Riverdale Season 1 Chapter Five: Heart of Darkness Recap


This week, we go full on Gothic, with Cheryl Blossom as our Gothic Heroine. Cheryl and her family have lived for generations in their spooky mansion, known as Thornhill, hidden behind imposing gates, an overgrown garden, and its own graveyard. Nobody goes near the place who doesn’t have to.

No wonder Cheryl is having a nightmare as the episode begins, between the creepy atmosphere she’s been raised in, and the fact that she’s sleeping in Jason’s bed again, while she works on his eulogy. She dreams of herself in a flowing red gown, surrounded by candles, opening Jason’s casket (which is in her living room), and discovering that he’s clawed his way out of it. She’s startled awake by zombie Jason appearing behind her. Not sure what’s worse, him, or her mother lurking in the bedroom door. Mama Blossom doesn’t offer any comfort to her daughter, just criticism and humiliation. Mrs Blossom informs Cheryl that she won’t be speaking at the funeral.

Kevin, Betty and Juggie have replicated the Sheriff’s murder board at school. Whoever stole the board also took all of the other evidence. Trevor interrupts the discussion to confirm his date the next night with Betty. Jughead looks downright disturbed at this idea. I’m going to come clean right now and admit that Betty and Juggie are my OTP for this show, and have been since episode 2. Please excuse all cooing over longing looks and cute smiles. But isn’t his understated jealousy concern that he might lose her confusion about her motives for seeing Trev sweet? Betty assures both Kevin and Jughead that she’s investigating the kids at the high school in a way that the sheriff can’t. Through dating them. Cause Betty’s hardcore like that, and her mother’s out of town.

Archie has decided to focus on football as a way to get a scholarship to college, so that he can study music. He’s staying up late every night working out shirtless with a punching bag to get better at football to help get the scholarship. He’s distracted at football practice though, looking at the other players’ butts? No, I think that was just what was in front of his face. Archie would be way more interesting if he ended up a queer football player. The coach tells Archie and Reggie that he will choose the captain of the team from between the two of them. I’m going to give them a very wide pass on this and decide that sophomores are becoming captains because even the juniors and seniors who weren’t booted from the team were still tainted by the sex scandal.

Fred asks Hermione out on another date. Hermione reminds him that they’re both still married. Fred says he thought that they went on a date to the drive-in last week. Hermione looks uncomfortable, because she doesn’t want to tell him that he was her alibi while she paid off the South Side Serpents.

During lunch at school, Ronnie asks Archie how he’s doing post-Grundy, and he looks at her blankly. Grundy’s likely the reason for the punching bag and the distraction during football, but we’re not going to speak of that. Val, the Pussycats band member, shows up to suggest that Archie replace Grundy with a tutor from the local college. She flirtily slips the phone number into his jacket pocket. Then Cheryl shows up to hand out personal invitations to Jason’s funeral. Veronica follows Cheryl to suggest they stop fighting, so Cheryl invites Ronnie to a night-before-my-brother’s-funeral-sleepover at the local haunted mansion.

Betty and Trev meets at Pops for their interrogation date. Trev tells Betty that Jason started acting weird and secretive after he started dating Polly. First he sold off his stuff, then Trev heard he started selling drugs. Trev doesn’t know for sure because Jason had stopped talking to him by then. Of course, Trev was on the football team that was in the midst of the slut shaming and scorekeeping ring, so Jason probably didn’t trust anyone involved with the team at that point. Jason and Polly had something more going on, but it’s not surprising that Trev got shut out.

Archie goes to see the college music tutor, Oscar Castillo. He doesn’t seem interested in working with Archie, but asks Archie to write his songs down on sheet music and bring them back the next day anyway. That evening, Val comes over to help Archie transcribe his songs. I’ve been shipping Archie with Josie, but, in hindsight, Val is the one who always stuck up for Archie with Josie, so this pairing makes sense. Maybe she’ll draw him into the main storylines more, and he’ll draw the Pussycats in. They’ve been underused so far.

Fred comes home to find Archie alone in his room with a girl his own age, and decides this is a situation he should be concerned about, so he makes sure to leave Archie’s bedroom door open. REALLY, FRED, REALLY? You didn’t think your son’s affair with a much older, lying, manipulating, serial sexual predator who was his teacher was a big deal, but Archie and Val working on music in his bedroom gets your attention? To be fair, Grundy probably knows what she’s doing with birth control, while Archie and Val are new to it, so maybe Fred’s thinking pragmatically. <facepalm emoji>

Betty and her dad, Hal, are working on the family car when she asks him to tell her the truth about what happened between Jason and Polly. Hal tells Betty that Jason and Polly had a huge fight. He doesn’t know what it was about, but afterwards, Polly locked herself in the bathroom and tried to kill herself. Hal discovered her, and kicked the door down to save her. Hal and Alice sent her away to save her from herself.

