HELLO RIVERDALE FANS AND HOSTAGES! Have you missed our favorite trash teens over this long winter hiatus? Us too! We missed them so much that Mary completely forgot about last week’s episode and just caught up today. That’s right — if you thought Season 2 of everyone’s favorite CW garbage fire ended with the Christmas special, you were mistaken, because we’re only halfway through. (We’re not crying. You’re crying.)
So, what happens when you put a Serpent in a Riverdale uniform? How badly was Nick St. Clair really injured in that car accident a few episodes back? And what ever happened to that bastard child Alice Cooper put up for adoption? Find the answers to these questions and more in this: our first Riverdale Recap of 2018.
Part I: Mary
The titles this season are really on point or really terrible, and I can’t decide which. We kick off our after-break second half of the season with “The Blackboard Jungle”—a throwback to a 1955 film of the same name that focused on teachers working in inner city schools. The film is remembered by critics for using rock music effectively, and also for dealing with topics of race and class, but I get the suspicion that’s not what Riverdale is going for this week.
I kind of forgot what a mess the last episode was, but the recap was here to remind me how Archie is terrible and Riverdale has no discernable weather pattern.
We begin with Jughead reminding us that the janitor was a serial killer (but was he?) and titillating us by saying that business is as usual in Riverdale. We also see that Cheryl is still a queen, calling her mom a prostitute—and I guess she is. Stop shaming sex workers, Cheryl!
Veronica says she is A-OK with the Lodge plan, which we aren’t sure about just yet.
Archie realizes that his dad’s medical bills have gotten covered by an angel donor—was it the Lodges?! He’s also back at the guitar, which we (mercilessly) haven’t seen since his Red Circle stuff picked up. Also, someone is taking pictures of Archie, spying on him. Who would have the time and will power to do that? Archie and Veronica make out all over the school, because that’s a thing they’re allowed to do.
When everything seems typical and normal, the principal makes an announcement that SOUTHSIDE HIGH HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN and students will be transferred to other schools in the district. OH NO. The kids at Southside are PUMPED because they’re about to go to Riverdale High! Aw yeah! GANGS IN THE MAINSTREAM, BABY!
The Lodges are clearly in cahoots with the mayor, of course, and when they meet with her, Hiram has his collar popped like some Sherlock Holmes villain. /sigh
When Betty returns home from school (which I guess got let out early?), her parents aren’t at home—because why would they be? Betty gets out her trusty pink mace and attempts to spray…POLLY! She’s just home to get some stuff, which is totally normal. She had the babies, but she didn’t tell the family, because that would be way over budget, wouldn’t it? Polly named the babies Juniper and Dagwood. DAGWOOD?! What the hell, Polly?
An FBI agent who looks just like you’d think an FBI agent would look shows up to question Archie, first delivering a preamble about how he’s just a good ole Riverdale boy looking to investigate Hiram Lodge, who may or may not be doing some criminal activity in Riverdale. The agent wants Archie to find out what happened to Nick St. Clair. This all seems super legal and above board. Nothing weird here.
It turns out that Southside High was shut down because of a meth lab in the basement, but it wasn’t a meth lab, Jughead says, it was just Jingle Jangle. Jughead and Betty meet to talk about their breakup and, more importantly, for Betty to ask for help in finding her long lost brother. Betty thinks that having her old son back in their lives would make Alice happy, but I think maybe he’s the killer or something, who knows.
Archie has another fancy dinner with the Lodges and Ronnie wants Archie to help her do some welcome thing for the new students. Sure. Archie asks some not so subtle questions about the St. Claires. It’s all shady as per usual.
The Southside Serpents arrive with flair, brandishing their gang jackets and entering to an old song. But then, just as dramatically, Cheryl walks downstairs in a fabulous outfit and they have a battle of wills. Cheryl doesn’t want them there, and she wants Archie to help her. It turns out that CHERYL has been taking the pictures of Archie and wants to blackmail him into helping her.
Betty does get info on her brother, who was last seen two towns over. I’m sure this will end well.
Reggie tags the school with a poorly drawn serpent and gets the Serpents in trouble, and Kevin meets…a potential new love interest?! We can only hope. It’s been a while since Joaquin, and Kevin deserves better than trolling through the woods at night.
Part II: Kelli
First and foremost, I have to apologize, because this is about three times as long as Mary's half. I just. I have a lot to say.
Betty informs her parents that Polly had her babies. She doesn’t mention that Polly has already lost all of the baby weight, but I guess she doesn’t want to risk upsetting Alice even more than she already has. Instead, she comes armed with information she thinks will please her mother: she did some research and found out who her brother is! His name is Charles and she knows where he lives! Isn’t that great???
I honestly don’t know why Betty thought it would be a good idea to share this with Hal around — especially since he basically forced Alice to give up the baby in the first place — but she seems surprised when her dad freaks out on her. Alice agrees with him, and Betty, as usual, is disappointed by everyone around her.
