Riverdale Season 2 Episode 1: Chapter Fourteen- A Kiss Before Dying Recap

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Who Shot JR Ewing Fred Andrews?

What are the odds that I’m the only one here who’s old enough to remember the summer of 1980, and the frenzy surrounding the potential murder of the star/villain of Dallas that we loved to hate? Never mind, let’s not go there.

Riverdale has successfully created its own frenzy with season 2’s premiere doubling season 1’s ratings. Either y’all can’t stand to see Luke Perry die, or those Netflix numbers were amazing over the summer.

But, not to worry, Archie turned superhero and got Fred to the one outdated hospital in Riverdale. Everyone in town stopped by to support the Andrews men. Fred continued the Dallas meme with some dreams that may or may not turn out to be reality. Veronica’s dad came home and borrowed the Godfather’s moves. Cheryl established that she’s now the Godmother of the Blossom clan. And this season’s big mystery for Bughead to make out over got off to a promising, if bloody, start.

Previously on Riverdale: Fred was shot at Pop’s diner after refusing to let Hermione buy him out of their construction contract. Cheryl tried to kill herself, then decided to kill Thornhill, the family’s Gothic mansion, instead, by burning it to the ground. FP is going to jail, but didn’t turn in any Serpents, so they now feel extra loyal to him and have inducted Jughead into the gang, jacket and all. Veronica and Archie slept together, but Betty and Jughead were interrupted by the Serpents, after saying their “I love yous.”

In voice over, Jughead tells us that, the next morning after the season 1 finale, Riverdale is still the same ol’ same ol’ haunted town. Meanwhile, onscreen we see Hermione Lodge, who has clearly had significant work done on her face overnight. We see Betty lounging in bed. She sleeps in her pony tail, but let’s it get loose when she’s relaxed. And we see Archie careening through town, driving Fred to the hospital, even though he doesn’t have a driver’s license, because he’s too dumb to wait for an ambulance.

Cole Sprouse reads the voice over with the utmost seriousness, which makes me wonder how many takes it took.

Archie drags Fred into the hospital, where the staff, dressed like it’s the 50s, rushes him into surgery. There’s blood everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Archie is practically dripping with it. Fred leaves a wide trail of it behind him. I’m not sure which of them the obvious metaphor belongs to, or if it’s both, but I’d keep my distance, if I lived in Riverdale.

Betty’s gotten out of bed and tightened her high pony. She and Alice are having breakfast and discussing Bughead’s foiled attempt to have sex the night before. God, I love to see these two actresses work together. The understated archness is like watching two Katherine Hepburns going up against each other.

Alice: If that beanie-wearing cad defiled you, at least please tell me that you were safe.

Alice: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, especially when there’s a snake curled up in its limbs.

I want Alice’s writers.

While Alice and Betty are talking about the sex Betty didn’t have with her gang banger boyfriend, Hermione and Veronica are about to get into it over the expensive champagne that mob princess Veronica snagged for breakfast, ruining Daddy’s homecoming surprise. Both are interrupted by the call that Fred’s been shot, so we’ll have to discuss Ronnie’s burgeoning alcoholism, Hermione’s excessive facial work and glowing skin, and Betty’s sadly extended virginity another time.

Betty calls Jughead, who’s staying in the trailer. He hops on FP’s motorcycle to head to the hospital.

Everyone meets Archie in the hospital waiting room. He tells them what happened, pausing at a certain point in the story and obviously leaving a few details out. Jughead reassures him, giving him the superhero name Pureheart the Powerful (Archie’s comic book superhero name). Definite foreshadowing there.

The moms kick into gear next, with Hermione suggesting that Archie call his mother, and Alice suggesting that this is all Jughead’s fault, as the proxy for the Serpents. Sins of the father, and all that.

Archie calls his mom, and does an admirable job with his euphemisms. KJ Appa nailed Archie’s emotions throughout the episode.

Sheriff Keller arrives on cue, to pick up where Alice left off. He questions Archie while Jughead sits with them. Archie insists that the shooter wasn’t a serpent, despite Keller’s leading questions. Keller asks Archie to fill in the gap between when Fred was shot and the shooter left Pop’s that Pop missed, but Archie says the shooter just left.

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Archie asks Keller who he thinks did this. Keller give his standard “South Side low life druggie scum” answer. It’s up to Jughead to ask if there might have been another motive besides simple robbery. Keller says someone could have a grudge against Fred and have used robbery to disguise it.

