Previously on Riverdale: Archie came to the hospital to kill Hiram but didn’t; Veronica found out her dad had swindled her out of ownership of her properties; Veronica and Archie teamed up to take down Hiram; the Farm offered Alice, Toni, and Cheryl help when they were emotionally vulnerable; Edgar got engaged to Alice even though he was totally already married to his fake daughter Evelyn and was also probably banging Cheryl; Betty helped Evelyn to escape from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy; Jughead had some Theories about the G&G game; Ricky tricked Jellybean into playing G&G with him; the Black Hood escaped and almost killed Betty.
We open on the aftermath of the prom, with a bunch of runes scribbled on the lockers, dead bodies on the floor, and Jughead taking photos while the police investigate. Then he and FP ask Curdle Junior how Hal faked his death, and Curdle says that the erratic incision of the “telltale hand” indicates that the amputation was “self-inflicted.” Gee, it would have been nice if he had realized this before the Black Hood started rampaging around school! Jughead translates for anyone in the audience who doesn’t understand: Hal cut off his own hand to fake his own death. Thanks, Juggie. Curdle remarks that this wouldn’t have been easy, since there are eight bones in the human wrist. FP lifts his eyebrows expressively. Oh, FP.
Veronica listens at the door to her parents having a fight over Hiram’s newest evil plan. He’s going to “privatize,” aka buy, Riverdale. And he already had his lackey the governor sign off on this plan. So he’s going to literally take the mayorship from Hermione, too. Hermione looks very upset, but I wouldn’t worry if I were her — Hiram comes up with a new evil plan like every two weeks, so he’ll forget about this soon enough!
Veronica takes her tale of woe to Archie and Mary, who’s apparently her unofficial lawyer in the quest to, you know, Get Hiram Back. She complains that her dad tricked her out of her properties and is going to buy Riverdale. Instead of being shocked, Archie, hilariously, just duhs, “Yeah, Ronnie. Your dad sucks.” Like this is so obvious he doesn’t even care that Hiram wants to buy his town. Mary, for some reason, objects to this — maybe she thinks widdle Archiekins shouldn’t be using such harsh language as “sucks.” But then Veronica comes up with an idea: she’s going to get Hiram in trouble for all the “shady stuff” that happens at La Bonne Nuit. She leaves it up to Mary’s imagination who is actually doing the shady stuff. Heh.
Betty, who agreed at the end of the last episode to stay at the Farm for protection from her marauding serial killer dad, has gone Full Farm: she’s wearing a T-shirt and wandering the halls unwatched when she sees Evelyn full-on getting dialysis on what looks like a child’s nursery.
Mary has trotted out yet ANOTHER friend from “Sarah Florence,” this one now an FBI agent. What’s up with all of Mary’s college friends showing up for one episode at a time? Is season 4 going to revolve around some kind of evil secret cabal of Female Professionals? (I honestly wouldn’t even be surprised.)
The FBI friend is very excited about getting Hiram. She says the charges have to be “gangbusters.” Veronica’s first suggestion is serving alcohol to minors. I love that she thinks that’s such a big deal. Then she names a few others, like “doctoring books.” “Aren’t those crimes you committed?” says Agent Sarah Florence. Hee! Sharp as a tack! Mary brings out a line perhaps better suited to a PR agent than a lawyer: “My client can neither confirm nor deny that statement.” Anyway, Agent Sarah Florence tells Veronica they need to see Hiram committing all these salacious crimes in real-time. Archie and Veronica spring up like puppets, ready to engineer another needlessly elaborate scheme.
Edgar gathers all the Cooper women in a candle-filled chamber because Alice and Polly have a secret to reveal to Betty: she has the Serial Killer Gene. No one else has it, even Hal. Alice doesn’t explain how one of her children ended up with a gene not shared by her or their purported father. Of course, that is far from the most un-scientific thing about this scene. Anyway, they want Edgar to help Betty “heal” herself from her serial killer tendencies.
Edgar gets a sullen-looking Betty alone in his office, sets his office toy balls a-clicking, lights a candle, and whispers in his sultriest voice, “Tell me your fears.” Betty, staring at the balls, tells him that there’s someone else inside her that she can’t get rid of. “The first step is confrontation,” Edgar hisses.