Meanwhile at the Whyte Wyrm, Jughead tells Toni and Sweetpea that Principal Weatherbee is PROFILING the Serpents. “What’s next,” he asks dramatically, “brain implants controlling what we think?” Honestly, I would be down for it if the show went in this direction, but Toni and Sweetpea agree that Jughead is overreacting. They don’t mind taking off their jackets for a few hours if it means going to Riverdale High, because it’s a better school — and damn, do they have a point. Jughead, despite growing up in poverty, is used to the privilege of attending Riverdale high. He doesn’t seem to realize what it might mean to people who’ve never had these resources to suddenly have access to them, and refuses to acknowledge the fact that it might be a good thing.
In fact, he goes so far as to wear his banned Serpents jacket to school the next day, because he is a Rebel Who Doesn’t Play By The Rules. He walks in and everyone, including the Serpents, look at him like ‘WYD bro,’ but Reggie is the first to tell Jughead to take it off. Jughead, who is definitively Better Than Football Players, tells Reggie that he wouldn’t know what the jacket means, because he has no sense of honor/history/loyalty/etc. As any reasonable person would, Reggie immediately punches him.
A bunch of other people pile on, and Veronica calls in Weatherbee, who threatens Jughead with suspension if he doesn’t take off the jacket. “GUESS I’M SUSPENDED THEN,” Jughead says, and then storms out. Is it just me, or is Jughead giving off some serious Book 5 Harry vibes?
In light of all this, Veronica approaches her parents about the problems at school. She proposes they make a charitable donation for the Southsiders who can’t necessarily afford “suitable” Riverdale clothing. Great idea, Veronica. Polos will fix everything.
Over at the Andrews’, Archie is hanging out in the garage with his new BFF, the FBI dude. After securing a promise from FBI dude that Fred will be safe, Archie reveals what he found out about Nick’s accident, as well as the assault on Veronica: an obvious motive for the Lodges involvement. Archie can’t get confirmation on this from Veronica because she doesn’t know that he knows, but he thinks he can get what he needs from Nick. He just needs a reason to pay him a visit.
Enter Cheryl. Archie offers to get her a new check from Nick, which she is desperate for now that she has experienced miniature candy cane levels of poverty. He borrows one of Jason’s blazers, which is something I still don’t totally understand the purpose of — does he dress up so that he can look like he belongs on Nick’s school campus? Actually, I guess that must be why. Call me Betty Cooper, cuz I just solved my own mystery, y’all.
Speaking of Betty (incredible transition, I know), we return to her in the middle of the night, where she wakes up to find Alice sitting on her bed. Surprise: Alice wants to see her son, but she knows Hal wouldn’t support it, so they need to go in secret.
As it turns out, Charles has been living night-to-night at a motel called “The Last Resort,” which is incidentally what you also might call a plot line in which a long-lost brother is introduced. They find out from the night manager that Charles lives in room 237 (nice), and so the Cooper women ascend the terrifying staircase and knock on the door. Charles calls “come in,” which is a surprisingly chill greeting for someone who evidently lives in a horror movie. He is sitting in a shadowy corner, which is very reminiscent of Hiram Lodge’s introduction. I guess if you’re a new character on Riverdale, you just have to accept the fact that your face is going to be mostly obscured during your first episode.
Anyway, Alice starts to introduce them but Charles already knows who they are because the Sisters of Quiet Mercy gave him the Coopers’ address when he turned 18. He says he drove by their house once and it seemed like a nice place to grow up, but he didn’t stop in to say hello because it seemed like Alice didn’t want him around. When Betty objects, Charles is all, ‘MUST BE NICE TO BE WANTED,’ and Alice is all, ‘Charles,’ and Charles is all, ‘MY NAME IS CHIC, BUT YOU WOULDN’T EVEN KNOW THAT, WOULD YOU,’ and now I have to start calling him Chic even though I really don’t want to, but at least I managed to put it off until now.
Chic tells them to leave because he has a client coming. He works in “fantasy fulfillment,” which could mean a lot of things, honestly. Outside, Alice gets in the car and bursts into tears while Betty tries to comfort her. So, yeah. That went well.
Meanwhile in New York (WHERE DO THESE PEOPLE LIVE?), Archie shows up at Nick’s dorm room to get money and answers. Both of Nick’s legs are broken, which Nick claims happened in a skiing accident. Archie then delivers the line of the episode: “Wow, you must really suck at skiing, Nick.” He continues to press Nick for information, at which point Nick calls Archie a “small town hick in shark-infested waters,” adding, “When Veronica smells blood, she’ll turn on you too.” Archie proceeds to beat the shit out of him, which is fun I guess, but nowhere near as satisfying as watching Veronica and the Pussycats beat the shit out of him.
Back in Riverdale, Jughead is still suspended. FP finds him playing arcade games at the Whyte Wyrm, and asks why he is so insistent about rebelling against Weatherbee’s rules. Jughead admits that what this is really about is the loss of Southside High, which he’s come to think of his home, even though he’s only been going to school there for like… two months? FP reminds his son that getting arrested isn’t going to help, and he would know, since he’s been arrested a lot of times. “Serpents hibernate during the winter,” he says. I just looked it up, and guess what? Snakes don’t hibernate.
Regardless, Jughead takes his dad’s advice and returns to school without his jacket. What he discovers is beyond his worst paranoid dystopian vision of the future: Toni and Sweetpea are wearing khakis and polos. Something must be done.
