Turns out the drugs from last episode were part of a large-scale heroin operation–finally, none of that “omg weed is so dangerous” nonsense that they tried to give us with FP’s confession last episode.
The introduction to this episode features not just Jughead’s voiceover revealing the story, but also Alice Cooper’s as she pens a story for the paper. Betty is writing too. Because Riverdale can’t just let us sit with a conclusion, they rehash what went down: Clifford killed Mustang and tried to implicate Hiram Lodge to cover up killing his own son and the drug operation he ran in Riverdale. He threatened FP by holding Jughead’s life over his head if he didn’t confess. And he would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.
Even though FP is no longer guilty of murder, Sheriff Keller holds him for being an accomplice and interrogates him about the Serpents’ involvement in Clifford’s drug operation, trying to cut him a deal for a lesser sentence. FP doesn’t budge.
Fred Andrews, who is clearly going through a midlife crisis as all of this goes down, tells Archie he’s scared of what kind of place Riverdale has become. Archie, ever positive, insists he needs to stay in Riverdale to protect his friends.
At the Lodge residence, Hermione overwaters all of her houseplants in preparation for her husband’s return home. Veronica is not so pleased. Betty has a similar experience: Her mother makes pancakes, her dad pretends like he never left, Polly is home–but Betty knows they’re far from a happy family.
Veronica tells Archie she wants to tell Betty about their relationship. Before they can, Archie and Betty are called into the principal’s office, where Mayor McCoy asks them to represent Riverdale at the town jubilee. What about Jughead, who is just as much a part of Riverdale as they are? Well, obviously, that would be a bad PR move, says Mayor McCoy. Rule number one of marketing is to NOT have the son of an imprisoned gang member represent your town.
Betty and Archie refuse the call, and they’re SUPER proud to tell Jughead what good people they are. But he doesn’t really care. He tells them what he overheard from his dad not dishing on the Serpents. Veronica also has some gossip–she and Archie, uh, “kissed a few times.” Betty is so fine with it.
The Blossom women sob in their giant empty house. Mrs. Blossom says they’ve been cursed. She keeps shoving Cheryl for some reason. It’s really not hard to see why Cheryl is so fucked up when this is her literal mother.
Archie wants to double check that Betty is OK with him and Veronica–because of, you know, all the previous crying she did over him. He starts to say something about how “a part of him always thought…” but Betty cuts him off to say how lucky they are that they’ve both found soulmates at Riverdale.
Fred Andrews walks into his construction firm to find Hermione Lodge “cleaning up” the books. Fred tells her she can’t just do this without consulting him–they’re partners–but Hermione reveals she and Hiram would like to buy him out.
Josie, who has been NOTICEABLY absent from the second half of this season SMDH, tells Archie she likes his songs for the jubilee but they’re not singing them. “The jubilee is for the entire town, not just your friends.” Amen to that, Josie.
Betty shows the article she’s been working on about FP’s innocence to her parents. They love it–but they won’t let her publish it. There’s a lot of anger in the town right now, and they don’t want it to turn on her. She goes behind their back and publishes it in the school paper anyways.
Veronica shows up late to cheer practice, but Cheryl isn’t mad. In fact, she abdicates her throne as captain to her, and leaves immediately. Very chill.
Archie and Jughead come home to a social worker in Fred’s kitchen. She says she’s Jughead’s caseworker, here to help him. Fred has been deemed an unfit host, so she has set him up with a nice family on the South Side, in a different school district. Archie is outraged. He goes to FP later and begs him to take the deal to sell out the Serpents so he can be home with his son, but again FP refuses–the Serpents are innocent and he won’t take them down with him. But he implores Archie to stick by Jughead; he needs his friends right now.
Jughead sits in the cafeteria at Riverdale when Veronica approaches him to talk. (Is this the first conversation they’ve ever had?) They’re interrupted by a remorseful Cheryl–“sorry for pummeling you”–who gives him her “iconic” spider broach. Should fetch him a pretty penny if he wants to sell it. They’re interrupted by Kevin, who drags them to Betty’s locker, where a scene has formed. Her article about FP is glued to the lockers, and “GO TO HELL SERPENT SLUT” has been written in pigs blood. Betty breaks down in tears trying to get it off, but Jughead takes her away.
Hermione, determined not to let Daddykins down, tries to ask Veronica if she can convince her new beau Archie to talk to his dad for her.
Betty’s mom is angry that Betty went behind her back and published the article, but Betty sidesteps by asking about the conversation FP mentioned overhearing before the dance at dinner. Her mom doesn’t want to talk about it at first, but relents a second later. With tears in her eyes, she tells Betty about her teen pregnancy, and how she went to the nuns (where she would later send Polly during her pregnancy), who arranged a quiet adoption. Betty, moved, holds her mother.
Jughead has started his first day at his new school. He calls Betty to tell her he’s sorry, and then some ominous, yet incredibly dweeby, high school gangsters surround him at lunch, and they begin to take his fries. Archie, Veronica, and Betty totally skip school and run all the way to the South Side to save him. But when they get there, it turns out Jughead is making his dweeby friends laugh. Everything is OK. Huh?
Outside, Betty tells him she wants him to come home, but Jughead reassures her it won’t change anything. Veronica and Archie watch them longingly, Veronica noting that they’re each other’s soul mates, just before Veronica gets a text from Cheryl that reads she’s “going to be with Jason now.” Wait, WTF?
They all take off to go find her, using clues from the text to gather she’s by the river. Cheryl’s out on the ice, cracking a hole in it so she can fit through. When she falls, the kids abandon caution and race toward her atop the ice. Archie finds her a little ways down the current and breaks the ice with his fist as the others look on, terrified at Archie’s might.
