This week is all about chaos vs control. Jughead is so discombobulated that he can’t even come up with a literary reference in his opening voice over, unless we count the numerous dystopian novels with the theme of societal control. Jughead definitely thinks he’s in a dystopian novel this week. We get the literary theme of the The Three/Four Musketeers from Betty and Archie, instead.
Jughead’s birthday is this weekend. He prefers to celebrate quietly and barely acknowledge it. The gang has other ideas.
Fred is heading off to Chicago so that he and Archie’s mom can sign their divorce papers. Archie is having a hard time accepting the divorce, even though his mom moved out years ago and his parents barely communicate. Fred says that Mary wanted Fred to tell Archie that they were signing the papers so that Fred could be the bearer of bad news. Fred always finds a way to blame other people, especially if there’s a woman involved.
The Lodges lawyer, Paul Sourberry, has arrived, presumably from NY, to take Veronica and Hermione’s character statements in support of Hiram. Veronica refuses to give one.
Betty and Archie tell Veronica that Archie overheard Clifford and Penelope Blossom talking about getting Hiram arrested and imprisoned. Veronica is shocked and can’t understand what motive they could possibly have.
Archie catches Betty in the hall afterwards to remind her that it’s Juggie’s birthday tomorrow. Juggie hadn’t said anything to Betty. Archie says that Juggie likes to go to a double feature movie at the Bijou. Usually Archie goes with him, but it should be Betty this year. Betty says Archie should come with. It would be like old times, when they were the three musketeers.
Then she remembers that there were actually four musketeers. She calls Jughead’s dad to invite him along, but FP thinks that Jughead wouldn’t want him around on his birthday.
At lunch, Betty tells the gang that FP told her that Jughead’s never had a birthday party. Kevin and Veronica jump on the idea of a surprise party for Juggie, unable to conceive of someone who doesn’t want a party. Archie tries to talk them out of it, but eventually gives in, the allure of a party becoming too much for him as well.
In the midst of the party planning, Chuck Clayton walks into the cafeteria and sits down with Ethel. His suspension for the sexual harassment scandal is over. Betty goes over to them to stop Chuck from bullying Ethel, but Chuck won’t be intimidated. He suggests that she’s going to go Dark Betty again. Ethel tells Betty it’s okay, that Chuck is apologizing. Betty is forced to give up and return to her table, vowing to do the one thing she can control: give Jughead the best birthday of his life. Regardless of what Jughead actually wants.
Betty decides that FP is going to be at Jughead’s birthday party. She finds FP at work at the construction site and convinces him to come.
Alice and Betty talk in the Blue and Gold office after Weatherbee has approved Alice as an official advisor. Betty asks Alice if she told Hal everything about herself when they were dating. Alice says that yes, she did, and she wishes she hadn’t, because later he used them against her. Alice tells Betty to trust Jughead, but not with everything.
Just in case we needed confirmation that Alice and Hal aren’t soulmates, this is it.
Archie tells Jughead that Betty is going to the movies with him this year. Jughead tells Archie that this is a primal betrayal. He explains that he hates his birthday because his family was so dysfunctional when he was a kid that everyday was a mess, usually because of his dad. Then there was this one day that they were all supposed to pretend that things were okay. It made him feel lonely.
Jughead is all about the truth and accepting reality, not escaping through fantasy. He and Betty are alike in that. That’s why they are a great couple and detective team. They are turned on by the search for the truth, and normally don’t want any illusions between them.
Veronica goes through her father’s files and discovers that the Blossoms were paying the Lodges substantial monthly payments for 75 years. The payments suddenly stopped five months ago. Veronica wonders if the payments mean that Hiram had something to do with Jason’s murder. Hermione counsels her to be smart for once, and keep her mouth shut. There’s no need to focus attention on them for crimes where they aren’t even suspects. Veronica, of course, ignores this.
Her first move is to harass Cheryl at cheerleader practice, and goad her into a dance off for control of the squad. Cheryl dances and Veronica shakes her booty, but this isn’t really a dance contest, it’s a popularity contest, so Veronica wins, and is quite smug about it. Veronica feels much better about her father’s arrest, having one-upped and publicly humiliated a Blossom who had nothing to do with it.
Cheryl finds Chuck at Pop’s and suggests that they team up to crash Jughead’s party and wreak havoc on their enemies.
