After a short hiatus, Riverdale has returned with a bang! Or like, a sound, at least.
This week we got to check in on a number of plots, from the happenings at Edgar Evernever’s Farm to the latest G&G quest, and were even treated to an amateur boxing match at a teen-owned gym sponsored by a teen-owned speakeasy. Teens! They own stuff.
Let’s get on with our attempt to pull this apart.
Kelli: This week’s episode was actually fairly digestible, despite the fact that we were checking in on four different plots. I don’t know what they did differently, but I felt like all of the characters were actually in the same universe during this episode. Maybe it’s just that things are starting to tie up as we near the end of the season? Or maybe I’ve just had a two-week break from Riverdale and I’m feeling rejuvenated…
Let’s start with FP and Jughead. We begin the episode with their quest to find Baby Teeth’s killer (He died last time, remember?). They pay a visit to the increasingly creepy Dr. Curdle Junior and learn that a matchbook from The Maple Club was found lodged in Baby Teeth’s throat. SO, they go to the Maple Club, where Penelope tells them it’s not her fault; everyone gets free matches! While they’re questioning her, one of the dudes visiting the club develops what can only be described as rabies. He’s foaming at the mouth and waving a knife around willy nilly. “What on Eve’s Earth?!” exclaims Penelope. The escorts inform them that this man, who’s fake name is “Martin,” likes to use fizzle rocks to enhance his sexual experience. Really? You can give yourself any name at all, and you choose Martin?
Are we buying Penelope’s innocence here?
Gabriella: Firstly, I agree with your opening statement, Kelli. This episode somehow felt more coherent despite the disparate plots.
I’m still a bit confused by Penelope’s whole deal - but at least she’s relatively consistent in her absurdness. I’m not sure she would tell them the truth, but I also don’t know what she has to gain from not telling them the truth. Basically, Penelope genuinely has me guessing and I think it’s actually quite clever in terms of her character. She’s adaptable, and will do whatever she needs to survive.
I am also in love with the phrase ‘what on Eve’s earth’ and plan to employ it often.
Mary: Instead of engaging with the plot here, I mostly felt confused at what The Maple Club is up to. Is it an actual brothel? Is that legal? The police know about it right? And it’s illegal? I think Penelope just likes to mess with people to get her way. She’s got layers of manipulations going, and you can really see where Cheryl learned her tricks.
Kelli: FP and Jug throw “Martin” in jail to sober up. The next day, one of the Vixens has a similar reaction to fizzle rocks, stopping in the middle of the hallway to bang her head against a locker until she bleeds. Simultaneously, a guy outside Pop’s is also going crazy on G (yeah, that’s what we’re calling it now), and FP arrests him and brings him into the station. When Jughead gets there, the first guy they arrested is ready to talk, and he tells them Kurtz was the one who sold him the drugs. Jughead says it must be a bad batch, and FP suggests that perhaps the drugs are cut with something worse, like bath salts, because this is Florida now.
Later, they get a tip from Penelope and the Maple Club women that there were a bunch of rowdy rich kids at the club trying to make a drug deal, though the dealer never showed up. They conveniently left a flyer behind — a flyer for the boxing match (which we’ll get to later)! FP and Jug pull up outside and manage to catch Kurtz red-handed. They arrest him, and he smiles creepily the entire time. When they question him, he reveals that Baby Teeth was just the “warm up,” because the final quest actually involves Jug and FP. He refers to Jughead as “Hellcaster,” and says the quest is to rescue the little princess… Jelly Bean!!!!!
Of course, this moment is not very exciting in the episode, because we already got an earlier scene of JB playing G&G at Pop’s with Joaquin’s evil younger brother. I already forgot his name. Ricky? Anyway, we see him lead her into the forest, bringing her face-to-face with the GK, who is apparently dying to meet her.
That was a lot of boring investigative drug plot to cover with very little reward, but here’s my actual question: what the fuck is going on here? Is GK actually a spiritual entity? Is it a real person other than Tall Boy? Are there two of them??? I need help.
Gabriella: They definitely teased this the wrong way around. And Cole Sprouse is not a good enough actor, or maybe it’s just the terrible dialogue, to convey enough emotional weight when it’s revealed JB is the one who needs rescuing, soz Cole.