Cut to Betty alone in the Dark Room of Her Psyche. Dark Betty emerges into the spotlight. “I’m all the dark deeds you did in our youth,” she says. Apparently they drowned a cat or two and pushed Polly down the stairs. Yikes!! Nice Betty freaks out and ends up back in the office, where Edgar continues to push her. She says she has a headache, so he tells her that her body has “located” her trauma. Then he crosses the desk to sit next to her and hold her hand and tell her this is just the beginning of her healing. You might be thinking, “Lucky Betty, getting to hold Chad Michael Murray’s hand,” and… you’d kind of be right. Mostly, though it’s INCREDIBLY EFFING CREEPY.
Betty and Jughead confer by phone. Jughead can only muster up the barest concern when Betty describes undergoing a healing ritual complete with hypnotizing clicking balls. He offers to come get her, but Betty stares at a candle and dreamily says she has a plan. Then she remembers to tell Jughead about the letter she got at prom, from the jester. “Follow… the… envelope,” Jughead notes to himself. I’m glad he wrote that down, that could’ve been hard to remember. She wishes him luck, calling him “My brave hellcaster.” Aww. I know I’m a sucker, but that’s cute. That said, I feel like Jughead should be much more concerned that his girlfriend is locked on a farm with a cult whose leader has been hypnotizing her.
Over at Riverdale High School, Jughead is already on step 4 of his quest to follow the letter. He bribes someone named Louie to tell him that he got the letter from a kid who “looked homeless.” Jughead narrows it down thusly: “Was he about thirteen? Brown hair, brown eyes?” Louie nods, and Jughead leaves, satisfied that the only possible person this brown-haired, brown-eyed person could be is Ricky.
Betty sits down with her friends in the Farm cafeteria. Fangs has just come out of actual surgery, which is part of Edgar’s healing process: they get a “purge” to take out their pain. Cheryl explains calmly that Edgar’s process is to transform spiritual pain into physical pain, and then… remove it. Everyone is very excited to have their purges. Not buying it, Betty totally reaches over and lifts Kevin’s shirt without his permission and finds a gigantic scar there. Um, RUDE! Kevin is upset, which I think we’re supposed to think is just his cult mentality, but I mean, don’t lift people’s shirts without asking first, Betty!
Veronica finds Archie at his house that evening to tell him her plan to get Hiram. Of course, we don’t get to hear what the plan is, but since this is Riverdale, we can be pretty sure that it’s a) bonkers, b) impractical, and c) will involve Archie taking off his shirt. All we do know is that Archie’s part is first.
Cut to Hiram manspreading in the sauna with a few other dudes. Before anything can pop out that the CW isn’t allowed to air, Archie bursts in to confront him. He woodenly recites lines about how he can’t let Hiram buy Riverdale and thus, must kick Hiram’s ass. The men laugh, but Archie uses some extremely sophisticated negging tactics (and by sophisticated, I mean extremely transparent) to prod Hiram into accepting his challenge. If Archie wins, Hiram has to give up his plan. And if Hiram wins, Archie lets him have Riverdale. This would all make a lot more sense if Archie actually owned Riverdale, which he doesn’t, and had the power to gamble it all away on a boxing match, which he doesn’t. The men shake hands, which gives Hiram a chance to show that his chest alone is like twice the circumference of Archie’s. Uh-oh.
Veronica storms into his office later to pretend to be very upset about this match. She casually drops that the odds-makers all think Hiram’s going to lose. Hiram realizes that she could make some money off this, and Veronica slyly mentions her debt to him. Hiram gets very excited and says he’ll send all his illegal betting friends to make bets through La Bonne Nuit.
In case you were wondering, bell-bottoms are BACK in Riverdale. Betty, wearing gently bell-bottomed overalls with a sweater under them (because Betty), meets up with Polly who’s wearing a shearling vest and AGGRESSIVELY bell-bottomed jeans. Polly passive-aggressively asks if Betty talked to her darker half about pushing Polly down the stairs as a child. “Because I forgave you for that years ago,” she adds. Her tone is weirdly flat here — but Polly is just a weird character, I guess? She never really does anything, and the actress almost seems to be purposely making her unremarkable so as not to steal the spotlight.
