Riverdale: A Blossom Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

If Hiram’s evil plan to build a prison in Riverdale happens, maybe the economic boost to the town will let the Sisters of Quiet Mercy finally get out of the 1950s time warp that they appear to be stuck in. Their “treatment” for wayward teens like Cheryl only seems to comprise of sitting the kids down to watch cheesy PSAs about the dangers of homosexuality. These PSAs star Kevin and Moose as two all-American boys who decided to skip chocolate phosphates with the girls in favor of skinny dipping and staring at each other longingly. Either Kevin and Moose starred in cheesy PSAs for some extra money, or we’ve got a Portrait of Dorian Gray situation going on in Riverdale.

Now that’s an Archie’s Weird Mystery that I want solved.


Back at school, the student body president elections are on. For a refresher, here are the candidates and their parties:

  • Veronica and Archie, Orange is the New Black Party
  • Jughead and Betty, The Self-Righteous Party
  • Reggie and Josie, The I’m Just Here to Party Party

At a town hall debate, the candidates try to put their best foot forward with the voters. Jughead and Betty promise the Southside kids that they’ll fight for them to be treated equally. Midge asks Veronica and Archie how they’ll be able to work together when their parents are facing off in the mayoral election. Veronica claims she and Archie don’t discuss their parent’s politics and will remain focused on the school. Then Archie ruins all of this goodwill by running his mouth off about how he and Veronica support the prison plan. He gets booed. Reggie pipes up to say that everyone should vote for him and Josie because they’re “chill, unlike these guys.” Can’t argue with that!

After the debate, Betty makes Jughead run back to the Serpent trailer park with her, because she’s still not speaking to Alice after moving out last episode. Alice takes her fury out on Mr. Jughead, angry that he let Betty move in with the Joneses. Mr. Jughead isn’t happy about Betty living with them either, since he has to share the pull-out couch with Jughead so Betty can have the bedroom. Alice is surprised by this; I guess she assumed Mr. Jughead was like that mom in Mean Girls who offers margaritas and condoms. Mr. Jughead continues to surprise her with his surprisingly insightful advice. He reminds Alice how Jughead chose to be homeless instead of living with his dad, and urges Alice to make up with Betty before it’s too late. However, Alice can’t help but disagree with Betty’s choices. Betty wants to get a Serpent tattoo, in hopes that the Serpents will finally accept her, and she and Jughead can win their votes in the election.

Despite Archie and Veronica’s claim that politics won’t make things awkward between their families, the Andrews and the Lodges have a passive-aggressive standoff in the school hallway. Hiram tells Fred that everyone is surprised that he’s running against Hermione, and Fred shoots back that’s he’s a natural candidate because he’s a lifelong Riverdale resident and he’s never been to prison. Hiram’s reaction to this dig is priceless. Observe:

Molly Ringwald demands the Lodges send over the paperwork to formally terminate Fred’s partnership, and Hermione shoots back that they’re still waiting for Fred to sign an NDA. Archie cuts in, saying that he and Veronica want this to be a fair fight, so can’t the parents sign whatever paperwork and be nice in public?

The parents should take a lesson from Hiram’s mafia buddies, who manage to be menacing even as they politely ask for a private moment in Hiram’s study. Hiram tells Archie that it’s just a friendly visit, but later admits that the mafia buddies are concerned that the mayoral campaign could draw unwanted attention to their shady dealings. Hiram is hosting a dinner to smooth things over, and Archie offers to be there. Hiram concedes that Archie made himself useful at the poker game, so he agrees to let Archie tag along.

The dinner does not go well. The mafia buddies want a cut of the prison’s profits and Hiram refuses, because he’d be operating at a loss. The mafia men smugly inform Hiram that all of his crew are working for them now, and all he has in his corner are a couple of low-level capos and a “zit-faced high school kid.” Archie takes offense.

Archie tells the mafia guys that he’s beat up Nick St. Clair, Mr. Poutine Guy, and a bunch of other people for Hiram, so don’t think they’re going to take this laying down. The mafia men laugh at Archie’s bravado, and afterwards, Hiram tells Archie that it’s not best to issue threats against powerful mafia guys that he can’t back up.

Meanwhile, the car that Betty and Jughead dumped in Sweetwater River has been found and the police are investigating. Alice, Mr. Jughead, Jughead, and Betty are panicking, but I don’t know why. Sheriff Keller has yet to solve a crime without Betty and Jughead, so all they have to do is act normal.

However, Betty and Jughead realize that their version of acting normal is investigating stuff. So they pretend to be writing an article about the car as they pump Kevin for information related to the case. Kevin tells them that the owner has claimed the vehicle, who turns out to be Darla, the drug dealer’s girlfriend. Chick explains that his dealer regularly “borrowed” his girlfriend’s car, so if she has it back, then hopefully the case is closed. The information is valuable, but Alice and Mr. Jughead don’t see it that way. They’re concerned that Betty and Jughead are drawing attention to themselves, so Alice insists on Betty moving back in. Betty is unhappy so Chick offers to move out.

Chick also tries to make himself useful by pumping Darla for information offscreen, but evidently Chick is not as smooth as Jughead and Betty are. Darla shows up at Casa Cooper, demanding the $10,000 that the the drug dealer boyfriend owed her or else she’ll go to the police. Betty tries to deny it, but Alice agrees to pay the bribe.

Unfortunately, since it’s late at night, they’ll have to wait until the morning to get to the bank.

