share a tender moment… before realizing that her dad is nowhere to be seen, with Alice telling her that he left shortly after she did, to go look for her. A look of horrified realization dawns on Betty Cooper’s face.
What a tense episode, start to finish! Now that we’re in the home stretch, things are really ramping up! Check out the last three episodes of Riverdale on The CW or international Netflix every Wednesday or Thursday respectively, and check out The Game of Nerds for all your fandom fun stuff!