Recapping Riverdale: Chapter 9, “La Grande Illusion”

Apparently, Riverdaleans consume syrup as if it’s a drug. They’re all hooked on this thing, and it isn’t even that good. Kind of like this show. I can’t stop watching. Help, I’ve fallen into a vat of maple syrup and I can’t get up.

As we learn in “La Grande Illusion,” the Blossoms made their fortune off their syrup business. Since Jason is dead, they need a new heir, and, LOL, they sure won’t give it to Cheryl, because she’s a girl and she’s crazy and this is 1850. Their extended family and “The Board” of the maple syrup company have also come to town, presumably to steal the company and/or judge. It’s hard to tell if The Board is different than the family members, because they are all Super Extra Pale and have the same red hair. 

Alice Cooper has noticed this, and wants to write a “takedown” of the Blossoms, who have “descended on RIverdale like vampires.” (Are they vampires? Based on aesthetics, I am getting serious flashbacks to Tiwlight: Breaking Dawn, that part where all the Italian vamps rolled in to Forks to stop the baby vampire war, or whatever. I honestly can’t remember. Once again: Someone help me.) Betty, meanwhile, is just worried about Polly, who’s staying at the Blossoms and won’t answer her calls.

Veronica continues to grapple with her Daddy being a serious criminal. Hermione tells her basically to suck it up, and also dishes about her mistakes with Fred and what a pickle she’s got herself in by being the worst mom, ever.

Archie: “How old are you? Say it. Out loud.” Cheryl: “Seventeen.” Archie: “How long have you been seventeen?”

Archie is at school tuning his guitar when Cheryl slinks in, smacking her bright red lips and giving him the “This is a Porn Intro” gaze. She invites him to the Blossom tree-topping ceremony, which kicks off the maple syrup season. Normally Jason would attend with her, but seeing as he’s deader than dead, she needs a new date (and the inscest vibe continues). She’s chosen Archie because he defended her to Sheriff Keller, which I assume screams “true love” to Cheryl because her family is literally so horrible. Archie is, understandably, wary.

In class, Barb Ethel reads a pretty uncomfortable poem. After, Veronica asks her if everything is alright, to which Ethel responds that her parents have been fighting. Veronica knows the feeling. They agree to get together for some cheering up. When Kevin asks her about it afterwards, she confesses she once bullied a girl to the point of transferring schools and is now determined to make someone’s life better instead of worse. Honestly, go Veronica. You’ve still got a long way to go but good job honey I am proud of you.

Just down the hall, Mrs. Blossom shows up and gets uncomfortably close to Archie to whisper-bribe him to take Cheryl to the tree-topping ceremony by promising she’ll put in a good word for him with a friend at a fancy music college. Archie, besides mentally thinking, Please get away from me ma’am, one adult woman in my life has already fucked me up enough I don’t need you to do this too, says he’ll talk to Val, his girlfriend, and get her approval. Later when he tells the squad about this conversation, Jughead calls him a gigolo. Veronica agrees, but when she asks for Betty’s backup, Betty asks Archie to see if he can talk to Polly for her.

It’s snowing at the tree-tapping ceremony as the family of scarlet-clad vampires surround a tiny maple. Clifford Blossom reads a ceremonial speech, and invites Cheryl to tap the first tree. Archie offers some words of encouragement, and she smacks a spout in and the syrup comes pouring out. Afterwards, Archie is invited into the family picture (he has red hair, why not?), and he ends up standing next to Polly, who ignores him when he tries to hint she should call her sister.

I hate this photo so much and yet, weirdly, it calms me.

When Ethel drops that her last name is “Muggs” over dinner, Hermione notices big time. She tells Veronica in an aside that the Muggs family did business with Daddy Mc. Daddikins and it went south–for them. Oh no! worries Veronica. Could the same thing happen to the Andrews family, since they’re doing business on the drive-in, which Sir Daddy owns?

