Jughead and Archie team up to get their dads to team up; Betty and Cheryl play a dangerous game with Polly's fate; Veronica goes clubbing.
It’s a week of revelations here in Riverdale — riverlations? — but some bombshells are taken far less seriously than others. Betty and Jughead are dating? Literally nobody cares. Jason Blossom was going to be a father? Oh, ha, weird. A social pariah largely forgotten by the town for months is now on the loose? Sound the alarms and alert the FBI and tell the neighborhood from The Truman Show to search the island!!!
Polly Cooper’s asylum escape and the curiously-timed burning of Jason Blossom’s getaway car have pointed all fingers to her as the prime suspect in both murdering Jason and now covering the tracks. Betty makes the mistake of loudly voicing her concern over Polly in the student lounge, where an impersonal crony of Cheryl Blossom’s overhears it and quickly texts the intel to Cheryl, who inappropriately but hilariously blasts it out on Twitter (although #SharpenYourPitchfork is more Beauty and the Beast content, if anything).
The Blossoms quickly enlist the police to track down Polly as suspect No. 1, forcing Betty to rally her friends and family to find Polly before they do. With dual search parties racing to be the first to find an unhinged pregnant tween in the forest, Mrs. Cooper attempts to gain an advantage: She throws a little Chicago-esque press conference in front of the church to get both God and the general populace of Riverdale on their side. Alice reveals that Polly was pregnant with Jason’s baby, which completely undermines the entire reason they sent her to solitary to begin with, but hey, whatever!
Stunningly, no one seems to care — except the Blossoms. Cheryl approaches Betty with a materteral mea culpa, agreeing to unite with her fellow future aunt and help Polly raise JJ’s baby safely. Cheryl’s got money, and as luck would have it, Betty found Polly hiding out in the Coopers’ doll-packed attic (fun!) and promised to help her wrangle enough money to go raise the baby on the farm upstate where she and Jason had planned to go. (A cursory conversation with the Coopers also confirmed that they had no plans to allow Polly to keep said cursed child no matter what.)
Under the pretense of seeking neonatal investors, Betty reluctantly meets with the Blossoms, who have only threatened destruction on the Cooper family just enough times that Betty still trusts them. She’s about to hand over Polly when Cheryl suddenly calls a stop to the scheme, having discovered that the Blossoms weren’t planning to let Polly raise the child either. What a shocker. So, by episode’s end, Polly Cooper has a new status quo: She’s still on the run, everyone knows she’s pregnant, and now the Lodges have taken her in, because harboring a fugitive is definitely not the worst thing that family is up to right now.
As it stands under the cruel Smithers-controlled thumb of the Lodge loft, Veronica is still pretty furious with her mother for forging her signature and giving the drive-in contract to Fred, rather than honor Hiram’s wishes for it to stay in the family’s sleazy inner ring. Ronnie is less angry over the Fred relationship — that’s old news — but more upset that Hermione took away the one thing Hiram promised no federal agent could ever repossess: her name. Aww. So, Veronica’s form of revenge is exorbitant online shopping and clubbing, and it works enough damage on Hermione to force her to negotiate terms: Veronica will accept Hermione’s new feelings for Fred if Hermione comes clean to Hiram about forging Veronica’s signature and betraying his loyalty. All is well fairly quickly, just in time for them to host a runaway murder suspect and be super cool with it.
But hey, that’s all great. Now it’s time to get to the real dirt of the episode that I know you came here to discuss: Riverdale’s hot dads.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a hot teen on Riverdale is likely derived from a hot dad, and such is definitely the case with both the Andrews and Jones genetic lines. The focus this week hinges on Jughead’s dad, whom we have only seen briefly as a snakelike man-gangster. Today, we see him struggling to get by as a result of being fired by Fred and abandoned by Mrs. Jones (and daughter Jellybean) months prior.
His name is F.P. — short for Forsythe Pendleton — and he’s got more of a tragic past than initial appearances as a Southside Serpent would let on. In the comics, he shares the same lazy gene as Jughead, but his inability to hold down a job doesn’t necessarily stem from drinking problems nor lead to his poverty. He’s just a little dimmer than Fred Andrews, that’s all. That dynamic isn’t exactly shared here on Riverdale, which unfortunately paints him as much more of a deadbeat than the Barney to Fred’s, well, Fred.
As far as Jughead is concerned, he doesn’t have a totally botched relationship with F.P. but he does resent him just enough to avoid home while his dad is off the wagon. Jughead seems well adjusted to the maladjustment — he’s living in a literal cupboard under the stairs at school and not complaining — but Archie discovers him one morning (after a fabulously homoerotic moment in the bathroom) and encourages him to face his housing (and father) crisis straight on.
Juggie and Archie hatch a plan for F.P. to go back to work at the construction company. When Jughead proposes this to his dad, F.P. bristles but eventually and endearingly softens at the idea that legitimate employment could bring his family back to him. Nevertheless, it takes a big moral swallow for F.P. to return to the company; as the story goes, Fred and F.P. co-founded the company together, but when one of F.P.’s odd jobs landed him in hot water, Fred simultaneously bailed and bought him out for the sake of liability.
In the present, F.P. resists his pride and Fred happily allows him back into the fold, leading to a lovely sexy bonding night for the Andrews and Jones men. Like every other adult of a certain age in Riverdale, Fred and F.P. go all the way back to high school, and they regale their sons with tales of conquered women, experimental music, and athletic glory days (F.P. even expresses his admiration that Jughead didn’t follow in his bad-boy/jock path). The night takes a tense turn when the bill arrives, but it’s all good — nobody throws a milkshake or unleashes a boa constrictor or anything like that.
The real tension from F.P.’s hotheadedness comes a bit later upon Jughead’s arrest. Juggie heads into the newspaper office at school and finds that the principal and the sheriff have discovered his massive Homeland-esque Jason Blossom homicide board (which, in Jughead’s defense, is as inappropriately housed at the school as Sheriff Keller’s investigation). Everyone watches as Sheriff Keller escorts Jughead to an interrogation room at the station and presents him with circumstantial evidence that might link him to the murder: a record in juvie, an arson incident six years prior, and a history of being bullied by the football team — including Jason. None of the evidence is enough to warrant much of an arrest, but Jughead still fears being made a scapegoat and requests a lawyer. Instead, he gets Betty — great! — and Fred Andrews, who shows up suddenly and decides it would be helpful to tell Sheriff Keller that Jughead was working for him on July 4th. Surely, this isn’t true, and surely, it would be much better for nobody to lie, but surely, few people in Riverdale ever make sound decisions anyway, so this is par for the course.
When F.P. finally shows up at the school to claim Jughead, the long-simmering tension explodes with Fred — anyone who’s ever seen a TV show knew that “He’s my son, not yours!” was coming eventually — but F.P. is more bark than bite. He ultimately breaks down and begs for time to get his life back on track, leaving Jughead to retire to Archie’s house and F.P. to his own, where, underscored by his son’s narration, we see that F.P. has Jason Blossom’s letterman jacket hanging in his closet. (Don’t be quick to judge only F.P., though, since Hermione is hosting a fugitive and Fred just fabricated an alibi for a murder investigation.)
The questions: (1) Was F.P. in the process of bringing Jason into the Serpents? (2) Is part of his drunken stupor borne from his knowing who killed Jason and the subsequent self-loathing over keeping the secret from his tortured son? (3) HOW MANY LETTERMAN JACKETS DID JASON BLOSSOM OWN!?