We’re back in Riverdale this week, investigating drug dens, the mob, and weird cults. There’s a LOT to get to this week, so let’s just jump right in. We’re splitting up the recap into sections, covering one character at a time, so we can keep everything straight.
Mary: Betty runs into Alice at the open house, and Alice is looking SO PROFESH in her white pantsuit. Alice refuses to talk to Betty, telling her, “You FORSOOK me!” Betty then goes to have a Scientology-like interview with Evelyn. The interview is short, and weird. I’m not really sure how anyone can gather info from it. I mean, one of the questions was, “Do you ever bite your fingernails?”
Betty then talks to Cheryl about infiltrating The Farm. Cheryl thinks The Farm’s biggest crime is wearing white after Labor Day. Betty uses Cheryl’s attachment to Jason to manipulate her into helping, which is actually a pretty good play. Also, are we supposed to believe The Farm is where Jason was going to take Polly? I haven’t made that connection until just now.
Gabriella: I was so stoked to see Cheryl and Betty teaming up to go undercover together because even though I don’t like Cheryl I was enjoying seeing her going undercover. The show is always better when the characters have a goal that’s actually attainable (unlike Jughead’s…).
As for the confrontation between Betty and Alice, I dug that. It felt very real for what being in a cult would be like. There’s no room for burying the hatchet simply because they’re family.
Kelli: I thought I remembered this stuff about Polly/Jason/The Farm being a thing, so I just looked it up on the Riverdale Wiki, and this is what it says:
“After discovering that she was pregnant with Jason Blossom's babies Polly informed the father, and together, the two of them were going to run away upstate to raise their children at the farm, where they would be free of persecution. On July 4, 2017, Polly and Jason packed their bags in preparation. They had planned to meet on the other side of Sweetwater River, in Greendale. However, Hal and Alice discovered Polly's plan to run away, and before she could, they had her admitted into the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.”
So, yes, the farm has been around since Season One, which is actually pretty cool. Of course, it’s been a long-ass time since Season One and so much craziness has occurred that it’s a little hard to remember the specifics and make these connections, but I can still appreciate the idea that the show is building out mythology around pre-existing plot lines.
Mary: Cheryl goes to The Farm and, after a few intro questions, she gets to talk to PAPA HIMSELF. She tells him everything about Jason, and burning down her childhood home, etc. etc. Remember those simpler times? Those season one times? Papa tells Cheryl that he believes The Farm can help her, and Cheryl seems GENUINELY INTERESTED.
A little later, we see that Cheryl is FULLY head over heels for “Eddie,” as she calls him. She praises his listening skills and seems...not so interested in actually infiltrating The Farm.
Cheryl asks Edgar why he records the interviews and where he stores the tapes. Again, this is all very Scientology to me. As soon as Cheryl asks too many questions, Edgar takes her to a “broom closet” and pushes her in, leaving Betty to wonder (in the safety of her home, listening in via mic) what happened.
Betty sneaks into The Farm to hear Cheryl getting inducted into the cult. She heads straight to the stash of interviews and steals some interview tapes, including Alice’s. Cheryl tells Betty she wants to keep going to The Farm because Edgar let her see Jason. Cheryl explains that she talked to him, had a full on conversation. DUN DUN DUN. Are they doing some necromancy over at The Farm? Drug induced hallucinations?
Betty asks Alice about it, and she admits that The Farm lets her talk to Charles, her abandoned son. W H A T. Betty asks to meet Edgar, and Alice sets up a meeting. What were you guys thinking at this point? I felt simultaneously shocked and unsurprised.
Edgar knows Betty stole the tapes, and alludes to the fact he could have other copies of the tapes “off-site.” Betty tells Edgar she wants to know everything, and boy, I do too. Thoughts on how The Farm plotline is going?
Gabriella: I mean we all pretty much called the drugging of cult members in Big Fun, so I wasn’t surprised to see Cheryl get swept up in the cult. Not to mention NONE of these people are in therapy when they should be, and if they were I doubt they’d be as easily swayed because they’d have some closure or ability to process their grief instead of, you know, taking drugs so they can see the dead people they lost. But as far as manipulation tactics go, it’s a pretty good one.
