Jason Blossom is still dead. Jughead feels that most people hoped that he was still alive until there was irrefutable proof otherwise. That he didn’t drown on July 4th, and he would walk into school Monday morning (we see Jason in the hall with the other football players) or would be spotted sharing a booth at Pop’s with Cheryl (the twins are in their white outfits, splitting a milkshake). We also see Cheryl and her parents identifying Jason’s body at the coroner’s office.
Archie is tossing and turning in bed, remembering being with Miss Grundy and hearing the gunshot on July 4th. He texts Betty, but she doesn’t want to talk. Archie gets up and goes for a run, straight to Miss Grundy’s house. They argue again about the gunshot and whether they should come forward. He has no understanding of the fact that her career would be ruined and what that would mean for her (whether or not she deserves it is another issue).
In the morning, Fred asks Archie where he ran to in the middle of the night. Archie is surprised that his father heard him. Fred replies that he’s been hearing Archie sneak out since he was 8 years old and sneaking over to Jughead’s tree house. He tells Archie to stop going on late night runs until the murderer is caught.
Betty’s parents tell her that she’ll be home alone at night for the forseeable future. A murdered rich kid is a big story, and their newspaper has to milk it for all it’s worth. They aren’t terribly worried about their own kid. Alice does take the time to remind Betty to stay away from nearly every one of her friends: Archie, Veronica, Cheryl. She also reminds Betty that her friends hurt her over the weekend, so Betty should isolate herself and only hang around with mom-approved people. Because Betty is smart, but incapable of living in the world, according to her loving mother. Mom sure knows how to make a girl feel good about herself. Betty promptly asks Archie to walk to school with her. She’s not going to let her mother turn her into some delicate flower.
Jughead and Archie run into each other in the hall at school and debate whether it’s okay to joke about Jason’s death or use it as an excuse to get out of gym. I don’t know if Archie was always this sincere, or if it’s his guilt talking. Given Jughead’s reaction, I’m guessing it’s new. I’m not sure how he’s ever gotten away with anything, if just having been in the vicinity of a crime has him this worked up. Maybe his affair with Grundy is the first time he’s ever really broken the rules.
Kevin is hoping that Archie isn’t completely straight. I’ve wondered about that. When they were talking at the diner last week, there were some weirdly intense vibes between him and Jughead about his falling out with Betty vs his falling out with Jughead. Maybe it’s Jughead who’s not straight. Or maybe it’s just an intense friendship. Archie does seem like he could be the standard straight CW young male lead that everyone, of all genders, falls for, so he tries to be nice and let them down easy. Then we all learn and grow from it, and it’s clear that straight men are just the best. 💤
Kevin is slightly traumatized from finding Jason’s body, but even more traumatized from having to explain to his dad, the sheriff, what he was doing with Moose at the river.
Veronica sent Betty two dozen yellow roses and had pretentious cupcakes flown in from NYC. Guess the money Hiram Lodge sent was a substantial amount. She begs for Betty’s forgiveness and attendance at mani-pedis later that day. Betty gives in and agrees. Kevin is shocked that Betty gave in so easily. Betty explains that this will get Veronica off of her back. Soon Veronica will forget about Betty and move on to her next “best friend.”
It’s time for the morning announcements. The pep rally is being held as scheduled. The sheriff officially announces Jason’s death is a homicide with an ongoing investigation. Students are urged to come forward with any information they have that might help the investigation. Cheryl breaks in to say that her family won’t rest until the killer is caught. She’s wearing a huge red spider brooch. Archie walks by the office and shares a guilty glance with the principal. Then he runs into Jughead in the hall again. Jughead says that Archie bailed on their planned 4th of July road trip. Is there anything he wants to tell Jughead? Archie spends more time looking guilty. Not sure how Jughead’s getting from cancelled plans to murder, other than that he knows Archie’s guilty face.
Next up is science lab. Everyone scrambles for their favorite partner. Archie picks Cheryl so that he can try to figure out if he needs to confess that he heard the gunshot or not. Cheryl’s twintuition is telling her that it’s someone they all know. It’s like she’s seen a TV show before, or something. Archie tries to be a gentleman and offers to do the frog dissection that’s the lab assignment for the day. Cheryl says she’ll be just fine doing it herself, even though her brother’s probably being dissected (autopsied) right that very moment. She sees the whole class staring at her, so she takes the scalpel and slices down the middle of the frog, because she’s hardcore and amazing.