Jughead and Jellybean share a bowl of cereal, which is possibly the cutest thing that’s ever happened on this show. Unfortunately, this is all interrupted after four seconds when Jellybean reveals to Jughead that Ricky’s in the forest getting ready to ascend, and Jughead makes her stop eating to draw him a map. Be patient, Jughead! The cereal’s going to get all soggy! And no one cares if Ricky dies!
Betty has reentered hypnosis to see her evil twin again, under Edgar’s creepy supervision. This time we actually see him place Betty in the chair. Oh, I totally thought the dark room was just a hallucination. But maybe it’s a real room? Or maybe this time, Edgar is playing a trick on Betty? But this time, Dark Betty morphs halfway through into Polly, who tells Betty that her truest self is “a killer, just like Dad.” Betty looks just doped up enough to be convinced by this.
Jughead, following Jellybean’s map, manages to find Ricky just in time to kick over his two chalices. He grabs Ricky by the shoulders and tells him they’re going to end the game together. Unsurprisingly, Ricky is not on board with this. He calls out to the trees, “Kill him! Protect the Princess!” And a crapload of kids emerge from the trees to kill Jughead. Jughead makes a run for it, but not before repeating the word “Princess” in case we didn’t realize that was important. He manages to escape to the bunker just in time, where he finds a tearful Ethel waiting for him and begging for help. Jesus, I forgot Ethel was even still alive!
After the break, we see that Jughead has wrapped Ethel in a blanket to listen to her tale of woe. Only, it turns out that the reason she’s upset is that the Gargoyle King is going to kill her for failing in her mission to, um, get Betty killed. Awkward. Jughead asks Ethel why she didn’t quit G&G after Betty saved her from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Ethel helpfully explains that yes, Betty saved her from the fake King, but now she’s with the real King.
Poor Jughead can’t handle the sheer illogic of this, so he just puts on his Dad Voice and informs Ethel, “You’re going to tell me, right now, who the Gargoyle King is.” Ethel says she can’t betray him, and Jughead gets even madder and says, “Even when you JUST SAID he’s trying to kill you?” Ethel cries and says he’s beautiful and she loves him. Jughead, perhaps touched by Ethel’s utter helplessness, melts and tells her it’s OK, but they have to end this game. He reaches out his hand, and Ethel, who maybe hasn’t quite gotten over her crush, grabs it. Aww.
Veronica brings Reggie to the diner and asks for his help taking down Hiram. Gee, should someone tell these boys they’re not her only partner in crime? Reggie makes use of his remarkable dimples while asking, “Haven’t we learned not to mix business with pleasure?” Veronica asks if he’s in “for old time’s sake.” Now that I know that Charles Melton and Camila Mendes are dating in real life, I feel vindicated that I’ve been rooting for Reggie this whole time! But I wonder how they both feel about the fact that Reggie is so clearly (and, in my opinion, unfairly) a cardboard obstacle in the way of the lumbering juggernaut that is Veronica-and-Archie.
Betty doesn’t give up easily, does she? She’s called Toni, Cheryl, Kevin, and Fangs into a room to announce dramatically that Edgar Evernever is hypnotizing everyone. The kids are like, “Yeah, so?” Heh. Then Betty argues that he’s inflicting pain on them in order to heal it with hypnosis. They ask if she has proof, to which Betty awkwardly sighs. Needless to say, no one is convinced to leave their cult by this scene.
Ethel and Jughead have gone back to confront the ragtag gang of Lost Boys, who don’t get a chance to stab Jughead with their sharp sticks because Ethel tells them that the quest is over. Ricky isn’t there–and neither is some young kid named Jack who went back to the bus to get his carving knife. Jughead and Ethel go in search of him. I so do not care about this.
Betty finds Evelyn getting a drip of some kind in a rocking chair by herself somewhere. Evelyn claims to have been an “ill child.” Since Betty is now a medical expert apparently, she takes one look at Evelyn’s banana bag and deduces that it’s full of “anti-rejection meds,” so Evelyn must have had a transplant. Then she remembers the scar on Kevin’s back and puts it all together: Edgar is using his disciples as a free organ farm! Betty runs out of the room with Evelyn yelling behind her, “You don’t know anything!”
