Jughead's birthday party goes horribly wrong when people actually show up
It was about damn time people got drunk on Riverdale. I’m no advocate for underage drinking, but never has a fictional television town been more in need of the emotional byproducts of a night out — drunk-dial confessions, booze-bolstered declarations of love and hate, and the classic “Why don’t we hang out anymore, Jessica” that brings old pals close together once more. Though I wish the adults got in on the liquidation action, at least the kids had time to turn up at Jughead’s birthday party, a celebration which began its life as a depressingly sad event before taking a brutal turn towards an anxiety-inducing horror movie.
The person whom we should thank/blame for the terrible fate of this fete is Betty Cooper, who is so thrown by the sudden reappearance of Chuck Clayton (remember, the jock she almost killed but instead got expelled? LOL!) that she puts every ounce of her energy into throwing a birthday party for Jughead. Even though Jughead notably hates his birthday, and even though Betty should have theoretically known this for at least a decade, she goes hard for event planning, partially as a symbol of her love and partially to avoid facing the implicit truths underneath her deeply rooted psychological trauma! Both good reasons to throw a party.
Here’s why everyone else gets drunk:
Archie pops into the liquor cabinet because of his anxiety about his mother and father’s impending divorce, which is finally entering its last stages at Fred’s insistence after Archie’s mother moved out two years ago. Although Mary Andrews (Molly Ringwald) straight-up ditched Archie, he still talks to her on the phone and tenaciously clings to fleeting hope that she and Fred might yet reconcile. Fred’s decision to seek her out in person to sign divorce papers does not make this wish seem plausible, though. DRINK!
Veronica chugs after discovering several more frightening things about her father earlier that day. No longer a staunch defender of her daddy’s character, Veronica learns that Hiram may have been arrested because of the machinations of Clifford Blossom, but any public discussion of that theory would in turn place sizable suspicion on him as a possible culprit in Jason’s murder. Making matters worse, Veronica’s refusal to testify as a character witness for Hiram leads to a very spooky letter from her father (ugh, in Times New Roman) threatening to drag “not so innocent” Hermione into the mess unless Veronica will speak to his sunny disposition. DRINK!
Jughead doesn’t necessarily even imbibe at his own party, but he still exhibits the byproduct sadness of drinking simply because he hates his birthday that much. He’s plagued by memories of his broken family feigning happiness once a year, and he’s certainly not happily reminded of them when his alcoholic gangster hottie dad arrives at Betty’s insistent invitation. DRINK!
With these morose ingredients, this burrito bowl would be rancid enough if the party stayed in its initial stages (which involved the foursome, Kevin, his sudden boyfriend Joaquin, and a bladder-shamed Ethel). But the night takes on a supremely weird shape when Cheryl and Chuck show up with That High School Cliché of 50 people and a bunch of kegs. (As a former fraternity social chair, you do have to respect anyone, evil or not, who can galvanize a guest list and organize a supply run that quickly.)
As is par for the course for Cheryl and our new villain Chuck, the pair’s plan for “revenge” is absolutely insane. Because Chuck was thrown off the football team by Betty’s whistleblowing and because Cheryl was out-danced by Veronica at cheer practice, the duo essentially decide to fill the party with guests so they can hold them hostage to bear witness as Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead reveal their deepest secrets. (This, in my experience, does not typically happen at American high school functions.)
What comes next is absolutely the laziest writing Riverdale has exercised so far, but it’s great if you’ve suddenly chosen this nightmarish episode to start watching the show. Everyone’s plot vomit will catch you up fairly well on all the secrets that are now just sort of floating in the ether: Cheryl outs the Lodges as the buyers of the drive-in (which remains a high-stakes revelation in Riverdale despite being deeply uninteresting to audience members who don’t find the sales of land to be particularly high-adrenaline). Veronica floats a theory that Cheryl killed Jason because he chose Polly over her (finally, someone calling out those incest vibes we’ve all been catching). Dilton Doiley pops out of absolutely nowhere to reveal that Archie and Ms. Grundy were having an affair and down at Sweetwater River together (oh man, remember Ms. Grundy!?). And then Chuck brings up Betty’s hooker fantasy demon pool night, which prompts a punch from Jughead and the ultimate break-up of the party.
Are you happy, Cheryl? Did your plan work? Did any of this matter? Why did nobody leave? Who even knows anymore why these kids make the decisions they do. If 13 Reasons Why is being lauded for mirroring actual high school behavior, Riverdale is what happens when you dress up cute animals against their will and meme them like it was their decision to wake up like this.
The aftermath of all this is that Veronica sleeps with Archie and it was so good that she decides to support her mother and testify for Hiram; Betty makes up with Jughead and reveals her temporary psychotic episodes, and the two grow closer when she shows him her dry palms; and Archie, perhaps because he drunk-dialed his dad and begged him not to sign the divorce papers, gets a surprise visit from his parents, together, which seems to be much better news than him getting laid for the first time since Val broke up with him.
Other secrets are revealed at the party, though rather unintentionally. FP learns from his associate Joaquin, who overheard from Veronica, that Hiram may be connected with Jason’s murder; Veronica, meanwhile, recognizes FP as the Serpent her mother had been dealing with on the drive-in lot. Of course, we’re missing the three biggest things to happen tonight:
1. The newly discovered history of FP Jones and Alice Cooper, who MIGHT HAVE BEEN A SOUTHSIDE SERPENT!? I’m more than over all of the adults in this town, but in quite literally one instant, Riverdale has its hottest new couple and my new priority shipment.
2. This exchange:
“If it’s a double feature, does that mean I have time to go to the bathroom?”
“I’d hold it, Ethel.”
3. And the biggest doozy of them all — this horrifying shot from next week’s episode.
Tag yourself. I’m the CW logo.