Riverdale recap: 'Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle'
Welcome to 2018, Riverdale fans, where the Black Hood is a thing of the past (but not really), school closings are a thing of the present, and apparently, crazy brothers are a thing of the future. Who’s excited?!
We start this week by finding out that Cheryl and her mother are living in a bordello. Confused? Let me clear it up for you: Cheryl’s mother needed a job, so now she’s a prostitute. Oh, sorry, as she puts it, she provides “comfort and companionship” to the lonely men of Riverdale. It’s something she’s been doing for two weeks now, and you know what? She’s feeling pretty good about herself. So yeah.
Then there’s Veronica, who’s fully a Lodge now as she promises her parents to get her friends on board with the plan. The plan? The mayor is closing down Southside High School and sending the students elsewhere. Translation: Jughead, Toni, and a number of their fellow Serpents are now going to attend Riverdale High, and it’s all part of the Lodges’ plan to buy the land under Southside High. And in exchange for her help, the mayor will get a sizable donation to her reelection campaign. In other words, Riverdale is back to its super skeezy self after that whole Black Hood debacle.
Also back to her old self is Polly, who somehow had her twins and shrank back to her pre-baby body in no time! Betty finds her sister packing up some things at the house. Apparently, “the leaders of the farm” think it’s best if Polly severs all ties to her family. That’s why she didn’t so much as call her mother when she, you know, gave birth. (Although I probably wouldn’t call my mother either if it meant admitting that I named my children Juniper and Dagwood.)
Just like that, Polly is back out of Betty’s life, and precious Betty is left trying to find a way to tell her mother the truth. But before she does, she comes up with a plan to cheer up mommy dearest: She asks Jug for his social worker’s name so that she can track down her long lost brother. Jug helps her out, and because the mystery brother is 18, his files are public, so Betty’s able to find out that his name is Charles Smith — which is the second most generic name behind John Doe — and his last known address was in Centerville.
Betty then takes the news to her parents, but her father isn’t interested. Mom, on the other hand, tags along for the road trip. It seems Charles — sorry, Chic — has been staying at the appropriately named Last Resort Hostel, where he works in the “fantasy fulfillment” business, whatever that means. And not surprisingly, he’s not interested in getting to know his mother. But he might be more interested in getting to know his sister…
When Betty decides to pay Chic another visit, she ends up saving his life with her handy pink pepper spray can, because when she finds him, he’s being stabbed by some scary man. Betty then takes him home, where Hal and Alice patch him up and put him to bed with the world’s creepiest night light. But because this is Riverdale, Chic is even creepier than the night light and ends the episode standing over Betty’s bed. (Maybe he just doesn’t understand how to be a sibling? Yeah, no, he’s definitely a murderer.)
As for Archie, he spends the episode trying to decide where his allegiances lie. It seems the person taking pictures of Archie was Special Agent Adams with the FBI. He’s working a case to find out if Hiram Lodge is conducting criminal activity with ties to organized crime, and his first question has to do with Nick St. Clair’s “accident.” Of course, Archie knows nothing about it, but his first assignment involves finding out what happened to Nick, and when Archie discovers that his dad just got in even deeper with the Lodge family — he traded 20 percent of his construction company to pay them back for the hospital bill — he has no choice.
First, Archie attempts to get information out of the Lodges over a family dinner, but all he walks away with is some talk about Nick having an accident in Vail and how the St. Clairs are no longer investors in the Lodges’ business. (Next: Archie pays Nick a visit)
Ultimately, it’s Cheryl who will clue Archie in. After Archie and Veronica attempt to welcome the Serpents to Riverdale High, Cheryl and Reggie butt in to draw a clear line between “them” and “us.” And if Archie doesn’t switch sides and join Cheryl, she threatens to tell Veronica about his kiss with Betty because apparently, Cheryl has eyes everywhere.
Meeting with Cheryl, Archie mentions Nick, and Cheryl, assuming Archie already knows, reveals that Nick got physical with Veronica. And suddenly, everything’s coming together in Archie’s mind.
While Reggie and Jughead start up a rivalry at school as Principal Weatherbee forces the Serpents to assimilate — No more Serpent jackets! (Also, stop calling your jackets your “skin” please!) — Archie meets back up with Agent Adams. Archie asks for assurance that his father won’t go to jail before he comes up with a plan to talk to Nick. His cover story is simple: He goes to Nick claiming that he’s there for a check to Cheryl to replace the one her mother threw in the fire in an act of solidarity.
And if we’re measuring success in terms of money, Archie’s trip is great! Nick writes Cheryl another check without flinching, but when he figures out that Archie didn’t just come for the check, he wonders if Archie is starting to wonder “how deep in shark-infested waters” he really is. He warns Arch to be careful, because “when Veronica Lodge smells blood, she’ll turn on you too.” And cue Archie losing his cool and beating up a guy who literally can’t get out of bed because both his legs are broken.
By the time Archie gets home, Nick has already texted Veronica about his newly broken nose. And that leads Cheryl to apologize about telling Veronica’s secret. It also leads to Archie lying and telling the truth at the same time. Allow me to explain: He doesn’t tell Veronica the REAL reason he was there — the FBI, of course — but he does ‘fess up to kissing Betty when they were broken up (for like 12 hours).
Veronica rather quickly forgives him for what she calls a “my life is in danger” kiss, and Archie continues his investigation. He asks if Veronica told anyone else about Nick, but she only mentions Kevin’s name. With that, Archie has more conditions for working with the FBI: He wants both Veronica and his father to be off limits, and he also has a question: If the FBI has been watching him, they know about the Black Hood. And no, he’s not wondering why the FBI did nothing while a serial killer went around town murdering people!!! Rather, he’d just like to know if the FBI thinks they got the right guy…because Archie doesn’t.
And before we call it quits, here’s a quick update on the whole Weatherbee versus Jughead struggle. Jug removes his jacket during school hours in exchange for starting the Swords and Serpents Club, which he claims is for LARPing, essentially, but it’s obviously an opportunity for the Serpents to hang out. “We’re not shedding our skins,” Jug says, really overdoing this whole snake analogy. “We’re lying low in the tall grass.” WE GET IT.
And we’ll end things where we started them: Cheryl gives her mom the new check from Nick in the hopes that her mother will stop comforting the lonely men of Riverdale, but guess what? Mama Blossom loves her new job, and no check in her bra will make her return to her old life.
So there you have it: Chic is in town! So is the FBI! And maybe so is the Black Hood…still?