On the way back to Thornfield, a few of the other Blossoms talk shit about Cheryl, but Archie, the knight-in-shining-red-armor, comes to her defense. The other Andrews man, Fred, is accosted by Hermione, who finally tells the truth (for once) and reveals that she and her husband are the anonymous buyers. She begs him to stay on the project, but Fred, hurt and angry, refuses.

Once at the house, Clifford invites Archie to a dinner for the board as Cheryl’s date, and Cheryl insists. She also calls her father “Daddy,” which makes me cringe. Archie is hesitant, but relents.

Later at dinner with the Coopers, Archie says he doesn’t think Polly is going to come home any time soon. Alice brushes this off–they’ll “have to live with it.” He also mentions the worry the Blossoms feel with all the scandal, which Alice loves. Betty tries to explain logic to her mom–this is bad for Polly! and for us!–but as usual she has blinders on.

The next day, Betty asks Cheryl to have Polly call their mother, but Cheryl is extremely mean in response for some reason. She also drops that Polly is, in fact, having twins. Veronica shares a bunch of glam things from her closet with Ethel. (Why are they hanging out during school? Who’s editing this?!) Veronica vents about how her dad brought home gifts whenever he meant to apologize, including the pearls she always wears. Ethel tells her she doesn’t need all this stuff; she just wants to be friends.

Ethel “Slam Poetry Is My Passion” Muggs.

That night, Cheryl shows up out of nowhere at Archie’s house, a brand new guitar/bribe in tow. She gives it to him and kisses him on the cheek before departing. Archie is thrilled with the gift but Jughead reminds him that the Blossoms are evil. Certified Drama Queen Fred Andrews delivers a stunning line–“I’m over it”–before heading upstairs.

At the Cooper’s newspaper shop, Betty and Alice try to convince Hal to publish the takedown of the Blossoms. (Oh, yeah, Betty is somehow cool with this now despite really hating this idea before.) Hal says, and I quote, “I am not publishing your personal vendetta,” even though it’s actually his personal family feud against the Blossoms, and informs her that he’s kicking her out of the business. Enraged, Alice breaks the window with a rock before she leaves.

As Archie gets fitted for a suit (red), he asks Clifford Blossom if he can put money towards his dad’s construction business instead of giving him gifts to help them. Clifford is impressed; he wonders whether or not Jason would have done that for him if he was alive. Meanwhile, Betty worries that she’s causing her family to fall apart in a time of crisis, but SuperBoyfriend Jughead Jones holds her and tells her to never give up on herself ever! You are strong and brave, Betty! Let’s kiss and make everyone cry!

I do cry. Anyways.

Val (finally) confronts Archie about Cheryl, who thinks she’s going to steal him from her. Gross. Kevin tells Veronica that Ethel’s dad attempted suicide, which causes Veronica to have an anxiety attack. She runs to the bathroom and rips off her pearls, knowing her Daddy had something to do with this. Betty comes to comfort her, and I am mysteriously crying again.

GIRLFRIENDS — Photo: Diyah Pera/ The CW Network.

At the Blossom’s dinner party, Clifford gives a speech about hope for the future but Cheryl knows her parents wanted to see her fail at the tree-tapping. Clifford tells Archie he will help his dad after all, but he needs something in return. Are they grooming him for marriage? Replacing one lost redheaded son with another? Well, sort of: They need his calmer personality to temper Cheryl’s neurosis and paint a more palatable picture for The Board. Archie hates this, and so do I–it’s not a very believable plot, but whatever.

Polly snags Archie for a dance. She’s secretly been spying on the Blossoms because she suspects them of having something to do with Jason’s death. Out of the corner of his eye Archie sees Cheryl run away, and he leaves Polly to run after her.

Veronica and Betty bring flowers to the hospital to give to the Muggs. Despite Betty saying “You don’t have to do this,” and me screaming “HOE DON’T DO IT” at the TV, Veronica tells Ethel and her mother that she’s Veronica Lodge, Harim’s daughter. Mrs. Muggs goes stone cold and tells her to GTFO.