Veronica’s next stop on her revenge against Dad and the Blossoms tour is to go to Hiram’s lawyer and test out her theories on Hiram and the Blossoms. The lawyer listens, but gives her the brush off as he tells her that this isn’t something to pursue right now. Then he hands her a letter from Hiram, in which Hiram threatens to have Hermione sent to prison if Veronica doesn’t make a statement in support of his character to help with his hearing. Veronica is once again shocked that her father is capable of being a ruthless criminal. It should be noted, this is a manipulative threat, that he knew would work. He didn’t actually send Hermione to prison.
Jughead and Betty are at the Bijou, waiting for the double feature to start. He asks her about what happened with Chuck at lunch, and the night that she and Veronica filmed his confession. Betty tells Jughead that the lunchtime encounter wasn’t a big deal, and Veronica asked her not to talk about the jacuzzi incident. She deflects away from Jughead’s concern by saying that she was more upset about Archie being the one to tell her about Juggie’s birthday. He says that he didn’t think she was a teen wolf kind of girl. Betty says she’s all about the beast within.
They leave the theater after the first movie so that Betty can get Juggie to his surprise party. Needless to say, Jughead isn’t happy about the party. Archie has been using his parents divorce as an excuse to drink all afternoon. Veronica is so upset about her father’s threat that she can’t put it aside for the party. Betty brings out Jughead’s cake and sings a haunting a capella version of “Happy Birthday.” It’s somewhere between Marilyn Monroe and a horror movie. Even the small group of people who are there is more than Jughead wanted to deal with. Betty seems to be becoming his nightmare version of a girlfriend all of a sudden.
Kevin introduces Jughead and Joaquin. They shake hands. Jughead says, “Nice to meet you,” and they don’t really make eye contact. You’d think that they’d already know each other, with how close FP and Joaquin are.
Archie and Veronica commiserate in the kitchen. Betty and Jughead interrupt them, and get into an argument about the party. Jughead wishes the four of them were in a booth at Pop’s. Betty wonders why he can’t just be normal. Jughead says that he’s not normal, he’s not wired to be normal.
Just then the doorbell rings. It’s Chuck, Cheryl, most of Riverdale High, and a couple of kegs of beer. Archie excitedly welcomes them in. He’s the worst best friend in the history of best friends, having just watched Jughead have a meltdown in the kitchen over the party. But then, we knew from the start that this party actually had very little to do with Jughead himself.
Archie’s house becomes a raging, out of control kegger. Jughead, who’s hiding in the garage alone, tells Archie that, as his blood brother, it was his responsibility to make sure that a birthday party like this never happened. Archie doesn’t care, he’s too worried about which girl at the party he’s going to make out with. Since he’s Fred’s son, he tells Jughead that it’s Betty’s fault, anyway.
FP arrives and joins them in the garage. He’s surprised about the party and the number of people there. Jughead says they aren’t his friends. FP tells Jughead that Betty insisted that he come to the party.
Kevin and Joaquin are making out and flirting in the kitchen. Joaquin is scandalized that Kevin’s gone down to the river to fool around. FP interrupts them, saying you could cut their sexual tension with a knife, then asking Joaquin to show him where the bathroom is. FP is acting like a dad who just caught his daughter with a boy that he doesn’t approve of, which is odd, because he told Joaquin to date Kevin. He definitely sends Kevin some dirty looks on the way out of the room.
As Joaquin and FP walk through the living room, Veronica recognizes FP from his meetings with Hermione. Kevin identifies FP as Jughead’s dad, giving Veronica more fodder for her self-involved investigation of her father.
Chuck tries to make Betty feel guilty for getting him kicked off the football team and ruining his chances of playing football for a Division 1 school. His attitude is realistic, because guys like him and the sports communities they live in do feel that the crimes they perpetrate against women, no matter how damaging to the women, shouldn’t affect the athletes’ lives at all. Sadly, they usually don’t, in the real world. Usually any women who dare report the crimes suffer instead, which is what Chuck is trying to do to Betty at this party, and Cheryl is helping him do it.
I wish Betty would just own Dark Betty. Who cares what Chuck thinks? Tell him to keep dreaming because the fantasy is all he’s ever going to get. Real Betty belongs to Jughead, who doesn’t need to sexually abuse women to get them into bed with him.
