Riverdale: South Side Story

We’re finally back to our favorite small town where big, implausible things happen! Welcome back to Riverdale, everyone! The post-Christmas revelry has worn off and now we’re ready to get back to the dark, twisty, angst-y stuff.


And who better to start us off with the dark and twisty stuff than the Blossom family? Turns out Mrs. Blossom wasn’t kissing Santa Claus just to bring herself some holiday cheer. She was getting paid to kiss him—and then some more, if you know what I mean. Mrs. Blossom’s new job is providing “companionship” to the lonely men of Riverdale. Cheryl is horrified to be living in a “bordello”, but I think she should be horrified that Mrs. Blossom has only just earned enough money to pay off the Christmas tree Cheryl impulsively bought. A fresh Christmas tree is at most a hundred bucks. Either Mrs. Blossom is not good at her new job, or she needs to charge more. Know your worth, Mrs. Blossom!

Cheryl’s nightmare continues when Principal Weatherbee announces that Southside High is closing and those students will be immediately absorbed into Riverdale. How can a whole school close with little to no warning, you may ask? When the Lodge family wants the land underneath it. Hiram and Hermione tell Mayor McCoy that once Southside High empties out, the Lodges will buy the land for cheap and use the profits to fund Mayor McCoy’s re-election campaign. Veronica, who knows about this deal, will try to make Riverdale and Southside students happy about this change so nobody interferes.

However, the Feds have finally caught up to Lodges’ shady real estate practices. Special Agent Adams approaches Archie while he’s on his way to school to recruit him to narc on the Lodges. Turns out Special Agent Adams was the one snapping the creepy pics of Archie smooching Veronica on Christmas. Archie is uneasy about this, and suggests that Adams talk to Fred first to get permission. Adams claims that Fred is untrustworthy because of his business dealings with the Lodges, and the FBI totally works with minors all the time. Hasn’t Archie seen Agent Cody Banks?

It’s much more realistic than you think.

Adams brushes past Archie’s reluctance and assigns him his first mission: find out what really happened to Nick St. Clair, who was mysteriously injured in a car accident after his parents refused to invest with the Lodges.

The Southside kids finally arrive at Riverdale High. Veronica takes it upon herself to be a one-woman welcoming committee, and Jughead awkwardly introduces his Serpent buddies to his old friends. One of them, Fogarty AKA Fangs (I’d go by “Fangs” if my name was Fogarty too), immediately introduces himself to Kevin and claims he was very close with Joaquin, Kevin’s Serpent ex.

Cheryl, Reggie, and a bunch of Vixens are not as friendly, and vow to get the Serpents off their turf. Archie calls a meeting with Cheryl and she threatens to tell Veronica about his kiss with Betty. Archie shrugs off the threat, because he and Veronica were on a break, Betty was single, and he’s back with Veronica, so who cares? “Do you really think you’re going to outmaneuver me?” Cheryl scoffs. “I want to talk about Nick St. Clair,” says Archie.

He tells her that Nick got into a car accident. “Forgive me if I don’t shed any tears for that animal,” spits Cheryl. She’s surprised Archie actually cares about Nick’s well-being, considering that Nick tried to assault Veronica too. This is news to Archie, who was never in the loop during that episode. He vows to murder Nick. And he can do it, now that he’s got the FBI to help him cover up the evidence.

Meanwhile, Cheryl and Reggie’s crusade against the Serpents continues. Principal Weatherbee is outraged when he finds Serpent graffiti in the school, so he bans visible tattoos and gang paraphernalia. The Serpents act like Weatherbee is a fascist, but really, aren’t those rules in almost every public school’s handbooks? My high school’s dress code included a ban on swear words on clothing and “unnatural” hair colors. I think the Serpents are just in shock to be in a decently maintained school where kids don’t snort Pixie Styx in the hallways and rules are actually enforced.

Back at Casa Cooper, Betty comes home to find Polly packing up some stuff to take back to the farm. Polly finally had her babies (and got her pre-baby body back rather quickly), but she didn’t tell any of her family, explaining that the leaders of the farm think it’s best that Polly sever all previous ties. Also, she named the twins Juniper and Dagwood. Betty’s reaction sums this up:

Despite Betty’s pleas to come home, Polly leaves once more. Betty tries to tell Alice of Polly’s decision, but chickens out when Alice gets excited talking about nursery plans. Betty decides to track down her long-lost older brother, so Alice will forget about Polly and her grandchildren.

Children. They’re interchangeable, right?