I was glad Alice was given some purpose for being in the cult - because I felt like she had enough ties to the outside world to keep her from falling full tilt into it. I mean, she has a tearful reunion with FP even once she’s *in* the cult. But the ability to see her dead son would assuage some of the guilt she feels for giving him up, I imagine, so that’s the kind of thing that would keep her invested. Though I have to say it’s pretty similar to a major plotline in the Netflix TV series Maniac with Emma Stone and Jonah Hill.
I’m very curious to see what happens, though I found the end of their meeting pretty anticlimactic, too.
Kelli: I’m going to be pretty annoyed if the next episode starts and doesn’t show us any more of the conversation between Betty and Edgar. I agree that it feels a little anticlimactic, given we’ve been waiting for so long to come face-to-face with him, though I do kind of dig that he’s a youngish hottie instead of what I was expecting — a middle-aged dad type, or even an old man.
The revelation that the farm helps people connect with those they’ve lost explains SO MUCH about who has been drawn in. I’m sure Polly is, like Cheryl, communicating with Jason, and as for Kevin, I assume he’s probably in touch with his mom (unless she’s alive and simply left the family, in which case maybe he’s seeing Joaquin?). While I wish it was necromancy-related, I agree that it’s probably just fizzle rocks again.
What I’m wondering is if Edgar is going to drug Betty too and attempt to indoctrinate her — because he’s sure as hell not going to tell her “everything.” Betty, you’re basically a full-fledged detective at this point… you should know it doesn’t work like that.
Anyway, all in all, this is still the most interesting part of the show at this point, and I’m all-in to see what happens next.
Mary: The Serpents get trained by ex-Sheriff Keller and current-Sheriff FP so they can deal with the “rogue gargoyles.” OOOOOOK.
FP confronts Gladys about the drug business that started up in their old, stolen trailer. Gladys responds with the most UNBELIEVABLE surprise. She then (after FP leaves the room, of course) threatens Jughead, lest he cross her again.
The Serpents procedurally check every phone wire in town until they find where the Gargoyles are selling. But in the process Jughead ruins an official police investigation, and FP runs out of a van yelling, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, boy?!” At home, FP yells at Jughead, and Gladys gets involved, telling Jughead to lay off. Convenient, Gladys. Is this the part where I mention that I am really into FP calling Jughead boy? I think it’s funny, but it’s also very affectionate?
Also, how long is it going to be until Jughead has to kill his mom?
At the end of the episode, Jughead tells Gladys that they all need to have a big family talk. Jughead tells Gladys that he’s going to “choke [her] whole operation to death.” This is the predictable way for Jughead’s story to go. How are we all feeling about the Serpents? I’m personally thinking this can only end with Gladys either revealing herself and going into exile or dying.
Gabriella: I have to say I’m bored by this, now. The weirdness of FP training them all like junior cops mixed with the strange family dynamic is just too much. I was digging it when it was Jughead and Betty burning down the trailer; it was an intimate family drama. But with the drugs and the G&G thing roped in again, it feels like it’s spiralling out of focus. I can’t keep many of the Serpents straight, let alone the Gargoyles.
One thing I found confusing was when Gladys said Jellybean wasn’t involved - if I remember rightly, didn’t Gladys tell Jellybean straight up they were there to take over and then leave again (or something similar?). I’m pretty sure she was in on it but it seems like now she’s an innocent daughter which I’m not buying.
I do not like FP calling him boy, it feels too forced.
Kelli: I think Gladys is probably just trying to protect JB by telling Jughead she’s not involved — either that, or she’s keeping JB’s involvement as her backup plan if Gladys herself has to stop with the drug trade. I mean, I would say it would be highly unrealistic for a middle schooler (?) to be running a drug operation on her own, but also, it’s Riverdale.
