I hope you’re ready for the Jones family like you’ve never seen them before, because it’s almost time for FP’s 50th birthday, and Gladys has some big plans. For starters, she got FP a gift in the form of Betty’s house! Yep, she was the anonymous buyer, and now it’s not awkward at all that Jug and his family are going to move into Betty’s house…
As for Betty, she’s going to stay with Veronica, which means the two finally get a chance to catch up. And by catch up, I mean that Veronica spills the beans that Gladys is looking to revive the Fizzle Rocks trade, a secret Betty clearly has to share with Jug. But before she can, they have to deal with the little fact that everyone who’s playing G&G could be trying to kill Archie. And seeing as how a small child nearly succeeded in doing just that last week, perhaps it’s time they take some action.
Archie heads to Hiram to find out if he printed the “Kill the Red Paladin” cards that both the warden and Ricky were holding — and talk about an easy mystery — he did!! According to Hiram, he printed out 12 of the cards, gave three to Norton and nine to Tall Boy to distribute. Imagine being a grown man, a crime boss no less, and enlisting the help of 12(!!!) people to murder your teenage daughter’s then-boyfriend. I feel like there’s a whole mess of insecurity inside Hiram, and I’d like an episode of just him and his therapist working through it. Or if he and Archie want to wrestle again, that works too.
Hiram, ever the helper, also gives Archie a list of all the hubs where Riverdale’s gamers gather to play G&G. And once Jug finishes questioning his mother’s motives in returning home and buying the Cooper house — she swears her return is all about #family — he and Betty join Archie on, as Jug puts it, their “nerdiest mission yet.” And said mission is … semi-successful.
They find a few people playing G&G and find out that the other Red Paladin cards are still in play. They just have no way of knowing when people will use them. UNLESS, Jug realizes, they make an addendum to the game and find a way to convince the players — a.k.a. the world’s most gullible nerds — that the addendum came from the Gargoyle King himself. After all, that’s what Hiram did when he created the quest. (Please don’t tell me this means the mystery will end with someone saying, “We are ALL the Gargoyle King.”)
Jug proposes that they add to the quest: Any challengers will be given 12 hours to take out the Red Paladin in a no-weapons, hand-to-hand combat. One challenger at a time will be given a chance, and at the end of those 12 hours, the quest will end. But here’s a fun fact about Riverdale: It’s home to the world’s most jacked nerds! Honestly, you’re trying to tell me that the people playing G&G in the back of a comic store — no offense — have biceps as big as KJ Apa and know how to throw a punch? Also, once again we’re putting a lot of faith in Archie as a boxer. They’re practically treating this guy like he’s freakin’ Rocky at this point. He ain’t. (Although the person who managed to make him a “Red Paladin” boxing robe that quickly deserves a belt.)
But, long story short, Arch takes out a bunch of super buff nerds — and even a prison guard who arguably has the worst right cross of anyone ever — and frees himself … theoretically. (No one actually knows how this game works.) He also gets his own boxing gym out of it because Hiram recently acquired a city block that just so happened to have one??? Sure, I’m going to pick my battles and let this one go. (Next: Betty tells Jug the truth)
As for the Jughead of it all, he gets paired up with his father as part of the training program for the Serpents. Because, as FP puts it, they’re no longer outlaws, they’re now law keepers. How is that not the most terrifying thing anyone’s ever heard?! And to make matters more confusing, FP brings in former cop Tom Keller to train the Serpents. Look, I love Tom and fully believe he should be reinstated as sheriff, but the big plan is to have someone who’s NO LONGER a cop train a bunch of teenage gang members on the current protocol for being a cop?!?! Great plan, guys. Real top-notch.
But this does mean that Jug gets to spend some quality time with his dad before learning that his mom is the worst. And she admits it! When Jug confronts her about the drug trade, she tells him she’s doing it for their family and she trusts he won’t tell FP because it will “break him.” After all, FP did just dump Alice. Oh right, did I mention that FP and Alice were still going strong?? I had sort of forgotten about it but had also assumed things had ended when she went Farm crazy? Either way, he ends things with her to be with Gladys.
Then, at his birthday party, he has a sincerely sweet moment with Fred Andrews that will make any viewer miss the late Luke Perry. Fred tells FP that “You don’t get too many nights like this. You gotta soak it up,” a line that wasn’t easy to hear coming out of Perry’s mouth. He then tells FP he’s excited they’re going to be neighbors, and again, my heart hurts.
But it’s Jug who steals the show at the party, taking the stage and delivering a lovely speech about his father’s remarkable (though entirely insane and no-way legal) journey from gang leader to sheriff and how he’s proud to be his son. Ultimately, Jug doesn’t out Gladys, but he does end the episode by asking Betty if she wants to help him save Jellybean, protect his dad, and run his mom out of town. (And you know she does.)
While all of that was going on, we’ve got some trouble in paradise for both Cheryl and Toni and Veronica and Reggie. When Toni seems to be spending all of her time with the Pretty Poisons, Cheryl decides to try and rob Le Bonne Nuit. Well, sort of. She makes her plan a bit obvious, and when Toni catches her, they decide to get a little dirty at Veronica’s club. The hookup is incredibly hot, but it doesn’t fix anything. When they finally talk things out, Toni tells Cheryl that she feels like they moved in together too quickly, so Cheryl suggests Toni move right back out. (She then STRONGLY suggests to Kevin that the next school musical WILL be Heathers.)
As for Reggie, he tells Veronica that he wants to be her business partner because unlike Arch, he has a body AND a brain. But when she denies him and tries to instead give him a better salary, he says he’s done being her hired hand. He then attempts to steal his car back from Gladys, which backfires, at which point he tells Veronica that he’s given her everything and just wanted his car back. (For the record, I’m fully Team Reggie on this one. He really has given her everything. And he looks so cute in suspenders!!)
When the two of them finally talk, he also lets it slip that he wants to be more than a casual hookup. “I want to matter, Ronnie,” he says. She reminds him that she’s still healing from her Archie breakup — although didn’t she kind of choose Ronnie over Archie? — and when he asks if they’d be dating if it weren’t for the speakeasy she says “probably not.” But she’s glad they are. She then surprises him by handing him the keys to his car. She bought it back for him. But then she says they don’t owe each other anything … which seems like a breakup? I’m confused, but also, treat him better!!!
Before I wrap things up here on a perfectly enjoyable episode of Riverdale, I’d also just like to point out that Archie and Jughead seriously said “see you at dusk” to each other in this episode, as if dusk is a definitive time. So I guess I’ll see you all next week … at dusk?