Riverdale remembered it was a teen show, so decided to have a no-holds-barred PARTY EPISODE.
What is there to celebrate when a kid is still dead, Archie? Jughead’s birthday! The show opens on a debauched party montage. Fred Andrews is going out to Chicago to finalize his divorce with Mary, who moved out two years ago and never told Archie. Crap parents in Riverdale, really. Fred apologizes for missing Jughead’s birthday, and Jughead shrugs it off.
Hiram’s lawyer continues to pressure Veronica to make a character statement about her father. Veronica knows that the Blossoms might have been responsible for Hiram’s arrest.
Chuck is back from school suspension (which means only a week or two (a month MAXMIMUM) has probably passed since Episode 3.) He apologizes to Ethel fairly insincerely, and Betty is furious. Archie lets it slip to Betty about it being Jughead’s birthday, and assures her he doesn’t want a party. Betty don’t care. Archie agrees, hurting over Valerie. Betty promises it will be small- close inner circle friends only. And FP, who Betty calls.
FP: “You don’t quit, do you?”
Betty: “Rarely, if ever.”
Alice is the advisor for the Riverdale school newspaper now, because I was 100% right about the background check joke. Alice is actually nice to her daughter.
Archie drops the bomb on Jughead that Betty will accompany Jughead to his traditional double feature movie this year. Jughead is very upset that Archie told her about his birthday, citing that he hated that his dysfunctional family tried to pretend to be normal for one day a year- his birthday.
Veronica is doing some digging- and finds payments from Blossom to Lodge for 75 years. Hermione is worried that this will implicate Hiram in Jason’s murder and tells her to stop digging. Veronica shows the lawyer, who also tells her to knock it off, and delivers a letter from Hiram. Hiram pretty much threatens to take his wife down with him if Veronica doesn’t fall in line. She’s torn between her moral obligation to Ethel and her love for her mother. Meanwhile, Archie is probably sad about a commercial with a sad dog.
Veronica shows up to River Vixens late, and she and Cheryl have a catfight over cheerleading. And then a dance-off. Betty seems aware of how dumb this sequence is and looks like she’s biting back laughter. Bless, kitten. Betty leads the vote, smug as hell, and Veronica wins the lead part in the Homecoming dance. Cheryl fires her two minions, whose names I don’t even know. And you don’t, either. This sequence seems designed to remind us that they’re in high school, and to remind us that Cheryl sucks in case we felt bad for her again, and to give Cheryl a reason to team up with Chuck to ruin Jughead’s birthday party. Jughead could really change his nickname to Collateral Damage Jones. Wait, is that taken? I like that.
Finally, Jughead’s birthday. He and Betty go see American Werewolf in London, and Betty tells him she’s all about the beast within. Jughead ACTUALLY SMILES for maybe the first time all season? Ethel, Kevin, Joaquin, Veronica, and Archie await their return for the surprise party. Jughead isn’t happy. Betty brings out a cake, and it’s really creepy for no reason. Veronica scampers off crying about her father, and she and Archie share a drink from Fred’s liquor cabinet.
Then Cheryl, Chuck, Moose, and the rest of the school show up with kegs. Archie allows it, because he’s a crap friend and a crap person, despite trying to tell Betty Jughead wasn’t happy about a party. Bughead are having an argument about how weird he is. He’s so weird. He’s a weirdo. SO WEIRD. Then he runs off sad to go hide in the garage. Because teenagers, amirite. FP shows up with a gift and totally sells Betty out for calling him.
Chuck and Betty have an unpleasant conversation in the kitchen, when he calls her out on her very problematic behavior in Chapter Three, but immediately degrades her and she slaps him. Kevin and Joaquin share a romantic moment (again, good job CW for actually showing them realistically) until the latter sees FP and panics. Veronica realizes FP was the Serpent who spoke to her mother. Kevin adds that he’s Jughead’s dad. I realize that she didn’t know that somehow. FP and Joaquin have a confrontation in Archie’s room, and Alice sees it from her creeping in Betty’s room. Betty and Jughead continue to argue. He calls her perfect- a berserk button for her- and asks if she’s only with him until Archie changes his mind. Now Jughead’s gone too far, and Betty snaps.
Archie is begging Valerie to take him back. She throws a drink in his face. She’s the lead of a better show. Archie gets wasted and calls his dad crying. Like you do. Jughead tries to leave to look for his girlfriend, but Cheryl stops him, and she and Chuck decide they’re going to play secrets and sins, which is just a game where people out each other’s secrets. Veronica accuses Cheryl of incest. Dilton outs Grundy as a predator, and the group of drunk teenagers turn on Archie about their affair, which I guess everyone knows about now. Chuck outs Dark Betty, and goads Jughead about not knowing. Jughead hits him. Chuck puts Jughead through a table. FP intervenes and breaks up the party. Betty escapes in the melee. Jughead tries to shut down, but FP tells his son Betty needs him and that he needs to find her. Alice rushes outside and she and FP have an argument, where he outs her as a former Serpent who grew up on the Southside.
Jughead finds Betty at Pop’s, and they actually have a conversation. Betty and Jughead have a surprisingly mature relationship for two sixteen-year olds, except the part where Jughead quotes Shrek and says he has layers. Archie and Veronica talk about the disaster that was this party. They hook up, and she stays the night. Archie sleeps on Jughead’s mattress on the floor, and Veronica gets the bed. I guess the poor homeless kid slept on the couch? Jughead catches her Stride of Pride the next morning. (You cannot watch this sequence and think ‘walk of shame.’) Jughead pledges his silence, and the two share the single friendliest moment they’ve ever had on the show.
Back at her apartment, Veronica confronts Smithers on whether her father is a good man. He declines to answer, but replies that her mother is unequivocally good. This is all Ronnie needs- she shows up to the lawyer’s office to defend her mother. Jughead wolfs down his cake while Archie cleans. Jughead says “he’s never telling anyone anything literally ever.” Alice brings her some tea and aspirin and is shockingly nonjudgemental. Alice finds out about Joaquin and Kevin, and suspects foul play. Veronica brings Betty a scone. Betty calls her out. The last time she brought baked goods, she kissed Archie. Veronica comes clean about Hiram Lodge and FP. Veronica pleads to help with the Blue and Gold, since hecking everyone does.
Hiram sends Ronnie new pearls, Vegas and Archie find Fred AND ARCHIE’S MOM WHO IS MOLLY RINGWALD. Episode ends
Best Part: Jughead’s line reading of “Kevin’s here.” He sounds delighted…
Best Parent in Riverdale: FP, for keeping his son from getting murdered and supporting his relationship
Worst Parent in Riverdale: Mama Andrews, for moving out without telling her kid.
Note: HOW ARE WE NOT CALLING THIS EPISODE SIXTEEN CANDLES?!?!