I am super not buying the Serpents as baby cops, and I was rolling my eyes so hard during the whole montage of Jughead and the Serpents on walkie talkies as they took down the drug dealers. It made it seem like they caught 20 drug dealers over the course of an hour, and it was all way too simplistic. Also, hanging Gargoyle figurines off a telephone wire when your gang of drug dealers is LITERALLY CALLED THE GARGOYLES seems a little on the nose. Like, are y’all trying to get caught?
Anyway, re: Jughead killing Gladys, I feel like the show won’t go there unless it turns out Gladys is murdering people herself. I mean, Betty’s Dad is an actual serial killer and the show didn’t even kill him off. I think the writers are probably reticent to kill off any of their villains just in case they might need to use them later. Most likely Gladys will end up in jail — probably with FP arresting her, amirite?
Also, I think we’ve discussed the “boy” situation during every recap, and I am firmly on the anti-“boy” front. I think what makes it sound really unnatural is that it’s a very Southern thing and thus requires a slightly Southern intonation, which is not at all a part of FP’s persona otherwise, so the word sounds clunky and awkward coming out of his mouth. I think it would make a lot more sense for him to be calling Jughead “kid” or something like that.
Mary: Veronica’s still upset about her parents’ divorce, and Hermione is worried, too. She thinks that once she and Hiram are officially divorced she’s going to get taken out by the mob. Ok, but like, is it all her fault?
She wants her parents to go to a marriage counselor, because that is the normal thing kids do when marriages fall apart. Veronica invokes faith, the mob, and Hiram’s previous attempts to kill Archie. It might actually work.
Later, Hermione finds dead fish wrapped in paper at home. It’s a message, I guess? That someone wants her dead? I thought fish HEADS were the signal for death, not whole fish. Maybe Hiram wanted to have a romantic dinner and went to the fishmonger before coming home.
Veronica confronts Hiram about this while he’s having an ENTIRE charcuterie board for lunch. Hiram doesn’t seem impressed until Veronica refers to him as all-powerful. Hiram seems to like being called all-powerful, and he stares wistfully off-screen. It seems like Veronica’s plan works, and Hermione shows up at the ribbon-cutting she wanted to go to, keeping her appearances up just a little bit longer.
The Monsigneur annuls Hiram and Hermione’s marriage, leaving Hermione under Hiram’s protection. OK, but I don’t really understand how you can get a long long marriage (complete with a child) annulled. Veronica confesses that she sent the fish, telling Hiram that she thought if she could get them together they’d fall in love again.
This is honestly the wildest part of the episode to me, but then again I’m not Catholic and not entirely sure how annulment works. Are we supposed to believe that Hiram owns the Catholic church now?
Gabriella: I was pretty surprised to find out it had been Veronica who had mailed the dead fish to her mom, and her lame-o attempt at getting her parents back together was sort of sweet but felt very out of line for her character. The whole thing felt like the show runners trying to retcon Veronica's sudden loyalty to her PSYCHOTIC PARENTS. Like girl, get the hell out of here.
Also, I didn’t think you could annul a marriage that was that long, but what do I know.
Kelli: I was also surprised that Veronica was the one who sent the fish, but I sort of liked it. I didn’t actually think it was so out-of-line for her, because I think that despite her multiple claims that she’s “done” with her parents, she does continue to go back to them and forgive them time and time again because this idea of “family” has been so drilled into her brain for so long.
I think that when your parents get divorced, whether or not you believe your parents are actually good for each other, there is a feeling of wanting to keep things together to maintain the status quo. Knowing that things are going to change dramatically is a really scary feeling, even if the way things are isn’t ideal. I say this as someone who’s been through my own parents’ divorce as well as my dad’s second divorce, and both times, even though I knew the relationships were doomed, I was like… can’t you make it work, tho?
Mary: Mad Dog calls Archie from the juvenile detention center, and says that juvie’s getting shut down so all the inmates can go work in the new drug-prison Hiram is setting up. There’s some shady stuff happening, like certain inmates getting their hearings mixed around. Archie confronts Veronica about it and reminds us all she once worked with the Innocence Project. I’m not the most versed in true crime, but I feel like this isn’t how the Innocence Project works.
