What do you get when you combine pixie sticks, teenage groping, multiple The Godfather references, a police raid, a gang meeting by candlelight, toxic masculinity, and a pair of really cute overalls? Answer: A STREET RACE!
Yeah, guys, we just... we don't even fucking know anymore.
This week, Mary and Kelli are back to sum up yet another episode of everyone's favorite teenage trashfire: RIVERDALE. We have decided that we're kind of digging the split-episode format, so for this episode, Mary takes on the first half and Kelli brings it on home.
Part 1: Mary
We begin with more exposition from Jughead, who’s writing a moody article early in the morning. He says that everyone in Riverdale wears a mask. **sigh** Toni apparently slept over, but don’t worry. She specifies that they only had a “PG-13 grope session.”
Betty runs to check on Nick (who she put a hit on, remember?), and he’s just fine. Sure, he’s a little beaten up because he tried to rape someone and it didn’t work out, but otherwise he’s fine. Of course, late to the party as always, Sheriff Keller shows up to take Nick in to the station. He’s never really doing his job, is he? Maybe he’s the BH.
The BH says that Nick isn’t “one of Riverdale’s sons,” but he’s pleased anyway because Betty is beautiful and righteous and showed her “true self.” Yeah, ok.
In perhaps the most evil move of the season, Penelope Blossom and the Lodges decide to forbid Cheryl from pressing charges against Nick because “nothing really happened.” This is timely right now and it hurts to watch.
Jughead and Toni talk about their feelings for each other, and Toni says that Jughead isn’t really over Betty (it’s been one day). She also says that she’s more into girls anyway. TONI IS OUR FIRST CONFIRMED BISEXUAL RIVERDALIAN. I desperately hope that Riverdale doesn’t join in on the trend to kill queer characters off.
All the parents decide to meet with their kids to talk about what happened with Nick. Oh, no, not the rape part, but the jingle jangle part. They want to know why their kids were doing drugs, but they’re also there to throw shade at each other. Hiram tells Alice “Be careful, acid queen Alice,” and Hermione looks so pleased. They are truly evil together. Sheriff Keller is there to facilitate and tell us what we already know—there are some drug dealers in the Southside.
We do learn some more about our favorite drug—it stays in your system for three days. Even though Veronica says she wasn’t high when the Cheryl incident happened, Keller insists that it doesn’t matter since the drug is still in her system.
The mayor decides to go on a mission to get rid of drugs, because of course.
Jughead’s teacher isn’t pleased because Jughead is a Serpent now, but he does acknowledge that Jughead’s mission to revive the paper is great.
THERE IS A RAID AT SOUTHSIDE HIGH AND IT IS VERY DRAMATIC. The mayor walks in personally with Keller and drug dogs, and it’s over the top. Archie runs in just soon enough to warn Jughead, but we watch as Sweet Pea and Toni get arrested and taken in. I’m confused, though. What are they being arrested for? If the Serpents don’t deal JJ, what are they being taken in for?
Veronica and Kevin talk about how Nick tried to rape Veronica, too, and V says there is NO WAY Hiram can know because he’ll go all Godfather on Nick. Um, let him? That seems like the best case scenario to me.
The BH calls Betty at school which is VERY INAPPROPRIATE. She needs to pay attention to her schoolwork, BH. The BH wants Betty to find out who the Sugarman is. He is supposedly the person who makes JJ, and if they can kill him, JJ will be no more. The BH knows that Cheryl’s dad was in league with the Sugarman, so he tells Betty to start there.
Jughead yells that RIVERDALE JUST BECAME A POLICE STATE, which seems a little bit much, but then again, THIS WHOLE SHOW IS TOO MUCH. Jughead can’t chat for long, though, because Tallboy wants to chat. What he wants is to merge with the Ghoulies, even though they supposedly do everything the Serpents stand against.
Cheryl says that the Sugarman is a story meant to scare children, but that seems fishy to everyone, even Cheryl. Even though she denies Betty’s request, Cheryl thinks about the Sugarman long after Betty leaves.
Fred Andrews tries to do some parenting, but he’s not great at it. He tells Archie he’ll have to do community service and asks how Jughead is doing. Fred tells this sad story about how he tried to help FP, and how Jughead is just the same. CUT TO THE GHOULIE LAIR.
