Recapping Riverdale: Chapter 11, “To Riverdale and Back Again”

Chapter 11 opens with Jughead writing alone in the dark corner of the auditorium as the Pussycats brighten the mood with a song over the loudspeakers. I have to admit, I spent most of “To Riverdale and Back Again” longing for more of Josie’s glorious mermaid braids. But homecoming’s afoot and our main characters have a dance to plan.

Everyone comes around for reunions like these, especially the now-adult alumni who want to relive their glory days. Luckily, Archie’s mom is in town just in time. 

Veronica learns her dad will get a lighter sentence thanks to her testimony last episode, which she hates. Hermione insists she support Señor Daddy, not demonize him. Meanwhile, Jughead is trying so hard to support his own father. He brings coffee and breakfast to a surprisingly clean trailer where a newly-shaven FP tells Jughead he’s read his manuscript–which is, apparently, about Jason Blossom, and presumably contains text of the voiceover we’ve been hearing for the past ten episodes. Did he like it? Well, kind of. He asks Jughead who he thinks killed Jason and then tells him he should probably just move on from the whole thing. Shady.

Jughead bringing breakfast and coffee to his dad’s trailer — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW Network

Veronica is on her way to meet Betty in the journalism classroom when Archie corners her and tries to talk about their “moment” last episode, but Veronica basically tells him to shove off. (Sidenote: She’s like the opposite of the Drunk Gay. The Inebriated Heterosexual. Every time she gets drunk she makes out with Archie, and Betty is usually crying somewhere.) When V finally gets to the journalism classroom, Alice dishes her plan to have the kids investigate FP in questionably illegal ways. Betty refuses and drags Veronica out of there toot sweet.

At Thornhill, Polly–pregnant, oh my god, so pregnant–explores the forbidden chambers and sees about a thousand red wigs and a silver-haired Mr. Blossom. Big mistake. He slams the door in her face.

Veronica escapes from Betty and secretly tells Alice she’ll investigate FP–she wants the truth about Daddykins’ involvement with the Serpents.

Lunch rolls around. Cheryl, wearing clothing neither appropriate for the snowfall nor a high school student, tells Betty that Polly is going to be her date to the dance, since Jason isn’t alive, and they’ll be crowned co-queens. (The incest vibe continues… and yet is somehow gayer.) Archie offers to help Betty with the dance and perform some songs, but she tells him his music is Too Fucking Depressing. Veronica saves him by announcing she’ll help him perform something a little lighter. This confuses Archie, but she explains later that she’ll sing with him on the condition that he helps her break into FP’s trailer. But Jughead is his best friend and he believes in FP’s innocence, so Archie refuses.

Sneaky sneaky — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW Network

At Papa Andrew’s construction firm, Mary Andrews runs into Hermione Lodge. They have an awkward exchange where Hermione (almost) owns up to being a huge bitch in high school and Mary says Hermione has “hootspa.” They make weird eyes at each other.

As she sets up for the homecoming dance, Betty gets a call from Polly, but it’s cut short by Mrs. Blossom interrupting with Polly’s “daily milkshake,” which she brings in on a silver platter (see the Honorable Mentions for my hot take on the “daily milkshake” plot point). Mrs. Blossom uses this opportunity to tell Polly not to go snooping around in her and her husband’s “sleeping quarters.” In the auditorium, Betty is upset about being hung up on by Polly, but Jughead surprises her with news that her mother invited him and his father over for dinner before the dance. He hopes it will bring their families closer together, and it’s so cute that Betty doesn’t tell him about her mom’s potential ulterior motive. She does confront her mom about this when she gets home, though.

At the Andrews residence, Mary makes a bunch of decisions about takeout and Archie loves having his family together again. Jughead is just kind of there, but he’s cool with it. They all talk about the dance, and how the parents are also going, which is normal, I guess.

