Conflict heats up between Betty and the Farm, which gives Chad Michael Murray as Edgar Evernever a chance to strut his creepiest stuff! I had a lot of fun watching this episode, when I wasn’t busy raging over all of the illogical choices that Jughead and Archie were making.
Previously on Riverdale: Betty and Jughead set fire to the trailer that Gladys was going to use to make drugs; Hiram left Hermione and Veronica was upset because family is important, even though her family is a bunch of murderers; the Serpents became police interns; some dude named Kurtz was the leader of a gang that was subsumed by the Serpents and cared way too much about G&G; Hiram gave Archie a list of places where dealers congregate; the Farm was preying on vulnerable people like Kevin, Alice, and Polly; and no one had seen Edgar–until he showed up at the school musical and clapped in the most creepy way a man can clap.
We start with Jughead leading what looks like a SWAT team made up of fellow teenaged boys, complete with a radio announcement that “the perimeter’s clear” and hilarious I-watched-a-Mission-Impossible-movie-once hand movements from Jughead. Then the lights flick on and they get a critique from Keller and FP, who say they’re not ready to be “out there” until they can work as a team. I mean, I think they’re also not ready because they’re high schoolers and not, like, actual police officers. But sure.
Over at Pop’s, Betty’s behind the counter (at the diner) serving Betty a milkshake as Betty condoles her about the separation. Hey, Betty’s technically a Serpent. How come she doesn’t get to play Tom Cruise with the others?
Evelyn shows up and asks to hang some flyers for an open house the next day. Everyone’s invited to come learn about their “values and practices.” Veronica, for some reason, agrees to let Evelyn desecrate her property with cult recruitment materials. But as soon as Evelyn leaves, Veronica, without Betty even needing to say anything, meets her eyes and goes, “Of course I’ll come with you.” Aww! Yay friendship!
FP arrives home to find Gladys, Jughead and Jellybean enacting a very happy little family moment over breakfast. He mentions that one of his deputies found the trailer all burnt up, with “drug cooking material” inside it. Gladys acts all shocked (I love when the adults play dumb with each other, it always makes me giggle!) and Jughead remarks, “This whole town can’t catch a break.” Jughead and Gladys proceed to glare at each other extremely un-subtle fashion, but FP, already christened on this blog the “worst sheriff ever,” doesn’t pick up on it. He sallies off with Jellybean to watch Saturday morning cartoons, leaving Jughead and Gladys to glare at each other some more.
Finally Gladys asks if Jughead really thought this was going to stop her. Jughead says, “Oh, I’m not gonna stop until you are out of Riverdale.” Hee! I love how everyone is always announcing their nefarious schemes directly to the targets of said schemes. These kids are like, really bad at scheming. Gladys matches him with a dramatic-sounding mixed metaphor: “You better buckle up, then, because I ain’t going anywhere.” Then she kisses him creepily on the cheek and tells him not to cross her again.
Over at the Farm, a lobotomized Kevin happily recites various facts about the Farm, like that they let people “express themselves” via art (we are shown two people working on a painting on the wall that is, to put it kindly, not great). He stands in front of one door and is about to tell them what the room is used for when Betty cracks, “Ritualistic drownings?” (I love how snarky Betty is about the Farm. I always get the sense that Lili Reinhart must be a kick, because Betty is becoming funnier and funnier and when that happens it’s often the actor’s influence.) She asks about some other mysterious closet, which Kevin says is “Just the janitor’s closet.” Ooh, close Kevin, but when you say “just” in front of a lie, it becomes what is known as an obvious lie.
Just then Alice emerges from the original door in an aggressively white pantsuit with hair so perfectly coiffed she looks like a right-wing TV anchor. She greets Betty coldly and is about to move on when Betty says they haven’t talked in weeks. “You forsook me,” Alice says. Hee! For some reason I laughed at the notion of Alice using the past tense of “forsake” like she’s a spurned mother in a Victorian novel.
She leaves, and a young cult member comes out to pull Betty into the room for an “interview.” Betty agrees. Anything in the name of investigation! Unfortunately the interview involves talking to Evelyn Ever-Creepy, who asks if Betty bites her nails and then if she considers herself a cold person. Uh, these questions are starting to seem a little pointed! Betty just says, “No,” and then Evelyn cuts the interview short and brushes Betty off with a chilly, “We’ll call you.”
Veronica comes home to find Hermione fighting with Hiram. Apparently he disinvited her from the ribbon cutting at his prison. “You did try to kill him. Twice,” Veronica says. Hermione gives her an absolutely hilarious eyeroll, like, “Who cares about that?!” Hermione’s worried that if their “enemies” figure out about their divorce, she’s going to get killed.
