“Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!” is an episode all about fear. The forms it takes, the ways it haunts us. In flashback, young Polly and Betty console each other about their childhood fears of monsters under the bed. In the present, Betty’s mom (who is basically a monster anyways) is startled to find herself at the breakfast table with her daughter and the recently-homeless Jughead, who scarfs down pancakes. When she’s out of the room, Betty steals her checkbook from her purse to get the name of the institution where they sent Polly.
Archie, meanwhile, faces his own fears and tries out for the Riverdale Variety Show. At tryouts, which Kevin hosts because he’s Just That Dedicated to his community, Reggie and the football team heckle Archie. Filled with stage fright, he quickly escapes without performing. Val finds him and they compare football and music–what Archie’s missing, he says, is a team. He asks her to sing with him on stage, but she refuses due to the conflict of interest with the Pussycats.
Betty and Jughead google Sisters of Quiet Mercy, the institution where Polly is being kept. (Sorry, they “sleuthster” it.) It’s a home where “troubled youth” learn “discipline and respect.” At lunch, Veronica tells Archie it’s his lucky day: she’ll be his singing partner. Everybody is like, “You can sing?” and Veronica is like, “I can do anything.” I believe her, and so does Kevin, who she bullied into letting Archie have a spot in the Variety Show even though he flopped on stage. I hope the writers saw the “I’m not being taken seriously and I’m GRIEVING ABOUT IT” expression on Kevin’s face during this scene. I feel you, Kevin.
At Pussycats practice, Josie lets her Britney Spears Work Bitch Work Ethic™ get the better of her and she and Val fight. Val quits the band. At the Andrews Construction Firm, Hermione tells Fred he has too many employees. Remembering what happened the last time he fired someone, Fred tells her his idea to preserve jobs: he’s going to pitch his business to Mayor McCoy so she can put in a good word with the buyer of the drive in. Hermione offers that they set the meeting up at her place. Outside, Veronica approaches to see her mother at work, but through the window sees them KISSING! I totally called it. (OK, so it was pretty easy to call.) Later, Fred tells Archie what happened and Archie is pretty supportive, because they have the best possible relationship a father and a son could have.
Josie vents to her mom, the Mayor, about Val being irreplaceable. Her mother, surrounded by campaign posters, reminds her to keep their “brand” in mind; Josie is irreplaceable, not Val. She also reminds her that her father is coming into town for the Variety Show, so Josie better not fuck it up. Veronica also confronts her mom about Fred Andrews and, once again, Hermione doesn’t satisfy Veronica with the response. Honestly, where is the mother-daughter relationship Veronica deserves?
Archie and Val practice the stupidest song I’ve ever heard in the student lounge (“I’ve got you and you’ve got me x2” is its entire AZ Lyrics page). Veronica is pissed about this and takes out her frustrations with her mother’s loyalty to her father on Archie. Val feels awkward AF. Archie is being kind of sympathetic to Veronica but also kind of stupid. To get revenge, Veronica channels her rage into something positive: joining the Pussycats. They walk down the hallway wearing matching ears and it’s like a freaking runway show, my god, those legs, that hair, may my bisexual soul rest in peace.
After getting off the bus at Sisters of Quiet Mercy, Jughead tells jokes and Betty looks close to tears. Everyone copes differently, I guess. The nun at the door lets only Betty through to see Polly. My theory that they were secretly the same person is thrown out the window as Betty finds Polly in the garden, where they embrace and Betty sees that Polly is hella pregnant. The sisters learn they were being kept apart by their parents on purpose. Polly tells Betty their parents locked her up because “they couldn’t control me” which is an interesting take on the whole teen-pregnancy storyline, I guess. Turns out Jason and Polly were going to run away together on July Fourth, but as she was about to leave her parents took her to the home. When Polly asks about Jason, it becomes clear that she doesn’t know he’s died. Betty has to break the news to her, which causes her to sob violently. The nun appears and removes Betty at once.
At Pussycats practice, Veronica is on her phone and Josie hates this, obviously. They argue for a second about their respective daddy issues while Mel sits patiently at the drums (what’s going on in her life, huh?). After a moment of this, Josie switches gears and apologizes to Veronica. I automatically ship it, since I haven’t had any good Veronica/Betty moments in a few episodes.
Val and Archie practice an actually good song, until Val reveals that she regrets quitting the Pussycats. They were more than a band, after all, they were best friends. Meanwhile, Betty’s mom picks her up from the institution. As they begin to leave, Jughead in tow, Polly finds them and accuses her mom of keeping Jason’s death from her. Sobbing, she and Betty cling to each other one last time until the orderlies drag Polly away.
Fred’s dinner plans to woo Mayor McCoy are going swimmingly, except they’re actually not at all, because Mr. McCoy, Josie’s dad, is a huge artsy snob and keeps digging everyone at the table for prioritizing money over integrity. At one point he calls Josie “Josephine”, to which Archie asks, “Your real name is Josephine?” I can practically see her lips forming, “Shut the fuck up, Archibald” when Fred tries to diffuse the tension with his presentation for the Mayor. Unfortunately, Mayor McCoy tells him the buyer has already decided on a construction firm.
