This past week, Riverdale gave us its first ever Christmas episode. I want you to think about this for a second: this entire show started at the beginning of the Riverdale school year. That means that everything we’ve seen since the very first episode of this show has taken place over the course of less than five months. Just soak that in.
Silent Night, Deadly Night is not just a Christmas episode, but it’s also the mid-season finale (which means that we’re only halfway through this shit, people). Because it’s the last episode for a couple of weeks, a LOT went down, but don’t worry — I’m here to outline every stupid detail for you.
Sadly, Mary was not able to join in on this particular adventure, so this week the thoughts and hot takes are all mine. That being said, please enjoy this very special and very long Christmas edition of the BSG Riverdale recap.
We open outside Pop’s, which is looking very cute and Christmasy with a tree lot out front. Overlaid, as always, is Jughead’s narration; he starts talking about some ~ye olden~ winter tradition called “the feast of fools,” and already I’ve had enough. Luckily, he’s interrupted by the entrance of Archie and Fred, who are bringing in a tree for Pop. Apparently, selling Christmas trees is their side hustle. Archie sees Jughead sitting inside, and they briefly commiserate about their failing relationships — just in case we forgot that both couples conveniently broke up (sort of?) at the end of the last episode.
Jughead’s narration returns for a hot second to awkwardly transition us to Betty’s bedroom, where Polly wakes her up in the middle of the night and tells her to come downstairs because “he’s here.” Who is HE, you ask? It’s Santa! Jk, it’s the Black Hood dressed as Santa over his black hood outfit. He must be really warm. He’s holding a knife, and he begins to approach Betty, but instead of walking around the sofa like a normal person, he crawls over it the top of it, and I’ve gotta say that it’s genuinely pretty creepy. Then Betty wakes up, because — and I know this will come as a shock to you — that whole thing was a dream sequence!
Cut to the Blossom household. I keep forgetting that Nana Blossom is still alive, but she is. She and Penelope are sitting at the dining room table when Cheryl walks in and demands an explanation for the bowl of miniature candy canes sitting on the table. Cheryl is rich, so she’s never seen a candy cane before. Penelope explains that candy canes are for poor people, which is why there is a bowl of them, because the Blossoms are poor now.
Speaking of poor people, we then get a quick scene wherein Fred Andrews receives a hospital bill in the mail for $86,000. Unfortunately, this is the most realistic thing that has ever happened on Riverdale. He tells Archie that the hospital probably made a mistake and he’ll call them tomorrow, but we all know that it wasn’t a mistake, because the town of Riverdale is located within the United States of America.
This scene is immediately followed by one where Veronica shows Betty all the shit she just bought people for Christmas. She admits that she got something for Archie, and Betty’s like, ‘because you’re getting back together?’ and Veronica’s like ‘No, I bought it before the break up, and also we’re still friends,’ and Betty’s like, ‘oh yeah, isn’t everyone?’ and they’re both like, *lol*
Over at the trailer park, Tall Boy makes a drop-off at the Jones residence and Jughead gets upset at his dad for turning the Serpents into drug runners. He is still trying to help his dad deal with the Penny Peabody situation, but FP isn’t having it, which he makes very clear by calling Jughead “BOY!” in a super threatening gang daddy way before he ushers him off to school.
Now that this collection of tiny set-up scenes has passed, we blessedly arrive at the much-discussed Secret Santa, where everyone is exchanging awkward couple-themed gifts that were purchased before literally everyone broke up. Archie is Betty’s Secret Santa, and he gives her an old read-along record of The Swiss Family Robinson that they used to listen to when they were kids. Betty seems very touched while Veronica and Jughead look on suspiciously. Personally, if I were Betty, I would be annoyed. Like, you got my present out of your fucking GARAGE? Jesus, Archie. Write a song or something.
The tension is broken when Moose and Midge walk in, and everyone is very excited to see them, especially Reggie, who gives Moose a very bromantic tummy hug. Archie immediately ditches, and Betty follows after him to ask why he’s rushing off. He admits that seeing Moose is making him think of BH, and Betty says she understands, she’s been paranoid too — but she stops in the middle of her sentence to look, paranoidly, into the distance. Turns out there’s a substitute janitor because Svenson has been gone for a couple of days — ever since Veronica and Archie had their chat with him about his connection to the BH. Archie’s like, ‘WHAT IF WE LED BH TO HIM AND GOT HIM KILLED?’
They go to ask at the front office and the receptionist says he’s been out with a cold. She says she dropped some chicken soup off at his house, but that she didn’t see him, and then stage whispers to them that Mr. Svenson is usually depressed around the holidays because he has no family. Rude.
