Riverdale is back, my friends, and it’s appropriately bonkers. Did you expect anything less? Here’s how this high-key show rung in the new year:
It wouldn’t be Riverdale without Jughead opening the episode with an obnoxious voiceover, right? He’s clacking away—beanie in full force—about all the nonsense that went down before the holidays. The Black Hood was unmasked (well, so they think), Veronica’s now in cahoots with her scary-but-hot parents, and Penelope Blossom is sleeping with people for money. (Um, that’s what she was doing when Cheryl walked in on her? I mean, get your life and coins as long as you’re safe and in control, but this just came out of left field.)
Veronica is apparently on “ground zero” for the Lodge’s “plan,” which is still a mystery at this point. This show is really trying to make the Lodges seem like the Mafia, and it’s hilarious. Meanwhile, Fred Andrews wants to know who the hell paid his $86,000 medical bill, and Archie wants to start a “band” filled with just redheads. Oh God: Now that the Black Hood is caught, are we about to get Angsty Guitar Archie again? I’m annoyed, but also aroused. Someone keeps photographing Archie, too—probably the same person who snapped him and Veronica kissing before the holidays.
At school, Veronica tells Archie that it was her parents who paid Fred’s medical bills; this causes their teen hormones to rage, and they start making out—which Betty, who kissed Archie in the last episode, sees. Oof. This love triangle is going to be ridiculous.
The “plan” Veronica’s family was talking about earlier is the shutdown of South Side High School. The Lodges are planning to buy the land underneath SSHS, probably for something evil, and they’ve promised Mayor McCoy money to get the job done. Veronica clearly knew about this, because while the other kids are freaking out she’s like, “It’s chill, y’all. Calm down.”
Jughead and Betty are shook about this news because it means they’ll be at the same school again. Remember, they’re broken up, but probably not for long now. For some reason, Betty just can’t resist the allure of Jughead’s flappy black hair. (I can, if she wants tips.)
After this announcement, Betty comes home to find her sister, Polly, who’s apparently already given birth to her twins. Their names are Juniper and Dagwood, which Betty scoffs at even though her ex-boyfriend’s name is Jughead. Polly’s not back for good, though; she’s just home to pick up some stuff, and then she’s headed back to The Farm, the weird cult she joined after running away from home. Polly’s parents don’t even know she’s here right now. Savage.
Cut to Archie: He’s walking home from school and is stopped by “Special Agent Adams” from the F.B.I., who starts asking him about Hiram Lodge. Adams says the F.B.I. thinks Hiram is doing illegal activity tied to organized crime in Riverdale and wants Archie’s help catching him. Um, yeah he is. He’s sketchy AF. And hot! But mostly sketchy. They specifically want Archie to find out the truth about Nick St. Clair, whom the Lodges ordered an attack on after learning he tried to assault Veronica and Cheryl.
Archie doesn’t fully agree to this, but it does make him worried about the Lodges’ paying off Fred’s medical bills…as it should. Who wants to be that deep with potential criminals? I’m officially terrified of Mark Consuelos.
And I’m uneasy about Polly too: Betty’s not telling her parents that she stopped by the house earlier. Alice Cooper’s going on and on about how she wants to make sure Polly has “everything she needs” for the twins, but little does she know her daughter’s staying in that weird cult and blocking out her family. Why would you hurt mama Alice like this? Especially this season, when she’s proven to be the Best Ever?
Betty tells Jughead about Polly. The two meet up at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe to clear the air about going back to school together, and Betty asks Jughead for his social worker’s number. She wants to find her long-lost brother—mostly to help her mom cope with the loss of Polly. The Coopers are so messy.
But not as messy as Archie, who has dinner with the Lodges and starts asking them about South Side High closing, the Sodale Project, and the St. Clairs. They’re super evasive with their answers, which gives Archie pause. Also, Veronica asks Archie to help her “welcome” the new South Side students as a thank-you for the Lodges paying Fred’s medical bills. I’m so not into mobster Veronica.