Betty and Jughead discuss the evidence she’s gathered so far, which is considerably more than the sheriff has. They consider whether he might have been raising money to run away from his monstrous parents or from drug dealers he owed money to. Jughead suggests they search Jason’s bedroom while they’re at his funeral.

Archie has spent so much time on his music that he doesn’t know his football plays and ends up with an injured hand. Reggie doesn’t want him to keep playing, because he could cause permanent damage to his hand that way, but Archie ignores him. He and Ronnie have a sweet and flirty little moment when she helps him wrap the injury.

Castillo doesn’t like Archie’s songs. He thinks they’re repetitive and juvenile. He says that Grundy must have “connected” with Archie in a way he and Archie won’t. That is undoubtedly the truth. Castillo says he doesn’t think he can help Archie, so they shouldn’t work together. Archie did just start writing a few months ago, and Castillo is a college teacher. Archie doesn’t have much time to devote to music with all of his other comittments and he’ll need to work hard to develop his talent. It didn’t seem to me like Castillo was being unreasonable, more like he prefers to work with more advanced, more dedicated students.

Veronica sits through the most awkward dinner party ever at Cheryl’s house. Penelope and Clifford are rude and angry, Cheryl is weird, and a new Blossom family member is revealed. Nana Rose Blossom is that staple of Gothic literature, the hidden, mad, female relative. She appears catatonic at dinner. Her hair is all white, except for a single red streak.

Clifford brings up Veronica’s father, and Sweetwater River, which is named after the town’s maple syrup industry. He tells Veronica to ask her father about it sometime. Did we know that Hiram is also from Riverdale? He has some kind of unpleasant history with Clifford.


The South Side Serpents haven’t forgotten that Hiram shorted their pay off last week, and send Hermione a rattle snake in a box to remind her. Get it? Serpents/snake? Papa Jones is a little on the nose with his warnings. Hermione calls Fred to get rid of the snake. He does, but he wants an explanation. She tells him a version of the truth, but won’t let him get further involved.

Betty finds Hal watching videos of Polly as a little girl. Video Polly tells Hal to stop filming her because she’s shy, and can’t practice with him watching. Polly’s a sensitive person, who doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. The slut shaming was probably especially awful for her. It was probably already hard for her to date someone as popular as the football captain.

Ronnie and Cheryl look at photos of Jason in Cheryl’s bedroom. Cheryl tells Veronica that she’s been more of a friend to her than her childhood friends. Veronica agrees to help Cheryl get past her parents so that she can speak at Jason’s funeral, even though Cheryl knows her parents will be furious afterwards.

Cuteness alert! Betty and Jughead meet at her house to go to the funeral. They smile adorably at each other when they see each other dressed up in black. Jughead has rounded up a suit from somewhere. He may be homeless, but I get the sense that he has contacts all over town. He’s a bit of a Gavroche.

It’s time for Jason’s funeral, which is really a ruse for bringing all of the people the Blossoms suspect of Jason’s murder together. When Hermione arrives and offers her condolences, Penelope hurls insults back at her, which is very confusing for Hermione, since the Blossoms sent her a personal invitation.

Archie wins the good manners award by offering Penelope Jason’s football jersey. She thanks him by fondling his face and hair, after telling him that he looks like Jason. Not creepy at all. Betty sees her father and Clifford arguing.

Then Cheryl makes her entrance, dressed in the all-white outfit that she was wearing the last time she saw Jason alive, on the 4th of July. Cheryl may be a tormented Gothic Heroine, but she friggin’ embraces the role. She explains that the outfit makes her feel like he’s still with her, and talks about how protective he was of her. She cries, and apologizes to Jason for the way everyone failed him. Her mother suggests everyone adjourn to the Winter Salon for a light supper.

Fred offers Hermione the job at his company that he had turned her down for in the pilot. She accepts. It’s okay that she’s the wife of an embezzler now that he has a shot at getting into her pants.