Betty and Archie leave the office, and Betty finds Jughead waiting for her in the newspaper office. He stayed behind to give her a gift, which he does, and then apologizes for how things went down between them. He says he doesn’t want her stuck in the Serpent crosshairs, which she says for a second time “isn’t his decision,” except it kind of is, because he broke up with her. He starts to leave, but she pulls out a giant box and hands it to him. He doesn’t open it, but it’s obviously a typewriter.
Meanwhile, in another classroom (where a class seems to have ACTUALLY just taken place), Veronica hands Archie his gift. He didn’t get her anything, and she’s like, ‘it’s cool, OPEN IT NOW,’ which is really the only way to make a one-sided gift exchange more awkward than it already was. It turns out it’s a really nice watch with a very relationshippy inscription on the back, which is set in a font which is so fucking ugly that the watch is basically ruined. Archie doesn’t seem to know how to react, and Veronica asks if she made it worse, but he says she didn’t — he’s just upset about his dad’s situation. He tells her about the hospital bill, and then skips out pretty quickly.
Over at the Whyte Worm, the Serpents are organizing donations from their charity drive, because apparently gangs like to give back to the community. This show is very pro-gang. FP shows up, and Jughead tries to get his dad to let him tag along on his delivery, but FP calls on Sweetpea instead. Jughead is rightfully offended. You wouldn’t want to be usurped by someone named Sweetpea either.
Betty calls Archie because she wants to check on Mr. Svenson, so they show up at his house in very confusing clothing — Archie is just wearing his letterman jacket and yet, Betty needs earmuffs? Anyway, the soup the receptionist left is still sitting on the porch, and nobody opens the door when they knock. Well, technically Jughead opens a door, because Riverdale loves its clever transitions, but fear not; Jughead is not inside Mr. Svenson’s house. He’s opening the door of the trailer, and on the stoop, his dad’s parole officer is waiting. Jughead has no choice but to let him inside.
Cut to the Lodges having fancy people dinner. Hiram and Hermione talk about Fabergé eggs, which I think we can all agree are a very absurd item to spend money on. Veronica does; she tells her parents that it’s ridiculous that they’re throwing money away on bejeweled eggs when some people in Riverdale can’t even afford to pay their own medical bills. “Since when did you become a communist?” Hermione asks, very pleased with her own very boring joke. Veronica tells them about Fred’s medical bills, and before she can even ask the question, they both say no. Veronica tries to argue, but Hiram is immediately pissed off because Veronica calls Fred a “good father,” and excuses himself to the study (a thing that only rich people have).
Over at the Blossoms, money is also a topic of conversation, because Cheryl has saved Christmas and purchased a Christmas tree and a bunch of decorations. Penelope is furious, and asks Cheryl how she expects to pay for all of this, to which Cheryl suggests Penelope get creative. As Cheryl twirls away, Nana Blossom looks up from where she was innocently playing with Christmas tree ribbons. “You should have drowned them at birth, like a basket of kittens,” she says, taking a sip of her wine.
Is this the most fucked up thing anyone on this show has ever said? I don’t even know anymore.
When Betty gets home from her outing with Archie, Alice is waiting with cookies. She says Betty’s Secret Santa left her a gift on the porch, which she took up to her room. Betty goes up to open the box, and guess what’s inside? Just guess. (It’s a severed finger!)
Betty calls Archie over, and together they read the note in the box: “it belongs to the sinner Joseph Conway,” AKA Mr. Svenson. BH wants them to find the “final piece of truth” or some shit if they want to save Mr. Svenson. Then, in case they didn’t get the message, BH immediately calls Betty’s cell phone. They hear Svenson struggling, and then BH comes on the line to tell Betty she needs to go to the place where the “cardinal sin was committed.” Archie and Betty decide they should go to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy for more information, because that’s where Joseph Conway was before he was adopted.
Meanwhile, Veronica enters her dad’s study to do some snooping. She finds the Fabergé egg, and beneath it, the land deed for Pop’s, which she’s just now discovering her parents own even though we’ve known for what feels like a thousand years. I don’t know why the show revealed that to us early on; it would’ve been way more exciting to find out about it as Veronica does. Anyway, once she’s discovered this evidence, she calls the hospital and uses her mom’s credit card to anonymously pay off Fred’s hospital bill. Also, turns out that the Ghoulie in that one episode wasn’t just making a joke: credit cards on this show are literally called “American Excess.” Subtle, as always.
Over at the Jones trailer, FP asks Jughead if he opened the bags Tall Boy dropped off. Jughead tells FP that he didn’t, but that the parole officer showed up and was curious about them. FP opens the bag and shows Jughead it’s full of Christmas presents, because he may be a gang daddy, but he is a benevolent gang daddy. Jughead says that it might be gifts today, but later it’ll be drugs, or guns, or weapons. The two get in yet another argument about Penny Peabody, and FP starts yelling, which is when you really start to notice that Skeet Ulrich isn’t a very good actor. Like, Cole Sprouse is no Daniel Day Lewis, but even he outacts Ulrich in this scene.