Veronica dupes the governor into talking to Archie, and Archie proceeds to threaten blackmail if the governor doesn’t pardon Archie’s prison buds. This immediately works and Archie is going to house all the newly-released inmates into his boxing gym! Sure, this is a good idea! Ok, but did Hiram actually GIVE Archie this place? If the deed isn’t in Archie’s name, there’s no way that he’s not going to find out about this.
Gabriella: Ugh is right. The entire meeting with the Governor was just plain bizarre. It seems like Archie and Veronica haven’t spoken in weeks (years? Days? How does time pass in Riverdale?) and then there they are having a weirdly amicable blackmailing sesh with an elected government official. Sounds about right.
Kelli: This was so dumb. Also, I love how Veronica introduces Archie to the governor like, “This is my ex-boyfriend, Archie Andrews.” How is that relevant?
Mary: Elio (you know, casino guy?) shows up offering the inmate boys an offer on some boxing BS. Archie gets mad, but Mad Dog hears the whole offer. Take note of this.
Archie asks Jughead for help, which Jughead offers via the Serpents, not FP.
The Serpents and ex-cons go to ambush the Gargoyles while some weird, stressful electronic music plays. This is a classic type of scene, with lots of gang members sneaking around, giving each other hand signals, and walking in low crouches. But it’s an ambush! Gargoyles jump out from every door in a hallway, flipping over people and punching. IDK how to describe fighting, but fighting happens. Mad Dog stays behind to fight a wave of Gargoyles on his own while Archie and Jughead go into a room alone. Inside this room, they find some casual stuff, you know, like a full on drug den. They find Kurtz, but he escapes by pushing Jughead out of a window, then running into the woods.
Gabriella: One huge problem I’ve been having with this episode, most episodes really, and a lot of TV in general is IT’S TOO DARK. Literally. I could not see what the heck was going on! Even with the brightness on my screen turned up all the way.
Anyway, that raid was absurd. How could Jughead not realize that they’d literally be bringing knives to a gun fight?
Kelli: Yeah, can we talk about the guns??? This was INCREDIBLY dangerous and I find it wildly unbelievable that no one was killed throughout the course of this fight, especially since it was, as Gabriella mentioned, completely in the dark. There was one point where someone almost shot Archie through a cracked door and Jughead somehow KNEW the person was there and saved him just in time… how is that believable in any way? Are we supposed to accept that after five seconds of junior sheriff practice the Serpents are suddenly able to fight like trained assassins?
It’s a no from me, dawg.
Mary: Mad Dog tells Archie that he’s going to go fight for Elio. He thanks Archie with a manly handshake and heads out. I mean, I don’t blame him for not wanting his family to live in squalor, but I’m not sure that Elio is a good idea, either.
Gabriella: Yeah I wanted more of Mad Dog, and I was pretty disappointed in how this turned out for him.
Kelli: He’ll be back, I can only assume. Probably to fight in whatever “final battle” is coming our way this season. (Groan.)
Mary: Archie and Jughead find a quest card that says, “Defang the wolf cub,” with a tooth. Babyteeth (some other juvie we never really saw) is dead! Cut to, FP finding a body in classic G&G position, runes carved in the back, in the woods. Babyteeth! Except, he has no teeth! EEEEEEE! I thought we were kind of done with the quest cards in favor of a more straightforward Gargoyles as drug lords plot. What is going on with these cards? Who’s doing it?!
Gabriella: I just… at this point, I felt like I had no idea what was going on. And I don’t! So there’s that. Riverdale is just too confusing. Reading this has actually helped because I felt like this episode had way too many moving parts, again, and them being cut with each other the way they were did not help.
Kelli: It feels like the show hasn’t decided what direction it’s going in yet, but obviously filming and production are already done, so they must have figured out some way to wrap this shit up. I’m just curious to see if it’s going to make any sense at all.