We left last episode with dozens of questions: Who killed Jason? Why is Cheryl seemingly unbothered by her brother’s death? What the hell is Betty’s mom’s deal? Are we ever going to talk about all the smooching that went on last episode and what variety of closets these characters are in?
“A Touch of Evil” only enhances these questions. We pick up where we left off, with Archie haunted by what he did to Betty, trying to communicate with her using everything from text to their “You Belong With Me” window set up. After a few sweaty nightmares, Archie, staying shirtless because why not?, sneaks out to Ms. Grundy’s house to confess his Serious Anxiety about the gunshot they heard mid-canoodle. Grundy continues to skirt the facts: “If anybody finds out we were there, we could go to jail.” No, Ms. Grundy, YOU COULD GO TO JAIL.
The next morning, Betty’s mother scolds her for letting herself get hurt by her friends. Madchen Amick, playing Amy Cooper, deals the neurotic-controlling-mother card extremely well and looks fabulous doing it, but luckily, Betty doesn’t let it get to her. She shows up moments later at Archie’s door against her mother’s orders. On the walk to school, Archie apologizes and Betty says she knows friendship will be better in the long run anyways.
At school, Archie and Jughead have a conversation in which Jughead displays his sardonic humor. Betty is called to the office for our first “no homo” of the episode: Veronica has sent her apology flowers, and makes sure to note that “yellow is for friendship.” Well, I’d like to note that she’s working extremely hard for this “friendship” given that they just met yesterday. But whatever; Betty accepts the no-homo flowers and the bonus “hers and hers” mani pedi offer and moves along.
An announcement regarding Jason’s body is given over the intercom by Sherif Keller (surprise: it’s Kevin’s dad, and yes, he did have to explain to him what he and Moose were doing by the river). Cheryl does not look upset enough about this, but she declares over the loudspeaker that they will find the killer and she is hashtag-Riverdale-strong.
Archie makes suspicious eye contact with Principal Weatherby through the window outside the office. Also in the weirdly misty hallway is Jughead, who corners Archie and confronts him about what could have possibly been their friendship-altering disagreement: they were supposed to go on a road trip over the Fourth of July weekend, but Archie bailed last minute, and Jughead wants to know why.
In biology class, the kids pair off. Moose claims Kevin, leaving Veronica to latch herself to Betty, and Archie to partner with Cheryl. Archie tries to ask if Cheryl is okay, and Cheryl insists that she is, and then stabs the frog in the chest. Yikes. Meanwhile, Alice Cooper is also doing some dissecting. It’s unclear if she’s a journalist by trade, but she is getting some juicy secrets out of the autopsy examiner about Jason’s wounds. She pays him for his secrecy with “small bills.”
At lunch, Betty, Kevin, and Veronica walk across the school grounds. Kevin manages to insult both of them by reminding them of their squabble, though when he complains about his situation with Moose, he does note that “sexuality is fluid” (hint hint, Veronica). When they reach the table, they convince Archie to play some music for them, but this sends Betty into a flashback to the dance and she takes off quickly. When Archie tries to follow her, Principal Weatherby gets in his way and asks if he has any information he’d like to share with him. Perturbed, Archie immediately runs to Grundy’s classroom where she has apparently just finished rocking out on the cello. He needs to know, desperately, if how she feels about him is real, “because if it’s not, then I don’t know what I’m protecting.”
Grundy takes his hands. “It is,” she whispers to him as I scream “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME” into the void. She gets very close to him, replicating whatever intimate moments they shared over the summer, and tells him she’s putting her fate in his hands. At this moment, Jughead walks by and sees them through the window in the classroom door.
Veronica is tearing shit up at cheerleading practice, but unfortunately Betty still doesn’t want to forgive her. They fight, and Betty says, “You don’t know me Veronica,” to which Veronica says something every teenager needs to be told at some point in their lives: “It’s not my fault he doesn’t like you. Most of the time, the people we like don’t like us back.”
