This week’s episode centers around Polly, finally in Riverdale, available to tell her side of the story, and to give the Blossoms and the Coopers a chance to fight over her in person. Jughead references The Stepford Wives in his opening voice over. There are two facets to the story of The Stepford Wives at play here. The first goal is turning all of the wives into perfect clones that fit the exact parameters of societal and male ideals of perfection, which is done by replacing them with androids. The second goal is finding the wives with secrets and intelligence, and moving them to the top of the replacement list. So many secrets are revealed in this episode, and so many characters try to control and manipulate other characters. Too many for me to list in what has become a very long recap.
Jughead tells us in his opening voiceover that Alice and Hal Cooper were high school sweethearts who got married and had two beautiful daughters. Their lives appeared perfect until Polly got pregnant and Jason was murdered.
Then Jughead recounts a summary of Polly and Jason’s history together. None of the information is new, but we do see new footage while he talks, including a conversation between them in the school hall with Polly in her cheerleader uniform, an argument at Pop’s, Nana Rose giving them her engagement ring, and the two of them at Pop’s while making plans to run away. Jughead is sitting across the aisle from them, looking bored as he watches.
Polly is sitting in Hermione’s living room, telling her story to Sheriff Keller. She tells him that the last time she saw Jason was the day that they made plans at Pop’s. Jason was going to make a one-time drug delivery upstate in order to raise the funds for he and Polly to run away together. He made a deal with the Serpents to deliver the drugs in exchange for cash. The drugs burned up in Jason’s car, along with the ring, and everything else she had to remember him by. Hermione stops the interview when Polly gets upset.
Archie and Jughead are hanging out in Archie’s room playing video games. Fred tells them it’s time for bed. Construction on the drive-in project starts tomorrow. The boys are settling in nicely together as roommates.
The next day at school, Polly and her baby are the topic of discussion. Most agree her situation is impossible. Veronica, who is impossible herself, pipes up to announce that an impossible situation is being invited to two different Oscar parties thrown by important people, which happened to her in NYC. Kevin is wildly impressed, as he was meant to be. 😴 According to Veronica, Polly’s situation is just annoying. She’ll throw a baby shower and invite everyone who’s fighting over the baby, and everyone who gossips about everyone fighting over the baby, and that will solve the whole problem. She’s a little short on the specifics of how baby showers heal generational feuds and dysfunctional families, but I’m sure she’ll work that out by Sunday.
Veronica finishes her grand announcement by assuring them that the guests would never fight in public, and telling Betty and Jughead that they have to be comfortable with being a public couple immediately. She’s all about controlling everyone else’s behavior and feelings, just like her daddy, as we’ll discover later.
Then Alice swoops into the room to grab Betty and Veronica for an important talk, with her impeccable timing. The sheriff told her that Polly is staying with the Lodges. Alice still thinks that Polly should put the baby up for adoption. Betty tells her that they’re having a baby shower for Polly, but if Alice can’t act like a normal grandmother, she should stay away.
Fred’s foreman lets him know that Cliff Blossom has offered the entire construction crew two years of work on a project, so they aren’t available to work for Fred any more. If Fred can’t find another crew, his business will go under. When Archie finds out, he tries to be supportive, but he doesn’t realize how desperate the situation is. Fred confesses that his business is in trouble. Archie is determined to save it.
Veronica, Hermione, Polly and Betty discuss the baby shower over dinner. Polly is uncertain about the idea, for obvious reasons, but goes along with it. She decides she wants everyone from both sides of the baby’s family there. Hermione is concerned that the shower will make it more difficult to keep her own secrets, and that she and Veronica will end up in the middle of the ugly Blossom/Cooper feud. Veronica brushes aside her mother’s concerns. She also wants Hermione to talk Alice into coming, and behaving.