Somewhere else in the school, Archie is already back from New York, because apparently he can teleport. He’s hanging out with Veronica when she gets a text from Nick about what Archie did to him, and she demands an explanation. Archie says it was for what Nick did to her, and Cheryl appears just in time to take the blame and apologize for spilling Veronica’s secret. I would say that Cheryl’s timing here is a little too good to be true, but knowing her proclivity for hiding behind things and spying on people for prolonged periods of time, I’m going to let it go.
Later at Pop’s, Veronica is staring angrily at Archie for what has probably been hours at this point. Being a fuckboy, he fails to notice, and eventually she tells him she knows something’s wrong. Archie seems like he might be about to admit the real reason he visited Nick, but of course he doesn’t. Instead, he tells her what is essentially a half truth: Cheryl is blackmailing him because she saw him kiss Betty.
Veronica is obviously not pleased by this. Archie helpfully reminds her that they were broken up, and Betty had just been dumped too, adding, “literally 40 minutes later the Black Hood was burying me alive.” Veronica considers this for a few moments, and then forgives him because she “believes him” and he’s “being honest,” which should make him feel guilty, but instead he just tells her he loves her and they make out.
Pro tip from Archie Andrews: if you’re approaching a fight with your girlfriend, remind her of that time someone almost murdered you. It really does work.
Betty, who has not said a word to anyone outside her family at any point during this episode, decides to take the Chic situation into her own hands. She drives to the motel (does Betty have a license?) and walks in on Chic being knifed, presumably by one of his clients. Another case of extremely convenient timing! She pepper sprays the dude and rushes Chic home.
At the house, she brings him inside, begging her parents for help. Alice and Hal run to retrieve the tiny kitchen first aid kit. Dramatic music of the ‘medical emergency’ genre swells over the dialogue, and it’s almost like this is an episode of ER, except I don’t know why everyone is freaking the fuck out because it’s seriously not that big of a wound, and it’s on his arm. The people of Riverdale have seen worse and acted with far less urgency.
The next day at school, or what I assume is the next day at school, anyway, considering this impossible timeline, Jughead introduces the “Swords and Serpents” club to his fellow Southsiders. It’s basically a gang meetup disguised as a D&D club, which seems like a lot of effort. Like, can’t you guys just eat lunch together or something? Jesus.
This is the point in the episode where we start to get a lot of fast storyline tie-up moments accompanied by Jughead’s poorly written narration, so I’ll run through them quickly. Cheryl gives her mom the check, but Penelope’s like, ‘sorry Cheryl, I love being a prostitute.’ Archie asks the FBI dude to provide protection for Veronica in exchange for his continued participation, and then, apropos of nothing, he brings up the Black Hood. He asks the FBI dude if, in his expert opinion, he thinks they got the right guy. “I haven’t told anyone about this, but I’m not so sure we did,” Archie says ominously.
Fuckin’ duh. We still have half a season to get through.
Finally, we end at the Cooper household, where Chic has been tucked into bed after his obviously life threatening arm cut. While everyone is sleeping, he sneaks out of the room and into Betty’s. He stares at her from the doorway, and then moves into the room, standing over her bed while she sleeps. Jughead says some shit about Betty letting more monsters into her family’s lives, and a sliver of light focuses over Chic’s eyes. I can’t really tell what color they are, but I assume this is supposed to be some kind of implication that he’s the Black Hood.
Mary: One of the things I liked most about this episode was how Jughead played Mortal Kombat II throughout the episode to highlight his struggle with the school, his family, and his gang. It’s a nice, on the nose metaphor—and I’m saying that sincerely. I love video games and it was nice to see one pop up in a world where otherwise the teens have tons of off brand crap like The Matchelor.
I’m not into the Nick St. Clair storyline AT ALL. Why are we being asked to feel sympathy for a literal rapist. Do we really want to send the message during this current political climate that we should just give rapists the benefit of the doubt and assume that their victims are somehow trying to ruin their lives? Ugh.
I’m also not here for the Veronica v. Betty plot. I like them as friends, as best friends who maybe should be more than friends but we’ll never get that. They both have their own plots to deal with—especially Betty, who’s trying to find out more about her brother, who’s definitely the Black Hood, right? Right.
One last thing: JUGHEAD STARTED A DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS GROUP AND I CANNOT DEAL WITH IT. BE STILL MY HEART.
Kelli: Ugh. I’m so bored. Also, I swear to god this timeline becomes more and more senseless with each passing episode. What is happening when? How many days have passed? Where am I? Who am I? Why am I watching this show???
Chic obviously can't be the Black Hood, because that would be too obvious, so I'm still pretty sure it's Hal. My only other comment is that the best part of this episode is when Polly reveals the names of her children (Dagwood and Juniper) and Betty looks at her with horror and says, "oh my god." I couldn't find it, but eventually I will add it to the arsenal of Betty Cooper reaction gifs I am slowly collecting.
TTFN, GUYS. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK.
--Mary & Kelli
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The authors of this blog are four women with opinions about pop culture. That's all you really need to know.