Riverdale: Stripping it all away
You know what the best thing to do is when there’s a deranged serial killer running loose in your town? Bangin’. Like, lots of it.
According to Jughead, Archie and Veronica are engaging in “carnal defiance” and having lots of sex. He claims that through all the sexin’, they are saying, “You have no power over me, Death.”
He even knows all of the places they’ve done it: Archie’s room, Archie’s garage, in front of a roaring fire on a fur rug at Veronica’s apartment… I’m sure Veronica and Archie will be pleased to read about Jughead’s careful chronicling of their sex lives. Come on, Jughead. Did Truman Capote write about how much sex the Holcomb community had after the Clutter murders? No, so stick to the facts, you perv.
In the afterglow of “making it”, Archie says “I love you” to Veronica. She does not say it back. Embarrassed, Archie makes an excuse to run home. It’s hard to maintain carnal defiance when your heart is broken.
Athough “Varchie” is on the rocks, “Bughead” is stronger than ever, bonded by their mutual love of sticking their noses in police investigations. Jughead did some digging into that creepy truck driver’s story and found that yes, Vriginia, there was a Riverdale Reaper. He murdered the Conways, a family of four, in the 1960s and he was never caught and no motive was ever found. Is the Riverdale Reaper back under a different name? Jughead is doubtful, since this means the Black Hood would be in his sixties and murdering is a young person’s game, ya know?
Jughead shows Betty a picture of the Conway house and Betty realizes that’s where the Black Hood led her in his twisted little game. Jughead wants to go to the police, but Betty is still embarrassed about accusing Sheriff Keller of being the Black Hood. Jughead suggests investigating the house themselves, but Betty is afraid to go again. “He made me look in the mirror,” she whispers. Oh, how traumatic. You know who else had traumatic experiences? Midge and Moose, who got shot at in the face, but we never hear anything from them.
Instead of telling Betty to “toughen up, buttercup,” Jughead and Betty decide to pass this lead to Archie and Veronica, claiming that they’re busy picking up Mr. Jughead from prison. Turns out that Penny did make good on her promise on getting Mr. Jughead out of jail, although Jughead is trying to make sure no one knows about the “favor” he did for her.
Meanwhile, Cheryl is still trying to put the moves on Josie. In the girl’s locker room, Cheryl offers Josie a massage with the lavender-scented oil she oh so just happens to keep in her locker. Josie is a little uncomfortable with this.
Side note: you can’t see this in the screencap, but I love that Cheryl’s towel is red while Josie’s is white. Always committed to that aesthetic.
Mr. Svenson the janitor interrupts, and Cheryl yells for him to take his “male gaze and male privilege” out of here. Cheryl tells Josie they should report Mr. Svenson for being a peeping tom, but let’s be real, Cheryl, someone could file a sexual harassment claim against you.
At home, Hermione and Hiram inform Veronica that they got a letter from the Black Hood denouncing them as sinners. “Which was to be expected, so whatevs,” they shrug. Even though other local families have received the same letter, they don’t want Veronica to go out alone. Hermione advises that Veronica keep Archie around because he’s “brawny and devoted to you.” At the mention of Archie’s devotion, Veronica gets uncomfortable.
Archie tries one more time to drop the L-bomb, but Veronica sidesteps it, suggesting they should check out the murder house lead.
Separately, they each get advice from their parents on what to do (oh, so the kids can get advice from the parents for basic teenage shit, but won’t go to the police for help with a major murder investigation?), and separately, the parents tell the kids that maybe they’re just not ready to say “I love you” yet. Especially Veronica, who apparently, has never, ever heard her parents say “I love you” to each other.
Jughead announces at the Serpent Bar that Mr. Jughead is coming back and he’ll negotiate a deal with Mayor McCoy to “bring the South Side back again.” Tall Boy is not happy with this plan, but Toni and the rest of the Serpents support Jughead.
Alice takes Betty and Jughead to pick up Mr. Jughead from prison and treat him to lunch at Pop’s. For some random reason, Alice also asks Mr. Jughead if it’s true that men who have just been released from prison are sexually frustrated. Betty, naturally, is mortified, while Mr. Jughead is confused and slightly aroused. Is Alice making a move here?
Anyway, Mr. Jughead tells them that he’s going straight, no more gang stuff. He becomes a waiter at Pop’s, much to Jughead’s dismay. His dad used to be “a king among men”, and now he has to wait tables? Plus, when Cheryl feels threatened that Josie is drifting away from her (Josie tells Cheryl that Reggie wants to escort Josie to his dad’s car dealership opening), she deliberately spills her milkshake. “Clean that up, like you did my brother’s blood,” Cheryl snaps to Mr. Jughead.
To cheer Jughead up, Betty suggests that they throw a retirement party for Mr. Jughead. She gets Toni’s help with the planning, and admits that she wants to show Jughead that she’s cool with the Serpent stuff. Some drunk barfly suggests that Betty do a “Serpent dance”, which Toni tries to talk her out of since a “Serpent dance” is basically a striptease. However, Betty is determined to do it.