After they’re done with Keller, Archie tells Juggie that Fred and Hermione fired a bunch of Serpents recently. He’s worried that one of them was angry enough to act on it. Jughead promises to investigate using his Serpent contacts.

The doctor tells Archie that Fred is out of surgery, but it will be a while before he’s settled in a room. Veronica suggests that they go back to Archie’s house so that he can shower and change. Good idea, although I was sort of hoping that he’d spend a few episodes walking around covered in blood, since we’re going darker this year on Riverdale.

Archie and V walk his dog, Vegas, while he tells her what a great father Fred is. V gets teary, because she realizes that Fred treats Vegas better than her own father treats her. When they get back, Archie takes a shower, and V joins him for some bloody morning after the shooting sex. Ew. The water is still turning red on the tub floor underneath them. I didn’t need to see that. Or Archie getting his cast wet. He should have a plastic bag over it.

After the shower and vampire sex, Archie finds Ronnie going through the clothes Fred was wearing. She says that his wallet was missing. Archie has a melt down over it and tries to throw her out. V starts to leave, but then remembers that she’s a supportive girlfriend now. She insists on staying, and holds Archie while he cries his eyes out.

Kevin and Betty are chatting over their respective Serpent boyfriends (ex for Kevin) when Cheryl trots through the hospital corridor, accompanied by Penelope completely swathed in bandages. Cheryl’s still in her outfit from the night before. She tells them that a candle started the Thornhill fire, and Penelope was severely burned saving Cheryl’s life.

Sheriff Keller rounds up all of the usual suspects, and brings Archie in for a line up. None of them have the distinct bright green eyes that the shooter did.

V asks Bughead to look for Fred’s wallet at Pop’s. They discuss whether the shooter might have taken the wallet as part of the robbery, removed the cash, and then tossed the wallet. Jughead brings up his theory that this wasn’t a random robbery, but was possibly targeted at Fred personally. He gets dark and intense about it, but Juggie’s usually right when he assumes the worst about Riverdale.

Hermione goes to pray in the chapel, so Veronica, of course, assumes that her mother ordered a hit on Fred. Her mother wishes that they weren’t in a house of God, so that she could slap Veronica. She settles for reminding her that Daddy will be home soon, and the rules WILL BE enforced. Family first, sweetie.

When Bughead get to Pop’s, Jughead questions Pop about the robbery. Pop says that it wasn’t a robbery. Not a single penny was taken.

Jughead: (Snaps fingers.) I knew it. What kind of thief shoots up a joint and doesn’t take a single dollar bill.

Pop: He wasn’t a thief. Over the years this place has been robbed many times. Bricks through the windows even, during the riots. I’ve looked plenty of thugs in the eye. This man, disclosed something else. Darker. It was like the Angel of Death had come to Riverdale.

Jughead: Geez, Pop, lighten up. You sound like the cranky old guy in the Friday the 13th movies. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

More Pop Tate, please. That was a fabulous speech. And now we know what movie franchise we’re in. Jughead sounded like a hardboiled noir detective for a few minutes, too.

Pop asks the kids if they’re hungry, and Jughead remembers who he is in canon. OF COURSE HE’S HUNGRY! Betty got fed by Alice this morning, so she’s fine, but Juggie’s on his own in the part of town that probably doesn’t even have a full grocery store. Plus, he hasn’t eaten since last night.

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Betty takes the opportunity to bring up Jughead’s acceptance into the Serpents. Juggie says he didn’t think he could say no. He’s not a Serpent. He’s going to stay at the trailer and his foster family has agreed to cover for him. He wants to feel closer to his dad while his dad is in prison. Fred’s shooting has driven home how much he misses his dad. Betty is still worried that he’ll get sucked into his dad’s lifestyle. She saw how much he liked the jacket and the attention from the other Serpents.

Cheryl and Mommy are in Penelope’s hospital room. Cheryl lays out some new ground rules. Penelope won’t ever tell anyone that Cheryl set the fire. The candle story is the official story, or else Cheryl will tell everyone that Penelope actually ran back in to save the hideous family portrait. If Penelope talks, Cheryl will tell everyone about what really happened in the barn with Daddy. Penelope was abusive to Cheryl growing up, so now she’s Cheryl’s bitch. Cheryl cuts off Penelope’s air supply for a minute to drive the point home. Then pretends that everything is fine. 😇

Veronica had Smithers buy a new wallet for Fred. Then Barchie and Bughead sit somewhere private to eat, and Archie opens up about the gap in his story. After Fred was shot, Archie was standing between the shooter and Fred. He wanted to either tackle the shooter, or go to Fred, but he couldn’t get himself to do either. The shooter put the gun to Archie’s head, and Archie closed his eyes and dropped to his knees. He stayed that way until he heard the bell on the diner door, and knew the shooter was gone.