In the morning, Betty picks up the $10,000 for Darla, but Alice calls to report that Darla has invited Chick’s motel manager/ex-pimp over as well. She tells Betty not to come home, but Betty does so anyway, with the cash. Darla and the motel manager decide they want Casa Cooper as well, and threaten to go to the sheriff if the Coopers don’t comply. The motel manager also brandishes a box cutter and threatens to cut up any people—and boxes—who get in this way. Then Jughead and the Serpents kick the door in and face off against the would-be extortionists. Betty and Jughead smugly explain that the Serpents will kick their asses if they don’t go and even if Darla and the motel manager did go to the police, the Coopers’ friendship with Sheriff Keller will likely ensure they won’t face any real consequences.

Gee, maybe the Coopers should have remembered that before panicking about Darla snitching on them.

Darla and the motel manager take the money and run. Alice thanks Betty, Jughead, and the Serpents for their help. She promises to stop attacking the Serpents and embrace her South Side heritage. She also tells Chick that he’s put them in danger twice now, so she wants him to move out. Chick sadly agrees to do so. It’s not clear if their mother-son relationship will continue. Also, at the end of the episode, Alice is seen visiting Mr. Jughead. Now that Alice is embracing her Serpent side, will she be embracing this Serpent?

Meanwhile, the father-son relationship between Archie and Fred continues to be strained. Molly Ringwald, Teen Queen and Campaign Manager Extraordinaire, asks Archie if he’ll be at Fred’s campaign announcement. Archie promises he will, but as he escorts Veronica home, he admits that things are weird at home and he doesn’t know how to fix them. When they enter the Pembrooke, they find a masked man “beating up” Andre in the lobby. I say “beating up” in quotes because when the camera pans over to Andre, his face is completely unbloodied and unharmed despite the blood on the floor.

Against Veronica’s protests, Archie chases after the masked man and tackles him. He’s revealed to be Adams, and before running off, he tells Archie that Hiram should take the deal. Hiram and Hermione are concerned that they’re defenseless. Adams has turned on them and Andre is in the hospital (even though he looks perfectly healthy). However, Archie comes up with a plan to save them.

He promises Reggie that he’ll get the Bulldog votes that Archie won earlier in an arm wrestling match, if he and the Bulldogs will make a show of force against the mafia guys. Hiram invites the mafia guys to dinner at a restaurant, but doesn’t show. The waiter tells the guys there’s a “message” waiting for them outside. The guys come out to find that their car has been blown up. Then Archie and the Bulldogs, dressed in black hoods, reveal themselves. Archie says they’re “the Dark Circle”, and tells the mafia guys that Riverdale is protected.

This scares the mafia guys off, but later, Hiram tells Archie this is only a short-term solution. However, as a reward, Hiram gives him a new car. But during all of this, Archie missed Fred’s announcement. Molly Ringwald, Teen Queen and Parent Extraordinaire, confronts Archie about his absence and asks who he’s becoming. Archie looks uncomfortable. Good. Hopefully, Archie will start realizing some of the dumb choices he’s been making.

Meanwhile, Toni still doesn’t believe Penelope Blossom’s lie about Cheryl being sent to boarding school, and recruits Veronica and Josie to join her in interrogating Penelope. Penelope does admit that Cheryl isn’t at school, but is getting treatment for her “deviant behavior.” Penelope shows the girls the creepy sketches Cheryl made of Josie. Josie is stunned.

Josie backs out of the investigation because Cheryl’s stalker-y behavior freaks her out, and Toni and Veronica decide the case has come to a dead end. However, Nana Blossom crawls to the phone and calls Toni to tell her where Cheryl really is. Unfortunately, the line cuts out before Nana Blossom can give the full name of the place.

It turns out Claudius cut the line. But Nana Blossom’s “sisters” clue is enough for Toni and Veronica to resume the case. Kevin explains that the Sisters perform gay conversion therapy, and he’s hooked up with a few guys who sneak out of the asylum via an underground tunnel. At night, Toni and Veronica dress in cleavage-baring jumpsuits and go rescue Cheryl. Toni busts into movie night and rescues Cheryl from having to endure another cheesy movie. They kiss in front of the other wayward teens, who are unperturbed by an outsider barging in. The Riverdale teens flee the asylum and Cheryl is free.

Cheryl returns to Riverdale with Toni as her girlfriend, and announces her intention to get the lead in the school musical, Carrie. She vows to burn the school down if she doesn’t get the part, but perhaps Cheryl should be more focused on finding a place to live and avoiding her murderous relatives.

The Real Archie’s Weird Mysteries I Want Solved:

  • How much power do these student body presidents have? Jughead tells the Serpents that the president will have a seat on the school board, but don’t most class officer duties just involve planning the prom?
  • Seriously, where is Cheryl going to live? Technically, she’s a minor, so Penelope could call the cops to bring her home, right?
  • Why were the nuns super chill about Toni and Veronica strolling in and running out with Cheryl? The girls were sprinting towards the exits and the nuns were walking as if they were on a midday stroll. Aren’t they worried about their “off the books” gay conversion therapy program becoming public?
  • Why is this school performing Carrie? The Broadway version was a total flop, and it’s not well known. Couldn’t they get the rights to Bye Bye Birdie?
  • So if Betty gets that Serpent tattoo, will she be one of them? No dumb hazing rituals like taking care of a dog or reciting the Code? Honestly, Betty did an embarrassing striptease for these people. She should already be a member.
  • Cole Sprouse has promised that he will not sing in the musical episode. But he didn’t say that he wouldn’t rap…

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

TV Show: Riverdale

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