At home, Betty demands to know if her dad stole Sheriff Keller’s murder wall, and then asks tearfully if he killed Jason. Her mother bursts out laughing. “You think that he has the stomach to do that?” she asks. Clearly, the fact that her husband cannot kill a teenager in cold blood is a point of tension in Alice Cooper’s marriage.
Over after-hours snacks at Pop’s, Veronica and Josie dish about their dysfunctional families. Then, at home, Veronica’s mom approaches her asking that she sign the agreement to turn the construction over to Fred Andrews; apparently her father made her a shareholder, so now she has the rights. When Veronica refuses, Hermione forges her signature behind her back. Archie finds Val and tells her that she needs to go back to the Pussycats; it’s what she wants. He’ll be fine alone on stage. He also lets slip that Josie’s dad is in town, which causes something to click for Val.
Jughead appears at Betty’s window (where did he, a homeless teenager, get the ladder?). She lets him in and tells him about her parents. She worries that she’s just as crazy and delusional as they are, but Jughead tells her that they are not their parents. He kisses her. Since Betty is bisexual and her type is black-haired nervous wrecks, this is fine. They embrace softly for a moment, until Betty remembers that Polly talked about a car she and Jason had stashed; they’re done with romance and are back to sleuthing. #DetectiveOTP.
Backstage at the Variety Show, Val approaches Josie and asks why she didn’t tell her that her dad was in town. It’s clear that Val knows what his presence does to Josie and wants to be there for her. Josie relents and lets her friend back into her band. They hug and do an adorable secret handshake before going out on stage together. Their catsuits are super stylish, their music is bumpin’, and their budget must have been insane to pull off the stage decor and light show going on behind them, but unfortunately, Daddy McCoy is not impressed. He leaves halfway through the performance, which Josie finishes while warding off a breakdown.
When Jughead and Betty find the car, they find Jason’s jacket, drugs, and suitcases in the trunk. They finally get the good sense to call the police. Back at school, Archie and Veronica also make up back stage. Veronica offers to sing with Archie, but he says this is something he has to do on his own. Veronica tells him to think about someone who makes him feel safe (any Very Good Friend would do just fine… nothing romantic to see here). Archie gets on stage, sets up his guitar and mic, and begins to sing a soft acoustic song. In the audience, Veronica, Fred, and Val each metaphorically sport “No. 1 Fan” foam fingers.
Betty and Jughead run to the school, where Sheriff Keller meets them saying he received their messages about the car. They lead him out to go find it, but not before Betty catches a snippet of Archie’s performance over the loudspeakers. Her kiss with Jughead, plus a ton of storyline, has separated her from her childhood friend. Betty pauses for a second to listen, and then chases after Jughead and Sheriff Keller. There are more important things to worry about right now.
After the performance, Archie gets high fives all down the hallway–even Reggie and the Other Assorted Douchebag Football Bros want a piece of ginger. Val runs up to him to congratulate him, and in front of everyone, Archie kisses her. All in all, Val made out like a bandit this episode–a more active role in the Pussycats, a new man, a revitalized relationship with Josie… seriously, this episode’s Most Improved Player goes to Val.
Further down the hallway, Veronica storms up to Fred and Hermione, who talk in a corner. Before she can say anything, they tell her that the job was given to Fred. Veronica realizes instantly what happened, gives a curt congratulations, and turns on her heel. In the bathroom, Josie cries as her mother comforts her. Sheriff Keller arrives at the car, but someone’s lit it on fire, burning all the evidence inside. Betty and Jughead race back to Sisters of Quiet Mercy to speak with Polly, but when they get to her room, the room is torn apart and the window is broken. Polly has escaped.
- I hope Kevin puts “single-handedly organized the Riverdale Variety Show” on his college applications.
- I definitely thought Fred Andrews already had the drive in job based on his conversation in episode four with Jughead?
- I loooooooved Josie this episode. Introducing characters’ parents is such an important and great way to add depth, and the fact that Josie’s parents represent two sides of the artist (her dad being authenticity, her mom being marketing), is super cool and makes Josie much more complex. I really hope they keep using Ashleigh Murray like this, because I also thought she killed it.
- What the fuck is this show’s timeline? If Polly and Jason were supposed to leave on July Fourth, AND that’s the day that Polly was institutionalized, that puts her at about 2-4 months away from her family. I guess I don’t KNOW when this show is taking place, but “beginning of the school year” sounds about right, so I’m assuming it’s about September or October. Sure, that’s a long time for Betty to be away from her sister, but that also means that all of this Jason/Polly stuff happened, like, in the beginning of the summer. Also, how old is Polly??? Are they twins like Jason and Cheryl?? When will someone answer my questions???
- Jughead and Betty is… not totally what I wanted… but I’ll take it. It was pretty cute. Relax. I’m still mad about the queerbaiting thing, OK.
- What do you think Fred Andrews does in his spare time, huh? Like, for fun? When he’s not pining over high school crushes, longing to feel the sweet love of a woman one more time before he dies, or being the best damn father to his son, do you think he like, reads or something? What TV shows does he like to watch? I bet he’s a Law and Order kind of guy. Maybe even a The Good Wife kind of guy.
- As my roommate pointed out to me, we got THREE first kisses this episode. Huh. Wonder what’s so hot about number 6.