Riverdale Season 3, Episode 18 “Jawbreaker”

This episode is somewhat of an homage to Silence of the Lambs, as we’ll see later, so you can expect a lot of half-baked theorizing about criminal psychology. It’s going to be sort of like if a twelve-year-old had smoked crack and then attempted to write a smart psychological thriller about serial killers.

Previously on Riverdale: Cheryl agreed to go undercover at the Farm, where Edgar Evernever talked to her about her dead brother, causing Cheryl to suddenly change her mind about helping Betty and start actually going to the Farm; Alice admitted to Betty that she was obsessed with the Farm because they let her see her dead son Charles; some kid named Ricky tried to kill Archie to get the protection of the Gargoyles (ughhh, I thought we’d forgotten about Ricky); Archie and Jughead staged an amateur raid on an apartment building overrun with Gargoyles; Elio, the guy who tried to pay Archie to throw a boxing match, gave Mad Dog’s family an apartment in a safer neighborhood in exchange for Mad Dog fighting for him; Betty went to the Farm herself to talk to Edgar; and FP found a dead Baby Teeth in the woods.

We open on Jughead and FP staring at Baby Teeth’s prostrate body. “Poor Baby Teeth,” Jughead says sagely, not seeming particularly upset. He theorizes that the extra brutality of Baby Teeth’s death was supposed to send a message. (This is the half-baked theorizing I was talking about, obvs.) He also uses the phrase “copycat killer.” Apparently the previous killing was not the real Gargoyle King, but this one was. I forget how we know this and… I don’t care.

Betty confronts Edgar Evernever and tells him that must not be his real name because she’s done “a deep dive on the Internet.” I mean, you couldn’t tell that from the fact that his name is Edgar Evernever? He tells her that his life was in tatters (I’m betting we’re gonna hear more about that later) so he went to the desert to die. Only then he stumbled to a farm and was saved by a farmer. He asked to repay her, so she put him to work. And according to Edgar, “I ploughed those fields, and I sowed them with seed.” Say it with me: DIRTY! Anyway, this experience made him want to open his own farm.

Betty, not to be led off track by this inane tale, tells him that doesn’t explain why he brainwashed her mom into seeing her dead son. Edgar just says that he’s healing people. Betty: “No, but really, how does my mother see her dead son.” Hee! She asks if someone dresses up like Charles, and Edgar just laughs.

Archie walks in on a bunch of his pals practicing in his gym and says, “I know you’re all pissed about Baby Teeth.” Pissed? PISSED?! Look, I didn’t care about Baby Teeth and I’m sure I’m not alone. He was 100% just a plot device and we’re not, as viewers, supposed to be emotional at his death. But I’m offended at the use of “pissed” to describe the feelings of a bunch of teenaged boys whose friend was killed while they were on an illicit raid, given that Baby Teeth’s death is going to be shoved down our throats as some kind of Meaningful Motive for the shenanigans later on. And I’m even more offended that Archie is acting like it’s just a thing that happened, and not a thing he caused by offering up his fellow inmates for Jughead’s stupid raid like they were his indentured servants. AND ALSO, I can’t believe that Archie has spent so much time narcisisstically whining about how he feels guilty for various deaths that weren’t his fault and yet he can’t be bothered to apologize for his actual role in Baby Teeth’s death.

Wow I guess I do have a lot of feelings about Baby Teeth.

But don’t let me distract you, because we have more absurdities to get through. Archie says that they’re going to honor their fallen brother. We never get to learn how, because Mad Dog interrupts to say that he’s going to honor Baby Teeth by dedicating his next match to him, at a boxing tournament called the “Gilded Glove.” He even utters the words, “I was going to fight to win. But now, I’m going to fight to win and honor Baby Teeth.” Hee!!!

The Fab Four (Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and Betty) hang out in the lounge for a five-second scene, long enough for Archie to ask Veronica to help his boys get a spot in the tournament. Apparently this will help them feel better about Baby Teeth. So, just to recap, it was rilly rilly bad when the boys were forced into a Fight Club in prison, but when a middle-class rich white kid sends them to boxing matches in between leading them on potentially deadly drug raids for which they aren’t paid and didn’t volunteer, it’s totally OK.

Cheryl gets on the intercom to announce that the Farm student group has posted sign-up sheets. We see Cheryl, Evelyn, Kevin, and that kid who fell in love with Kevin during the school musical, all walking down the hall in matching white outfits. Kevin is grinning–maybe because he’s excited to finally get some screentime.