At that moment, Alice is paying off the coroner to give her the autopsy results. He points out interesting details on Jason’s body for her newspaper story. It’s easy to understand some of Cheryl’s anger in that moment.
Back at school, it’s lunch time. Veronica asks Kevin why Moose wanted to partner with him for the science lab. Kevin says he’s not sure, because he’s skeptical that Moose could really like him and be interested in guys, since he’s a football player and has a girlfriend, officially. He also manages to put his foot in his mouth and call Veronica a girl with loose morals.
They sit with Archie, who sings them one of his songs. It’s too much for Betty. She runs away in tears. Archie chases her, but she tells him she can’t pretend everything is fine.
They’re interrupted by the principal, who also noticed Archie’s guilty face, and tries to get him to come clean. Archie runs straight to Grundy and asks her if the feelings between them are real. She plays with his hands, and stands very close, and swears to him that it’s real. She’s putting herself in his hands, and if he goes to the principal, they’ll never see each other again. It all feels very manipulative, meant to keep him on the string so that he won’t jeopardize her career.
Jughead is walking down the hall, and sees Archie and Grundy through the small window on the classroom door. Their secret is out.
The cheerleaders meet to practice for the pep rally. Cheryl isn’t happy and decides to get Josie and the Pussycats involved. During a break, Betty and Veronica get into another argument about Archie. Veronica is obnoxiously patronizing. Some of what Veronica says is true, but Betty is allowed to feel her feelings, and take time to get over it. She doesn’t need this girl who came to town five minutes ago explaining all of her lifelong relationships to her. Veronica can’t handle that Betty didn’t immediately become her BFF again. Buying people off must have always worked in NYC. But Betty doesn’t owe Veronica anything, and it hurt her to feel so betrayed by both Veronica and Archie. Nothing Veronica has said or done makes her seem more trustworthy. I wouldn’t trust what she says anyway.
Betty asks Cheryl to go to the mani-pedi with her instead of Veronica.
Veronica’s mom Hermione has gotten a job waitressing at Pop’s to help keep Veronica in magnolia cupcakes. She makes sure to shove her boobs in the faces of her male customers, because she knows her worth. Archie stops in to pick up an order, and Hermione practically drools on him, then insists he walk Veronica home. They commiserate over how much they love but don’t love Betty on the way home. Neither can figure out exactly where they went wrong. It’s all very condescending. Archie and Veronica think that Betty is such a good, sweet, innocent person who doesn’t really understand how the world works, and has never had any experiences of her own, which is how everyone but Kevin treats Betty. They think they’re so much more mature and worldly because they’ve had sex and messed up their lives. God, high school is horrible.
Cheryl goes home with Betty after the mani-pedi so that she can pump Betty for information about Betty’s sister, Polly, who used to date Jason. Cheryl has decided that Polly is the most likely suspect in Jason’s murder. She insults both Polly and Betty, so Betty throws her out, and threatens to kill her. Betty kind of gets crazy eyes for a minute there, and scares Cheryl. I’m so proud.
Jughead is waiting outside of Archie’s house to confront him about his affair with Grundy. He says that he’s trying to be a friend to Archie, even though they aren’t friends any more. Archie admits to the affair, and the rest of the truth, including the gunshot. Jughead urges Archie to tell someone about the gunshot that he heard, because a kid is dead and it’s serious. Jughead tells Archie not to let Grundy manipulate him. Archie gets defensive, and says Jughead doesn’t even know him. Jughead says Archie used to at least try to do the right thing, and starts to walk away. Archie grabs Jughead and starts to threaten him. Jughead cuts him off, and keeps walking.
Betty asks her mother about Polly and Jason. Polly knows that Jason is dead, but she often doesn’t know what day it is. Alice was against their relationship because she hates the Blossoms, and everything they touch rots, among other things. Betty asks to visit Polly, Alice ignores the question. Alice wants to keep Betty on Adderall and under tight control. What kind of control is Polly being kept under? How heavily is she being medicated so that she stays calm and cooperative?