Archie and Veronica investigate the murder house and ask Sheriff Keller where the files are. Sheriff Keller says the files are missing because the lead detective took the files home and then never gave them back before he died, so no one knows where they are. Hmm, I wonder why so many cases in Riverdale go unsolved.
They go to the murder house themselves, and Archie reads aloud from the newspaper article describing the murders as they move from room to room.
Archie and Veronica find the missing files in the house (apparently, the detective kept them there), and they learn there was a third Conway kid! The files reveal that the third kid was never revealed to the public, and he was quickly given a new name and adopted by another local family. And that kid grew up and became… Mr. Svenson the Janitor!
Archie and Veronica report their findings to Jughead and Betty, and go confront Mr. Svenson. He admits that he is the Conway kid, and explains that on the night of the murders, he hid from the Riverdale Reaper but got a good look at him. He told some adults, they tracked down the killer at a motel and delivered some vigilante justice, thus starting Riverdale’s history of local townspeople doing a better job of catching criminals than the police force.
Veronica aggressively questions Mr. Svenson, asking if he also committed the Black Hood murders, and then Archie remembers he looked into the Black Hood’s eyes, and Mr. Svenson isn’t him.
Meanwhile, Jughead is happy to have his dad home, although Mr. Jughead is disappointed at the person Jughead has become. Jughead no longer wants to go away to college; he wants to stay and help run the Serpents. Mr. Jughead also senses that Penny was responsible for his release, which Jughead denies. He’s still trying to wrangle himself out of her grasp, but Penny is refusing to let go. As commentator UpToFourPlayers pointed out, Jughead could easily counter Penny’s blackmail threats by telling the police who’s running the drug racket. But Penny has two trump cards: one, that Mr. Jughead will be heartbroken if he knows what Jughead did and two, that she can hurt Betty. “All snakes have a soft underbelly,” Penny warns.
Speaking of snakes, it’s time for the Serpent retirement party! Even Alice is invited, and surprisingly, she commits to the Serpent theme, arriving in a leather miniskirt and sheer top that shows her bra. Meanwhile, Betty just shows up with her hair down and calls it a day.
Alice is amazing in this scene. She downs two tequila shots, jokes with the bartender, complains how she wasn’t able to get Betty to dress “appropriately”, and then offers to get the kids Shirley Temples.
At the party, Archie tells Veronica that it’s okay if she doesn’t say “I love you” back yet, but it turns out he’s lying. When he tells Veronica that he signed them up for a duet of “that song from Donnie Darko“, he bitterly asks, “Or can you not do that either?”
Midway through the song, Veronica bursts into tears and runs offstage, with Archie following. The Serpents boo and I don’t blame them. First of all, “Mad World” is a bummer of a song for a retirement party, and then Archie and Veronica make the party all about them with their dumb teenage problems. Betty takes over the mic (is there anyone on this show who can’t sing?) and instead of changing to a more upbeat song, Betty continues it and STARTS. TO. STRIP.
She takes off all her clothes, revealing black lingerie, and does a slow, awkward pole dance. I was screaming at my television during this whole scene, “WHERE IS ALICE?! ALICE, PUT A STOP TO THIS!” but I guess Alice was doing more tequila shots or something because she didn’t notice her sixteen year old daughter showing her underwear to a room full of strangers at her boyfriend’s father’s retirement party until it was too late.
The song ends and no one knows what to do. On the one hand, it was a hot blonde taking off her clothes, but on the other hand, that pole dance was basic and mediocrity should not be rewarded. Mr. Jughead comes in, makes everyone politely applaud Betty, throws his jacket on her, and quickly pushes her offstage.
Mr. Jughead thanks everyone for coming to the party and announces that he’s not going to retire after all. Offstage, he tells Jughead that he knows what Jughead did for Penny, and he’s going to take over Jughead’s debt so Jughead can stay out of it. Jughead feels guilty that he ruined his dad’s chance to go straight, so he also breaks up with Betty, telling her that he doesn’t want to ruin her too.
Veronica also breaks up with Archie, saying that she can’t be with him when she has all these issues.
Back at their respective homes, Archie and Betty notice each other through their windows and smile at each other. I guess when everything is stripped away, you realize what you’ve been looking for has been right in front of you all along. Time for a certain iconic love triangle to start…
The Real Archie’s Weird Mysteries I Want Solved:
- Isn’t Riverdale a small town? Wouldn’t people know that there was a third Conway kid at the house? Or did everyone pretend not to know that the Conway kid was adopted? Also, did Mr. Svenson ever get therapy?
- How is Archie a musician and yet doesn’t know “Mad World”? I mean, it’s a pretty famous song.
Did Jughead Get a Burger?
Nope! He was at Pop’s several times but I didn’t see him eating.