Sadly, Kelli is out this week and I’m left driving the Riverdale train. As always, it’s a wild ride, and I’m trying out a different format for recaps, tackling one character at a time. As a show notorious for super-short scenes and an interlaced plot, Riverdale is sometimes hard for me to recap coherently. Let us know what you think about this format! We’re always trying to make things better for you, our reader.
Riverdale is struggling after returning from it’s mid-season break, and the newest episode is no exception. Archie is still stuck in a weird mob-like predicament and Chic coaches Betty on how to be a cam-girl as the Serpents deal with an internal power struggle against its members. Oh, and Veronica is getting confirmed in the Catholic church, too, for some reason. All this and more on this week's episode of Riverdale, “The Wicked and the Divine!”
For some reason, Archie is doing an “internship” with Hiram Lodge, which is taking up most of his time. The errands seem innocuous--pick up dry cleaning and such. Archie is still working for the FBI for some reason, and struggles with his new role as undercover spy. The detective he’s working with demands he try to find out some dirt at Veronica’s confirmation and Archie predictably whines about it. Boohoo.
The Lodges hear that Archie beat up Nick, and Hiram confronts him about it. Archie says that he did it to protect Veronica’s honor and Hiram says he is impressed. He loves a dude who can beat the shit out of someone for his baby girl. He’s so impressed that he invites Archie to work at a poker game he’s hosting at Pop’s.
Of course, the FBI dude wants Archie to wear a wire, but HE DOESN’T WANT TOOOOO. Archie insists it’s a risk and that the whole operation is happening on his terms. I don’t think the FBI allows teens to boss them around.
At the poker match, Archie busses a table for the mob bosses while wearing a bowtie and vest. He hears Papa Poutine--a guy who owns poutine restaurants?--talk about his dad a little. Oh no! You mean Fred Andrews maybe had some ties to the mob?! WHAT?! Papa Poutine is planning to take a hit out on Hiram, I guess. *sigh*
Archie gets to meet Veronica’s extended family, which is surprisingly nice. Her abuelita is very precious. Archie struggles throughout the confirmation with his role as a spy. He’s not very good at it. He tells Hiram about the hit out on him, and Hiram is sooooo pleased that Archie has informed him. He tries--at Ronnie’s request--to keep Archie out of it. The shot of Hiram standing in his office, phone to his ear, standing in front of Veronica’s portrait is just very mob-fabulous. It’s a lot and I’m here for it.
Betty is a cam girl now, inspired by her long lost brother Chic. Last episode, we were shocked that the Coopers were shocked that Chic is some sort of prostitute. I mean, he seemed pretty up front about that, right? Betty’s arc this episode begins with her sitting in her dimly lit bedroom, wearing a longline bra and her Dark Betty wig, chatting with some dude online and half heartedly telling him he looks nice. We have to consider: What is Betty getting out of this? She doesn’t seem to be enjoying it AT ALL, and she doesn’t really need the money to survive like her brother does.
Betty and Jughead get suspended from the paper and their sexual tension intensifies throughout the episode. I don’t remember if this is what high school was actually like. People breaking up, then getting back together, then breaking up. Ugh. While they talk about the paper, Betty asks Jughead if anything ever happened between Juggy and Toni, and he admits yes, but...doesn’t really detail it. He says, in classic Riverdale fashion, “She stayed the night, gave me… a tattoo.” They really do utilize the dramatic pause on this show, don’t they?
More on Betty in Jughead’s section below!
For some reason, Veronica is getting confirmed this ep even though, as she says, it usually happens when you’re 12 or 13. Her parents wanted her to wait so she could be confirmed by the same priest who christened her or something. It doesn’t make much sense, so let’s just roll with it.
The St. Claires send Veronica a confirmation present, those losers. Hermione explains to Ronnie that “this is what families in our business do, even when we’re at war.” That sounds like a mob comment if I’ve ever heard one.
Veronica and Archie work at a soup kitchen (is that really part of confirmation? It seems weird) and Veronica wears her best pearls to do so, which seems anachronous. Ronnie warns Archie that her dad’s friends are “old school, industry titans you don’t want to cross,” and Archie still doesn’t get the hint. THEY’RE MOBSTERS, ARCHIE.
Veronica confronts her dad and they have a veiled conversation about her family’s mob activities and The Family. Hiram wants Archie to be brought into the mob someday and Veronica disagrees. It doesn’t really matter what you want, Ronnie.
At a dramatic confession, Veronica--dressed to the nines--tells the priest that she’s scared that she’s lying to someone important to her, that she’s doing something wrong. Instead of giving any advice, Veronica gets prescribed some prayers. Is this how Catholicism works? Someone let me know.
The mob women of the Lodge family chat and drink wine in a fire-lit room about how they stay peaceful and sane in light of their husbands’ dirty deeds. They seem pretty okay with being mob wives. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, but we’re just fully acknowledging that it’s THE MOB now.