Jughead has discovered a side benefit of moving next door to Archie: having Archie’s kitchen to “raid for grub.” He gives Archie the update on his cold war with Gladys, and Archie asks about Jellybean. Then they’re interrupted by a collect call from Leopold & Loeb: it’s Mad Dog. That dude? I totally thought he was gone forever.
Jughead, in defiance of his dad’s verdict, has gathered his Serpents to say they’re going to make life miserable for the Gargoyles as an “unofficial DEA.” Is that a thing? Because I think when a gang unofficially harasses another gang, it’s pretty much just being a gang, not being the DEA. Jughead also totally drops his mom’s name while talking to the Serpents, so I guess everyone but FP knows about Gladys now. When did that happen?
Somehow Archie has been magically teleported to the actual Leopold & Loeb facility to talk to Mad Dog face to face. They couldn’t have taken care of this on the call? Anyway, turns out Hiram’s private prison has a juvenile wing, and everyone from Leopold & Loeb is being transferred there–including the guards who were running the fight club. Also, Mad Dog’s parole hearing was cancelled–and no one from his family is picking up. Archie promises that he won’t “step one foot in Hiram Lodge’s prison.”
Nice, dramatic finish, Archie, but it’s SET FOOT, not step foot. #grammarpetpeeve #yesIknowprescriptivismisoutoffashionandIdontcurr
Archie brings Veronica into the free gym he got from her dad (she takes this in stride, because sure) and tells her about Mad Dog. He says that the kids can’t be transferred to Hiram’s prison because the guards are sadists and reminds her that she was working hard to get him out. “I broke you out,” she corrects him with only the slightest hint of bitterness that she broke him out and then he dumped her and had sex with some lady on a farm about four days later. Archie was actually talking about her work with the Innocence Project and “petitioning the Governor.” Since Veronica knows the Governor’s in town, she offers to talk to him.
What she actually does is bring him to her apartment under false pretense that he’s going to talk to Hiram, when in fact Archie is waiting there. Veronica introduces him as her ex-boyfriend — couldn’t she just say friend? He doesn’t care that they used to date! The Governor’s bored eyebrow raise confirms my reaction. Anyway, they tell him that unless he pardons every single kid at Leopold & Loeb to prevent them from being transferred to the institution whose official name is apparently “Hiram Lodge’s private prison,” they’ll tell the press that Archie was forced to be in a fight club and that the governor attended.
Betty brings Cheryl to the diner to try to get her to infiltrate the Farm. Cheryl is of the opinion that this is more of a mission for Betty’s “beanie-headed beau.” Hee! But eventually Betty plays the Jason card (if you don’t remember, which I certainly didn’t, when Cheryl’s dead brother Jason was running away with Polly, they were planning to run to the Farm). Next thing you know, Cheryl conveniently bursts into tears in a restroom stall while Evelyn is in the room. She claims she’s broken up with Toni and Evelyn eats it up. Later, Cheryl bursts into the newsroom and announces, “I’m in, cousin.” #familygoals!
Speaking of going undercover, Sweet-Pea-Or-Fangs stops by the magic shop to buy some “game enhancement,” aka Fizzle Rocks, from the creepy long-haired gamer who was threatening Archie before. SPOF tackles the guy so that Jughead can come in and play Badass Jughead, which I have to admit is totally working for me. This is Jughead’s actual dialogue: “Last time I was here with the Red Paladin. And THAT DAY I was in a good mood. But today” (opens switchblade) “I’m in a bad mood.” Ooooh, I’m so scared! How does Cole Sprouse deliver all this dialogue with a straight face, let alone render it so crushworthy? He demands to know where the Gargoyles are dealing from. The answer? You can find the street corners where they’re dealing by finding gargoyles strung on telephone wires, like the better-known signal of sneakers on wires.
I mean. If there are gargoyles hanging on telephone wires all around town, shouldn’t someone already have been looking into it? Look alive, Sheriff FP. Worst sheriff ever.
Betty fits Cheryl with some truly retro-chic detective gear (Cheryl calls her “Betty Snooper,” which even as a pun on her last name is some very gentle comedy) that involves Betty listening with giant headphones to a bug planted on Cheryl’s brooch live via a two-machine setup that, apparently, doesn’t record or anything. There’s even some kind of needle that moves on a dial, just because. Evelyn’s interview also weirdly centers on whether Cheryl bites her nails (just as it did with Betty). But the more exciting part is that after about four seconds, Edgar Evernever himself shows up.
HELL YEAH. I am so here for a storyline where Chad Michael Murray creepily interrogates teenaged girls in candlelit rooms to recruit them for cults. (Did I mention the room, just like the sex bunker, is lit with candles? Because of course it is.) I feel like Chad Michael Murray was born to play this role.
He asks about her grief for Jason, using the word “elucidate,” which I am vaguely surprised to see Chad Michael Murray actually pronounce. Cheryl answers in a way where you can tell she’s telling the truth, even if she’s on A Mission. “So you’ve been baptized, and then reborn in fire,” Edgar observes after hearing how Cheryl fell under the ice and then burned her house down. Then he FULLY GRABS HER HAND and tells her memories don’t have to be painful. Jesus, in a grown-up show this would be a terrifying scene indeed. Luckily in this show we just have to worry that he’s going to make her firewalk or something, not that he’s about to assault her.
Archie, Mad Dog, and some anonymous ex-con named Baby Teeth are at Pop’s. Mad Dog is thrilled he can go find his family. Baby Teeth has nowhere to go, so Archie… offers to put him up at his boxing gym? He brings them there and introduces them to Sheriff Keller. (Archie can barely pronounce the phrase “trainer extraordinaire.” I mean, it’s a toughie.)
Betty’s not the only one rocking some serious vintage equipment; Jughead is also running the headquarters of what appears to be the set of an FBI movie from approximately 1989, complete with what I think is a walkie-talkie and a giant wall map dotted with pushpins of, I guess, Gargoyle locations. I mean, sure. Whatever makes you happy, Jughead. Anyway, everyone is reporting to Jughead on their Gargoyle raids via this walkie-talkie. But then when Jughead shows up and busts someone, FP also jumps out of the back of the truck and accuses Jughead of “ruining my bust!” and drags him off literally by the scruff of his neck. Gee, it’s almost like it wasn’t a great idea to hire your teenaged son’s entire gang as police interns, FP.
Back at home, FP and Jughead scream at each other till Gladys comes down to playact the concerned mom with wide-eyed innocence. “You know, Jughead, maybe your father is right. If it’s as dangerous as he says it is, maybe this whole deputy program… is not such a good idea for the Serpents.” Hee!! Gladys is such an operator. And FP is an idiot, because he still has no idea that anything is off in his household. He agrees with Gladys, and as soon as he storms off, Gladys hilariously says to Jughead, “Looks like you’ll be sittin’ the next few rounds out, sugar.” I love how all of FP’s dialogue is basically ripped from mediocre Oscar bait movies set in the South, Jughead’s dialogue is all ripped from cheesy gangster movies, and Gladys continually talks like she’s a madam in a Western-themed porno. These three actors are consummate professionals for being so committed to this.
Elio drops by Archie’s little gym (where, naturally, Mad Dog has his shirt off, because someone needs to have his shirt off) to try to offer everyone money. Archie is all mad and says no one wants his money. The other two are noticeably silent. Anyone but Archie would probably have realized that this is what’s called a bad sign.
Veronica calls her parents together to… suggest seeing a marriage counselor. “You wouldn’t be the first mobster to see a therapist, Daddy,” she says. When this doesn’t fly, she tells them marriage is ordained by God. Neither parent goes for it, and Veronica whines that she’s still “fighting for this family.” Speaking of therapy, can someone get Veronica into counseling stat? She’s got serious issues if she thinks this family is worth fighting for.
But Hiram might be doing the work for her: she brings up the fact that she forgave Hiram for trying to kill Archie, and Hiram hilariously responds, “Water under the bridge.” Have I mentioned lately that Hiram is my favorite? Unfortunately, Veronica doesn’t find this quite as funny.
Betty and Cheryl decide to confer about their supposedly top secret Infiltrate-the-Farm mission in the girls’ bathroom. Sure, because Evelyn never goes in here! Anyway, Cheryl is less interested in the mission than in discussing the fact that Edgar Evernever is “a yummy snack.” Hee! I mean, she’s not wrong. That’s the magic of Chad Michael Murray. Betty–who, by the way, is wearing a HIDEOUS sweater that basically looks like someone took a perfectly attractive black sweater and then glued a bunch of sour straws onto it–gives Cheryl a list of questions she wants answered, taking no notice of the multiple giant flashing warning signs that Cheryl is about to be recruited into this cult. She wants to get the tapes back so that the cult will have no leverage over her family. This is one of those Riverdale logic leaps that would make no sense in real life: it’s fine if the entire cult heard Alice confess to murder as long as the tapes are destroyed?