Fred goes to Cliff Blossom’s mansion and blocks his car from leaving the driveway. He gets up in Clifford’s face to act all aggressive and threatening. Clifford points out that Fred is being an idiot, because he literally has nothing to threaten Clifford with. Clifford is even quite a bit bigger than Fred, physically, and likely always has security hovering somewhere. He does tell Fred that the drive-in land used to belong to his family, and he was planning to buy it back when Fred’s boss stole it out from under him. He’s halting construction in order to force the new owner to sell. Fred would have been a lot better off asking Clifford to buy out the Lodge’s contract and hire him for one of those two year contracts his crews are all getting hired for, but I guess we see now why his business is failing. If he can’t get along with the main developers in town, there won’t be much work. Clifford may not be a nice person, but he’s no worse than Hiram, who Fred couldn’t wait to work for.
Fred goes back to the site to tell Hermione what happened. Her main concern is whether or not Cliff has figured out who the new owner is, but Fred doesn’t notice how strange that is. Then Archie and his friends show up to be the work crew, saying they’ll work after school and on weekends until a fulltime crew can be found.
Hermione has coffee with Alice at Pop’s. She asks Alice what she wants for her daughter. Alice says she wants her family back together. Hermione says that Alice needs to accept that Polly’s keeping the baby. Alice lists the obstacles that stand in Polly’s way as a single, teenage mother who’s still in high school. None of which will be solved by a baby shower. Hermione, showing herself to be as oblivious as her daughter, says that mothers raise babies everyday, just like she and Alice did. Except she and Alice each had the baby’s father around to help, and they probably weren’t in high school.** I don’t think Polly should give up the baby, but Alice is right, it’s a complicated situation that alters the course of Polly’s life forever. I doubt Hermione would be so blasé if Veronica was the one who was pregnant by a murdered Jason Blossom.
Archie, Jughead, Kevin, Moose, and friends are finishing up the day at the construction site, and admiring each other’s physiques. No, really, one of the football players who’s not Moose says something to Kevin about getting him on the football team. Kevin responds that he prefers his contact sports one on one, then freaks out that he’s just flirted with a football player who’s not Moose, and throws in boxing, which really doesn’t make it any better.
Jughead is much better at surreptitiously admiring and complementing guys, so he praises Archie’s wheelbarrow work while looking Archie up and down. Jughead can walk around wearing his undershirt and a hard-hat anytime he wants. Who knew those muscles were hiding under his layers? They discuss dads, and rocks, and having Fred’s back because he takes care of them, even though neither wants to follow in Fred or FP’s footsteps.
They all go into the office for sodas. Moose goes back outside for his phone, and interrupts two thugs taking a crow bar to a piece of equipment. When he tries to stop them, he’s beaten as well, and left with a message: as long as Fred continues the work, the thugs will keep coming back.
Sheriff Keller arrives to handle the situation. Fred explains what happened, and names Cliff Blossom as the person most likely to attack him. The sheriff dismisses the idea out of hand. Archie thinks the Serpents could be mad about losing the drive-in as a hang out. Jughead says they never caused any trouble when he worked there. Moose can’t describe the attackers, because it happened too fast. The sheriff says he’ll talk to Cliff, but he can’t do much else. Archie is angry because the sheriff is blowing them off. Fred agrees, but tells Archie to back down.
Archie decides he has to do something about the attack. Val gets one minute of screen time as his sounding board. She doesn’t even get to sing her lines. Archie accosts Ronnie, Betty and Juggy at Pop’s to get Juggy to go to the Serpents’ hang out bar with him. Val, Betty and Ronnie aren’t invited because only underaged boys are manly enough for this mission. Cole Sprouse gets to use his disturbed face again after a few weeks off as Archie and Betty back him into a corner. He doesn’t go to the bar though, despite Archie’s manipulative guilt-tripping. He’s caught in the middle of this mess already, no need to make it worse. If only he had the power to stop Archie from being an idiot, so that they could investigate properly.
Kevin and Joaquin have continued to see each other off-screen, which shouldn’t be allowed. Surely some Archie screen time could have been sacrificed for them. Like, all of it. Except when he’s with Val, which is hardly ever.
Joaquin brings them to the Serpent bar, which is on the wrong side of the tracks, a concept that’s so retro it’s cool again, I guess. I get a kick out of seeing the literal train tracks dividing the town, every time.