Cheryl is out by the pool in her backyard when Archie finds her. She knows she looks like a “nutcase,” but Archie talks her down. Cheryl is so moved by this that she tries to kiss him, to which (my second “HOE DON’T DO IT” of the episode). Obviously feeling betrayed and confused, Archie flees, only to overhear her parents talking about how they sent Veronica’s dad to jail on his way out.

At home, Veronica has a frank conversation with her mother about what happened at the hospital. “I am done lying for Dad.” Her neck is bare–no pearls.

V, moments before she rips her pearls off. — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW Network

Cheryl follows Archie out front, calling him out for being just like everybody else, wanting money from her and her family. It’s true, but Archie leaves anyways, putting an end to his chances at Fancy Music School.

Failed Wine Mom Alice Cooper drinks alone at her dinner table when Betty gets home to tell her that she just heard from Archie, and Polly is not just safe, but at Thornhill as a spy. Still heartbroken, Alice worries Polly will never return. Jughead and Betty invite Alice to work on the story with them through the school newspaper, rather than with Hal.

Archie catches up with Val on the way to school, but she breaks up with him almost immediately. RIP this brief love. A romance also ends for Papa Andrews, but Fred breaks up with Hermione instead of vice versa, because duh. He does agree to stay on the project, though, and negotiates for a higher share.

At school, Veronica approaches Ethel before class and says she is truly sorry for what her dad did. They talk about their family histories, and Ethel knows that Veronica doesn’t have anything to do with it. They’re friends again.

In the journalism classroom, Archie finally tells Jughead and Betty what he overheard at the Blossoms. Jughead puts two and two together: If the Blossoms were trying to put him in jail, maybe Daddy Lodge had something to do with Jason’s death. Speaking of Jason, Cheryl is back at Thornhill, scribbling furiously on the family photo taken earlier. The faces she’s crossing out? Archie’s. And Polly’s.

Here’s my girlfriend Betty Cooper just being cute — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW Network

Honorable Mentions:

  • There were a lot of unrealistic moments this episode but one that made me shout FAKE was at the beginning when Jughead was just CASUALLY HANGING OUT in BETTY’S ROOM with the DOOR CLOSED. I mean, seriously? In high school? Let your boyfriend do a secret over-the-bra-under-the-shirt fondle on living room couch while your mom’s on the phone in the other room like the REST OF US, BETTY. (I’m not projecting.)
  • I’m still LOLing at how Veronica randomly pulled Kevin into that girls’ night with Ethel. Ethel, Veronica, and Kevin hanging out has to be Riverdale’s first and worst GSA meeting, ever.
  • “…and a 4.0.” “–also, she has a 4.0.”
  • First the Blossoms scoff at making their daughter the heir to the business and then the Cooper women get kicked out of the paper shop… Jesus, I’m beginning to think Riverdale is actually about the plight of women in the workplace.
  • “My claustrophobia acts up in small houses.”
  • This episode is full of Super Extra Unnecessary Dramatic Slow-Mo shots. I’m into it.
  • It’s still really unclear why the Blossoms chose Archie with whom to “paint their picture” and retain power. I mean, isn’t this town all about families? Aren’t the Blossoms enemies with the Andrews? And also enemies with everybody? Why would they think Archie, a 16-year-old, would just be like, “Oh, cool, I’ll take over your company, replace your son, and fulfill your daughter’s twincest fantasies just so you can retain power in the maple syrup industry. I’ll sign up for that any day.”
  • If the Blossoms are grooming Archie to be the replacement Jason AND they’re in a feud with Daddy Lodge who ostensibly killed Jason, I am even MORE convinced that Archie is going to die next than I was at the beginning of this season. ARCHIE IS NOT GONNA MAKE IT OUT OF SEASON ONE.
  • Not to brag but I totally called the Daddy Lodge thing last episode. Totally. Called.

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