According to Jughead, everyone in Riverdale wears a mask, and he’s not talking about face masks (though based on Betty and Veronica’s skin, they definitely do…at least once a week). But it’s when those masks slip — sorry, back to the metaphorical mask — that you see someone’s true self. And as Jug writes this, Toni wakes up at his place, so maybe we’re seeing part of Jug’s true self in his choice of a rebound. And then there’s Betty, whose mask is so far gone she can’t even bother to put her hair up into her iconic ponytail anymore.
With her hair down, Betty runs to Nick’s hotel to find out if the Black Hood killed him. Sadly, the answer is no. But while Betty is there, Sheriff Keller does show up to take Nick to the station, so at least there’s that. As for Betty, she gets a call from the Black Hood on her walk back home. He claims that the point of her giving up Nick’s name was for the Hood to see the “real Betty.” And now that he’s seen her true self, the real work can begin, whatever that means. Betty hangs up in just enough time to get a classic “you up?” text from Archie.
Together, Betty and Archie head to Pop’s, and along the way, she tells Arch she’s figured out that all of this is just a psychological game to the Hood, and if that’s the case, she’s done playing. The next time he calls, she won’t pick up. And there’s no need to worry about the Hood hurting Polly — Betty told her to disappear for a while. As for things with Jug, well, Betty’s currently looking at him…and he’s sharing a booth at Pop’s with Toni.
According to their booth conversation, Jug and Toni engaged in a “PG-13 grope session” last night, which I’d guess means second base if you’re comparing bases to the rating system. Never mind. The big takeaway is that last night might be as far as their relationship goes, because Toni isn’t into being the rebound girl. Actually, she’s more into girls.
With Nick at the police station, Penelope Blossom heads to the Lodges’ place to get Cheryl, where she tells Hiram and Hermione that she wants things handled discreetly. According to Penelope, Cheryl won’t be pressing charges because “nothing really happened to Cheryl.” Hearing those words, Cheryl snaps into “obedient daughter” mode, shoves all her of her emotions down, tells Veronica she’s fine, and storms out.
As for Veronica, she’s left to join everyone else who was at Nick’s party at Alice Cooper’s house, where she’s arranged a meeting with all the kids and their parents to discuss the fact that they were all caught doing drugs. (Well, everyone except Betty, who’s only charged with being a bit of a bitch to Veronica.) There, Sheriff Keller explains why there’s no case against Nick: because all of the witnesses were high. And yes, that includes Josie, a bit of information that sends Mayor McCoy over the edge. (Apparently Josie’s father struggled with addiction.) After hearing about her daughter’s choice, Mayor McCoy decides her No. 1 priority is getting the South Side under control, and that starts with a raid of Southside High.
Archie races the authorities to the high school and is able to pull Jug out of the way before the raid begins. Minutes later, Jug is called into a meeting with Tall Boy at the house of some Ghoulie named Malachi. (All we know about Malachi is that he speaks for the Ghoulies, he hates shirts, and he loves skulls.) According to Tall Boy, the rival gangs need to unite now that so many of their men have been arrested. But Jug hates that plan, so he and Arch decide to head to the police station to get FP’s advice. Dad’s suggestion? Take advantage of the Ghoulies’ No. 1 weakness — their love of souped-up cars, obviously — and challenge them to street race. Winner gets control of Southside High. Well, at least that’s FP’s suggestion, but we’ll get back to this later.
Back on the North Side, Betty gives up on her plan and answers the Hood’s next call. The Hood claims that by sparing Nick’s life, he saved Betty from having Nick’s blood on her hands. Now, she can either help him or be responsible for far worse. So, what does he want? Oh, just to find the person making the drugs in Riverdale. Apparently, the supplier is called the Sugar Man, and Clifford Blossom used to be his supplier, which is why the Hood wants Betty to talk to Cheryl. She can either give the Hood the name of the Sugar Man, or someone else will die.
With her iconic ponytail back, Betty heads over to ask a sunbathing Cheryl (there’s literally no sun out) to inquire about the Sugar Man. Cheryl knows the name, but only as a story her mother made up to scare her and Jason when they were little. And when Cheryl confronts her mother about it, Penelope plays dumb. Meanwhile, at Pop’s, Sheriff Keller tells Betty that Clifford Blossom WAS the Sugar Man, and that Jingle Jangle didn’t hit the streets until after Clifford died.
One good thing to come out of all this nothing? Betty also runs into Veronica at Pop’s, and over milkshakes, Betty comes clean about everything. By the end of their conversation, we’ve got another B and V team-up on our hands. Veronica is going to help her bestie identify the Sugar Man. (Recap continues on page 2)
The next day, everyone from the party is serving community service — their punishment — when Veronica asks Reggie for his Jingle Jangle dealer. She meets up with said dealer and scares him off by mentioning the Sugar Man, and then she and Betty follow him back to Ghoulie headquarters. Spoiler: They get caught, but thankfully, Jug and Archie are already there to negotiate the terms of the street race. If Jug wins, the Serpents remain autonomous and the Ghoulies quit dealing at Southside High. But if Jug loses, the Serpents fold, and the Ghoulies get both the White Worm and Sunnyside Trailer Park.
With the stakes set, Betty starts working on Reggie’s car, which is when she promises Jug that she broke up with him to protect him, and that she will explain everything after the race. But before we get to the race, Cheryl has a run-in with Nick at Pop’s, and when that jerk shows no remorse for what he did, she threatens to press charges, at which point he reveals that Cheryl’s mother accepted hush money from his parents. Sure enough, Cheryl finds the check and tells her mother that she’s never protected her. As for the check, Cheryl will hand it over when Penelope is ready to tell her daughter the truth about the Sugar Man.
Cheryl then calls Veronica to inform her that her parents are also still accepting money from the St. Clair family, so Veronica decides to tell them that Nick tried to attack her too. The instant she says it, you can see the switch in Hiram’s brain. Nick is dead to him…maybe literally. Hermione cuts off her husband’s threat and vows to stop taking money from that family. And by episode’s end, the St. Clairs will be involved in a terrible car accident. They survive, but recovering will take some time. (And Veronica seems fine with it. Is her Lodge blood showing?)
As for the race, Betty tells Jug that she never stopped loving him before he and Archie get into Reggie’s car and…lose? Archie pulls up the emergency brake to save their lives, but we quickly find out he did it because he called Sheriff Keller and the cops are waiting at the finish line. Now, the Ghoulies are arrested and therefore aren’t a problem, at least temporarily. But let’s just say the Serpents don’t love anyone getting the cops involved, like, ever.
After the race, Penelope tells Cheryl that the Sugar Man was a story she made up “to turn an all-too-real monster into a child’s boogeyman.” There have been many over the years. When Clifford started grooming Jason to take over the family business, he suggested his son meet the current Sugar Man — and when he did, she says, it launched the terrible series of events that led to Jason’s death. Cheryl then hands her mother the check, which Penelope promptly tosses into the fire. Cheryl then asks one last question: Who’s the Sugar Man now?
Cheryl calls Betty with a name, but Betty decides to give the name to the cops instead of the Hood. Betty then tells the Hood that this is her game now. She found out who killed Jason; she found out the identity of the Sugar Man. Now, the Black Hood is next. “I’m breathing down your neck,” badass Betty tells him. “Can you feel it? Can you feel me?” He hangs up.
As for the Sugar Man’s identity, it was Mr. Phillips! And the cops do arrest him, but that doesn’t keep him safe. At the end of the hour, the Black Hood somehow finds his way into the jail to shoot the Sugar Man himself. Game on, Betty.
Overall, I didn’t love this week as much as I loved last week, but I’m still a big fan of the Betty-Hood connection, and I definitely liked seeing more of Cheryl. Also, anytime this show channels Grease/Cry-Baby, I’m into it.