I also am a bit confused as to why FP is so reliant on Jughead, HIS TEENAGE SON, to help him solve crime. Does becoming Sheriff in Riverdale instantly lower your IQ?
Not to mention they’re all still *in* school despite never going to classes or having any tests, assignments, or consequences to their continued shenanigans. Where are the teachers? What is going on in this school?
Anyway, the GK thing is also confusing to me but in a frustrating way. Though part of me is kind of pleased by the hydra-esque storyline of the GK, I’m definitely gunning for a wrap up/explanation now, and any more teasing is just going to frustrate me further.
Mary: I would LOVE for the GK to be supernatural and tie in with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I don’t think that’s going to happen, though. I have no idea what’s going on with the drug plot, or why we’re calling it G now. I’m tired of being teased, but I think this is a problem with the show itself. When you have a billion episodes in one season, you have to stretch stuff out, which only makes it more convoluted.
Kelli: On to Archie and his abandoned boxing gym. Oh, sorry — the EL ROYALE. With Veronica’s help, Archie has rebranded the gym and is now making it into an actual business — with Pop’s (but mostly Veronica) as a sponsor. Archie is even offering free training sessions to newcomers! I have no idea how he managed to pull shit together quickly enough to be running a full-fledged training center when a few weeks ago this place was an abandoned hole in the wall, but as we’ve learned, time is no object in the town of Riverdale. As for the money… is Veronica just giving handouts now?
All of this happens because Archie finds out from Mad Dog that Elio is holding a boxing match called the Gilded Gloves. For some reason, Archie decides that he and the juvie guys should be fighting in it, which is when he asks Veronica for help getting them in. This was confusing to me. Literally like three episodes ago Archie had a boxing deal with Elio go south, so why does he want this all of a sudden? Did this make any sense to you guys?
Also, in this week’s Toxic Masculinity Moment, Archie tells the guys that he knows they’re “pissed” about Baby Teeth’s death, but that’s all the reason to fight harder. Is it possible for Archie to acknowledge any emotion other than anger?
Gabriella: How hard it must have been to keep a straight face when saying they’d fight to avenge BABY TEETH. I mean, come on.
I wonder how fucking pissed off Pop is that some insane teenagers now own his diner. I mean, the poor guy lost the family business to VERONICA who is using it to prop up Archie’s boxing gym. Poor Pop.
This whole scenario was lost on me, partly because I once again find Veronica SO boring. She’s like a teenage sized middle-aged woman, and I just… can’t.
Mary: I’m sure the writers will spin it to be something about Veronica still having feelings for Archie so she put in a huge financial investment, but that’s not really satisfying. I’m also confused how Archie has the knowledge to run a boxing gym. I’ve suspended my disbelief enough to believe that he can box—maybe he learned that in jail—but I can’t suspend it to believe that he can run a boxing business. And where is Reggie this episode? Does he have anything to say about Veronica’s lingering affections? Also, the El Royale is a dumb name.
Kelli: Now that they’re financially backed by Veronica, Elio agrees to let the boys of the El Royale into his match. Archie specifically requests (via live broadcast hosted by Alice Cooper) a rematch with Randy, the guy who failed to kill him once, I guess because Randy technically won last time. This proves to be a problem, because according to Mad Dog, Randy has been JUICING. Not with steroids, but with something “new” and “powerful.” I wonder what that could be!
At the match, Randy is very obviously high on fizzle rocks, and Archie and Keller try to get the ref to disqualify him. Elio says that this match ISN’T ending unless Archie forfeits! What the fuck is the point of having a ref, then?
Rather than forfeit, Archie and Keller stupidly agree that Archie should just knock this guy out during the next round. Simple! Archie actually manages to do it, but when Randy makes no move to get up after collapsing, it seems like he might be/probably definitely is dead.
Oh no! Is Archie going back to prison, this time for REAL MURDER??? This can’t be good for El Royale’s business.
Gabriella: I loled. Actually. Which is pretty sad. But I did like when Keller said Randy looked like he wanted to bite Archie’s face off. I can empathize with that feeling.