Jughead’s social worker tracks down this brother, and we learn his name is Charlie Smith and he lives two towns over. Betty takes this info to Alice and Hal, but Hal gets upset and refuses to discuss the matter any further. However, in the middle of the night, Alice sits by Betty’s bedside like a creeper until Betty wakes up. Alice admits that she wants to see her son. Road trip!

Whatever mother-son reunion Alice was hoping for, Charles Smith certainly doesn’t deliver. Charles, known as “Chic”, is a creepy dude who lives in a seedy motel that’s literally called “The Last Resort.” He recognizes Alice and Betty, revealing that he got their address from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. He’s resentful that Alice didn’t keep him and sends them away, saying he works in “fantasy fulfillment” and has a client on the way. Alice breaks down in the car as Betty tries to comfort her.

After the initial shock of having rules wears off, the Serpents agree to follow Weatherbee’s new policy if it means they get to be at a school with decent funding, with the exception of Jughead. He describes the new policy as akin to “profiling” and stubbornly wears his jacket to school. Reggie orders Jughead to take it off, which Jughead refuses to do and the two get into a fight, prompting the other Serpents and jocks to get involved. Jughead is suspended and he heads to the Serpent bar to kill time during his sentence. Mr. Jughead is not impressed with Jughead’s commitment to wearing Serpent “skin” 24/7, and reminds him that Serpents “hibernate in the winter.” He tells Jughead to lay low and go to school.

Jughead agrees, but when he goes back to school, he finds that the Serpents are wearing dorky khakis and polos. The clothing was apparently donated by Veronica in an attempt to help the Serpents fit in, but I can’t believe she would allow such fashion “don’ts” in good conscience. What’s worse, the Serpents are required to wear these outfits under the penalty of suspension. Jughead is outraged and decides to keep the Serpent gang going right under Weatherbee’s nose. He starts a Dungeons & Dragons-esque gaming club, called the Serpents and the Swords that will be their cover for gang activity. Yeah, any time they get into a gang fight, they can just claim it was some really intense LARP-ing.

Riverdale’s administration needs to pay better attention to their kids. Jughead’s starting a gang in school and there’s no one to stop Archie from doing dumb stuff. Archie tells Special Agent Adams that Nick tried to sexually assault Veronica, which gives motive for the Lodges to set up the accident. Archie wants to interrogate Nick about what happened, but needs a good excuse to do so, since Archie isn’t supposed to know about Veronica’s attempted assault. Archie goes to Cheryl and offers to get another check from Nick for her troubles. He also asks to borrow one of Jason’s blazers, because I guess Archie thinks visiting a boarding school means he needs to be in business formal.

Archie finds Nick in his dorm room and demands more money for Cheryl, which Nick hands over instantly.

Archie tries to subtly ask about Nick’s accident, but Nick can easily see that Archie isn’t just White Knight-ing for Cheryl. He calls Archie a dumb hick and laughs that Veronica will eventually betray him. Archie gets mad and breaks Nick’s nose. Nick, of course, tattles to Veronica and she confronts Archie. Cheryl intervenes and claims Archie was just trying to get money for her. She presents the check to Mrs. Blossom, who accepts it but tells Cheryl she’s having fun “Pretty Woman”-ing. Cheryl is dismayed.

Veronica still doesn’t buy Archie would help Cheryl for no reason, so Archie claims Cheryl blackmailed him because she knows about his kiss with Betty. Veronica is shocked by this reveal, but Archie swears it won’t happen again and assures Veronica he loves her. Veronica believes him… for now.

Archie goes to Special Agent Adams and demands that both his father and Veronica be granted immunity for any crimes he might discover. Archie is especially worried about his dad, who sold 20% of his business to the Lodges in exchange for them paying off his medical bills. He also tells Adams that he worries they didn’t catch the real Black Hood.

I sure hope not, because that reveal was a cop out. Perhaps Chic is another viable suspect. Betty brings him back to Casa Cooper after she rescues him from getting stabbed by his motel manager. Alice tucks Chic into bed, but he gets up in the night to creepily watch Betty sleep.

I guess it runs in the family.

The Real Archie’s Weird Mysteries I Want Solved:

  • Why did Archie wear a blazer to meet Nick? Even Nick was like, “What’s with the blazer?” Seriously, why?
  • Is sex work a booming industry in Riverdale now? With the Lodges buying up everything, is this what people are doing for work now?
  • Why did the Serpent kids have to wear the dorky uniforms when their regular clothes (sans Serpent jackets) were just fine?
  • Did Veronica really approve those polos and khakis? I know she likes a collared shirt, but I highly doubt she’s cool with the Jehovah’s Witness look.

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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