Betty and Juggie attempt to investigate Jason’s room. They’ve barely started when Nana Rose startles them by appearing from a dark corner of the room. Jughead grabs Betty and actually says, “The horror, the horror.” Rose thinks that Betty is Polly and asks her about the Blossom family engagement ring that she gave to Polly. She tells “Polly” not to let Penelope see it, or Penelope will take it from her, and says that Jason and Polly’s wedding was the last thing that she (Rose) was living for. Betty gets upset, and runs from the room, with Jughead following. Nana Rose seems to go back to being catatonic as they leave.

After the funeral, Penelope violently drags Cheryl into her room. Penelope tells Cheryl that she’d send Cheryl to boarding school, but no one would take her. Penelope is forcing Cheryl to quit the cheerleading squad.

Betty asks her father if he knew that Polly and Jason were engaged. He did. Her father tells her about the history between the Blossoms and the Coopers. Clifford’s grandfather and Hal’s grandfather were in the maple syrup business together. Grandfather Blossom murdered Grandfather Cooper when he got tired of sharing the profits. The families have been enemies ever since. Hal would never let his daughter marry into that family. Jason made Polly sick. She won’t be home until she isn’t sick any more. Hal warns Betty to stay out of it.

Veronica thanks her mom for being such a great mom, and protecting her. Then Hermione tells Ronnie about the snake-in-a-box warning. Veronica hasn’t really realized that she’s a mafia princess and what that means yet.

Archie is feeling discouraged about his music after Castillo’s rejection, but Val reminds him to just do it. The football coach chooses Archie to be team captain, but Archie passes and tells the coach to let Reggie be captain instead. Archie wants to keep playing football, but being captain wouldn’t leave him with enough time to work on his music.

Betty and Jughead realize that her father is a prime suspect in Jason’s murder, and Polly is the next person they need to talk to. Hal is shown looking over the stolen contents of the sheriff’s murder wall.


Jason was Penelope Blossom’s golden boy, while Cheryl was her rival for his affection and also a younger version of herself, who makes her realize how old she’s getting (see Snow White and her Wicked Stepmother). Cheryl was already a convenient punching bag, besides being the unfortunate low man in their pseudo incestuous pseudo love triangle. Now she’s given her mother another reason to hate her by helping Jason with his plan to escape his parents, his inheritance, and Riverdale, accidentally becoming the last known person to see him alive. Penelope will take out her grief and anger on Cheryl mercilessly. It’s very Great Expectations. Revenge that doesn’t make sense, taken on someone who doesn’t deserve it.

I can see already that Fred is going to be a character that everyone else loves and I hate. Archie’s storyline feels incredibly mundane compared to everything else that’s going on, yet he’s so whiny about it.

Nana Rose is likely a victim, given that she is the hidden, older, mad, Gothic female, and she shares a flower name with our abused Gothic Heroine Cherry Cheryl Blossom. There’s more to the murder of Grandpa Cooper than Hal is telling us, maybe more than he knows. Was Grandpa Blossom Nana Rose’s husband? Was she having an affair with Grandpa Cooper?  The hidden, mad, Gothic female is always insane because of her forbidden sexual desires. Polly is also a hidden, mad, Gothic female. This season may solve Jason’s murder, but the murder of Grandpa Cooper and the scandal that surrounded it will be an even larger mystery. There have also been allusions to the Lodges being involved.

Kevin and Veronica are the only sane men in town, who occasionally realize just how weird everything is. They love kind of love the weirdness, though.

No sightings of Kevin’s new boyfriend Joaquin this week. Also no explanation of where Jughead is sleeping. He looks exhausted, so it’s probably not someplace good. He looks worse as the episode goes on. By the end he’s huddled in on himself, in a heavy coat, while Betty’s in short sleeves.

Has Jughead named one of the characters by their archetype at the beginning of every episode, and I didn’t pay attention to it, other than when he called Betty a Hitchcock Blonde in The Last Picture Show? Archie as the boy next door, Veronica as the mafia princess, fish out of water, big city girl, or supposed bad girl?

Veronica: What about you, Archie? How’s life in a PG world? PG, post-Grundy? Too soon?

Jughead: We have to ask Jason.   Betty: Are you proposing a séance?   Jughead: No. Dead Men Tell No Tales. But their bedrooms, their houses?   [Jughead has seen every old murder mystery, film noir, and Hitchcock movie in existence. We all need to go to film school to keep up with him.]

Penelope: There are worse things than prison.   Cheryl: Like this dinner party.