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Now, he’s embarrassed, and humiliated, and he hates himself. He thinks he was a coward. He’s also really upset about the wallet, which, realistically, is the least of their problems. Fred’s a prominent local business man, if someone wanted to find him, or hack into his accounts, they didn’t have to steal his wallet to do it.

Archie finds Cheryl in Fred’s room, giving Fred a big, red lipstick kiss on his forehead. She tells Archie that it’s payback for saving her life at Sweetwater River. She’s given Fred the kiss of life in return. He’ll be fine. I knew she was a witch! Probably friends with Sabrina, too.

Archie sits down at Fred’s bedside, and rambles out a story, while Fred dreams about Archie’s wedding. The wedding, like every dream, is interrupted by the shooter. When Fred gets shot again, he wakes up. Fred and Archie vow to protect each other.

Bughead have a moment outside the hospital. Betty tells him that she’ll support whatever exploration he needs to do with the Serpents. But she can’t ride the bike in front of her mother. Sweet, loving Bughead kiss, almost in the rain.

Jughead goes back to his trailer. He finds the Serpents that he’d asked to find out if any of the others were involved in Fred’s shooting already there, questioning a guy with their fists. The guy had been mouthing off at the bar, but he didn’t have anything to do with the shooting after all. The guys want Jughead to make sure FP knows that they did what Jughead asked, though. They tell Juggie that he’s a Serpent, with or without the jacket. Juggie realizes that he has more in common with Veronica than he thought. Be careful how you wield that power, Juggie.

Veronica comes home to find her daddy waiting for her. He’s not pleased that she wasn’t waiting for him, after drinking his Cristal. She counters by giving Hiram and Hermione the good news: Fred is awake and going to recover. She’s sure they’re all happy about that. Actually, Hermione does look happy, and Hiram looks okay with it, like he’s glad that at least he won’t have to face false murder accusations while he’s on probation. Veronica swans out of the room like she’s just won some kind of victory.

Once Fred comes home from the hospital, Pureheart the Powerful takes up his vigil, keeping watch every night, making sure no one breaks into their home. But, the Angel of Death has moved on. He’s busy across the river in Greendale (where Sabrina the Teenage Witch lives!) murdering Miss Grundy. The plot thickens.

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OMG, this was a deceptively dense episode. Let’s unpack at least some of it.

Jughead finally gives us Friday the 13th as the reference point for the episode. Yikes. Jason is obviously Jason, the boy found in the water vs the boy who drowned. We are in the sequels, with mass murders related in some way to Jason’s death, and a cursed town. Could Cliff still be alive? I always thought Keller was owned by the Blossoms, and it’s not hard to fake a TV hanging death. He loved Archie and hated Fred. Grundy probably had an affair with Jason. They just showed Grundy kissing her new student goodbye, meaning that Archie wasn’t the only one she toyed with emotionally, and probably sexually. Cliff’s going to kill everyone he hates, and everyone he thinks influenced Jason against him. (That’s Theory #1, anyway.) Fred saw Jason and Cliff in his dreams, so somewhere inside him, he’s already figured it out.

Jughead also told us that Riverdale is haunted and the shooting was motivated by a grudge. He reminded us that fathers are killing sons. Cheryl threatened to expose what really happened in the barn the night Cliff “died” if Penelope doesn’t behave. That’s a lot of references to Cliff for a minor character, whose storyline should be over, in an episode that’s packed with other information.

Fred had four dreams:

  1. Archie’s high school graduation
  2. Archie taking over Andrews and Son against Fred’s will
  3. Archie telling Fred about his engagement to Veronica at Pop’s
  4. Archie and Veronica’s wedding

The wedding, graduation, and engagement announcement all start out normally, then change when Fred realizes there’s a shooter involved or he’s been shot.

The dream about the business was very different. It was a nightmare from the start. Archie was forcing him out, and told him he couldn’t change his mind, he had to leave. The shooter never appeared, and Fred never realized he was shot. There was loud pounding on the office door, but Archie and Fred continued to talk about Fred leaving and going with his dead father and brother, so it seems just as likely to me that they were pounding on the door. It could be that Fred had a feud with Uncle Oscar and Grandpa Artie, thought they were dead, and now they’ve come back for revenge. Maybe he built his business out of the remains of the original family business (Theory #2). Alice says: “Fred Andrews isn’t one to leave unfinished business behind,” just as Fred is going into this dream. What does THAT mean? The signs say Andrews and Son. Fred keeps looking at them strangely, and is confused throughout the dream. Who were the original Andrews and Son?

