Hello and welcome back to Riverdale, the show where the kids act like adults and the adults act like hyenas on meth. This week answers several questions that are pretty central to the show’s mythology, such as: Is Hermione Lodge Good Or Evil? (Yes.) Why Is Josie Mean Sometimes? (Jazz.) And What Is Up With Betty’s Sister Polly? (Girl, everything.)
This episode opens with Jughead’s narration, informing us with adolescent certainty that ”fear is the most human emotion.” Which is ridiculous, obviously, since everyone knows that the most human emotion is “proud that you very discretely slipped your phone in your pocket before going to the bathroom.” Nevertheless, “fear” rather flimsily frames the episode, as various characters confront their boogeymen. For Archie, that means coping with his stage fright and werewolf terror, and for Betty it means dealing with the fact that her parents are possible murderers who forcibly institutionalized her sister and are threatening to do the same thing to her. So yeah, not exactly poTAYto poTAHto. In fact, this episode forks off into two wildly different storylines: Teen Talent Show and Murder Mystery, and even though the two storylines only briefly meet up to share a milkshake, it still kind of works!
Okay so first up we have Archie, Josie, Val, and Veronica. This week is the school talent show (because god forbid a week go by without a school dance or pep rally or funeral) and naturally both Archie and The Pussycats plan to participate. Unfortunately, Archie’s musical ambitions are nearly derailed by a werewolf mask he finds in his mask and just cannot stop thinking about.
*whispers* expecto patronum.
He asks Valerie to duet with him and protect him from the scary wolf people, but Josie is none too keen on her bass player cheating on her with this red-headed interloper. Veronica graciously offers to step in and sing with Archie instead, to which everyone is like “Aren’t you doing the murder plotline?” But Veronica is versatile. Mystery one week, music the next. Don’t pigeonhole her.
JUST WAIT FOR THE EPISODE WHEN I BECOME THE FOOTBALL TEAM’S STAR TACKLE.
But Valerie, it transpires, is tired of always being Josie’s backup, and yearns to stretch her musical wings. And Josie, for her part, is uniquely unreceptive to that at the moment, because her father is in town and her father is A LIVING FART. Like, forget the entire parents rankings system from last week, because Josie’s dad just rocketed to the top of Riverdale’s worst parents list.
Josie’s dad is a jazz musician, and not the cool kind with a funny hat and a slight drinking problem: the horrible kind, that makes you listen to an eight minute drum solo and asks what you thought of it.
THE ONLY PERSON ON EARTH WHO THOUGHT LA LA LAND WAS ROBBED.
Josie’s dad hates Josie’s music because it’s pop, and people are in actual danger of enjoying it, and he is straight up emotionally abusive to both Josie and her mom. And like, it’s one thing to see Mayor Josie’s Mom taking bribes and plotting schemes, but IT IS ANOTHER THING ENTIRELY to see her cowering from her husband. Anyway, so that’s why Josie can get a little touchy sometimes.
As soon as Val hears that Josie’s dad is in town, she responds like “oh so THAT’S WHY she’s been acting this way!” (Which is incidentally, what my girlfriend and I say to each other every time we realize we are both PMSing.) Armed with this knowledge, the two swiftly reconcile and The Pussycats are whole again.
JUST DON’T MAKE ME BE BACKUP ALL THE TIME, OKAY?
AW BABY BUT I LOVE WHEN YOU’RE BEHIND ME.
Archie manages to overcome his stage/werefright and sings his lil song. And after their triumphant performances, it is my unhappy duty to report that Archie and Val do in fact kiss. Which, I guess is okay because Val is young and we all had to experiment.
Okay but on to the real shit, which is what Betty and Jughead are dealing with. There’s actually a great moment early on in the episode when they’re plotting to break into a reformatory school and Archie chirps “Can I help?” And Betty and Jug give him the fondest look like “No chipmunk, you just sing your little song and don’t worry your pretty head about secret mission stuff.”
Betty and Jug are determined to make contact with Polly and find out what she knows about Jason, so they track her down to St. Brutus’ Secure Center For Incurably Disobedient Girls.
There indeed is Polly, who turns out to be in a family way with a little Blossom sprout.
I HOPE HE LOOKS JUST LIKE HIS PAPA EXCEPT FOR MADE OUT OF SKIN INSTEAD OF WAX.
Polly tells the rather horrifying story of how she planned to run away with Jason in a car (the exact location of which she describes at length) but was thrown into Teen Jail by her parents. She has been waiting there for Jason to rescue her ever since, so it falls to Betty to inform her that Jason is dead. Whether Polly is merely traumatized or actually a bananas milkshake is an open question, but one we don’t get to see answered, because Betty’s mom appears like her own drag queen tribute to herself.
100% NAKED UNDER THIS COAT, PEOPLE.
Back at home, Betty just asks her dad point blank if he killed Jason Blossom for impregnating Polly. Now, when I saw that clip in the episode preview, I mentally filled in the rest of the scene as Betty’s mom laughing hysterically and saying that if anyone was going to kill Jason Blossom, it would have been her. Which turns out to be exactly what happens.
YOUR MOM WON’T EVEN LET ME KILL SPIDERS. SHE COMES HOME FROM WORK TO KILL THEM HERSELF.
For all her meddling, Betty’s parents begin to darkly hint that she is acting crazy “just like Polly.” And that could be a storyline that could yield some real riches, should the show choose to mine it. Anyway, while Betty is under house arrest, Jughead shows up at her window.
COME ON INSIDE, WAIT BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON.
He drops an adorable Yellow Wallpaper reference and then proceeds to kiss Betty with the exact amount of passion you would expect from an asexual heteroromantic still in his Quentin Tarantino phase.
Betty kisses Jug for a whole second before pulling away with a cry of “BUT SLEUTHING!” She brainwave that they should go try and find the car Polly told them about, which everyone had kind of forgotten in the cavalcade of shocking revelations. When they find the car, they discover a massive stash of drugs (what kind of drugs? JUST DRUGS, OKAY?) and Jason’s letterman jacket. Jughead snaps a few pictures of the crime scene and then they rush off to tell Sheriff Keller about the car.
He heads there to investigate, only to find the car has been SET ABLAZE by persons unknown.
HEY HAS ANYONE SEEN CHERYL LATELY?
From there, Betty and Jug race to Radley (or whatever) to rescue Polly, only to find that she has LEAPT from the window, leaving behind only a trail of blood and a faint whiff of maple syrup.
LOOKS LIKE SHE’S FLOWN THE COOP-ER.
Man, that shot. Man, this show. See you next week.