It’s my personal opinion she says this because she has a huge lesbian crush on Betty, but Cheryl interrupts before we can get there. Betty invites Cheryl to hang out with her later to get back at Veronica. Upset about this, Veronica goes to Pop’s to see her mother, who now waitresses there. Archie walks in to pick up an order for his dad, and Hermione insists that Archie walk her daughter home. On the walk, Veronica confesses that she knows she messed up with Betty. They talk for a minute about how they both love Betty so much, and the audience at home wonders if this throuple isn’t actually endgame.
In Betty’s room, Cheryl is all but straddling Betty to apply some garish pink blush to her cheeks. (Do you ever watch a scene and your feminism senses tingle to let you know that a man must have written it?) Cheryl shit-talks Veronica and asks if Polly knows about Jason, eventually dropping the buddy-buddy act to make it clear to Betty that she thinks her crazy sister killed him. Betty totally snaps: “Cheryl, Get the hell out of my house before I kill you.” Cheryl knows she’s not kidding and leaves. Affected by this conversation, Betty asks her mom if she can visit Polly, but her mother changes the subject quickly, which is also pretty shady. Honestly, any one of these ladies could have killed Jason and I would not be surprised.
At the Andrews residence, Jughead confronts Archie about Grundy. Archie resists this heavily, but Jughead manages to get some good points in, noting that Grundy only cares about protecting herself and that she’s deliberately messing with Archie’s mind. Thank god for Jughead, frankly.
Later, in the student lounge, Reggie tries to start yet more shit between all of them, accusing Jughead of killing Jason citing his weirdo-loner vibe as evidence. Despite the tension between them, Archie jumps in heroically to protect Jughead, but Reggie knocks Archie out cold anyway. At home with an ice pack on his shiner, Archie confesses to his dad that he and Jughead were “disagreeing about a girl” and his dad tells him that honesty is always the best policy.
Taking this to heart, Archie has a totally not-suspicious meeting with Grundy at the football game and tells her he’s going to come clean. Then he finds Jughead behind the stands and apologizes. Jughead practically does the anime blush and says, “We’re not gonna hug in front of the whole town, so why don’t we do that bro thing where we nod like douches and mutually suppress our emotions.” This is some “no homo” mastery, my friends. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t ship it.
After a(n a)rousing performance, the River Vixens welcome the football team onto the field. Cheryl has a vision of seeing Jason run out grinning in his jersey, and suddenly bolts away. Betty follows her, but by the time she gets to the locker room, Veronica is already comforting the sobbing Cheryl, who seems to have just processed her brother’s death fully. Touched by the display of kindness, Betty invites Veronica to Pop’s for a milkshake, and the two make up.
The next day, Archie is determined to tell the truth. However, Principal Weatherby and Sherif Keller walk right past him and into the biology classroom, where Cheryl stands up and asks, “You’re here for me aren’t you?” Turns out they are: Cheryl is the first arrest in the hunt for Jason’s murderer. And as Jughead tells us in voiceover, the autopsy revealed much more than just the bullet wound: Jason didn’t die on July 4th but over a week later.
- I do not need to see Jason’s dead body that much, but I think they made up for it with the insane amount of shirtless Archie we got this episode.
- What’s the deal with the kids walking down the middle of the street? In both of the walking conversations we had, they walked right in the middle of the road! Is this something that’s just, like, OK in small towns? No wonder so many people are dying. (No, I will not accept “framing the shot” as an excuse.)
- There’s a red and gold spider brooch on Cheryl’s shirt in almost every scene of this episode. Shout out to costume designer for hammering home the black widow metaphor.
- Kevin talks about the Kinsey scale a LOT this episode. In an honorary no-homo moment, he tells Moose in class, “We are all on the spectrum but my gay-o-meter says you should stick with what you know best: girls.” Ouch.
- I laughed OUT LOUD at Veronica’s, “Boys?” when Reggie and Archie started fighting. OUT. LOUD.
- Personally, I’m predicting that Polly DID have a hand in Jason’s death. Maybe it was Polly and her mother. I wouldn’t be surprised.
- Cheryl said “He was supposed to come back” while crying in the locker room. AND we learned that Jason died a week after Cheryl said he did. Second prediction: Cheryl and Jason schemed to fake his death to gain popularity for their family and then he was supposed to heroically return a few days later. Obviously, that didn’t happen.