Did you feel good about that last episode, sleuths? Polly’s alive and okay, Jughead and Betty have bonded over the case, and Valerie is inexplicably willing to date Archie!
Good. Because A KID IS STILL DEAD, ARCHIE. This episode brings back the murder investigation in a big way, which makes Chapter Six feel like a breather episode.
However, it doesn’t start that way. We start on a cutesy family dinner at the Coopers, where Polly and Jason are together, beaming and holding hands, a ring prominently on her finger. Jughead is seated next to a Stepford version of Betty, who kisses him chastely as Hal offers him a classic roast turkey. Archie and Veronica are there, too, all decked out with their classic comic book costumes. The sequence ends with Archie asking Jughead why he stabbed him in the back. Jughead jolts awake.
Jughead’s still homeless, a fact Archie discovers when he finds out his best friend has been sleeping in a Riverdale High broom closet for two episodes. While Archie frets over his music, Jughead literally has nowhere to live- he can’t go home to his jobless alcoholic dad, FP the Serpent Man, and his mom and ten-year-old sister left town before the events of the pilot. Which is super messed up, really, to just up and leave one of your kids and take the other away to live a better life. Archie, for the first time this season, is actually a good friend to someone and insists they tell Fred Andrews, who he just knows will take Jughead in. Jughead pleads with Archie to keep the information to himself, and especially not to tell Betty. Because Archie doesn’t actually talk to either of the people he refers to as his best friends, he has no idea that Jughead and Betty are more than friends. Or that, you know, JUGHEAD HAS BEEN HOMELESS FOR THREE MONTHS.
Veronica does some online shopping, and Hermione loses it. The building they allegedly owned, now they pay rent on? It feels like the writers forgot that Veronica’s mom owned the building, hence the move back to Riverdale. In a show with so many twists and turns, it was inevitable that there be a continuity error somewhere. Hermione is unhappy, but it’s clear that Veronica is retaliating for the forged signature. Hermione was the Good Mom for the early part of the season (especially compared with Mama Cooper and Mama Blossom.) Is the affair with Fred worth torching the relationship with her daughter?
Wait, two scenes later, they are all talking to each other in the same place! About Betty’s sister. This scene serves as a catch-up. When Jughead reaches out for Betty, it outs the budding relationship to Archie and Veronica, who are both fine with it (the latter way more okay with it than the former.) Archie also tells Jughead that Fred is willing to give FP another chance to work for him. All of this happens in a completely non private location, so that Cheryl’s minion can text her about Polly. Cheryl barters the information to her mother and Kevin’s dad in order to be allowed to cheerlead again.
We get a short, grim scene between Jughead and Papa Jones, who is really just awful. He doesn’t want to go crawling back to Fred, even though that’s his son’s only chance of having a family again, not to mention a reliable place to sleep. FP is the Worst Parent in a town full of Absolute Crap Parents, having turned down Fred’s job offer to Jughead’s disgust. Veronica gets back at her Newly Awful Mother by rounding up Josie, Kevin, and Reggie Mantle to go clubbing. Josie and Reggie deserve more than being living props for when Betty or Archie are not available for prop reasons. At least Josie and Veronica have some kind of established friendship from the previous chapter.
The Cooper and Blossom factions descend on the woods near the Sisters of Quiet Mercy to find Polly. Cheryl comes on strong with her trademark hashtags #PollyCooperKilledMyBrother and #SharpenYourPitchforks. No one outside of the Coopers know Polly is carrying Jason’s child until Alice uses her press connections to deliver a televised press conference to plead with her older daughter to come home, saying that both her and HER BABY, JASON BLOSSOM’S BABY, are welcome. The media immediately rushes to defend Polly, an innocent unwed mother who just lost the love of her life. The Coopers tell Betty that Polly plans to adopt out her child.
The Blossoms also zoom onto Betty, assuming she knows where her sister is- and she does. In a previous scene, Jughead and Betty are walking and talking, and Betty realizes exactly where her sister is hiding. She kisses Jughead to thank him. I swear, he’s really just a Remembrall for her at this point. Betty goes up to her attic, where Polly is living, since Jughead didn’t know she had a livable attic, or else I guess he could have lived there. Betty begs Polly to give her a bit of time. In this evening of late night revelation, FP goes to Fred and decides to take him up on the job. Fred naively reintroduces FP and Hermione, unaware that they are in business together. Fred’s a good person, but he is as dumb and naive as his boy. Cheryl tries to get Betty alone, informing her that Jason’s child is a game changer, and she’ll do anything it takes to protect the baby, and with it Polly. The family also offers Betty their alliance, saying that as Polly’s sister, she’s family, too. The family immediately begin to grill Cheryl about Polly, making it clear to the viewer they, like the Coopers, are trying to separate
The Jones boys and the Andrews boys go out to dinner together, and reminisce. The goal of the scene is to establish two different paths of men who never made it out of their hometown. Betty comes up, but Jughead squashes the conversation, clearly reluctant to bring his relationship out into the light. Fred tries to pay, but FP is offended, and the tone of the evening changes. Later, FP tells the boys that Fred dealt him a bad hand in a business deal when he had to bail FP out of jail. Fred tells a different story, accusing FP of stealing from him instead. Jughead is clearly in contact with his mother and sister, and tries to update FP on their progress. FP passes out drunk instead.
Meanwhile, the Lodge women are at war. Veronica goes out for her night of clubbing, pointing out that she can do whatever she wants, since Hermione forged her signature. Hiram is going to be convinced Veronica betrayed him, and she’s not okay with that. The women snap at each other before Veronica leaves in a huff. When she gets there, her credit card is declined and reported stolen. She has cash to cover herself, and threatens the bar owner with the fact that her companions were shrewdly chosen. Kevin is the son of the Sheriff, while Josie is the daughter of the Mayor. To embarrass them means to close. Veronica and Hermione have a heart to heart that looks more like a contract negotiation. Hermione agrees to tell Hiram about her forgery, and not to see Fred in their home. Veronica agrees to stop clubbing and shopping online. The last of this we see is Hermione taking a call from jail.
The next day, things really hit the fan for our heroes. Sheriff Keller arrests Jughead for essentially no reason. His prints are on the cars. So are Betty’s, but Jughead has a record for a childhood incident. The evidence is, as best, crap, but it scares Jughead to the core. They accuse him of murdering Jason because Jason might have bullied him, despite Jughead never mentioning that ever. Betty, Fred, and Archie rush to his defense. He pleads with Betty to believe him that he didn’t do it. She does without hesitation. Fred covers for Jughead without hesitation, claiming his son’s friend was working for him over the summer, and that he’d have to go find the timecard, but he had it. Jughead is released to Fred, since FP hadn’t yet shown up. When he shows up, belligerent and full of excuses, Jughead makes an executive decision to take Fred up on the offer of a home.
Betty arranges a meeting between Polly and the Blossoms, but only Cheryl shows, with a dire warning that the Blossoms don’t have good intentions for Polly. Cheryl is most sincere when she calls her brother “JJ” and claims that the situation is unsafe for “JJ’s baby.” Polly panics, but Veronica saves the day. She’s still got some leverage, and she plans to use it on her mother to get Polly to live with them. Hermione, back to being a Reasonable Parent for now, gladly takes her in.
Favorite Moment: The Speed-Chess match between Veronica and the club owner. I’d missed the slightly rebellious, bad-girl-on-your-side V.
Worst Parent in Riverdale This Week: FP, full stop, though Hermione Lodge isn’t doing herself any favors.
Best Parent in Riverdale This Week: Fred Andrews, because he takes in a homeless kid and provides an alibi.