Strap in, kids. This one’s a doozy.
After Cheryl was out of focus in Chapter Four, it’s time to spend a little more time with the horrifying Blossom clan. Cheryl is emotionally abused by parents who blame her for the death of her brother. We open on another hazy dreamlike sequence involving Cheryl and her brother. If the first one was a romance, this one is pure horror, with Jason’s coffin clawed open and AfterlifeWithArchie!Jason attacking his twin, who wakes with a start in her brother’s bed. Penelope Blossom, Cheryl’s scary mom, chides her daughter and tells her she can’t give the eulogy she’s been working hard on.
This week’s Archie plot is one of the dumbest. He decides he wants to be Captain of the football team (as a sophomore) to get a scholarship so he can study music. Chuck, I remind you, the previous captain, was booted off the team for sexually harassing every teenage girl in Riverdale except Cheryl and Betty. Clayton pits him against Archie Comics mainstay Reggie Mantle, last seen calling Jughead Donnie Darko and accusing him of murder. Archie then gets a reality check from a music professor at a nearby college, in a scene that really doesn’t make any sense and is just there to give Archie something to be sad about outside of being the victim of a predator for three months, which is too heavy for the CW. It also establishes him as getting closer to Pussycat Valerie, in the second minimal episode appearance.
Betty tries to get her father alone and weasel information out of him in regard to her missing sister. He sadly informs her that he caught Polly in the middle of a suicide attempt and that he and Alice sent her away to heal at a mental institution.
Back to the main plot. Cheryl asks Veronica to stay with her the night before Jason’s funeral. It seems out of left field until you put the pieces together and realize that Veronica is the closest thing poor Cheryl has to a real friend. Cheryl even references this directly, with the pep rally incident being brought up first. Veronica encourages Cheryl to give her eulogy after a harrowing family dinner where the Blossoms do not for a second try to keep up appearances for their guests, and shed some light on why the Coopers and Blossoms are not buddies (a business deal that ended in a Blossom murdering a Cooper in cold blood.) Despite this, the Coopers are totally invited to Jason’s funeral, maybe because the Blossoms think that the Coopers killed Jason? A cute moment between Betty and Jughead throws the first real ship tease of the season since the pilot ended, where Betty and Jughead see each other all dressed up and smile. Archie wears his letterman jacket, standing out to an insane degree when everyone else wears black. Sort of like Archie does in the rest of the show, with his plots being so separate from everyone else. Gently, Archie presents Jason’s football jersey, which has been given to him, to Penelope Blossom, who is actually moved by the gesture, and strokes Archie’s face and hair so that the audience can be reminded that this is Replacin’ Jason. Kevin Keller has a standout moment here where he is visibly creeped out.
The other person who does not wear black is Cheryl, who repeats the all-white, borderline bridal outfit she wore the last time she saw Jason. She also walks down the center aisle alone, in a way that feels very important but also matrimonial. Penelope Blossom is Pretty Mad about this, but does not dare stop Cheryl in front of everyone when Veronica intervenes. Cheryl’s eulogy is actually very sweet and sisterly, recounting how great of a brother Jason was to her. Cheryl, for once, feels normal and natural, even when covered in affectation.
Jughead and Betty split off from the gang and look for clues, like a competent Fred and Daphne. The pair end up in Jason’s bedroom, where his grandmother is creepily just kind of hanging out. Far from telling Betty and Jughead to GTFO, Nana Blossom greets Betty warmly- as Polly. She asks Betty-Polly where her ring is, revealing that Polly and Jason were actually engaged, with Nana Blossom’s heirloom ring and her blessing.
By giving up his jersey, Archie proves to Coach Clayton that he has what it takes to be captain, but Archie decides he’d rather dedicate his time to music, and lets Reggie have the position, making another Pointless Archie Subplot. I really hope he gets better as a character, because he is pretty awful right now.
The episode ends on a reveal of who tore down Keller’s murder board- none other than Hal Cooper! Why? Who knows?
Anything Kevin Keller does during the funeral. When Cheryl enters, he is thrilled to see that she wore the white ensemble. He is similarly delighted when Penelope Blossom touches Archie’s face. He is here for this drama just as much as we are.