During what I assume is their nightly Sleepover Bro Chat, Jughead tells Archie he’s thinking about moving back in with his dad, who has really shaped up. This prompts Archie to gets up and leave extremely awkwardly. He goes to Veronica’s apartment–no, it’s not a booty call, he just want’s to help her because he believes it will protect Jughead, whose judgement is clouded about his dad. But Juggy can never know. Neither can Betty.

Jughead, happy to be alive for once, tells Betty that he and his dad will be coming over for dinner before the dance.

As they get ready for the dance, Polly suggests they borrow Cheryl’s mother’s jewelry. Cheryl says “You’re naughty, Polly,” which I guarantee made every single viewer gag. As they snoop around for jewelry (and as Polly snoops for proof that the Blossoms are evil), Cheryl finds the engagement ring, which was supposedly lost forever following Jason’s death. How does Mrs. Blossom have it? Jason wouldn’t have given it up willingly. Polly moves to take it from her but Cheryl grabs her arm and forces it away.

At the Cooper residence, dinner is as awkward as expected, even though everyone looks fantastic for the dance. Alice asks prying questions about FP’s life, and FP deals back equal saltiness. Worst Husband Ever Hal Cooper shows up, which seems to be Betty’s subtle revenge on her mother for causing this mayhem. While FP’s distracted, Veronica and Archie break into his trailer.

Polly asks Mrs. Blossom for an explanation about the ring. Turns out Jason wanted nothing more to do with the Blossom name or lineage and threw the ring at them before leaving. She leaves Polly with a creepy piece of wisdom–“Nothing’s lost forever. Everything comes back”–and her daily milkshake.

FP shaved!!! Wow. Good job. — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW Network

Fed up with the dinner ploy, FP drops his own information: a fight he overheard at their own homecoming years and years ago (could it have been about Alice’s accidental pregnancy?). He tells Alice not to jerk him around in front of his son. Betty and Jughead are dying to get out of there.

As you (and me, and every single viewer) probably guessed, Polly’s milkshake was laced with sleeping pills. She’ll be out cold until morning. Cheryl is pissed that her date has been drugged, but a couple words of praise from her parents are somehow enough to calm her down. They finally recognize that Cheryl will do anything for the family–they should have nurtured her to take over the family business, not Jason. She reveals she flushed the engagement ring down the toilet, so that Polly wouldn’t have it as evidence against their family with regards to Jason’s death. Her parents, being the most evil of Lannisters, are thrilled.

Veronica and Archie can’t find anything in the trailer, which makes Veronica lose her mind–she must find evidence that connects him to Daddykins or he’s going to come home from prison, and what happens then? Archie comforts her and tells her this is a win, not a loss. They kiss, before a text from Alice Cooper tips them off that FP is leaving the dinner.

Betty’s Dance Look(tm) isn’t complete without her signature “What the fuck is going on here on this day?” facial expression.

Before getting home, FP drops Jughead and Betty off at the school dance. Jughead asks for a private moment with him, and he tells him he’d like to come back home. FP likes the idea, but wants to get Jughead’s mother and sister involved too–and he wants to take the family to Toledo, where there’s good work. Riverdale chews people like them up. Considering this, Jughead looks back at Betty.

At the dance, Fred walks in holding both Hermione’s hand and Mary’s hand, for some god awful undeveloped reason. He says some “two for the price of one” bullshit, presumably because he thinks he’s going to get a threesome tonight. Betty finds Cheryl at the dance, and asks about Polly, but Cheryl quickly deflects. In the bathroom, Mary and Alice see each other. Alice asks about their “polyamorous” relationship with Hermione, and Mary doesn’t seem to mind at all, which makes me think the threesome was actually her idea. Anyways.

On the dance floor, Betty searches for Veronica and Archie, and sees them at a distance talking to her mother. Bad vibes. She quickly escapes a conversation with Mayor McCoy to confront them, but they’re pulled on stage for their performance. They sing Kids in America, which is a weird song choice for the following montage:

  • The cops show up at FP’s house and tear it apart until they find a locked box with a gun inside
  • Cheryl flees the dance floor crying
  • Betty looks like she’s praying a benevolent god will smite her where she stands

Yeah. All to the song from the Jimmy Neutron movie.