FP and Joaquin talk upstairs in Archie and Jughead’s bedroom. Alice watches them from Betty’s bedroom using binoculars. FP wants to know what Joaquin has learned about the murder investigation, but he also wants to fuss at Joaquin for having his tongue down Kevin’s throat. Geez, Dad, relax, it was just a kiss. Joaquin reminds FP that he’s just doing the job that FP assigned him by dating Kevin. Guess FP didn’t think through the fact that he was whoring out his son. Or, that his son might get into it and end up hurt. Or, both.
Betty and Jughead have it out again in the garage. He’s upset that she invited his dad to a party with alcohol. She responds that she didn’t know there would be alcohol. She thought it would be just his friends. He tells her that she and Archie are his only friends. He doesn’t even consider Kevin and Veronica friends.
Betty asks him why? He tells her that he’s weird. Really weird. Never takes his hat off weird. He doesn’t want to fit in. The fact that she doesn’t know or care that he wouldn’t want this kind of party shows that they are fundamentally incompatible. She’s the perfect girl next door, cheerleader, and straight A student. He’s the damaged, loner, outsider from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s not willing to be a project or a placeholder until Archie decides he’s ready to be with her.
Betty is crushed. She hates being thought of as perfect. She thought Jughead was the one person who saw through that. They are both having meltdowns this episode for different reasons, and aren’t able to find a way to break through and communicate effectively with each other instead of hurting each other. They’re each so caught up in their own issues that they can’t be there for each other, or even adequately seek comfort, because that means exposing more than they’re ready to reveal to each other. Archie and Veronica, as their supposed best friends, are being self-centered and fanning the flames, instead of being there for either of them.
Jughead tries to leave the party, but Chuck and Cheryl stop him. They insist that everyone play a game called Secrets and Sins, similar to Truth or Dare, which is really just everyone spilling everyone else’s and their own secrets to humiliate and embarrass each other. It’s not worth recapping most of them.
The real purpose of the game is to give Chuck an excuse to tell everyone about the night that Betty dressed up in a wig and corset and taped his confession. Once again, she was undercover for an investigation and revenge mission. Where’s the shame here? Why give him any power in this situation? Who cares that she pretended to be Polly for a second. Role playing happens. What Betty was wearing isn’t much different from what half of those girls wear to school on any given day, including Cheryl “No Pants” Blossom, so why isn’t Betty just telling Chuck to f**k off? She’s a much stronger woman than this episode suggests. Suddenly, she’s a Joss Whedon or a Berlantiverse female, all overcome by her emotions and unable to function because someone was mean to her. This is a serious lapse in the writing of an otherwise amazing episode.
Veronica, who was also at the jacuzzi and dressed the same way, doesn’t need to be a “good girl,” so she’s spared the slut shaming, and also doesn’t bother to defend Betty. It’s up to Jughead to punch Chuck, because all women need a big strong man to defend them, and all men have to revert to physical violence in the end. More Joss Whedon/Berlantiverse cliches. Next Archie will be telling his girlfriend that it should be enough for her to be his girlfriend, just like The Flash’s girlfriend.
FP breaks up the fight and the party. Joaquin and Kevin are among the first to leave. Jughead tries to leave, but FP stops him. FP tells Jughead that Betty needs him, and they have something good together that his family could never give him. Jughead listens, and goes to find Betty. FP just saved their relationship.
FP goes to get into his car and leave, but Alice has been waiting for him. As block captain of the neighborhood watch, she wants to know what he’s doing on her side of town. FP reminds her that even though she doesn’t dress like one any more, she still used to be a Serpent and live on the South Side. She’s still hot, but no fun. Alice orders him out of her neighborhood. He was leaving anyway. Seems like she just wanted an excuse to talk to him, since she didn’t go break up the party that was full of minors drinking alcohol right next door, including her daughter.
Jughead and Betty have retreated to Pop’s, their natural habitat. Betty tells him that she thought he was a lover, not a fighter. He says he’s both; he’s got layers. It’s very Rebel Without a Cause, Betty’s choice of movie from the last drive-in.
They settle down and have a real talk, both finally opening up. He shares his fear of being rejected for being himself. It makes it difficult to accept people doing nice things for him. She shares that something’s wrong with her, that there’s a darkness inside her. It makes her do crazy things like clench her fists until they bleed. Jughead takes her hands and kisses them tenderly. They kiss and lean on each other, realizing again how alike they really are underneath it all, and how much they need each other.