Bleeding at the knuckles, Archie yanks Cheryl from the water. They carry her away from the river; Veronica puts her up in her home and give her something warm to drink. Hermione doesn’t like this, because, you know, someone has to be an antagonist in this scene. She urges Veronica to get ready for the jubilee.
At the Coopers, Betty also gets ready (cue gratuitous Covergirl product placement). She tells her mother she’s worried Jughead’s new school will change things between them.
Before the jubilee starts, Veronica asks Archie why he was looking at Betty and Jughead with such longing. She asks if he likes Betty–you know, like likes–but Archie says it was just because he hopes he can be a soulmate for Veronica. Sure, Archiekins. Sure.
They kiss, but the Pussycats interrupt. Despite having a relationship with Archie before this, Val says and does nothing, and it’s clear the writers have completely forgotten she ever existed. More importantly: Josie tells him they’ve reconsidered; they’re going to sing his songs; this town really does revolve around him and his friends! Hooray!
When they get up to start singing, Mayor McCoy is initially TOTALLY PISSED! But good thing the song is the most non-threatening thing anybody has ever sung. Sweet, gentle, strawberry-vanilla swirl Archie plays while smiling at V (V for Veronica, not Val. RIP Val’s character).
Jughead talks to FP again. He likes his foster family; he’s going to be OK. FP tries to tell his son that he is going to have to answer for the ways he covered up Jason’s murder, and Jughead is going to have to be there for his mom and Jellybean. Jughead understands; this is the unspoken rule of the Jones men, that they are loyal, and try to be there for people when they need them. Speaking of which–Jughead has to make it to Betty’s speech at the jubilee.
On stage, Betty begins to discuss the history of Riverdale–but then Jughead walks in. Her tune changes and she asks, “What is Riverdale?” She namedrops all of her friends, but also FP Jones, Jughead, and Clifford Blossom (cue Mayor McCoy quietly losing it backstage), before saying that the town needs to stop the lying and the secrets. They need to do better.
Despite this being an altogether underwhelming and generic speech from an audience perspective, everyone claps and gives her a standing ovation. Hooray! She has fixed the murder!
In the hallway, Hermione asks Fred if he’s considered her offer. He politely declines. Didn’t she hear Betty? The town needs him. Hermione catches her daughter’s eye, but Veronica swiftly escapes to the diner, where she, Betty, Jughead, and Archie share victory milkshakes.
And that’s curtains on season one.
Just kidding! They got renewed for a second season already, so you know they’re going to pull some bullshit.
Right on cue, Cheryl, dressed in white, calls her mother into the den. Why does it smell like gasoline? Oh, well, because Cheryl’s going to burn the house down. She drops a candle and the living room goes up in flames.
After the jubilee, Jughead leads Betty to FP’s trailer, which he’s cleaned up special. They say their official I-Love-You’s, and it’s so cute, oh god, I can’t breathe, I’m such a Bughead.
Also getting sexy is Archie and Veronica. The producers CLEARLY thought this was the sexiest couple, but honestly? I’m way more here for Jughead slamming Betty into the trailer’s counter while they’re both shirtless. But this is quickly interrupted by a knock on the door–Jughead throws his sweater on to answer it. No, it’s not Betty’s parents–it’s the Serpents, about a dozen of them.
They tell Jughead they’re grateful his dad didn’t rat them out. Now, they have his back, too. One holds up a leather jacket with a coiled serpent on the back, and Jughead takes it, considers it for a second, and then puts it on, popping the collar and smirking a little. Betty watches from inside the trailer, clearly horrified that her sweet Juggy is a Bad Boy. (If you won’t take him, Betts, I will.)
The next morning, Archie leaves Veronica’s place early, beckoned by his father to have breakfast at Pop’s–Fred’s clue that he wants to talk about something. His dad greets him warmly and they order food. But when Archie comes back from the bathroom, he hears the sounds of a robbery taking place outside. He hurries out; a man with the gun notices him but is more interested in getting into the safe. Fred shakes his head at Archie; don’t make a move. But Archie leaps forward anyways, and in the confusion, the gunman shoots Fred in the stomach.
This, Jughead tells us in voiceover, is when Riverdale truly lost its innocence.
- RETURN OF JOSIE’S MERMAID BRAIDS! YES! RETURN OF JOSIE! THANK GOD! JOSIE! I LOVE YOU!
- When Betty tells Polly that she should return to school against their mother’s wishes by saying, “What mom doesn’t know won’t hurt her”–I just–does anyone in this world realize that parents will definitely realize if their daughter is just missing during most of the day? Or has homework to do? Isn’t Riverdale supposed to be a VERY small town? Like, NOBODY would casually mention to Alice that they saw Polly at the high school? NO ONE IN THE TOWN WOULD MENTION THAT THEY SAW THE PREGNANT, FORMERLY M.I.A. TEEN WIDOW OF THE DEAD BOY AT SCHOOL TO HER MOTHER?
- There’s definitely some weird class stuff going on with Betty and her anxiety about the South Side high school. I thought they were trying to make that pretty apparent. I hope we don’t get some sort of weird savior complex out of her next season–or, if we do, I hope it’s challenged and deconstructed, and Jughead makes meaningful connections and friendships at his new school. There are real kids who watch this show whose schools probably look like Jughead’s new school and it would be really unpleasant to see Riverdale regulate those experiences to “the bad/dirty/evil/Slytherin/drug school from which Jughead needs to be saved.”
- Honestly, I would be satisfied if the next season was exclusively scenes of FP and Jughead being emotional men together. The scene in the prison was the best they’ve ever done.
- I was honestly hoping that Archie would get shot instead of Fred. It would have taken a lot more guts. Unfortunately, the Riverdale writers aren’t that ballsy. But overall I liked Archie a lot this episode. He’s better when they let him lean into his heroism, even if it means he hurts himself in the process.