Recapping Riverdale: Chapter 4, “The Last Picture Show”

This week on Riverdale, Betty puts two and two together and figures out Grundy and Archie were together at the river. At a performance, Grundy rocks out on the cello while Archie watches with his dad. Fred Andrews continues to make weird comments about how “incredible” she is, and then proceeds to ask Grundy to accompany the Andrews men to dinner. I don’t even have time to be grossed out because literally so much sh*t is about to go down on Riverdale’s fourth episode, “The Last Picture Show.”

At Pop’s, Jughead complains loudly that the local drive-in theater, where he works, has been sold and is closing. He slumps into the booth howling about the American dream dying, and Veronica basically tells him Netflix exists and he needs to chill. But, because Drive-in and Zero Chill is Jughead’s aesthetic, he rattles off a few movie references, mentioning that the “anonymous buyer” made the mayor “an offer she couldn’t refuse.” At a nearby table, Cheryl and Hermione have an unnecessary conversation about which of them has less class. 

Betty, lost in thought about murdering all of them (presumably), perks up when the Andrews walk in with Grundy. She immediately gets up and asks Archie to accompany her outside, where she demands to know the situation. Inside, Jughead ducks behind the window, avoiding culpability. With her Lesbian Witch Cape in New York Black™ flowing behind her, Veronica runs after the love of her life Betty Cooper so that she can know the gossip. The three of them are practically yelling about this affair in the parking lot, and just as Archie is about to have a stroke, Betty’s mom pulls up and steals her away. At home, Betty googles Grundy for more information. As she’s about to leave Pop’s, Cheryl sees Hermione arguing with a biker in the parking lot. She records it for later.

The next day, Archie tells Jughead he wants to be with Grundy. Full of salt and resentment, Jughead responds, “I feel that, I’m holding on to something a lot older than me too” (cue rap air horn) as he puts up a “Save the Drive-In” poster. In full yellow journalism mode, Betty interviews Ms. Grundy for a fake article. The first few questions yield little, until she learns the only other Riverdale student Grundy has done an independent study with besides Archie was Jason Blossom.

Betty interviews Grundy for a #fakenews article. Source: CW
Betty interviews Grundy for a #fakenews article. Source: CW

In the student lounge, Veronica and Kevin agree to be each other’s beards for the last showing at the drive-in. Cheryl interrupts to let Veronica know she saw her mom with a “South Side Serpent,” a member of the local biker gang. Despite the lipsticked sneer, Cheryl appears to have just told Veronica about her mom as a courtesy, because the video never comes up again. Maybe she does just want to be friends? When Veronica asks her mom about it, Hermione tells her he was a friend from high school. This satisfies V for now.

Jughead tries to convince Mayor McCoy that she needs to keep the theater around, but to no avail. Betty reveals to Archie what she has learned about Grundy, including that the only Geraldine Grundy she could find online was an 80-year-old woman who passed away. Archie insists he’s not in any danger, but later when they are hanging out watching a movie (as one does with an adult lover), Archie asks to know more about Ms. Grundy’s life. She prattles about how she once dreamed of being the next Yo Yo Ma or whatever, but otherwise keeps pretty quiet and tells him she likes to live in the moment.

While insisting to Veronica that this for Archie’s good and not because she still has feelings for him, Betty breaks into Grundy’s car. Once inside, they find a locked box. Betty pushes a bobby-pin into the lock and opens it in one try. She gives Veronica a look that clearly says “This is what I’ll be doing to you later.” In the box they find a driver’s license with Grundy’s photo but the name “Jennifer Gibson” and a gun. They immediately rush to Archie, but he resists the implication that Grundy has anything to do with Jason’s murder.

Next on Jughead’s list is Mr. Andrews, who he urges to halt the construction to tear down the drive-in. They have an altercation; it’s revealed that Mr. Andrews put Jughead’s father out of work after Mr. Jones was caught stealing from the construction site. Could this be one of the reasons Jughead and Archie don’t get along anymore?

Jughead talking to Mr. Andrews
Jughead talking to Mr. Andrews

There’s a serious How To Get Away With Murder vibe in Mayor McCoy’s office as Hermione shows up and drops the bag of money from episode one on her desk. The Lodge’s are buying the drive-in, and the money is a bribe–a re-election campaign donation in exchange for McCoy’s help. Other scandalous secrets are revealed at Grundy’s place, where Archie asks about Jennifer Gibson. Grundy claims she escaped an abusive marriage and went into hiding. Archie buys it, but I sure fucking don’t. #DownWithGrundy.

Kevin asks his dad if he can take the truck for the drive-in’s last show. Sheriff Keller’s office is covered in red string, photos, and scattered evidence about Jason’s murder. “Is there not a nice gay kid at your school?” he asks, as frustrated as the rest of us that Kevin has yet to actually get some ass on this show. “Yeah, there is,” Kevin says, half-joking, “Me.” It’s cute and a little telling about the loneliness Kevin feels surrounded by straight people all day. Mr. Keller gives Kevin the truck and tells him to promise he’ll be safe, and I weep because supportive dads are everything.

Speaking of dads, Mr. Cooper, who is a potato of a presence so far, shows up with Mrs. Cooper at the Andrews residence. Mrs. Cooper demands that Mr. Andrews stops letting Archie hang out with Betty. Archie and Betty, clearly hanging out anyway, talk more about Grundy. Archie tells her he’s going to deal with it on his terms, not hers. At the Lodge residence, Hermione reveals to Smithers that she will be attending the drive-in tonight with Fred Andrews. It’s less suspicious that way. Something that’s definitely suspicious: The gun Alice Cooper finds in Betty’s drawer as she puts away her daughter’s laundry. As soon as Betty gets home, Alice drags her daughter back out to the car, leaving the gun on the table in the hall. I’m sure Mr. Cooper won’t mind. I think he just powers down when the ladies of the house aren’t around.