I don’t get who is writing this show and what their experience with gangs is, but geez. The Ghoulie leader is a very very young guy named Malachi. Malachi apparently doesn’t know how to button his shirt and lives in a place lit by approximately 500 candles. It seems like a fire hazard, but it’s his aesthetic. He also has a British flag and an early 2000s era wrist cuff with pyramid spikes. So classy.
Betty tries to talk to Sheriff Keller, but he’s having a burger and doesn’t want to talk. Does he ever do any work? Keller says he knows the Sugarman, that it was Clifford Blossom. But really, JJ didn’t “hit the streets until after Clifford Blossom died.” Keller is no help, as usual.
Veronica overhears this whole conversation, because of course. Betty and Veronica talk about everything that has happened, and V is all in to help Betty get out from under the BH’s thumb. Veronica says that she would’ve “happily given up Nick’s name and then treated myself to a facial.” PREACH, V!
Jughead explains his gang drama to Archie, and Archie isn’t super sympathetic. He kind of just sits there. His only idea is to go talk to FP, who’s in jail. Man, I missed FP. FP’s fatherly advice is to challenge the Ghoulies with what they love most, “their crazy souped up cars and hearses.” THERE’S GOING TO BE A STREET RACE. I thought, for a moment, that this show couldn’t be any more insane, or anymore rockabilly-chic, but then a street race is planned. I can’t. I’m out. Take it from here, Kelli.
Part 2: Kelli
Cheryl approaches her mother to talk to her about the Sugarman after finding a fucked up drawing of her, Jason, and Sugarman in her treasure box. Penelope is terrifyingly cracking an egg to eat out of an egg cup, and tells Cheryl that she has NO IDEA what she’s talking about. She adds that all Clifford's records were seized by the police or burned down in the fire. Speaking of the fire - where are Penelope’s burns? After all those bandages, she really doesn't have any face scars? So disappointing.
All of the students involved in Nicky St. Clair’s JJ party are required to do community service in the park, which is where we find them. Josie and Reggie are doing some flirting, which I’m kind of here for, honestly. New Reggie is so hot. Veronica cuts their flirtation short, however, by approaching Reggie and asking for his JJ contact.
Obviously, Veronica goes undercover to get drugs from the JJ contact in order to help Betty crack the case. The dealer says he doesn’t take “American Excess” (good one, bro) and Veronica presents him with cash. It’s $150 for two pixie sticks, which makes me question the drug dealer’s definition of ‘excess.’ Anyway, once he hands her the JJ, Veronica asks about the Sugarman, and the dealer literally runs away, which seems unnecessary given Veronica is just a teenager in a fur coat. She immediately calls Betty to tell her the dealer is coming her way, and once he passes her, she follows him.
Jughead is back in the Ghoulie den, and he’s brought Archie with him to challenge the Ghoulies to the street race. Malachi is not down unless Jughead offers some of FP’s territory. Before they can come to any conclusion, the dealer from moments ago busts into the room with Betty and Veronica in tow. There is a classic ‘what are YOU doing here’ moment shared between Jughead, Archie, Betty, and Veronica. Malachi says, “Wait, so these are YOUR bitches?” to which Veronica responds with the line of the episode: “I beg your misogynistic pardon?”
Malachi wants them to leave, but Jughead, eager to stay on track, offers up the White Wyrm (is that really the name of the bar?) as part of the prize, and Malachi ups the stakes by asking for the Sunnyside Trailer Park as well. There is a moment of stunned silence. Obviously, they are going to agree.
At Pop’s, Cheryl is eating a very delicious-looking sandwich when Nicky shows up. He starts off the convo by calling her “Sharon,” and then asks how she is, to which she very fairly points out that she’s not doing great since he roofied and tried to rape her. Nick is disgustingly nonchalant about it, implying that she’s being dramatic and then employing the most common rapist refrain — you were asking for it. Cheryl says she’s going to press charges, and that’s when Nick reveals that his parents made an arrangement with Penelope, offering her cash in exchange for silence. He is literal human garbage.