Huh. Honestly, I didn’t even see that coming, even with Kevin’s scar. I think I am too beaten down trying to follow this show to even make logical connections anymore. My brain on Riverdale is like the first half of a Snickers commercial.
Betty waits outside some room or other and breaks into it when it’s empty. And what do you know, it’s a shitty-looking operating room! It also contains a refrigerator full of organs in jars and boxes called “The Farm Harvest Program.” DUN DUN DUN.
Jughead and Ethel find little Jack on the Creepy Bus Full Of G&G Paraphernalia,looking for his knife. Just then, the Black Hood and his hook hand show up, because of course he does, and he scrapes it along one of the cars in the junkyard, because of course he does. The not-very-exciting chase sequence proceeds like this: The Black Hood slowly makes his way to the bus. Then the Black Hood gets onto the bus. The kids break out the back of the bus after a great struggle during which the Black Hood is too slow to get to them. They barricade the back of the bus. The Black Hood spends some time banging on the barricaded back door of the bus while the kids just stand there and watch him. Then the Black Hood remembers that hey, there’s another exit to the bus, and lumbers towards the exit. Then the kids also remember that they haven’t finished trapping him on the bus, and somehow beat him to the front door of the bus and trap him in there. The point is, the kids get away.
OK, the Black Hood has turned into the least scary villain ever. He just walks around really slowly making a big noise with his hook and getting trapped in buses! How hard could it be to get away from him?
Archie tries to sneak out of the house without his mom seeing, but she finds him and asks if he’s really putting whatever plan he has in motion. He says it’s better if she doesn’t know. But she already does know that he’s fighting Hiram–and she says that after everything Hiram’s done, she wants to watch. WHAT?! Does this woman ever stick to a point for longer than five seconds?! I hope they’re paying Molly Ringwald handsomely for the indignity of having to play this impossibly infuriating character.
The audience gathers at the boxing ring; meanwhile, Reggie and Veronica are putting their part of the plan in motion, running a betting ring out of La Bonne Nuit. “How are we looking?” Veronica says. “Really, really illegal,” says Reggie. Hee!! Veronica thanks him for doing this.
Meanwhile, the match starts. Archie and Hiram go into the ring in their tacky red and blue silk robes (respectively). Archie looks fit, but Hiram looks grown and fit. Meanwhile, Veronica croons a mildly creepy song about “Daddy,” which includes the line, “Daddy made a soldier out of me.” Over in the ring, the guys fight. More fighting. More singing. More fighting. More singing.
Then Hiram does something that makes Archie yell out to the ref, although it doesn’t look particularly more brutal than anything else–he sort of grabs him around the waist and punches him more. So then Archie rips off his gloves (oh… is that where the saying comes from?) and so does Hiram. Reggie is staring at Veronica longingly, poor guy.
Finally, the place is overrun with officers. Someone yells, “It’s the Feds!” Veronica calmly tells the officer that she doesn’t own the place, her dad does, and he’s currently participating in an illegal boxing match over at El Royale.
The officer leaves, and Reggie comes up in a panic to tell Veronica that betters are all going for odds on Archie getting killed in the ring. Veronica is shocked, shocked!, that her brilliant plan to have Archie fight a giant grown man as an unnecessary distraction tactic is backfiring.
Over in the ring, Archie’s not dead but I will say he doesn’t look great. When the ref gets in between them, Hiram just throws the dude out of the way and keeps punching. He’s about to punch Archie right in the head when Veronica arrives and yells for him to stop. “I beat you,” Hiram says. “I’m the better man.” Archie corrects him and says that actually, Archie won. FP comes up and arrests Hiram for all the illegal stuff he’s been doing at his “establishments.”
Then Veronica kneels down to the bloody Archie and tells him, “We got ‘im.” Relieved, Archie bows his head into Veronica’s arms. It’s kind of touching, except that this whole thing was such a terrible plan that I refuse to be moved by it, on principle.
Veronica stands outside Hiram’s jail cell. He’s upset that she’s “working with the Feds.” She tells him that she was “very, very angry” that he lied to her, and that all of his assets are going to be put up for public auction, and that she won. Then she walks away, leaving Hiram to growl and flex his crazy shoulder muscles while he grips the bars of his cell. I’m just wondering why they processed him and left him in the jail cell and didn’t even give him a shirt. Maybe the CW has some kind of quota they need to meet for how many minutes they put shirtless dudes on this show each week?