Oh whoops, screentime over! Toni sees the Farmies walking by and looks sad. The Fab Four, in the student lounge, look judgmental. Betty tells everyone about the Farmies thinking they see their dead loved ones. Jughead suggests that Betty fight her mom’s delusions with a strong dose of truth. I mean, great idea. If he can be a cop, Betty can be a psychologist, right?

Betty proceeds to go on a hunt for her brother, who has the unfortunately generic name Charles Smith. She has no luck, and meanwhile, Toni storms in to accuse her of being at fault for what’s going on wtih Cheryl. Betty explains what Cheryl’s doing at the Farm and sends Toni a video of Clifford shooting Jason so she can prove to Cheryl that Jason is dead. Well, this should work out well! Showing people gory videos of their relatives being murdered is a great way to improve their psychological health! Just then, Betty gets a call and excuses herself, saying she thinks it’s from her dad.

Veronica lets herself into a men’s steam room … somewhere … to talk to Elio and ask about the Gilded Gloves. She takes the opportunity to mention “hot, shirtless, muscular bruisers,” at which point a very hot and shirtless and muscular extra in the steam room gives a saucy grin. Haha, what?! That was so random. Elio just kicks her out, and she threatens him vaguely by saying “I tried to keep things civil.” (Although the only thing she actually does to Elio is buy silk pajamas for his rival, but more on that later.) On her way out she appears to peek up Elio’s towel. Jeez, Veronica needs to get laid. Come back, Reggie!)

FP and Jughead visit the morgue, where Dr. Curdle Jr. declares that Baby Teeth died from loss of blood from the pulling of his teeth — can that happen? — and adds, hilariously, that it occurred pre-mortem. Yeah, it’s pretty hard to die from things that occur post-mortem. But I appreciate his enthusiastic use of basic forensic jargon. Also, remember how this is a Silence of the Lambs ripoff, I mean homage? Well, Baby Teeth literally has a matchbox stuffed down his throat. “Whoever did this isn’t even human,” Dr. Curdle Jr. intones. Really? I mean, I wouldn’t want to have a matchbook stuffed down my throat, but that hardly seems like the worst thing that’s happened to anyone in Riverdale.

FP and Jughead’s next stop is to Penelope’s campy bordello, the Maple Club, whose matchbook it was. She shows them that it’s complimentary to all their guests. “We don’t recommend that they ingest them,” she adds drily. Hee! Then she says that Baby Teeth was there a few nights ago with some friends. “Ex-cons, but charming,” she says archly. Hee again! Penelope is on a roll! Anyway, someone named “Rosemary” was Baby Teeth’s, er, host that day. They’re interrupted by a crash and find a growling man foaming at the mouth in the next room, wielding a knife at a terrified sex worker. FP quickly overpowers him.

In the next room, they ask the sex worker about the man, whose alias is “Martin.” “Did anything seem different about him?” Yes, she responds, he was foaming at the mouth. Well, gee, you don’t say. Anyway, he apparently regularly takes Fizzle Rocks before sex.

Having failed to convince Elio, Veronica enlists Alice to film a “local news story,” or in other words a free ad, about Archie’s boxing gym. Archie is adorably bad at being on TV, reading his lines woodenly off a poster–yeah, I totally see how Archie would be bad at this. Anyway, he also announces that he wants a rematch with Randy Ronson. Alice cheerfully calls this a challenge from “a local hero.” Jeez, come out of the womb with white skin and a penis and you can get called a hero for exactly nothing.

Betty visits Hal to get insight on her mom. He asks if she’s seeing anyone, but Betty just tells him about the Farm. She complains that she doesn’t have proof Charles is dead. Hal says all she need is a piece of granite. I admit that I didn’t even understand what he was saying when I first watched this, which kind of makes me feel stupid, but maybe it’s just that this “proof” is too ludicrous for me to have thought of on my own.

Elio meets Veronica at La Bonne Nuit to tell her that Randy’s moved up a weight class so Archie will have to, too. They decide to flip for the venue and Veronica wins, so it’s going to be at El Royale. OK, sorry, I misspoke. So Veronica’s big revenge on Elio was to play coin games with him, as well as buying sexy silk pajamas for his rival.