Jughead plays Rebel Without A Cause at the drive-in, watching from the projector room. Veronica and Kevin watch from the back of Kevin’s truck. Cheryl comes over and forces them to make room, because she’s so starved for love she has to demand it. I hope someone hugs her soon. The South Side Serpent biker gang is behind them, making a ruckus until Veronica tells them to shut up. Fred and Hermione are on their not-date-date-thing, reminiscing. As soon as Hermione leaves for the restroom, Alice Cooper bangs on the window and pulls Fred away.

At the concessions stand, Kevin takes one look at the heteros kissing in a nearby car, rolls his eyes, and buys all the food he can. A young biker from the South Side Serpent gang comes up to him. “Not so tough without your beard, huh?” Around the corner, Hermione is in an altercation with another Serpent, an older man who she pays a sum of money. She tells him that as long as her husband’s in jail, he’ll be dealing with her. Veronica, lingering just out of sight, hears it all.

Pictured: My least favorite person on this earth
Pictured: My least favorite person on this earth

In the sexy music classroom, even though it’s nighttime and even though there are a million other places they could be, Grundy and Archie meet in secret. Archie brought a present in a long, thin package. It’s a new bow for her cello. “You can’t afford this,” she says. It’s true, he couldn’t–so he sold one of his guitars to pay for it. Bows for string instruments can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars, and Archie’s trying to make a livelihood off of his music, so watching him set back that dream to soften the blow of what comes next is heartbreaking. He says they should quit their lessons; it’s a goodbye gift. This is what it means to handle it on his terms, not Betty’s.

But just as they lean in for a final embrace, the door bursts open and Alice Cooper storms in, dragging Mr. Andrews and Betty behind her. Vindictively, Alice explains that she got everything from Betty’s diary. A tearful Betty mouths I’m sorry to Archie.

Kevin and the South Side Serpent kid, whose name is Joaquin, make out aggressively behind concessions. When Kevin says his dad’s the Sheriff, Joaquin nervously reveals the serpent tattoo that marks him as a Death Eater troublemaker. A Romeo and Juliet romance blossoms.

Back in the classroom, Alice throws accusations as Archie tries to explain himself. He wasn’t being taken advantage of, he insists. Grundy says nothing. The yelling escalates until Betty seizes her mother and threatens to snap “like Polly did.” She holds her mother’s reputation hostage, saying she’ll spill that she broke into Grundy’s car and lie that she made the whole thing up and their family will be shamed. Alice falls silent.

The Kellers arrive home to a door ajar. Sheriff Keller unsheathes his gun and moves steadily through his halls all the way to his office, which has been torn to shreds. The wall of evidence is gone. At the Lodge residence, Veronica is given the truth at last: Mr. Lodge dad hired the Serpents to help decrease the property value of the drive-in lot so that he could purchase it from jail. When V morally objects, her mother tells her to be grateful for her personal shopping trips and nice apartment. When Archie and his dad pull up to their own home, Archie’s eyes are filled with tears. His dad pulls the door open for him, and says, “You’re not stupid. This wasn’t your fault.” Archie gets out of the car, hesitates, and then lets himself break down in his father’s arms.

Next door, Alice, trembling, requests that there are no more secrets between she and Betty, because it reminds her of the secrets Polly kept. It’s yet another invasion of privacy and emotional manipulation technique. “What’s my name, Mom?” Betty demands, and Alice whispers, “Elizabeth Cooper.” Betty, as vindictive as we saw her mother earlier, tells Alice she needs to stop using Polly as an excuse to control her, because she’s her own person. When her mother leaves, she goes to the window and texts an apology to Archie, who smiles sadly at her. He knows she was only trying to help. Betty opens a new journal to write, and in a totally random and form-breaking voiceover, Betty describes Grundy as dangerous. We get a shot of Grundy, perhaps in the same town, perhaps in a different town, eyeing young football players over heart-shaped sunglasses. The implication is clear at last: She is a predator, and she’s done this before.

The last person at the drive-in, Jughead is packing up his things into a backpack. It turns out he didn’t just work at the drive-in; he lived there, as evidenced by the disheveled bed. The serpent who spoke with Hermione earlier approaches him outside the building. This man, as it turns out, is Jughead’s estranged father, who stole from Fred Andrews construction site and made backdoor deals with the Lodge’s. He asks him where he’s going to live now that they’re tearing down the drive-in. A huge backpack on his shoulders and a can of spray paint in hand, Jughead shrugs and disappears down the road.

[Hamilton voice] Look at my SON
[Hamilton voice] Look at my SON

Honorable Mentions:

  • When Veronica tells Cheryl, “You may be a stock character from a 90’s teen movie, but I’m not” my first thought was, “Well, that’s partially true…”
  • Remember when I said that in the comics Grundy was originally 80 years old? HA. HA. HA. HA. HAAAAAAAAA.
  • I like that they gave Betty the school paper thing, otherwise the Nancy Drew investigative journalism schtick would have no base. If Betty really has a dark side that she’s keeping at bay, the paper provides an excuse to exercise that rebel inside of her while still keeping within the boundaries of what straight-A Betty Cooper can consider moral. Bonus points because she and her mom are both morally gray journalists.
  • Here’s a question: Why are there only women suspects so far? There’s no wrong answer to this, but like, why? 

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