For some reason, Veronica wants to sing “Bittersweet Symphony” at her confirmation. This song is notoriously depressing, but Veronica thinks it is church appropriate. She sings it with Josie in a cutesy way and everyone just smiles happily. I’m impressed that the church that apparently has no audio equipment has managed to autotune their voices. It’s a weird moment. Ronnie gets confirmed in this elaborate, beautiful church, and interestingly enough chooses for the priest to put the wafer in her hand and not in her mouth. I always pegged Ronnie for a “put the wafer in my mouth” kinda girl.
Veronica tells Hiram that she doesn’t want Archie involved in the family business, and that’s maybe the most mature decision she’s ever made. She also tries to tell Archie directly that her family is in the mob and he needs to cool it with Hiram. Archie is dumb, though, and says he doesn’t want to know and that he loves Veronica blah blah blah. OK, youths. You’re in high school. Cool it.
Sheriff Keller is blaming the Southside Serpents for the disappearance of General Pickens severed head, and Jughead INSISTS that they didn’t do it. He also astutely observes that Keller seems more interested in finding the severed head of a statue than an ACTUAL KILLER WHO IS ON THE LOOSE. I’ve thought this about many things over the course of this season, and the kids aren’t innocent on this front either. The citizens of Riverdale seem to believe that lots of things are more important than, oh you know, finding a murderer. Also, it’s just now occurring to me that the town should probably enact some sort of curfew, right? That just seems like a logical first step. Oh well, logic isn’t really top priority on this show.
The Serpents all get eviction notices from Keller on some trumped up charges. Jughead believes that it’s payback for being suspected of stealing Pickens’ head. This all seems like a bit much to me. It’s a statue? Is it worth evicting people over? I admire Jughead’s ability to speak for the entire Serpent clan. How can he KNOW that none of them did it? Keep this in mind as the episode proceeds.
At a Serpent meeting, Jughead confronts Tallboy and makes some quips about how tall Tallboy is. He’s just...a little taller than Cole Sprouse, soooo. But OK. Whatever. Later in the episode, Tallboy brings Penny back. I cheered a little, because Penny’s open craziness and expansive law knowledge delight me. Penny explains that Jughead scraped off her Serpent tattoo and demands that she get “an eye for an eye” in exchange for helping the gang. The Serpents decide to vote on if they’ll allow Penny back into the gang, and allow her to CARVE OFF JUGHEAD’S TATTOO. Yes, they are voting to see if they’re going to knowingly allow an adult woman to mutilate a teenager. There seem to be some legal issues here, but when has that stopped Riverdale adults before?
Jughead confesses to Betty the full gravity of his situation while at Veronica’s confirmation, the most appropriate time to discuss crime. Betty’s worried, of course, and I think she kind of revels in the fact that Jughead says that every decision he’s made since they broke up is terrible. Betty gets a call mid-conversation and they take off to deal with someone who has a tip on who has Pickens’ head.
The head is at the junkyard! Wow! The old man at the junkyard says that the man who brought the head in was tall and wore a Serpents jacket. So. There’s only ONE TALL PERSON IN THE SERPENTS. ONLY ONE SLIGHTLY TALLER PERSON. I wonder what would happen if someone taller than Tallboy joined the gang. What would they do then?
The Serpents confront Tallboy, who confesses pretty easily that Hiram wanted him to do it. Tallboy wanted to be the leader of the Serpents so he had some half-assed plan to do so. Jughead calls down the order that they should kick Tallboy out of the gang and exile him, whatever that means in 21st century America.
Jughead and Betty get back together at the end of the episode, having sex at Jughead’s bachelor pad trailer. I’m weirdly moved by all this. Jughead looks so tortured. As Kelli’s mentioned before, sometimes a sad boy is very appealing as a teenager. For me, I wasn’t into sad boys so much as arty boys. As an adult, I realize that people are much more complicated, but I still love a little artiness.
Mayor McCoy is doing A LOT this episode. She forces Josie to sing at Veronica’s confirmation (because that’s what we do on this show--sing!) and apparently orders the Serpents out of their homes. McCoy always seems nice and has hinted in the past that the Lodge’s are pulling her strings. When Jughead confronts her, McCoy says that the governor is the one making her pursue the vandals, but Jughead suspects otherwise. During this whole confrontation, a very tasteful salad sits on McCoy’s desk.
Alice and Hal Cooper’s relationship continues to fascinate me. They argue about Chic’s presence in their home and Alice, with her classic Alice attitude, says, “Fine, Hal. Do what you want” when Hal threatens to leave. Alice clearly hates Hal but they’re still together, presumably for appearances. I’m still not completely convinced Hal isn’t the Black Hood, FYI.
End of Episode DRAMA
Archie lies to the FBI (*sigh*) when Papa Poutine turns up dead and says he doesn’t know anything about it.
A mysterious man shows up to the Cooper house looking for Chic. He looks like he’s Bad News.
The head of general Pickens is delivered to the Lodge residence.
Betty finds Alice cleaning up the blood of a dead man in their living room.
There is just a lot happening in this episode, and yet it still somehow felt slow to me. I’m not really sure where the show is going, or what the overall arc is for this season. Is it the Black Hood? We haven’t really talked about him in a while. Is it the mob stuff? That seems like it’s been done to death in other shows. As always, I’m enjoying watching this trash fire of a CW show, but I’m also wondering what the writers are thinking. Oh to be a fly on that writers’ room wall.
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