Betty approaches Veronica at school the next day and tells her that what she said about Archie was right. In the student lounge, Reggie goes around the room and accuses everyone of being Jason’s killer, with some targeted bullying thrown in as he goes. When he gets to Jughead, Archie gets involved. Archie and Reggie get in a fight.
Archie ends up with a black eye. As he’s icing his black eye, he finds a way to ask his dad for advice about Grundy, the gunshot and going to the police. His dad tells him that he already knows what the right thing is, and he needs to do it.
At the pep rally, Archie tells Grundy he’s going to the police. He apologizes to Jughead and they agree to try to rebuild their friendship. But a hug is too much right now, so they will be manly at the pep rally.
Robin Givens is the mayor! She introduces her daughter and her daughter’s band, Josie and the Pussycats. Cheryl’s verse is cut from the broadcast version of the song, so check out the video of the entire performance below.
The football team is introduced. Archie was given Jason’s number. He looks so much like Jason when he runs out onto the field that Cheryl breaks down and runs away. Veronica and Betty follow. Cheryl tells Veronica that Jason’s really gone, but he was supposed to come back.
Betty and Veronica get milkshakes at Pop’s. Veronica convinces Betty to make a vow that no boy will ever come between them again. No sooner do they make the vow, than the boy in question shows up, along with Jughead. All four sit together in a booth, but Jughead’s voiceover tells us that he might as well have been invisible. He also calls Archie the luckiest redheaded boy in the universe. So which one is Jughead in love with?
The next morning, Archie is about to confess to hearing the gunshot. Instead, he watches while the sheriff takes Cheryl out of class. She says she knew that the autopsy would show that she was guilty. Jughead’s voiceover tells us that Jason died more than a week after his disappearance on July 4th.
-Jughead: Do you think I could use Jason Blossom’s death as an excuse to get out of PE? ‘Sorry, Coach, I’m just too depressed and freaked out right now to do pull ups.’ [Archie: Don’t joke about Jason Blossom.] Why? Sardonic humor is just my way of relating to the world. Look, it’s the rich kids from the Goonies. Alright, I’m out. [Reggie: Watch it, Wednesday Adams!]
I knew Jughead was my Riverdale soulmate from the moment he spoke last week. Now I think he may be my soulmate, period. Metamaiden is trying to steal him, but she won’t win. This is high school on The CW. I saw him first, and I’m a much more experienced stalker than she is.
-“There are several morbid details you should find relevant to your article…marbling of the veins, signs of scavenger activity, ligature marks on both wrists, and a hint of cryonecrotic preservation.”
Jason was tied up, at least partially frozen, and gnawed on by animals. The marbling of the veins refers to the level of decomposition of his body, which would indicate how long he’s been dead.
-Cheryl, asking about Polly and Jason: Didn’t they have a big fight this summer?
-Cheryl, to Betty: Someone shot my brother, and I think it was your crazy, tweaked out sister.
Cheryl doesn’t know much about Jason and Polly’s relationship, even though she and Jason were supposedly extremely close. She doesn’t even know how they broke up. It was a huge, messy break up that ended with Polly moving into a group home, yet Jason didn’t share any of it with her, according to her. She accuses Polly of doing drugs, besides being crazy. Was Jason doing drugs, too? Did their parents pull them apart, or did they break up on their own? Why doesn’t Betty have any contact with her sister? Is the group home actually rehab? Just how crazy is crazy, and who was the out of control one in the relationship, or was it both Jason and Polly? Or neither? Was the issue really parental disapproval?
ETA: I didn’t realize until after episodes 4 and 5 that the show was focusing on a different literary/cinematic motif each week. This episode is Edgar Allen Poe, with Jughead referencing The Telltale Heart in his opening voiceover. Cheryl and Archie spend the episode riddled with guilt. There are also shades of The Fall of the House of Usher, with a twin who’s death was faked by the other twin. The Raven is referenced in Cheryl’s realization that she’ll never see Jason again, and Jughead referring to Veronica as Raven-haired during his closing voiceover. Poe is considered the creator of the modern detective fiction genre. The show officially becomes a murder mystery in this episode, with Jason’s death declared a homicide, rather than a suicide or an accidental death.
The video of the full length version of Sugar Sugar has been removed, so here’s an audio only version: