Riverdale recap: 'Episode Six: Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!'
It seems only fitting that on a day when Lorde drops her new single, Riverdale turns a decisive focus towards music with a Pussycats-centric episode that also marks Archie’s first major performance. If you really thought about it, Riverdale is just like Lorde, a stunning convergence of the brooding vampiness of Hot Topic with the wholesome Americana of a new pair of Keds. Anyway, that’s all I want to say about Lorde. Here we go:
The sixth hour of Riverdale takes larger-than-normal strides in the advancement of the Polly-Jason mythos — she’s pregnant! And stuck in a teen convent rehab prison! — but the episode is primarily dedicated to the exploration of what Archie’s dream of music really means, with Josie on hand to demonstrate the emotional cost of said pursuit.
As it turns out, Archie actually has crippling stage fright, unaided by rogue football players and a bizarre wolf nightmare motif. He can’t even drum up the courage to audition for the school’s variety show, but he gets a slot out of good faith because Veronica put in a word with Kevin, who sequentially looks like a complete dick for not offering the spot to his friend unprompted. (Kevin has a right to be resentful, as he’s positioned early as the mastermind behind the variety show and then does literally nothing else the rest of the episode.)
Archie’s takeaway from this experience is not that he’s unfit for a life on a stage, but that he’s not ready to sing solo yet, so he asks his budding paramour Val to sing with him. She initially won’t betray her Pussycats, so Veronica volunteers. One very, very small rehearsal fight later, Val decides to indeed quit her band and sing with Archie. Since Archie lacks the basic foresight required for most friendship-related decisions and no longer needs Veronica, she’s understandably furious and winds up replacing Val as the third Pussycat.
This all happens under the auspices of two plot points involving Veronica and Archie’s parents, the first being the microwaved romance that’s rising between Fred Andrews and Hermione Lodge. Archie supports it wholeheartedly, as his mother, though still married, seems to be long separated from Fred and out of the Riverdale picture (at least until Amy Adams decides to just give up and try for an Emmy first). Veronica isn’t as obliged to bless the relationship, though; she’s still under the impression that Hermione will get back together with Hiram after his prison time. Though Hermione doesn’t definitively say whether she’ll stay loyal one way or another, surely Veronica can’t blame her mother for wanting to test new milkshake flavors while they’re available for a limited time, right?
Veronica, now with bubble burst, subsequently refuses to support Hermione in her other endeavor: contracting the drive-in lot to Fred’s construction company. This whole subplot is really kind of sticky and I’m still not sold on the specifics: Something about Mayor McCoy acting as the front for the Lodges, who can’t reveal themselves as the new buyers because of Hiram’s embezzlement, and how Hiram has already given the lot contract to a sleazy outfit (probably Jughead’s dad, since everything shady is Jughead’s dad?). Long story short, if Hermione wants to give Fred the contract, she’ll need one more signature — Veronica’s — since Hiram has made Veronica a legal officer of Lodge Industries (this seems normal). Veronica refuses. Hermione forges her signature anyway. She makes out with Fred, presumably, and Veronica is pissed, unpresumably.
Therefore, as Veronica wades into water with the Pussycats, she comes loaded with enough parent-focused anger that makes for swift bonding with Josie. The arguable Cheryl Blossom of Riverdale’s music scene has put up a fierce front as the band’s fierce frontman, but we learn this week that Josie suffers from similar misfortunes at home: Her mayor mother puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on her, and her absent father — a famed musician perennially on tour — thinks her band lacks integrity. (To be fair, wearing the pussycat ears is a choice, and an ostensibly unoriginal one in a post-Ariana Grande world.) So, welcome to the family, Josie. Just like every other teenager in Riverdale, your parents are awful, but you’re pretty neat.
Surprise of all surprises, the Veronica-Valerie swap does not last very long. When the variety show finally does roll around (seemingly, a literal day after auditions are held), Val finds out that Josie’s dad was in town and, understanding her friend’s fatherly plight, apologizes to Josie for their little tiff. Moments later, Val straight-up abandons Archie to perform a song she hasn’t rehearsed at all. Archie’s cool with it, though, transforming instantaneously into a doyenne of existentialism. “I was born alone. I’ll die alone. I’ll sing alone.” Damn, Archie, what!?
Anyway, both performances are perfectly adequate. The Pussycats choose a slow Donna Summer song and don’t so much blow the roof off the house as they do keep it moderately level. Josie delivers despite watching her father leave halfway through the song. Val picks up the intricate musical arrangement immediately. Veronica coos. Archie sings well and does not engage in any statutory rape. A success all around.
NEXT: How do you solve a problem like Mrs. Cooper?
It seems to be the will of Mrs. Cooper that Betty have no friends whatsoever, as Jughead is the latest Riverdale teen to get the stamp of complete disapproval by the Lady MacBeth of the American heartland. Alice blames Jughead (whose nickname she has clearly loathed for 16 years) for jumpstarting Betty’s obsession with the ghoulish Jason Blossom. She’s shockingly not entirely wrong here — a first — but Betty is so damaged by the volatility of her parents that her eventual snapping was an inevitable conclusion, with or without the Sprouse twin’s encouragement.
This week Betty and Juggie continue their investigation, still without any remote involvement or interest from Archie and Veronica, to track a paper trail to The Sisters of Quiet Mercy, a Briarcliff-lite home for troubled youths where Polly has been remanded. Certainly, this is one hell of a way to force someone into a life of quiet reflection and servitude (the other involves being born a Slovenian model and marrying into American real estate).
As far as secluded facilities go, it’s slightly more Shutter Island than Sound of Music, but it does have a lovely garden where Betty sweetly reunites with Polly. “You found us,” she says, and for a brief second I suspect Polly may be referring to some imaginary ghost of Jason whom she considers her only company. Really, she’s just pregnant — and yes, it’s Jason’s baby.
Polly explains that she and Jason were going to run away and start their family; on July 4, she was due to meet him on the other side of Sweetwater River. But Mr. and Mrs. Cooper somehow found out and sent her away to Quiet Mercy before she could get word to him. As much as Polly seems to know about the lengths to which the Coopers have gone to spread falsehoods about her, she doesn’t know one key factor: Jason’s dead.
Before Betty can explain what happened (which I would have loved to hear), she’s whisked away by Alice, who was notified about Polly’s surreptitious visitor. At home, the Coopers scold Betty for getting involved, and Betty in turn lobs a direct question to her dad: Did he kill Jason? Alice crushes her husband’s gonads with one swift cackle: “Do you think he has the stomach for that? I wish he killed Jason. I wish I had.” And so Betty’s nightmare household continues with no actual killers but two insane parents whom Betty should really Menendez sooner rather than later.
Jughead reunites with Betty after this whole mess and, out of the blue, kisses her, likely because it’s episode 6 and every actor is contractually obligated by The CW to make out once for every eight hours of screentime. Betty doesn’t seem to care — in fact, the kiss only makes her think about the car that Polly said Jason had stashed for their escape. I would say poor Jughead, but I find that this kiss does not mark the abandonment of his asexuality from comics lore; I’d even go so far as to say that perhaps it’s the origin story!
Anyway, they track down the car, hidden underneath a tarp and vines and all sorts of spooky forest gunk, and find both Jason’s (other?) letterman jacket and a cache of drugs. They take a quick photo and go tell Sheriff Keller — but they’re obviously being watched. When the sheriff arrives, the car is on fire. And inexplicably, Betty and Jughead go to the convent to see Polly and discover that she’s broken the window in her room and escaped.
Okay. This is fine.