Veronica and Archie end up on the couch together after everyone else is gone. Archie tried to harass Val into getting back together with him, but she remains too intelligent to stoop that low. Veronica has decided to seize her moment. They commiserate, again, about his parents upcoming divorce and her inability to accept her status as a mob princess. Archie tells her that he drunk dialed his dad, who, like Alice, didn’t think it was necessary to have someone check on his drunk minor child or stop the party full of minors drinking alcohol that was happening in his house, which he could probably hear over the phone. Yep, I can see why people rank Fred the best parent in Riverdale.
Archie kisses Veronica and she climbs on his lap so that they can make out. She wakes up the next morning in Archie’s bed, but he’s sleeping in Jughead’s bed. She sneaks out without waking Archie. Jughead is downstairs reading, and is probably thrilled to see that Archie’s moved on to another girl, rather than pursuing Betty.
Veronica asks the doorman of her building if her father and mother are good people. He tells her that her mother is, her father not so much. She decides to make a statement for her father, in order to save her mother.
Alice brings Betty some hangover remedies and questions her about Joaquin and FP. Not for any particular reason, I’m sure.
Veronica brings Betty baked goods, just like the time that she kissed Archie in the closet. But it’s not for any particular reason this time, I’m sure. She tells Betty about the connection between FP and Hiram, which in her mind equals a connection to Jason’s murder. She wants to help with the investigation.
Hiram sends Veronica a new set of Thank You pearls to replace the broken set.
Fred returns home, with Archie’s mom in tow.
The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers: D’Artagnan starts out alone, but eventually becomes a musketeer, joining the three musketeers who are already established. The original three all joined the musketeers to escape something dark and shady in their pasts.
What did Hal know that he used against Alice? Their marriage has clearly been pretty awful for a long time.
The double feture movies were American Werewolf in London and Animal House- Jughead is the werewolf, the animal house is obvious.
Jughead looks at Archie as he finishes cleaning up after the party and quips about it being a long night’s journey into day, which is a play on “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” a play by Eugene O’Neill about a dysfunctional family of alcoholics, a drug addict, and a son dying of tuberculosis, who are rarely honest with each other. The mother is the drug addict, and the addiction is kept secret from the youngest son for ten years. Are the Andrews or the Jones’, or both, keeping major secrets from their son(s)? Or is Jughead just hinting at the general lack of caring between parent and child in the play, where the parents make a lot of noise but don’t actually take care of their sons?
Wow, all of that hype about Molly Ringwald showing up in episode 10, and it’s for 1 line and 10 seconds?
Cheryl is giving me whiplash.
Some part of Jughead has clearly been waiting for Archie to realize his mistake with Betty, and assuming that Betty is just biding her time with him while she waits for Archie to wake up. Archie doesn’t have the depth or complexity to handle her though.
Not only is Alice is from the wrong side of the tracks, but she was a Serpent. So she and Hal were a Romeo and Juliet in their day. He married down.
Obviously I still think Joaquin is FP’s son, or possibly nephew. Jughead made sure not to pay any attention to him so that he didn’t give the connection away.
Jughead was intense about how much weirdness and darkness there is inside of him, and how much of a loner he is. A build up for coming out as asexual? Or for having a mental illness? Still wondering about FP’s early medical bills. Maybe Jughead was premature, or had some childhood illness that left him with processing and emotional issues? He seemed to be saying that his issues go beyond just coming from a dysfunctional family. It seems like there was a terrible event on one of his early birthdays that left him traumatized, probably involving FP.
Betty has her own darkness and issues too, though, after years of her mother’s overt hypercontrol, and her father’s sinister, quiet looming around when he doesn’t like what’s happening.
Veronica’s new pearls are both a reward and a threat. They’re a constant reminder that Daddy’s watching.
FP and Alice definitely have a past.
Hopefully the show will let Jughead and Betty stay the soulmate couple that they are, and have the obstacles to their happiness be more external than from them doubting their feelings for each other. They are both young and from messed up families, and live in a terrible town where they are investigating powerful people who’ve committed crimes. That’s enough trouble to throw their way.
Archie- “You’re her boyfriend now. You’re getting a party whether you want one or not.” To Archie, being in a relationship means being passively subsumed into the other person’s life and desires. He floats around doing whatever other people want, not really knowing who he is.