Anyway, let’s focus on the plot again, shall we? The bar parking lot is filled with motorcycles. Joaquin stops on the way in to remind them to play it cool and avoid eye contact. I’m not sure if we’re in West Side Story or Cujo. Archie’s brought Kevin and Moose with him.
After they’ve been in the bar for a while, Moose points out someone he thinks he recognizes to Archie, so of course Archie go straight over to the guy and picks a fight, rather than taking a photo or asking Joaquin who he is. FP appears and calls the Serpent off, then drags Archie, Kevin and Moose outside.
He lets Moose and Kevin go, correctly surmising that Archie was the ringleader. Archie accuses FP of instigating the assault on the construction site to get back at Fred for firing him. FP tells Archie it would be weird for him to have waited so long for revenge, only to attack when Fred has taken in Jughead. He says that life is too short to waste on things like that. Then Fred pulls up, and FP tells Archie that he called Fred as soon as Archie came into the bar.
Fred shows where Archie got his (lack of) intelligence from, and instead of thanking FP for calling him, he also leads with accusing FP of trashing his equipment and assaulting Moose. FP once again points out that Fred is doing him a favor by taking care of Jughead. He asks how bad Fred’s business is, then says he’ll ask around to see if he can find out what’s going on. As he’s going back inside, he notes that Archie’s taken off again. It must feel good that his kid is the smart, well-behaved one. It’s once again obvious why no one wants to work with Fred, if this is how he approaches someone who’s just done him a favor. He probably has this kind of history with everyone in town. Hermione needs to convince him to let her take over all business dealings, right now, if he’s going to be a viable second husband for her. Fred can be in charge of actual construction, while she runs the office.
It’s baby shower time. Polly asked Betty to be the baby’s godmother before the party started. Jughead gets to cross “organizing a baby shower” off his bucket list, for realz. Alice arrives and shyly hugs Polly. She tells Polly that she’s glad they’re here and safe. Just then, Cheryl bursts through the door, with the most expensive stroller on the market, Nana Rose, and an awkward request to be the baby’s Godmother. Penelope apologizes for her previous behavior. Cheryl wheels Nana Rose off to stake out a spot next to the food.
The Blossoms are a delightful Gothic mess. Nana has dementia and Gypsy blood. She predicts twins with her aura stone. A boy and a girl, just like Jason and Cheryl. Twins must run in the family. Do you think they also marry each other, like the pharaohs, to keep the red hair? Alice, I’ll have you know that necklace trick is a tried and true baby shower game.
Archie storms into the baby shower and makes a scene. He at least keeps his voice down, but he still confronts Jughead about his father in front of Betty, Veronica, and anyone else who cares to listen. Such a jerk, after everyone took care to respect his feelings and privacy during the Grundy situation. Jughead can’t help who his father is. Archie made the choice to pursue Grundy when school started again in the fall, despite her repeatedly telling him no. There was disrespect happening in both sides of that relationship.
Archie goes straight for the jugular, accusing Jughead of having the worst possible intentions. Wow, the sexual predator got a lot more patience and understanding from him than this. Jughead is devastated, and terrified at how Betty will react. Betty is having so many complicated emotions today that I’m not sure she can even sort out what she’s feeling. Veronica unfairly blames Juggy as much as Archie for the scene. She grabs Archie, her eventual endgame, and they flounce off together in self-righteous indignation. Archie and Veronica are male and female versions of the same character. Veronica is the princess version, and Archie is the All-American boy version, but beyond that, same character. They jump to conclusions, control, manipulate, meddle, see themselves as leaders, and are impulsive, self-absorbed, and shallow. They even told us they were the same character in the pilot, when they both betrayed Betty in order to make out with each other.
Alice gives Polly her childhood nightlight as a baby gift. The Blossoms give her an heirloom
Trojan rocking horse and an invitation to stay at Thornhill. This sets Alice off, and Penelope is happy to jump into their usual argument, rehashing everything. Polly might as well be a doll, with each of them holding an arm, ready to tear her in half before they give an inch to each other. Polly steps in, telling them that their pointless, stupid fighting is what cost Jason his life. She leaves the room in tears.
