Yay! Josie and the Pussycats are back!
For this episode, we are plain admitting that we have three different shows happening at once. Betty and Jughead are in a dark murder mystery. Veronica and the Lodges are in a financial drama about post-Recession America. Meanwhile, Archie is in a Disney Channel Original Movie. This recap will split between the three different shows.
Murder Mystery: A Sister of Mercy
Betty, who doesn’t yet know that Jughead is homeless, invites him over for breakfast, correctly assuming that an outsider in the house will put Alice on her best behavior. Jughead distracts Alice, and Betty digs through her checkbook to find out where Polly has been sent. After discovering a religious hospital named several times, Jughead and Betty set course to find her sister and clear up the question of her possible engagement to Jason Blossom.
What Betty finds is shocking. Polly Cooper is of entirely sound mind, if a little sad and tired. She is, however, pregnant. Betty is delighted by the revelation. Polly assures Betty that though Hal and Alice told her that Betty refused to visit, she knew the truth. She knew her little sister would come for her. She confirms the engagement, saying Jason knew about the pregnancy, and they had planned to run away together on the 4th of July. Cheryl Blossom must have known and been complicit in this plan. However, Alice found out owing to her well documented habit of snooping on her daughters, and kidnapped Polly to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy.
Then comes the sad moment for poor Polly. She excitedly asks if Jason knew they were there, if they had sent Betty. Betty’s expression tells her everything, and Polly breaks down. The two sisters have an emotional moment before Alice comes to pry them apart. The Sisters told Alice the moment Betty walked in the door. Jughead steps in to protect Betty from the orderlies, but is slammed up against the wall and ignored. I guess Alice drives him back to Riverdale, though, so that’s friendly.
Hal and Alice continue to drill into their younger daughter that Polly is crazy and not to listen to her, even though Alice’s anguished face 100% betrayed her in the only scene with both her daughters to date. Betty grapples with the fact that her parents are actually monsters who could have plausibly murdered a teenager when Jughead goes full Clarissa-Explains-It-All and climbs into her window. I can’t imagine the Coopers would love a boy sneaking into their daughter’s room after what happened to the first one. And despite his comics-canon asexuality, this Jughead has similar intentions, flirting with Betty before closing the deal with a kiss. It actually added a nice bit of teenage levity to their story. I’m not much of a shipper, but I have to admit the writing and the acting made this weird-on-paper match work.
In a moment that cemented Betty as my favorite character, she pulls away realizing how they could prove Polly’s story. Polly mentioned a getaway car, right? If it’s there, she’s telling the truth. Jughead is justifiably a bit miffed that his romantic advance was forgotten instantly, but follows his Nancy Drew into the Land of No Curfews and finds the car that somehow literally no one found during the investigation. The car is a treasure trove of evidence! Luggage! Drugs! Jason’s letterman jacket! Wait, drugs?
Jughead puts his hands directly on them so his fingerprints are on them nice and good. Betty decides that they should totally go get Sheriff Keller, so they do. When they return, the car is obviously a burnt out husk, because someone followed them and set it on fire. Jughead and Betty don’t see this, however, because they’ve run back to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy to find Polly, and find only the bloody window frame where Betty’s sister used to be.
Disney Channel Original Movie: Archie and the Catfight!
Variety show auditions are coming up, and Archie wants to try out with an original song. However, he’s way too scared to sing alone! This is literally Archie’s plot this episode. It’s a Nicktoon. He pleads with new friend Pussycat Valerie to sing with him. Josie, who has been a strong woman with a secure knowledge of herself and her tastes, is on edge of late. She doesn’t want to deal with Archie, and demands extra loyalty from Valerie and Melody. Valerie cannot sing with Archie and stay in the band. Veronica volunteers to take Valerie’s place, and Archie happily accepts. Valerie gets tired of Josie being on edge and demanding, and quits the band. Archie happily shuts Veronica out of the act in favor of Valerie. Veronica is mad and tells him he’s horrible, and then goes and joins the Pussycats. Seriously, I’m pretty sure this was an episode of Hey Arnold.
Josie is upset because her father, a jazz loyalist, doesn’t like her commercial pop sound. Her mother, the mayor, gets a few digs in on Touring Absentee Dad by hinting that Josie might actually make some money with her music (UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE) over a very awkward dinner with Fred and Archie. Mayor McCoy tells Josie she will be okay without Valerie- just find another pretty woman of color and replace her. Branding, you know. I love stage mom! Mayor McCoy in a weird way. She’s so utterly supportive of her big-fish in a small-pond daughter.
The variety show happens. Valerie discovers Josie’s father is in town, and forgives Josie instantly, understanding why her friend was under such strain. Valerie is too good for this plot- can we ship her over to hang out with Betty and Jughead? Kevin can come, too. Veronica and Archie make up in typical teen fashion. Veronica and Valerie both are Pussycats for the night. When Touring Absentee Dad Miles leaves in the middle of Josie’s performance, she barely makes it through the rest of the song before breaking down. Archie performs alone and is universally beloved, for some reason. After the show, he and Valerie share a small kiss, which is at least age appropriate, though Valerie could do better.
Financial Drama: No Shelter from the Lodge
At that awkward dinner I mentioned, Fred is attempting to pitch his struggling construction company to Mayor McCoy and her anonymous drive-in buyer. Mayor McCoy is impressed by Fred’s pitch, and his point that the money will stay in Riverdale and bring jobs to Riverdale. For Mayor McCoy, money talks. She doesn’t have the power to grant him the contract, but tells him she will put the good word in with the anonymous buyer. The anonymous buyer, obviously, already knows, being Fred’s bookkeeper/ love interest Hermione Lodge. Hermione and Fred kiss, and Veronica sees it. She’s not happy to see her mother cheat on her incarcerated father. Hermione picks this awesome moment to ask Veronica to sign off on something allowing Fred to have the contract- they need the signatures of two Lodges, and Veronica will do. When Veronica refuses to sign unless Hermione dumps Fred, Hermione forges her signature. This doesn’t feel legal on multiple levels. Is Veronica’s signature even worth anything, since she’s a minor? In the world of Riverdale, however, it’s enough, and Fred gets the contract, telling Veronica delightedly about the situation.
This announcement infuriates Veronica, who is pretty justifiably mad about her mother’s affair. Fred is still innocent of the fact that the Lodges bought the Twilight Drive-In, so his lack of discretion is pretty innocent.
- The Betty/ Jughead flirtation scene. The kiss was okay, but the flirtation beforehand and the indignation after were tonally different than anything else those two characters did, but somehow consistent.
- Josie and the Pussycats are just very talented, and Veronica blended in well. Maybe they can all ditch Archie for a better show.