It seems strange to me that there are all these kids having these insane rabid like reactions to this drug and there’s no hospital intervention or anything. In the scene at the school when the random girl in gym clothes is banging her head into the locker, Jughead shouts ‘take her to the infirmary’ like no bitch, dial 911 peppermint tea is not going to fix this.
Mary: I also laughed! It’s such a dumb sequence that encapsulates what makes Riverdale wonderful. Also, Gabriella, they can’t go to the hospital because it’s some weird 1950’s bizzaroland where the nurses wear little pillbox hats! No medical intervention is going to happen there.
*sigh* So Archie accidentally killed someone. Is it that big of a deal! Isn’t this a thing that...I don’t know...happens sometimes in boxing? I can only think of the sequence in Pulp Fiction where a dude gets killed. I’d just think that in such a dangerous sport there’d be rules in place.
Kelli: Before we move on: there are a few moments throughout the episode where it seems like Varchie might be making a comeback. Does this matter at all?
Mary: eeeeeeh. Either it’ll happen or it won’t. I think it’ll happen.
Kelli: Our final major plot this week is, of course, Betty’s. We pick up on her discussion with Edgar Evernever, where she demands his origin story. He has a sort of typical cult leader story: he thought his life was over so he wandered into the desert to die, but then he stumbled upon a farm. An elderly farmer brought him back to health and then put him to work, which was where he saw beautiful things grow and re-discovered his self worth. That’s when he decided to start his own farm, so that he could help others like himself. One thing that’s notable about this story is that it isn’t centered around him being some sort of prophet, the way lots of cult leaders’ claims are. However, I have a few questions:
1. Where does Evelyn enter this picture? How old was Edgar when he had this ‘awakening,’ and how old was he when he became her father? I’m just asking because it’s Chad Michael Murray and he’s not exactly dad-of-a-high-schooler years old.
2. Are there farms in the desert?
Gabriella: I am currently listening to a podcast called Cults - you can guess what it’s about. Anyway, it’s pretty good timing, and I definitely buy the story as a complete and total myth Edgar has created around himself as some spiritual guru. He may not be a prophet, but that’s not the only type of channel through which you can become a cult leader - just look at Keith Ranieri Nxivm - that was a sex cult disguised as being *all* about self-help. Though Edgar may not be using the cult with a harem of sex slaves as the endgame in mind, control over them and his ‘way of life’ i.e., letting go of the past (Kylo Ren vibes anybody?) seem just as good as an endgame.
1. CMM is 37… so if he had her at 21 she’d be 16, that makes sense? (They are meant to be juniors, right?)
2. Oases, I think.
Kelli: Okay. To be fair, I’m bad at math and I don’t know anything about deserts.
Mary: I’m with Gabriella on cults—I think this is all an elaborate story, a persona he created. What’s more interesting to me is why he created this story in the first place. There’s gotta be a dirty secret in there somewhere. It’s also apparent that the cult is going over not just anyone it can get its hands on, but people with power. If the Farm controls the principal of the school, the local newspaper, etc etc, what can they do to the town as a whole?
I’m also wondering if Evelyn actually knows about anything sinister at play. It’s totally possible that she was raised really believing all this.
Kelli: Unable to get anything out of Edgar about the dead people sightings, Betty decides to take matters into her own hands. She wants her mom back, and she is convinced that the best way to do that is to remind her mom that Charles is actually dead! Hal, who Betty still visits, suggests that she show Alice Charles’ grave.
I don’t really understand why she thinks that showing her mom — or Cheryl, for that matter — that their loved ones are dead is going to snap them back to reality. If anything, it’s a method that’s going to make them cling to the Farm, because they know that without the Farm they won’t be able to see the deceased at all. It’s just… not a great strategy. I expect better of you, Betty.
When Betty takes Alice to Charles’ grave and the strategy fails, Betty moves onto phase 2: chaining her mom to a bed in the bunker and pushing family photo albums onto her in an effort to make her remember her past. Unfortunately, Alice’s past involves being married to a serial killer, so that doesn’t go over great either. She ends up burning the photos in a trash can. She seems to have a lot of mobility for someone chained to a bed.