Cut to Betty and Jughead, who are in a garage. Betty is fixing up Reggie’s car whilst Jughead watches uselessly, which I find endlessly amusing. She is wearing a fantastic pair of overalls and looks hot as shit, which must be really difficult for Jughead. She talks about the car while Jughead looks on in stony silence until he finally tells her to ‘just say it,’ and so Betty does — she says, ‘you said you weren’t going to join them.’ Jughead retorts, ‘YOU SAID YOU LOVED ME,’ which is kind of a different promise than agreeing not to join a gang, but Betty kindly indulges him with an apology.
Back at the terrifying Blossom cottage, Penelope is rubbing ointment on her burned arms, because I guess the writers figured out that she probably needed at least a couple of scars for realism. Cheryl comes in holding the check the St. Clairs gave to Penelope, which she apparently left lying out on her dresser or something. What follows is an extremely sad exchange wherein Cheryl essentially begs her mom to care about her more than the dead men in their family — especially her father — and then she starts to cry. All the while, Penelope is silent. Eventually, Cheryl gives up on trying to melt her ice queen of a mother, and delivers an ultimatum: either Penelope tells her the truth about the Sugarman, or Cheryl destroys the check.
Over at the Andrews house, Veronica and Archie in bed being pretty cute. I am starting to warm up to them more as a couple, despite the fact that it seems entirely unrealistic two teenagers would be allowed to be sharing such close quarters… like, where the hell is Fred? Anyway, Veronica obviously doesn’t want Archie going to the street race, but Archie reveals that he has a plan that will hopefully keep everyone from getting hurt. Suddenly, Veronica’s phone rings and she gets a call from Cheryl, who tells her about the Lodges doing business with the St. Clairs — more information she obtained from Nicky at Pop’s.
At the Lodges, Hiram and Hermione are playing chess in silence, which is pretty much the best cut-to shot of this episode. Veronica storms in and yells at them, but they don’t seem too concerned, as "no one can be certain that Cheryl’s story was true." Then, finally, Veronica reveals that Nick tried to hurt her too, and her parents respond the way they SHOULD have responded when they found out Nick did what he did to Cheryl — they freak the fuck out. Hiram looks like he’s about to punch a wall, and Hermione says that they won’t take the money under any circumstances (even though they were def gonna take it under slightly different circumstances like fifteen seconds ago).
Finally, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the street race. Everyone is there to watch, including Kevin, who just can’t get over all the hotties. Someone has a type, and it’s gang members.
Betty, who assumes Jughead is probably going to die in the race, tells him that she never stopped loving him, and them reminds him of how to properly operate a vehicle. He calls her an enigma, and then he and Archie get in the car.
Cheryl insists on being the one to start off the race even though Toni usually does it, and then she calls Toni ‘Cha Cha,’ which seems rude and inappropriate and probably racist. However, Cheryl was right — she was born to do this — and she looks extremely fabulous as she sends the cars off. That outfit. That hair. Those heels.
Jughead looks like he’s enjoying this race a little too much. The Ghoulies try to drive them off the road several times, but the cars remain extremely close. They approach the bridge, and Archie warns Jughead that it’s too narrow for both of the cars, but Jughead isn’t listening because he is very focused on winning this and fixing all of the Southside’s problems. They’re definitely gonna crash though, and so Archie does the responsible thing and pulls the emergency brake. All I can say is, thank god he was in the car.
He and Jughead both jump out, and Jughead loses his shit, shoving Archie before starting off over the bridge on foot. Archie follows him and they discover the cops waiting at the end of the bridge, ready to arrest Malachi and his fellow Ghoulie. Obviously, this was Archie’s previously-referenced brilliant plan. God, Archie, you’re SO SMART.
Everyone flees the scene because of the arrival of the cops. Tall Boy freaks out and starts yelling at Jughead, and then Archie says he was the one who called them, which Jughead somehow hadn’t already figured out. Jughead points out, reasonably, that the cops getting Malachi is only going to stop the Ghoulies for a few months, and on the other end of this, they’re going to want Archie’s head on a stake. No, you know what? Not just Archie’s head. ALL OF THEIR HEADS. ON INDIVIDUAL STAKES.