FP and Jughead apparently have the knife-wielding Fizzle Rocks guy in a holding cell in the sheriff’s office; FP sits next to Jughead for about ten seconds, long enough for them to theorize that the Fizzle Rocks came from Kurtz and for FP to announce that he’s going to test the Fizzle Rocks the guy had on him. Then FP gets up again. I don’t know why I watched this scene. Couldn’t we have assumed that FP, being a sheriff, would test the drugs?

In Cheryl’s bright pink bedroom, Toni shows Cheryl the video of Jason’s death… only to have Cheryl condescendingly explain to her that the video is obviously fabricated by Detractors. Awkies.

Betty shows up to the Farm and asks her mom if she’s engaged to Edgar. Wait, what? Where did that come from? Anyway, Betty stretches out one gloved hand and tells her mom she wants to show her something. And she brings her to the grave of one Charles Smith, to prove to Alice that he’s dead. (For some reason, “845” is written on top of the stone, instead of like… the years of his birth and death.)

Back in the car, Alice remarks that this is sad. Betty is so happy that her plan worked–until Alice adds, “So sad that you won’t let me be happy at the Farm.” Whoops! Alice says she’s sorry, but she talked to Charles this morning. Betty says, “I’m sorry, too, Mom.” THEN SHE FULLY CHLOROFORMS HER MOTHER.

Well, that escalated quickly.

After a quick scene of Veronica force-feeding Archie at Pop’s, we see the two opponents at their weigh-in. Archie totally holds up his arms and flexes his biceps after his weigh-in. That made me laugh really hard, but apparently, according to Keets, boxers do do weird things after their weigh-ins. Given that this is Riverdale, which is as silly a show as boxing is a sport, I wasn’t sure what to think.

Alice, having been kidnapped by her daughter, wakes up in the sex bunker, handcuffed to the bed, surrounded by lit candles, with Betty staring at her. Well if they weren’t related by blood, this would be a VERY alarming scene. As it is, it’s… still pretty alarming. Betty assures her she’s safe. Alice doesn’t look super convinced of that. And you know what, I really don’t blame her.

After the break, we learn that Betty’s new strategy is to show Alice photos from her own childhood and try to make Alice remember those happy times when she wasn’t in a cult. Unfortunately, Alice isn’t having it. Betty argues tearfully that she can’t lose the past because she’ll lose the good parts too. Alice suddenly throws her a curveball: “Tell me the truth, Betty. Was that really Charles’s grave?” Betty starts to cry. Turns out it was fake.

Yikes. That was an incredibly dumb strategy.

Alice tells Betty she loves her, but Betty has to let her go. Betty refuses and leaves to go to school with her mom handcuffed to the bed. Wait, what?! So… how will she pee? How will she drink water?

Over at the student lounge where these kids apparently like to hang out instead of going to class, Betty, Veronica, Archie, and Jughead have gathered. Jughead says, as disapprovingly as one can say while rubbing one’s girlfriend’s back comfortingly, “You locked your mom in Dilton’s bunker?” Archie and Veronica also look a little dismayed. You know it’s bad when even Veronica is shocked at your behavior! Unfortunately for Alice, no one is quite shocked enough to go rescue her.

They’re interrupted by a girl in gym clothes slamming her head against the locker. She took “some G,” someone says. Jughead tells them to take her to the infirmary, and then FP calls to say he’s got someone else on a nasty trip.

Over at the sheriff’s, Jughead says portentously, “It’s gotta be a bad batch. One that causes Fizzle Rocks Psychosis.” Oh, sure, I’ve heard of that. It’s in the DSM-IV right under “heart stripe.” FP theorizes that it’s cut with bath salts. The first guy, from the Maple Club, suddenly gives them a look. He’s almost ready to talk.

Evelyn sneaks up on Toni in the bathroom and accuses her of “detracting Cheryl from her studies at the farm.” That’s… not how that word is used, but OK. The girls have a stare-off–surprisingly, Evelyn is actually taller than Toni!—but Evelyn backs off first.