Listening to the taped sessions Edgar held with Alice, Betty learns that Alice was actually scared to be living alone with her. Betty has the same darkness as her father, Alice explains to Edgar. Betty goes to Edgar and demands to know what he did to her mother to make her speak that way about her, and Edgar’s like, ‘those were her words, Betty.’ Yikes.
Gabriella: I sort of liked Betty failing, I know that sounds weird but it was good to see her plans keep being foiled by the farm - it feels far more realistic. Getting people to leave cults is really hard, and Alice has better reasons than most to cling to the safety of the Farm.
However, I did feel bad for Betty when she heard those things from her mom - that’s pretty messed up, but also, true? Betty herself went through this whole rigamarole with the Black Hood last season. I wonder why Alice thinks Betty would hurt her, though. I’m hoping we’ll get some insight and eventually, the pair will have a reunion because I really like positive mother-daughter relationships and this show is severely lacking in any good parent-child dynamic, save for Luke Perry as Fred.
Mary: Yeah, nothing Betty did was going to get Alice to actually leave. She wants to see Charles. I’m not really sure how seeing him is helping her heal though, as Edgar says. I’m glad to see the sex bunker being used for something other than shady G&G games and teenage rendezvous, though!
Kelli: What do we think of Betty’s ultimate decision to give her mom back to the farm? Is she really giving up? And what the hell is going on with Hal?
Also, I feel like we were all Betty in the moment when she slammed Evelyn up against a locker and threatened to kill her. It was incredibly satisfying.
Gabriella: YES. I was so here for Betty getting a bit violent.
How the hell does Hal expect Betty to get him out of jail??????? I just.
Mary: Uuuugh, I feel like the writers are angling for Hal to make a comeback and I FEAR that he might be the big bad of the season, manipulating things from prison Hannibal style.
Kelli: Finally, I want to quickly talk about the Cheryl/Toni situation. Cheryl is still a full-on Farmie, and Toni isn’t very happy about it. She goes to Betty and accuses her of having something to do with this, but Betty explains about the Seeing Dead People thing, and then gives Toni the video of Clifford shooting Jason so that she can show it to Cheryl in the hopes it will snap her out of her farm-induced haze. Again: not a good strategy, which is probably why it doesn’t work.
Evelyn harasses Toni in the bathroom, calling her a distraction for Cheryl. Evelyn says she won’t let Toni “ruin” Cheryl, to which Toni has the incredible response, “Ruin her? Bitch, I love her.” And I love you, Toni.
Ultimately, Cheryl tells Toni that the Farm is forcing her to make a decision between Toni and Jason. Toni says there has to be a way that Cheryl can have both, and Cheryl’s like, “Well………” And five seconds later, Toni is marching through the halls with the Farmies in matching angelic attire. I will say this: Toni looks incredible in white.
Toni isn’t really interested in the Farm, though; she’s Betty’s new spy. Do we think Toni is going to get wrapped up in Farm stuff too, or is she going to keep her head on her shoulders? We don’t know a lot about Toni’s family, so I’m not sure who she would see as her spirit hallucination, but I also think Toni is significantly more well-adjusted than Cheryl. Then again, Kevin seemed pretty well-adjusted too.
Gabriella: I was glad Betty finally got an ally and Toni seems strong-willed enough not to fall for the cult’s ‘we see dead people’ game. I feel like Toni is finally coming into her own within her relationship, which is sort of depressing in a way given it’s taken Cheryl’s slow descent into a cult to allow Toni to effectively use her backbone.
Mary: Choni continues to be my favorite part of the show! I love their dynamic of challenging each other and they seem to genuinely care for each other, which is more than a lot of ships on the show do. I fear Toni is going to get sucked in for real, but I’m not sure how. Maybe a missing/dead dad?
Kelli: So, do you guys have any new predictions based on this episode? My new theory is that Gladys is the Gargoyle King. Make of that what you will.
Gabriella: Varchie is definitely returning (ew). I haven’t a clue about the GK, but I don’t think it’s Gladys. I don’t know why, though. This show has left me devoid of the ability to speculate, so I guess I’m just along for the ride now…
Mary: I’m gonna step out on a limb and say the GK is more than one person, working as a team for different reasons. Maybe it’s Hal and Gladys?