Seriously. Why. This is the most awkward thing that could be happening right now and that’s saying a LOT. — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW Network

Fred and Mary dance while Hermione, their unicorn, looks on. Kevin and the Gay Serpent Kid try to shake off Jughead, who’s searching for Betty, but then he sees his dad, the Sheriff, and runs off to find out what’s going on.

Betty finally corners Veronica and Archie in the hallway. They try to explain that they were trying to help–help what? Jughead walks in on the conversation, and Veronica and Archie tell Jughead that they searched FP’s house. Despite Betty insisting she didn’t know anything about this scheme, an angry and hurt Jughead somehow manages to pin it all on her. “To think I was going to pass on moving to Toledo with my family for YOU.” Low blow, Juggy. Also, unnecessary.

Even worse: The Sheriff and practically everybody else fill the hallway to find Jughead and tell him that his father was just arrested for the murder of Jason Blossom. Jughead flees to his dad’s trailer, where he tears through crime scene tape and breaks down crying before leaving again.

Uh oh. — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW Network

After the dance, everyone returns home. Betty demands to know if her mother tipped off Sheriff Keller. She denies it and tells Betty to stay home, but Betty says she’s going to look for Jughead, who she capitol-L Loves and needs to protect. Veronica and Hermione console each other about the impending prospect of FP dragging their family into this. Hermione offers cutting ties with Daddy McDadders as a solution, but they both know they might not get off that easily.

Mary Andrews consoles Archie about FP. She says she initially came home to ask him to come to Chicago, where he can study music and stay away from the danger of Riverdale. Fred overhears the conversation, but doesn’t say anything. Cheryl checks the sleeping Polly’s breathing and overhears her mother crying and saying she wants FP dead for what he did to Jason. Cheryl thoughtfully opens her palm, where the engagement ring sits–clearly she lied about discarding it.

Betty goes to Pop’s to ask about Jughead, but instead finds Veronica and Archie. They tell her that the box with the gun that got FP arrested–it wasn’t there when they searched his place only hours earlier. Someone has framed Jughead’s dad.

Alice convincing kids that that Illegal Thing they did was totally morally correct. Great parenting happening right here in this shot.

Honorable Mentions:

  • In all seriousness, do you think Jughead does NanoWrimo?
  • I did appreciate FP’s attempt to tell his son that, like most things, Riverdale is a place of both good and evil. Nuance.
  • “Gay Greaser Serpent.” Honestly? Same.
  • “They make you want to slit your wrists… in a good way.” Seeing as 2007 has come and gone, I’m issuing a public plea to the writers never to include a line like this ever again.
  • DAILY MILKSHAKE RANT: First of all, what kind of person, let alone pregnant high school dropout, has a “daily milkshake”? Second of all, it’s clearly from Pop’s. Am I supposed to believe that the Blossoms are paying, what, like, $4.50 a day to get Polly her “daily milkshake” from Pop’s just because she, uh, wants one (I guess)? Third of all, wouldn’t the Blossoms, who ostensibly care only for the children Polly’s carrying, know that daily intake of that much sugar would have an effect on the babies? Fourth of all, why did Mrs. Blossom bring it in on a silver platter? That’s the stupidest image that I’ll never get out of my head. And lastly, they literally only provided the “daily milkshake” (?????) thing so that they could have a vehicle for the drugs later in the episode. But honestly, they just could have had that conversation between Mrs. Blossom and Polly happen over dinner, and insinuated that Mrs. Blossom spiked her food with the exact same gravitas that they gave to the fucking milkshake. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH. It’s just so stupid on absolutely every conceivable level. And I bet you $4.50 we’ll literally never see this plot point again.
  • “My mom likes almond milk in her coffee and we don’t have any so I gotta go get some.” OK, Archie. Whatever.
  • “Now, I love me a sliver fox…” STOP! STOP! THIS IS NOT OK! STOP!
  • “You all need tracking devices” is code for “Leave me alone to be gay for one second PLEASE.”

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