Archie and Baby Teeth have gone back to Pop’s yet again when Mad Dog finds them and says that his grandmother and baby brother are in a building the Gargoyles are using as a drug lab. Archie promises to get rid of them.
Speaking of living in a cheesy gangster movie, Hermione comes into her office to find some sort of weird package on her desk. (I couldn’t figure out what it was on the first watch until later in the episode, when Veronica exposits that it’s dead fish. Hooray vegetarianism.) She tells Veronica about this over a glass of red wine, and says it’s someone looking for payback. The women hold hands, and it’s pretty cute… until you find out what comes later!
Archie and Jughead confabulate in Archie’s tragically empty house. (I’m guessing that we’ve already seen the last of the scenes Luke Perry had filmed, but not sure.) Jughead doesn’t want to tell FP because it’s the “nuclear option”; instead, he’s going to ask his guys to “rick their necks” to get the Gargoyles themselves. To recap, Jughead thinks it’s too big a step to tell his dad that his mom is a drug dealer, but he’s totally chill having a few red-shirt Serpents perish in his quest to take her down. Archie also volunteers the necks of Mad Dog and the rest of his L&L buddies. Um, maybe ask first, Arch?! These aren’t pets. They’re fellow human beings that you are supposedly helping, presumably they didn’t realize you were going to drag them into some completely unnecessary and possibly fatal drug raid just to avoid making your best friend’s dad sad.
Cheryl goes back to the Farm, complete with the bugged brooch and Betty listening on her ancient equipment back at school. She tries to get the information Betty wanted, and while she starts off reasonably strong, her questioning rapidly devolves from somewhat-subtle to you-clearly-have-someone-listening-live-to-your-every-move. Edgar Evernever is immediately suspicious, so Cheryl backs down. Then he says before they continue, he’s going to show her something “illuminating.” He leads her to a broom closet. Cheryl is delighted, due presumably to the hypnotic effect of Edgar Evernever’s blue eyes. Betty is onto him, but Cheryl just steps into the broom closet and the feed cuts out.
Oh, Cheryl. Is she actually bi? I guess I don’t really know. But that would explain how easily Edgar Evernever is leading her astray!
Betty finds Cheryl at school and asks her about the room. Cheryl says it’s none of her business, and also, she is done helping Betty. But she’s still going to the Farm. Betty is shocked, but Cheryl just yells, “TOODLES!” at the top of her lungs and walks away.
Veronica busts in on her dad while he’s eating charcuterie at his desk with a cloth napkin. Kudos to Hiram, seriously. He’s just like, drinking Scotch out of crystal glasses and eating fancy meat off of wooden boards and delivering deadpan one-liners to his daughter. He is getting the most possible fun out of being a rich villain in a teen soap.
Anyway, Veronica asks him to protect Hermione and not let anyone know she’s alone. Hiram for some reason finds this compelling.
Betty and Jughead are providing a dose of serious fanservice, exchanging information about their plans to raid the Farm and the Gargoyles respectively while post-coitally cuddling in bed. Jughead somewhat takes the wind out of the sails of any possible recapping joke by saying, “Best pillowtalk ever.” While stroking Betty’s shoulder. Cue the melting of every girl on the internet.
So Hiram brings Hermione up to the podium with him at the ribbon cutting for his private prison, at which both he and Veronica see fit to wear giant fur collars. I guess if you’re going to be exploiting prisoners for cheap labor it’s not a huge deal to kill a few minks for their coats.
Jughead gathers a few Gargoyles and some of Archie’s supposed friends (slash, “people he is going to sacrifice to Jughead’s Electra-complex mission”) to direct them on their suicide mission to raid an apartment building full of drug dealers while wielding batons as weapons.
Yup: cut to the building, and while some very dramatic music plays, the boys storm the place with zero protective gear and only big sticks to protect themselves. Jughead is leading this charge in his beanie. Omg these kids are so dumb. I can’t even. Some fighting starts, and Jughead ends up in a one-sided shootout with a Gargoyle who he temporarily takes down by… spraying the fire extinguisher on him? Sure… and then Archie finishes off with his fists.