After everyone else has gone home, Alice tries to apologize. Polly stops her. She blames her parents for Jason’s death. If she had been able to meet him that day as planned, he might still be okay. Alice replies that Polly might also have been hurt, too. Polly is angry about being left alone at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Alice didn’t want her to feel alone, unwanted or unloved. She was trying to keep her safe. She begs Polly to come home. Polly asks what her father wants. She tells Alice and Betty that Hal tried to force her into an abortion before Alice sent her away. It’s clear that Alice didn’t know anything about it.
Archie gets home and tells his father he was just trying to help. Fred says it was reckless. Archie says he wants to pull his own weight around the house. Fred makes a speech about building families and houses and being a failure. Archie jumps in and vows to save his dad’s legacy.
Betty and Jughead are finally alone
in after the shower. He says that he should have told her about his dad. She asks why he didn’t. He says he was ashamed. She says that if they’re going to be together, she wants to know who he is, all of it. He says, okay. Most couples would kiss here, but they are mystery-sexual, as we know, so instead Betty suggests that they go talk to his dad, because he might know something about Jason. Jughead half smiles, because he knows that this is actually a come on.
They head straight to the trailer park. Jughead introduces Betty and his dad, then asks about Jason’s drug running. FP tries to act coy for a second, but the kids tell him that Polly has already told them about it. And that she’s already told the police, so the sheriff will be around asking about it soon.
FP says that Jason needed money to get away, and was the type that the cops never suspect. His guys gave Jason some product. When it wasn’t delivered, they figured Jason had taken off with it, until his body was found.
FP tells Jughead to ask the question he wants to ask. Jughead asks if FP had anything to do with Jason Blossom’s death. FP does not give a yes or no answer. He says:
FP: You really think I could do that.
Juggy: It’s the Dark Ages, Dad. I don’t really know what to think anymore.
FP: I’m not a perfect father, Jughead, no getting around that, but I’m no killer.
He’s teary-eyed as he says it.
Juggy and Betty leave. As they walk away, Betty turns to Jughead and asks if he believes his dad. He says he does, and asks if she does. She says she believes Jughead. Mystery-solving foreplay achieved, they reach for each other and kiss. A golden pink halo of OTPness comes down to shine on them. Endgame has been symbolized, or possibly heaven. Same thing, really. The show better not renege on it. Especially not with the mature relationship they’ve built up between them.
Alice comes home and kills an innocent remote while having a very justified tirade against Hal. It’s really one of her best. She goes after him for trying to force Polly to have an abortion. He says that he could never accept a child with Blossom blood, and that he won’t accept Polly while she’s still pregnant with Jason’s baby. They’re both vicious. Alice throws Hal out of the house, telling him she doesn’t want him there when Polly gets home.
There are a few interesting quotes in particular:
Alice: So you did to Polly exactly what you did to me.
Hal: This is why I didn’t involve you, for this very reason. I knew that you would overreact. Honey, you weren’t ready. And neither is Polly.
This sounds like Hal tricked Alice into an abortion while they were still in high school. Or, he tried to trick/force her into aborting Polly, but it seems like they were older when they had Polly.
Alice: Get out, before I do something that we’ll both regret. And I think by now, you know what I’m capable of.
Hal: Oh, what would people think?
Alice: I don’t care any more, and I am not going to ask again.
What is Alice capable of? She’s lost her family to the Blossom/Cooper feud now, except for Betty, and she’s distraught to the point where she doesn’t care about appearances. What will that make her capable of? I’m sure Alice knows a lot of secrets, as the woman who runs the newspaper.
Juggy finds Archie in their bedroom. He says that he knows he should have told Archie about his dad and the Serpents, but he was afraid that his dad really was doing those things. He realizes that he should have trusted Archie. Archie says that Juggy can always tell him anything. They agree that they are brothers and are there for each other and Fred, but they don’t know how to help Fred right now.
FP gathers up anything in his trailer that might be incriminating in Jason’s death, including Jason’s jacket, and stuffs it in a duffel bag. He gives it to Joaquin to hide, so that they can use it if needed. He asks how Joaquin is doing with Kevin. Joaquin replies that Kevin thinks that their romance is for real. FP tells him to keep dating Kevin, because they’ll need the inside line with the sheriff. Joaquin says he feels bad about tricking Kevin, but FP doesn’t care. They all have a part to play, including him. He doesn’t look happy about it.