Mad Dog finds Archie in the gym and warns him that Randy, his opponent for the weekend, is “juicin’.” (BTW, there’s an amusingly aggressive sign stenciled ont he wall of this gym that says “IT’S BETTER TO SWEAT IN THE GYM THAN BLEED IN THE STREETS.” Figure that one out.) Archie cheerfully says that if Elio is giving Randy’s eyes, it’s because he’s scared Archie will win. But Mad Dog insists that Randy is going to flat-out kill Archie, and gives Archie something to take to level the playing field. Archie insists he won’t take the drugs… but he accepts them just in case. Ho boy, this will not end well. Has Archie ever made an actual good decision in this entire show? I love how no one thinks, oh hey, maybe I should demand a drug test before facing off against this junkie.

Oh no, Ricky’s back. He and Jellybean are playing G&G at Pop’s. She mentions that her parents won’t mind if she stays out playing the game since they’re “busy.” Poor little JB.

I feel like I’ve missed something, but FP and Jughead bring some sort of card with the letter “G” written on it to… some dude… of whom all I know about him is that the two sides of his beard don’t meet in the middle. It’s pretty weird. Anyway, he tells them that the “G” stands for Gargoyles. OH, YOU THINK?! Then he says that it stands for Kurtz or represents Kurtz or… whatever, I don’t care. The point is, we watched this inexplicable scene with this dude whose beard doesn’t meet in the middle so that Jughead and FP could find out that, oh gee, Kurtz is selling Fizzle Rocks. I know I’m shocked. Shocked!!

Betty arrives in the bunker to find her mom burning all the photos Betty left with her. I love how Betty’s amateur deprogramming and kidnapping is not even close to being a match for Alice’s delusions.

Evelyn finds Betty at her locker. “Evelyyyyn,” Betty sighs in greeting, sounding distinctly not pleased to see her. Hee! Evelyn asks where Alice is, and Betty, cool as ice, says she has no idea. She’s about to walk away when Evelyn calls after her that they have copies of all the tapes Betty destroyed. It’s almost like Betty’s plan was silly! But Betty gets all mad and throws Evelyn up against the locker and tells her at great length to leave her alone. Then she pushes her arm against Evelyn’s throat and adds that she’ll kill her. “And if you don’t believe me, ask around.” Apparently everyone else remembers Dark Betty, even though the show has woefully neglected her.

Toni decides to try her wiles up against the appeal of the Farm. While Cheryl is getting ready to go over to the Farm (which allows Cheryl to quip Kardashianlike, “Do you think these Louboutins are too flashy for kombucha brewing?”) Toni starts making out with her instead. Unlike Alice, it appears Cheryl’s conversion hasn’t killed her sex drive.

Archie goes on a training run with the fellow inmates he’s recruited to be in his unpaid boxing club, and shows them Baby Teeth’s grave to motivate them to fight for him. Poor Baby Teeth. He doesn’t even get a funeral scene, and the strongest emotion anyone can muster over his death is, to quote Archie, “pissed.”

FP and Jughead are interviewing the now-calmer junkie from before. He says that he got the drugs from Kurtz and that Kurtz was being very aggressive. Jughead cleverly deduces that “he’s still in Riverdale” and “he’s getting desperate.” Gee, maybe I should be a detective. I could at least do that. Just then FP gets a call from Laura, the woman from the Maple Club.

Betty is listening to the tapes she stole from the Farm. (You know how it’s OK to violate someone’s privacy if you care about them, amirite?) On them, her mother tells Edgar that she’s afraid of Betty and that she sees the same darkness in Betty that was in her father.

FP, along with the barnacle-like Jughead, go to the Maple Club and Laura tells them that a bunch of preppy rich kids were here waiting around for their dealer who never showed. They left a flyer for Archie’s fight in the trash. “One last chance to bust Kurtz,” says Jughead.

Betty busts into Edgar’s office and demands to know why he made her mom say such horrible things about her on the tapes. That is rather adorably narcissistic. “To be fair,” Edgar says smoothly, “you have given Alice some legitimate reasons to fear you.” Betty, who literally burned Alice’s house down about two episodes ago, takes great offense to this. They have a silly argument about Charles and healing, which Edgar responds to by pinching the bridge of his nose and sighing in exasperation. Hee! Then he lectures her about how Alice needs comfort, and that the Farm “fills her in a way that no one in her life can or does.” I say again, DIRTY!!!

Betty returns to the bunker, where her mother and her deteriorating but still quite stylish blowout is still handcuffed to the bed. She takes her to meet Evelyn and says, “Evelyn will make sure you get home safely.” Evelyn holds out her arms for a creepy, creepy hug. Betty bids Evelyn to take care of her mother, and Evelyn says, “That’s all we’ve ever wanted to do.” Somehow, Betty doesn’t find this reassuring. But, as we learned in this episode, sometimes you can’t make someone leave a cult just by handcuffing them to the bed in your sex bunker.