I’m also not into Hostess Veronica, who rolls out the welcome wagon for the new South Side students…but only because of her family’s agenda. Cheryl iconically cuts her off, though, and tells the South Siders to GTFO. Archie diffuses, but he might be joining Cheryl’s side of this war: She tells him she saw Betty and him kissing before Christmas and that he should “consider changing his allegiance” if he doesn’t want that info to get out. Yes, Cheryl! Blackmail Archie and his doofy guitar! You look so good!
They table this blackmail, though, for a conversation about Nick St. Clair. Cheryl accidentally tells Archie that Nick St. Clair assaulted Veronica too, which he didn’t know about. He flips.
Later, Betty meets with a social worker and learns the identity of her brother: Charles Smith. She tells her parents about him—and about Polly, who’s gone M.I.A. Alice is sad about the latter but intrigued by the former…even though she doesn’t let Hal believe that.
Meanwhile, all the Riverdale and South Side kids get acquainted with each other; there’s clear sexual tension between Kevin and a Serpent nicknamed Fangs. But their introductions are interrupted by the principal, who’s irate about a snake that was spray-painted on the school emblem. It’s obvious Reggie did it to set up the Serpents, but it causes the principal to ban all Serpent paraphernalia in the school. This West Side Story knockoff plot is wearing thin; where TF are Cheryl’s long monologues?
Jughead, who in my opinion is still a fake Serpent, is the only one pissed about the ban; the other Serpents are down with it because Riverdale’s a great school. He’s doing the most, as per usual.
Wow, Detective Archie’s in full swing this episode: He tells Agent Adams about Nick St. Clair’s car accident and Veronica’s assault, and Adams says Archie needs to talk to Nick himself to confirm. Because Veronica doesn’t know Archie knows about her assault, he needs a trojan horse to talk to Nick: an excuse that has nothing to do with Veronica. So he asks Cheryl if he can go on her behalf to snag another hush-money check. (The St. Clairs gave one to the Blossoms to keep them quiet about Cheryl’s assault, but Penelope threw it away.)
Snooze: The Serpents and the Riverdale jocks then get into a fist fight over the banned Serpent paraphernalia. Jughead gets suspended for not taking off his jacket. Blah, blah, stupid dudes, blah, blah. Veronica’s solution to this, oddly, is to buy the Serpents fancy new clothes. LOL, bye. F.P. tells Jughead to cut the shit and just take off the damn jacket. I’d say exactly the same thing. The Serpents later start wearing super preppy uniforms to school and are told that they’ll be suspended if they stop. So they keep wearing the clothes, but Jughead forms a secret club at Riverdale High where the Serpents can meet and “be Serpents” under the radar. Let it go, bro. You’re annoying.
Not snooze: Alice and Betty go to visit Charles, who’s staying at a roach-infested motel. He says he’s known about the Coopers since he was 18 and even drove by their house. He figured they didn’t want him around, which Betty says isn’t true in that pouty tone she uses when she’s trying to be serious. He’s super resentful that Alice wanted to “keep” Betty but not him and tells them to leave because he has a “client” on the way. He works in “fantasy fulfillment,” which…I don’t know what that is. Whatever, Alice is sobbing. We must protect Alice at all costs.
Betty, for some reason, goes back to the motel and sees the manager beating up Charles (who calls himself Chic). She pepper-sprays the manager and gets Chic out of there. He stays overnight with the Coopers and acts generally creepy. At the end of the episode, he hovers over Betty’s bed like a full-on psychopath.
Also not snooze: Archie goes to visit Nick St. Clair and get Cheryl’s hush money. He interrogates Nick about his accident, and then starts beating the crap out of him after Nick says Veronica is a shark. Cheryl gives Penelope the money in the hopes that she’ll stop having gentleman callers, but she doesn’t.
Archie comes clean to Veronica about visiting Nick, and she tells Archie there’s something “off” about him. He then comes clean about kissing Betty, but Veronica’s oddly cool about it. Well, maybe. For all I know, she’s secretly pissed.
Things end with Archie meeting Agent Adams; he’s down to keep spying for him, but wants to know his dad and Veronica will be safe. He also wants Agent Adams’ opinion on the Black Hood, because he thinks they didn’t catch the right guy. They stare at each other like two schoolboys playing cops and robbers, which is what Archie is, TBH. Damn it, this Black Hood shit isn’t over.
Parting thoughts: Chic’s going to start murdering people, isn’t he?