The next morning at the construction site, FP shows up with a crew of Serpents. He tells Hermione that one of the Serpents recognized the goons that attacked the site from doing time up in Montreal. Hiram also has business in Montreal. FP’s guess is that the whole thing is in retaliation for her affair with Fred. The next question is, who told Hiram about Hermione and Fred. I think we know which daddy’s girl is the most logical choice.
Betty tells Polly that Alice kicked Hal out so that she can come home. Polly chooses to go to Thornhill instead. Betty and Alice are left in tears, while Penelope and Clifford welcome Polly into the mansion. Those giant front doors make an ominous sound as they swallow Polly up.
Next week, Cheryl pursues Archie in order to perpetuate the redheaded Blossom bloodline, now that twincest is no longer an option.
Skeet Ulrich is incredible as FP. I could watch him and Jughead, and Alice and Betty, or any combination of those four, throwing in Cheryl, Nana Rose and Hermione for variety, forever. The best thing this show could do for itself next season is make Skeet Ulrich a regular. In someone else’s hands, FP could be too sympathetic, and we’d never believe he was capable of being the criminal leader he is, or too much of a villain, and we’d never believe that he cares about Jughead and Jughead’s good opinion of him as much as he does. With Skeet in the role, the vulnerable, loving father and the hardened criminal are both believable. It makes Jughead’s inability to walk away from his father believable as well. He knows there’s still good in his father because his father still shows it to him. It rips both of them apart, and sooner or later it’ll come to a tipping point that will force a decision from one of them. Either they’ll have to truly accept their differences and live with them, or they’ll have to cut off almost all contact, so that Jughead isn’t damaged any more.
We saw Jughead and Archie declaring themselves brothers, then went straight to FP treating Joaquin like a son. Is Joaquin going to turn out to be Jughead’s biological brother? Probably a half-brother, either a little older, from before FP met Jughead’s mother, or from an affair? Is that where the extra hospital bills come from? They could be from his uninsured birth, or it could be that his mother died when he was little, leaving hospital bills, and he was raised by grandparents. Is Joaquin the son that knows the real FP, because his mother was a Serpent, but also gets the worst of him, while Jughead gets the best of FP, but consequently gets very little of him at this point? We see Jughead struggling with the need to only show his good side to people, even in this episode. After all, his mother left his father when she didn’t like what she saw any more. That might be bringing out a need to appear perfect in Jughead.
Archie and Fred’s relationship is the most uninteresting parent-child relationship in the show, both because Archie is the most uninteresting character, and because Fred is the most mainstream, disengaged parent. He tries to do a good job as a dad, but he does very little to tailor his parenting to Archie’s needs as a person. It’s all by-the-book grounding, football and pushing toward college, with very little listening to Archie himself, until circumstances force Fred to pay attention. Any parent-child combination would be more interesting as the center of the show, but the best are Jughead/FP, Alice/Betty, Veronica/Hermione, Cheryl/Penelope, and Josie/Mayor McCoy. And Joaquin/FP, if my theory is right.
Hiram is Stepfordizing Hermione, hurting Fred’s business in hopes of herding her back in line. Hal has tried to Stepfordize both his wife and daughter, trying to make the abortion decision for them so that they could remain the picture perfect girls he wanted them to be. Alice seemed to be more realistic about Polly, just thinking about how limiting being a teenage mother can be, while Hal didn’t want his child sullied.
The Coopers in general have been all about keeping up appearances, as Jughead said in the voiceover, as has the picturesque small town that was never as innocent as its image. Alice in particular tried to control both Betty and Polly’s images. The Blossoms are also very into image control, with the hunting plaids, the Gothic mansion, and the red hair. Not because they feel the need to conform to middle class standards, but as a show of their wealth and status. They can afford to be outside of normal standards.