Veronica brings Archie a “good luck” present, including gym shorts with his name written on them in gold. What is he, Donald Trump? I kid, I kid… Donald Trump doesn’t have a nodding acquaintance with gym shorts. She tells him she’s always in his corner and then they have a completely gratuitous moment where they almost kiss. I’m sure we’re supposed to feel some kind of powerful chemistry pulling them together, and maybe some people see it, but it leaves me Totally Fucking Cold. Veronica gets herself away heroically before kissing Archie, and Fred pops in. HI FRED! I love you even though you ask Archie if he’s “flying a little too close to the sun there,” thereby comparing Archie to yet another hero he doesn’t deserve to be in the same sentence with. Arche insists he and Veronica are just friends. Fred doesn’t find this believable any more than we do.

Cheryl finds Toni at her locker (boy, these kids may not ever go to class but they are always conveniently at their lockers when someone needs to talk to them!) and tells her that Evelyn says she has to choose between Jason and Toni. Toni pleads that there must be some way that Cheryl doesn’t have to choose. (I was definitely going to quibble in my snarky-recapperly way about how conveniently this was phrased, but as we’ll see later, Toni was doing it on purpose!) Cheryl agrees that indeed there is! Next thing you know, Toni is also dressed in all white and walking in slow-motion down the hall with Evelyn, Cheryl, and Kevin. If you’re curious, Kevin still looks weirdly thrilled to be in this one scene without any lines.

Betty is still listening to her mom’s tapes when Toni comes in and confirms that “no one suspects anything.” Yup! This was all part of Betty’s newest plan! Betty asks sadly if she’s a monster and Toni reassures her that she’s not.

Jughead and FP are sitting in their car when they spot Kurtz doing a Drug Deal. FP arrests him, and Jughead says, “You and your drugs are done for good, Kurtz.” Ooh, so dramatic!

Archie puts on the red silk robe that Veronica, presumably, got him for the fight and emerges into the ring. Veroncia and Josie are chummily watching the match until Josie sees Archie’s new duds and Veronica proudly announces that Pop’s is Archie’s sponsor. Josie looks alarmed. Do you blame her? It’s one thing to have your flame’s ex sponsoring him in a sports match. It’s quite another thing to have her buying him sexy red silk underwear.

“I’m gonna end Andrews tonight, I got this,” blathers Archie’s opponent. Elio feeds him some “G” and tells him to live up to his promise. The boys walk into the ring and push their bare chests towards each other.

Continuing the rather inadequate Silence of the Lambs references, Hal is sitting in his jail cell listening to opera and staring at a painting when Betty shows up. She wants him to sign some divorce papers. He tells her he wants a favor too: to come home.

Over at the ring, Archie’s mid fight when Randy suddenly goes ape-shit (or as Jughead would say, “Feral”) and starts pummelling Archie. During the break, Keller tells Archie to “stay off the ropes” and to knock Randy out in the next round. (One thing I appreciate about this show is that they’re always giving sports advice so simple even I can understand it. I question whether this advice is necessary since presumably Archie knows it would be better to stay off the ropes and to knock out his opponent, but I do understand it.) Anyway, they try to get Randy disqualified, but the ref apparently doesn’t have a SAG card so he doesn’t answer, and it’s Elio who tells Archie he’ll have to take a loss. So they’re back in the fight. More fighting. A shot of Fred rubbing his face. Many shots of Archie’s back muscles. Blah, blah, blah. Finally Archie knocks out Randy and leaves him all bloody in the ring. But, uh-oh! The dude won’t wake up.

Kurtz is at the sheriff’s office. Jughead asks him why Baby Teeth. Kurtz, true to form, laughs and says he was the warmup to the ultimate quest. The game is for Jughead and his family to “save the Little Princess.” It doesn’t have quite the ring of “Save the cheerleader, save the world,” but the men do eventually realize that he means Jellybean. Kurtz laughs hysterically.

True enough, Jellybean is following Ricky through the woods. He says that “he” wanted to meet Jellybean. The Gargoyle King suddenly looms above her. Ooooooh, scaaaary!

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