I still think they’re gearing up to bring the Jason look-alike character in, á la Twin Peaks. Maybe as Uncle Oscar’s son. Fred dreamed about Jason in extra-close close up, just to make sure we remember what he looks like when the body double arrives.

I also still think that Mary Andrews is a Blossom cousin, making Archie a distant Blossom cousin, and the perfect boyfriend for Cheryl, according to Blossom family standards. Fred and Cliff were rivals for Mary’s affection, but Mary chose Fred, setting off their long-standing feud. During the wedding dream, the camera pans across Penelope, Jason, Cheryl, and Mary Andrews all standing in a line, emphasizing how much they look alike, and not just because of their hair color. Mary and Jason in particular could be mother and son. I think I’ve theorized that at least once.

The shooter is an older caucasian man with bushy eyebrows and bright green eyes, possibly wearing contacts. Judging by his hands and body, he’s minimum late 40s, probably more like late 50s or older. Smithers is devoted to Hermione and older with a build similar to the shooter. Maybe he took it upon himself to avenge her honor, after Fred dumped her a second time. He left Archie alone because he’s Veronica’s boyfriend, and killed Grundy because he’s decided to get rid of all of the cheating, using jerks in the area (Theory #3).

Juggie, I don’t want to see you riding that bike on potentially icy roads again. Alice is right about this one. Get a job from Pop Tate or Fred and buy a cool retro used car to drive Betty around in. Make it an extra cool convertible if you need fresh air.

Pictures WILL surface of Alice on the back of FP’s bike, right? Hopefully the same bike Juggie’s riding now? Hopefully wearing something revealing along with a serpents jacket?

Where was Polly? Was it too soon for her to deal with another gunshot victim?

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NewReggie sighting!

Joaquin shout out! Please, Riverdale, bring him home, even though he’s not Betty’s brother.

I’m starting to think that Jughead actually runs Riverdale. We already know that he sees and knows everything that goes on, and most of the adults, with the exception of the corrupt authority figures, like him and trust him. Now the Serpents are treating him like he’s their leader in FP’s absence. By the time he’s 18 he’ll be a benign rival Godfather to Hiram Lodge, holding court over burgers and fries at Pop’s, having trained the Serpents to rescue kittens and walk old ladies across the road. And be crack crime investigators, of course.

Did Nana Rose make it out of the fire????? Please tell me Cheryl took her someplace safe before she started pouring the gasoline. This is the most important unanswered question from the finale.

What’s the significance of the Blossom family portrait that Penelope ran back inside to save? A code, secret formula or treasure map painted into it, or something hidden behind the painting?

Too much Archie in this episode, and too much Archie and Veronica. Never enough Bughead. Seriously, are we going to see Varchie get naked every episode from now on, while Bughead share chaste kisses? I’m not okay with that. Metamaiden may protest outside the studio, or send them laxative-laced maple syrup.

“A Kiss Before Dying” was a novel made into noir movies in 1956 and 1991. The second one was bloodier than the first, as is the modern way. The gist of the story is that a man wants to marry a woman for her family’s money, but she accidentally becomes pregnant. He knows her father will disown her, so he kills her, then woos her sister instead. He kills anyone else who starts to suspect him or that the first sister was murdered. The second sister figures things out and fights for her life.

I’ve always maintained that there’s something shady about Fred. Now that he’s JR Ewing, y’all will see that I’m right. Cause he surely wasn’t shot because he accidentally got pregnant. 😜

I’m fascinated by the inclusion of Grundy in the potential murder spree. In the preview, Archie assumes the killer is targeting people he cares about, because the world revolves around Archie, always. But he and Grundy were never together, publicly. Grundy and Fred were more flirty in public. If the killer’s not Cliff, then what if it’s Grundy’s abusive husband, going after everyone she had contact with (Theory #4)? Or someone from Fred’s past, that he wronged? Maybe the killer draws the line at killing kids so he left Archie alone.

PSA: Archie’s guilt over freezing when the gun is aimed at him is pure toxic masculinity talking. It’s always better to live to fight another day than to die preserving your masculine pride. You’re not going to win against the gun, no matter how easy TV makes it look. Sometimes inaction is the best response. Sometimes you protect people by not escalating the situation. Pop knew that, and dove for cover instead of trying to be a hero.

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