Archie, his face swollen and bloodied but slightly cleaner than before, is hanging out in the kitchen with his mom when she asks about him and Veronica. Archie mumbles, “Sometimes it seems like we’re gonna get back together, but then…” Very passionate, Archie, thank you. Nothing daunted, his mother declares that they’re endgame and sends Archie out to talk to Veronica. So basically, this kid is too hapless to even decide on his own to get back together with Veronica. His mom has to do it for him!
Ethel and Jughead are in FP’s office. When FP leaves for a second, Jughead reassures Ethel that everything will be fine, gently touching her shoulder. Aww!! Speaking of endgame, I love Betty and Jughead and everything, but I would love to see Ethel and Jughead have a fling too. Ethel deserves some fun. Anyway, Ethel hugs Jughead and then tells him he deserves a reward for what he’s done. She finally tells him who the Gargoyle King is (in a whisper, so we can’t hear).
Jughead calls Betty immediately and tells her that Jason is the Gargoyle King. Betty casually takes his call while walking down the hall of the Farm with a human organ in a cooler. She tells him that there’s only way to find out if Jason could be the King. Jughead says resignedly, “I’m going to have to dig up Jason’s body, aren’t I?” Hee! Betty’s just like, “Call me afterwards,” and hangs up on him. Hee again!! I love them. They’re such little badasses.
Betty enters Cheryl’s room with her organ cooler and tells him that Edgar took Kevin and Fangs’s kidneys. Cheryl doesn’t take it seriously until Betty shows her what’s in the cooler. I don’t know what organ it is (what? I’m not a doctor!), but if it’s a kidney, there’s something very very wrong with it. As soon as Betty mentions the infirmary, Cheryl realizes that Toni was just taken into the infirmary for her “procedure” and runs to get her. Betty says she’ll get Kevin and Fangs.
Over in the infirmary, Toni’s happily getting ready for her organ harvesting when Cheryl busts in and tells Toni cryptically, “They’re charlatans!” Toni is understandably confused by this statement. But when Cheryl tells her that Betty was right, they both make a run for it.
Meanwhile, Betty tries to tell Kevin and Fangs about their kidneys, but they just call her a detractor and try to drag her off to talk to Edgar. Betty makes a pretty decent shot at an escape by kneeing them both in the crotch, but they catch her and yell for help, and soon enough she’s being dragged back into the room feet first.
For their part, Cheryl and Toni are running through a dark hallway trying to find an exit. For some reason Cheryl decides to send Toni out the window by herself because it’s her “only chance” at freedom, so Toni runs off while Cheryl is overtaken by several Farmies in white robes.
Archie shows up at Veronica’s door all ready to make the romantic speech his mom ordered him to make, only to find Veronica and Reggie cozily enjoying some champagne. “I came to tell her that I wanted to be with her, no matter what,” Reggie says as Veronica starts to tell him the story. And Veronica wanted to be with him too. Veronica urges him to stay and celebrate, but Archie beats a hasty exit. Veronica pokes her head out to watch him go. Reggie may not be the brightest but I’m guessing even he knows this is a bad sign for their rekindled relationship. Also not a good sign is that we didn’t even get to see their reconciliation.
It’s sort of sad how undramatic all this romantic drama is. I mean it’s not like Archie had this big revelation about Veronica and then marched over there to declare his love! He came because his mom thought they were endgame after a very tepid statement from him!
Betty wakes up in the OR, where for some reason Edgar is helping to prep the patient while clad in an apron covered in bloody handprints. Betty tells him seriously that Jughead and his dad are coming for him, although of course Jughead is busy digging up a grave right now and has no idea what Betty found, so … good bluff, Betty. Edgar, unperturbed, orders the nurse to prep Betty, so Betty screams while the nurse forces an anesthetic mask over her nose and mouth.
Over at the graveyard, Jughead has managed to dig through an entire six-foot grave in one night by the light of his motorcycle, and sure enough, when he opens the coffin, it’s empty.
All right. One more episode left of this season! I can’t say I’m going to be sad to see this exhausting season end. I also can’t say I’m in all that much suspense as to how it will all turn out. I just hope that someone brings poor Hiram a shirt.