Following this conversation, Jughead holds a Serpent meeting around a garbage can fire (otherwise known as a Riverdale). He tells them that they’re all going to be in too deep eventually, and that in the interest of self preservation, they need to take down Penny Peabody. After some convincing, the Serpents agree to help. They all stand over the garbage fire and stare into it dramatically. Cue slow electric guitar.
At the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, Archie and Betty dig for information. They don’t get anything until Betty threatens to out the institution for their abusive practices, which Polly told her about back when they helped her escape. Sister Woodhouse tells them that after Joseph Conway had that group of Riverdale locals murder the man who killed his family, he admitted that in his shock and fear he’d pointed his finger at the wrong man. Thus, his sin was sentencing the wrong man to death. Betty asks if Sister Woodhouse knows anything about the people who carried out the murder, and she says they visited once; they were a group of men and one woman, and she remembers nothing about them except that the woman had white hair with a red stripe in it. NANA ROSE BLOSSOM.
Cut to Penny Peabody, who is apparently waiting to meet with FP in some kind of dungeon. She thinks he’s arrived, but instead it’s Jughead, who greets her by saying “Ho-Merry-Ho,” a phrase I intend to use a lot in the coming week before Christmas. She’s like, ‘your dad isn’t gonna be very happy to see you here,’ and Jughead tells her not to worry about it, because, surprise, the Serpents are here to take her away.
When they take the bag off her head, they’re in Greendale. Jughead tells her it’s her new home, because if she wants to extort people and deal drugs that’s her business, but she’s not going to do it on the Southside. She calls him a stupid, cocky kid, and then she shows him her tattoo and reminds him of Serpent law, which is that Serpents can’t hurt one of their own. He’s like, OH PENNY, UR SO CUTE. GRAB HER. The Serpents hold her down, and Jughead pulls out a KNIFE, tells her the tattoo doesn’t make her a Serpent, and then SLASHES THROUGH THE TATTOO ON HER ARM. We don’t actually see the action, but the moment right before, and then we hear the blade. It’s very Psycho, and also very psycho, because what the fuck, when did Jughead get so confident in the realm of knifing people?
In a fancy house far far away, the Lodges come home and tell Veronica they know about the credit card charge. Veronica says that she figured it would be okay since they can afford to own Pop’s and then lie to her about it. She asks how she can be in on the business if they keep hiding things from her, and Hermione says she’s right — she deserves to know the full story, but it means that the time for being “daddy’s little girl” is over, and they need to work together in lock step. Hiram agrees — they’ll tell her the truth. This is very ominous.
Meanwhile, Archie and Betty pay a visit to the Blossoms so that they can get the skinny from Nana. They ask if she was with the murder group when they killed the man, and Nana’s like, naw, girls weren’t allowed. Poor Nana couldn’t even get in on the action. She assures Betty and Archie that they gave the man a proper burial: buried… him… ALIVE. When they ask her for the location, she tells Betty to ask her grandfather, because he was there. Betty’s like, wat, and Nana says there’s a picture of the men, Grandpa Cooper included, standing under the “devil’s hand.” That is apparently all the info she’s willing to spill, because all of a sudden Nana decides she’s sick and asks Cheryl to wheel her away.
Out in the car, Betty has a freak out about how her grandfather killed an innocent man. She starts telling Archie that she remembers packing up his photos after he died — photos which are now at her house — but while Archie is glad they have the next piece of the puzzle, Betty is still panicking. What if the fact that her grandfather did what he did is why BH chose Betty in the first place? Archie tries to calm her down, and promises that tonight is the night they’re going to end this, but only if she helps him, because he needs her, he needs BETTY COOPER, and I guess hearing Archie say her name gets Betty off because this is when she kisses him.
The music swells. I take the opportunity to check my phone.
They don’t discuss what just happened between them, because they don’t have time. They drive off in a hurry, and of course Cheryl was watching them through the window, because she seems to have an innate sense for when exactly she should be spying on people.
Apparently, while all of this was going on, the Lodges were filling Veronica in on all of the Lodge family secrets. When we return to them, we get no information; while before we knew what her parents knew before she did, now Veronica knows what her parents know before we do. THIS ISN’T WHAT I WAS ASKING FOR.