Even when they are estranged, the Cooper women still flawlessly coordinate their outfits. The Lodges look like clones in their matching black dresses. The Blossom women are eccentric, but tied together by their hair and the black accents in their outfits. If I were Polly, I’d choose the Blossoms, too, based on this presentation. The Blossoms are so rich that they don’t have to care about how they appear to others. The Lodges aren’t quite that rich. They’re wanna-be’s, looking for the approval of high society in their perfect little black cocktail dresses and studied manners. The Cooper women follow the preppy, Stepford model of sleek, anonymous pastels and simple, clean lines that flatter any figure and don’t call too much attention to the wearer. One wouldn’t want to appear rude or attention-seeking. Tight control is important at all times.
Jughead refers to Polly’s situation as a Gordian knot, a situation that appears too complex to solve using conventional means, but can be solved simply using a loophole or shortcut. Literally, cutting through the knot instead of untying it. Was the possibility of an abortion the potential cutting of the knot, or is that yet to come? Fred tries several shortcuts to get the work started on his construction job and save his business. The last one might work, for now, since the Serpents won’t be easily scared off or hired away.
Archie and Veronica win the sheltered, privileged, tone deaf children awards for the evening. Archie by telling his father to screw anyone who doesn’t want to work with him, when the success of Fred’s business depends on these people, and again by storming into the baby shower to publicly reveal Jughead’s secrets and disrupt Polly’s first try at normalcy in months. Veronica by also trivializing everyone else’s problems but her own, especially the Cooper family’s, her mother’s, and Jughead’s. There are signals that Veronica and Archie are meant to be end game. They are definitely a match made in hell heaven. They can judge and meddle together forever.
Jason was bringing drugs up north, and Hiram has dealings and men in Montreal* (which is also up north). This, combined with the way Hermione cut off Polly’s interview with the sheriff before she could go into detail about the drugs, makes me wonder if Jason was running drugs for Hiram’s illegal business.
Archie predicted that Betty wouldn’t care about Jughead’s background, but Veronica would. I’m wondering if Veronica will look down on the whole South Side Serpent business very strongly, only to have it turn out that her father is their main employer. This show already toys with rich/poor, blue-collar/white-collar themes. I’d love it if they made Veronica face the fact that her father’s white collar crimes have likely hurt many, many more people than any individual working class Serpent’s have, or even all of the Serpents put together, simply because of the scale of organized crime. She needs to be forced out of this dream world she’s living in where she’s daddy’s little girl and her daddy has been wrongly persecuted.
Joaquin’s West Side Story reference worries me. Archie is already acting like Riff, running around looking for a fight, looking for someone to blame, not listening to reason. Joaquin is primed to be Anita, passing bad information without realizing what the impact of it will be. Veronica could also play some of Anita’s aspects, if she turns on Jughead. Jughead has already called Betty Juliet. He and Betty are the obvious Tony and Maria. They are kids from opposite sides of town, both wanting to believe that they can escape the lives they’ve been born into. Tony/Jughead in particular had a rough time but wants more from life, even though he keeps getting pulled back in.
*Hiram could also be in one of the prisons in the Hudson Valley or the Adirondack Mountains in New York state, on the way from New York City to Montreal, with visitors stopping by to do business as they travel between cities.
**Either every kid on this show is the product of a high school/teenage pregnancy, or none of them are. The parents were all in school together, and the kids are all exactly the same age. Except for the vagueness of Polly, Jason and Cheryl, who must be one year older than the others, even though Cheryl’s in the same classes. It seems unlikely that their moms all got pregnant at once, unless the drugstore got a bad case of condoms one month. The one exception is Jughead. His mother is a high school drop out (she’s getting her GED) and his father had hospital bills earlier than Fred. That would suggest that she was younger than the rest of the adult cast, and did get pregnant while still in school. The rest of the mothers are professionals who seem to have gone to college before having kids, or had very supportive grandparents to help with the early babies.
Metamaiden was having a no good, terrible, horrible, very bad day today, so I made her these screen caps to help her feel better. If you made it this far, even just scrolling instead of reading, and are a Bughead fan, you get a bonus, too. If I had a Bughead blog, this first one would be my header forever: