What I love most about Riverdale is that it simultaneously surprises and completely makes sense at the same time. Like, of course the Blossoms live in a campy gothic mansion that Cheryl wanders around like Christina Ricci’s Casper understudy. Of course the town was built on dirty money from the Blossoms’ maple syrup crime syndicate. Of course Cheryl’s insane mother would share her daughter’s incestuous hand gestures and possibly also resent her for sharing the intimate relationship she never had with her chiseled alabaster son. (The latter is still conjecture but I’m leaning more towards incest than not here.)
Episode 5 of Riverdale wants you to think it’s mainly about Archie, whom we find in a depressed post-Grundy state. Rather than sulk privately, he overachieves publicly, throwing himself into everything in order to try and not focus on anything—but this burrito has too many ingredients and threatens to burst unless Archie can remove one (football, dating, friendship, hair dye, etc.) and salvage the integrity of the metaphorical tortilla. BUT! Archie’s is shockingly not the most pressing story line this week; rather, it’s all about the ridiculous Blossom family and their implosive internal tearing at the thousand-thread-count seams.
The Blossoms’ mansion, named Thornhill (because of course), plays host to a memorial for Jason, who still has not been buried after However Many Days Have Passed Since July 4th (is it not, like, late September by now in Riverdale?). For parents Clifford and Penelope Blossom, the memorial doubles as a ruse to gather the town’s top suspects under one roof to observe closely. They’ve invited everyone who holds a grudge against the family — so, basically, everyone in Riverdale. What I’ve learned so far about the adults of Riverdale is that everyone went to high school with each other, nobody left town (or, if they did, they came back), and literally everyone still holds the same grudges they held 20 years prior. It’s nice to see Archie and friends deal with their teen angst, but I’m largely convinced the real drama in Riverdale doesn’t start until you hit your mid-to-late 40s. Anyway.
For Cheryl, the memorial is one final sweet goodbye to Jason, but crazy Mrs. Blossom has banned Cheryl from speaking as she’s already humiliated the family with her overly public antics. When Cheryl does ultimately hijack the memorial, her remarks aren’t particularly incendiary, but they result in a violent promise from Mrs. Blossom to send Cheryl to European boarding school (which sounds like truly the worst possible Riverdale spin-off imaginable).
How does the gang fit into this campy gothic soap opera memorial service? Veronica bonds with frenemy Cheryl, Archie wears a bright blue letterman jacket (presumably to specifically trigger Mrs. Blossom), and Betty+Jughead use the open house to snoop around Jason’s bedroom. Betty’s suspicion about Jason is prompted by intel from her new beau, Trev, who reveals that Jason began dealing drugs and selling his possessions in the wake of dating Polly. Betty and Jughead pry into Jason’s room to find some sort of clue that might corroborate this, but they find something better: Nana Rose! She’s the comically old Blossom family matriarch who wheels out of the shadows with selective TV dementia to tell us that Betty looks like Polly and that Jason and Polly were ENGAGED!!!
Rewinding prior to this bombshell, Betty finally got her father, Hal Cooper, to reveal one detail about Polly’s breakdown: She was suicidal after a fight with Jason. (Was this surprising news to Betty? How has she possibly waited this many months to ask questions to her father?) Now, when Betty presents him with her newfound knowledge of her sister’s engagement, Mr. Cooper flies off the handle. Supposedly, Polly and Jason’s engagement was the last unbearable straw in a long-standing feud between the Coopers and the Blossoms. The story goes that great-grandfather Blossom murdered great-grandfather Cooper to cut him out of their lucrative maple syrup industry, and the seriousness with which this monologue is delivered is basically everything to love about Riverdale.
Ultimately, and most troublingly, Mr. Cooper accidentally slips a threat about how he’d do anything to keep Polly safe. It’s the kind of Possible Murder Motivation Monologue that prompts Betty and Jughead to add Mr. Cooper — and, hell, let’s throw in Mrs. Cooper, too, because why not — to their list of suspects in Jason’s death. In the wake of Sheriff Keller’s office being vandalized, they (and Kevin Keller) have re-created the mega-sized murder tracking board that was destroyed. Oh, and BTW Mr. Cooper destroyed it. Fun family!
NEXT: Snakes and Pussycats