Archie directs Jughead to “go find that scumbag cook.” God I love the supposed badass dialogue. Finally they find an apartment that is, like Jughead’s lost trailer last week, filled to overflowing with drug equipment so obvious even I recognize it. As Archie explores, someone slooooowly lifts a gun towards him; luckily this person is so slow that Jughead takes him down by tackling him. Jughead drags Kurtz off, but somehow Kurtz knocks both himself and Jughead out a window. He runs off, and a bloody Jughead kneels on a pile of broken glass. (You can tell that he’s really out of it because he lets his hat fall off. Gasp!)
Veronica arrives at her dad’s place to find him confabulating with “the Monsignor,” who has annulled the marriage of her parents. He claims it’ll be less public than a divorce. Veronica is disappointed, but there’s a twist! Hiram knows that she sent the dead fish to Hermione. He’s surprisingly gentle and non-snide about it. Aww, what a good dad (you know, except for everything else he’s ever done). Veronica sniffles that she thought if she got them to pretend to be together they might fall for each other again. But she realizes it’s over now. Hiram sympathetically touches her on the shoulder of her fur-collared coat.
Gladys is sitting on the couch at the Jones’s wearing athleisure and reading a book like she’s a real suburban mom, when Jughead tearfully confronts her. She’s like, “I told you to stay out of it.” He decides to tell his dad what she’s doing (which seems reasonable, since now kids are literally getting shot just to spare FP’s feelings) but Gladys says no, FP isn’t a part of this, and Jughead just kind of… gives in? He does claim he’s going to choke her whole operation. Hopefully he doesn’t plan to do this by fighting gun-wielding drug dealers while armed with just a bunch of sticks and Archie’s pecs. Oh wait, I think he does plan that. Well, good luck, Jughead. It might be easier to just… tell your dad? But what do I know, I’ve never led a fake gang myself.
Betty has somehow snuck into the Farm and made it off to the closet where all the tapes are kept. For some reason the Farmies are broadcasting their service on the intercom, so Betty gets to hear Cheryl be welcomed into the fold. Betty digs through the boxes for the tapes she wants–two from her family, one for Cheryl–while a man, presumably Edgar, urges everyone to “plant their seed” and “spread it to others.” Dirty!
Mad Dog finds Archie in the office of the boxing gym. Apparently Baby Teeth is still missing since the raid. (But at least Jughead’s daddy isn’t sad, right?) Archie seems at most mildly concerned about the fact that he led one of his juvie pals to his death. He is much more upset when he hears that Mad Dog is getting his family out of the Gargoyle-infested building by… working with Elio. But Mad Dog promises not to forget what Archie did for him.
Side note, I love how Archie totally sold his soul to Elio just so he could advance his boxing career and now he’s getting all high-and-mighty at Mad Dog for working with Elio to save his grandma and little brother. Say it with me: shut up, Archie!
Betty visits Cheryl to drop off the stolen tapes, expecting Cheryl to be happy. Of course, Cheryl is not. She explains it’s not about Edgar, it’s about Jason. I bet the fact that Edgar is a “yummy snack” doesn’t hurt though. Anyway, Cheryl reveals that Edgar can take her to a room and actually show her Jason. Uh-oh.
Betty realizes something and meets her mom at Pop’s. She asks Alice if she’s obsessed with the farm because they let her talk to Charles. From the giant drum crash that immediately follows this question, we can assume the answer is yes. Alice also readily admits to this. She tells Betty that being with Charles is unlike anything she can imagine—“and it’s all because of Edgar.” Betty, taking advantage of the fact that her mom is at a vulnerable moment, asks to meet Edgar.
Next thing you know, Betty is in a room filled with multicolored candles. Edgar sits down, greets her pleasantly, and then remarks that he could get her mother and sister to give their testimony again. I guess he knows who took the tapes! “So, tell me,” he says. “What do you want to know?” Betty leans forward and says, “Everything. Start from the beginning.” I kind of wish this was going to lead to a Chad-Michael-Murray-centric flashback episode, but that would be almost too perfect.
Jughead and Archie are hanging out at the boxing gym when someone brings them a chalice with a tooth in it and a card that says, “Defang a wolf cub.” They realize this is probably Baby Teeth. “Or what’s left of him,” Jughead says ghoulishly. You guys just got Baby Teeth killed, maybe at least pretend to be sad!
Cut to the woods, where FP has stumbled upon a teenaged boy, with his ears and mouth bleeding and the usual symbols carved on his back.
Welp, I hope Archie’s happy! He volunteered all his friends to go on this dumb raid with completely inadequate weaponry and now one of them is dead! Now, did I care about Baby Teeth? No, not a bit, I barely remember his name from scene to scene, and I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Still, I judge Archie and Jughead for doing this just to spare FP’s feelings.