Cheryl returns from the race to find Penelope sitting by the fireplace. Cheryl’s like, “careful you don’t get burned again,” (which, awesome) and then Penelope launches into the tale of the Sugarman. Basically, none of this information is exciting or new, but we do learn that Clifford introduced Jason to the Sugarman when he was prepping him to take over the family business, and ‘thus began the terrible circumstances that led to Jason’s death.’ Cheryl gives her mom the check in exchange for her story, and Penelope throws it in the fire, even though it’s clearly a very difficult decision because god, does she love money. Cheryl says thanks and then is like ‘btw, who’s the Sugarman right now?’
Cheryl then proceeds to immediately call Betty and tell her the name, but we can’t hear who it is yet, because suspense. Betty can’t decide whether or not she should tell BH, because she doesn’t think the Sugarman deserves to die, even though he’s a drug dealer who has ruined countless lives and probably killed people himself, but okay Betty. I’m glad you’re a good person.
BH calls Betty, and surprise - she isn’t going to tell him the name! She already gave it to the sheriff. This entire conversation is one Betty should have had as soon as all this shit started, but better late than never, I guess. She tells BH that Sugarman needs to be brought to justice, not executed. BH tells Betty she’s playing a dangerous game, and she says that’s okay, because it’s HER game now, and it ends with catching him. She reminds him — and us — that she’s already solved every other stupid crime in this town, and she then does some pretty fabulous Scary-Betty shit, staring into the distance with her giant, perfect eyes as she says, “You’re next. I’m breathing down your neck. Can you feel it? Can you feel me?” The line goes dead. Scary-Betty mic drop.
Over at Southside High, Jughead is feeling out how pissed off the other Serpents are at him when he catches sight of the cops. He thinks there’s another raid, but then Toni’s like, ‘haven’t you heard? They caught the Sugarman.’ And then, escorted by the police, out walks THAT FUCKING HIGH-AND-MIGHTY LIT TEACHER WHO’S IN CHARGE OF THE PAPER.
How did this lit teacher get involved in Clifford Blossom’s drug business? Why does he need to front as a high school English teacher when he’s obviously makin’ dat mad JJ money? How does he even have TIME to have what essentially amounts to two full-time jobs? I want to know how this makes any kind of sense, and I’d like to explain it to you, but honestly, guys - I got nothing.
The episode ends with another classic Riverdale mash-up of a bunch of unrelated fifteen second scenes, all accompanied by Jughead’s wise narration.
Archie tells Fred that Jughead is pissed off at him, and Fred reassures him while casually popping pain pills, prompting Archie to ask, ‘you okay dad?’ which means something bad is definitely about to happen to Fred.
Over at the Lodges, Hermione and Hiram are playing another rousing game of drunk chess when Hermione receives a call about the St. Clairs, who just so happen to have suffered a car accident on their way home! Nick was injured and will probably be recovering for several months. Honestly, I’m a little surprised they went soft on this one. I wish they’d killed him off.
Cut to Jug and Betty, who we discover have reconciled because Betty did the logical thing and told Jughead what the fuck has actually been going on this entire time, the way a normal person would. While Jughead puts the final touches on his story about the Sugarman, we get a juxtaposition of Sugarman sleeping in his jail cell when — *gasp* — BH shows up and shoots him ded! Roll credits.
Mary: Y’all I CANNOT. The race was almost too much for me, and yet I am LIVING for Cheryl’s race look. My theories still stand on who the BH hood is, but at this point I’m not really interested in who he is. What’s more interesting is the insane lengths everyone in the town is going to in order to do, well, anything. The stakes just seem so high for the most minor of issues. This is why I love the show. It reaches the heights of crazy that Gossip Girl had to build up to in the second season.
Kelli: I need to talk about how thrilled I am that Toni is queer and that they didn’t take things exactly where I thought they would with her relationship with Jughead. I’m sure there will still be some fallout when Betty finds out that Jughead and Toni made out, but I’m going to assume that the girl versus girl plot isn’t going to go any further than this. Also, Bughead forever.
In closing, I agree with Mary - this show is fucking nuts.
Til next time, Ghoulies.
— 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.