Veronica sips her scotch, looks thoughtful for a few seconds, and then says she’s in. She does have one ground rule, though: she refuses to do anything illegal. Hermione says it’s fine since they’re not doing anything illegal either, which… okay, sure. Why not. Veronica also wants the payment on Fred’s medical bill to stay, and though Hiram tries to argue, Hermione says they can smooth it over, because Fred is somehow important to their very secret plan. Hiram caves, and then asks Veronica if they have a deal. “Yes, Daddkins,” she says. Suggestion: adding ‘kins’ to the end of first names should be outlawed in all 50 states.
At the Jones’, Jughead is holding a “celebratory dinner” for FP. He tells his dad what he and the younger Serpents did. FP is reasonably pissed and says she’s going to come back, but Jughead argues she won’t, and even if she does, they’ll take care of it, because “in unity there is strength.” He reminds his dad that he studied the laws while FP was in jail, and that was what he lived by, and he is pRoUd to be a Serpent now.
Betty and Archie find the photo Nana was talking about, and they identify the tree and its location. They rush to Pickens part and find the grave, which they assume Svenson must be at the bottom of. They dig and eventually unearth a coffin, but it turns out it’s EMPTY. “Why would the Black Hood bury an empty coffin?” Archie asks, and Betty’s like, “What if it’s a t-”
Trap? What if it’s a trap? Of course it’s a fucking trap.
BH is standing behind Betty with his gun pointed at her head. He seems to have come from out of nowhere, but I guess he could have been hiding behind a tree or something. He tells Archie to get in the coffin or he’ll shoot Betty in the head, and then he makes Betty start the process of burying Archie alive. She starts talking to him about Mr. Svenson, trying to compromise, and then they hear the sirens blaring in the distance; they called Sheriff Keller on their way to the park. BH turns towards the sound of the sirens and Betty takes the opportunity to slam him in the head with the shovel. She unburies Archie, and then they chase BH to the bridge. Archie has the gun, and he aims it at BH and threatens to shoot if he doesn’t get down. BH is about to jump over the bridge, but then, A SHOT IS FIRED!
For a second, my life flashed before my eyes. I thought I would have to see a full half season of Archie filled with sad boy regret about murdering someone. I was terrified.
Luckily, it was actually Sheriff Keller who fired the shot.
Sheriff Keller announces the man dead, and then he finally pulls off the mask. GUESS WHAT? It was Svenson the whole time. (Except it definitely wasn’t, because the eyes are still wrong.)
Cut to Pop’s. Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica are all sitting at a booth together, talking about Svenson and how crazy it is that it was him all along (except it definitely wasn’t). They decide he must have been trying to balance the scales for his own sin. Jughead starts to make some kind of Jughead-like point, and then, for once in his life, he realizes he ~HAS NO WORDS~
Cue final song clip montage. It’s Christmas Day, and Josie and Kevin harmonize on ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’ Cheryl discovers her mom making out with… the Christmas tree guy? Jughead opens his present from Betty, which, as we know, is a vintage typewriter. Betty opens her present from Jughead, which is a signed first edition of Beloved by Toni Morrison. Um, WHERE IN THE HELL DID HE EVEN GET THAT?
Veronica finds a present from Archie under the tree, which apparently he dropped off for her — he gave her a locket with their faces inside, which is slightly better than the stupid record he gave Betty for Secret Santa. Veronica shows up at Archie’s house, and he goes out on the porch to talk to her. She’s hung mistletoe, and she kisses him, right before FINALLY telling him that she loves him too. Surprisingly, this moment feels deserved. Unfortunately, the sweetness is undercut when we’re suddenly watching the moment through a viewfinder which is snapping photos of the couple as they kiss. Maybe it’s Cheryl!
The episode draws to a close with Betty. She takes her box of BH memorabilia downstairs and starts dumping things in the fire, but there’s one thing she can’t quite let go of: the hood itself. She starts to put it into the fire, but then she pulls it back out and holds it in her hands. Jughead returns for some dramatic narration. He tells us that Betty stared into a dark void during the reign of BH’s terror, and in that void was a reflection, a truth that whispered back to her: THIS ISN’T OVER.
But like… can it be?
Final thoughts: I AM SO SICK OF BH. I DON’T EVEN CARE ANYMORE. It seems obvious that Svenson wasn’t BH this entire time, because his eyes don’t match up with the original shooter, and that’s not explained. I’m not sure if he was working with the other BH as an accomplice, or if there are several independent BHs, but the only thing I know for sure is that the real, ultimate BH is some relation of Betty’s.
I knew the Archie and Betty kiss was coming, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. It was stupid and undeserved, and I hate it with every fiber of my being. I’m glad that Archie and Veronica are back together now, but Cheryl’s definitely going to fuck that shit up since she saw the kiss happen, so I guess we just have to sit back and wait for the trash fire to explode in our faces, which is exactly what we deserve for continuing to watch this show.
Ho-merry-ho, readers. We’ll see you in the new year.
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