This week’s Riverdale was all about guest stars, the biggest one being Katy Keene, of course, because it’s Lucy Hale and a character that’s getting her own show. But there was also Nick St. Clair and some guy named Ted Bishop. Let’s figure out which guest star really added the most to the hour by checking in with the show’s five central characters.
Archie and Uncle Frank are wrapping up a workday when Ted Bishop, an old friend who served with Frank, shows up to deliver some bad news: Someone named Greg died. As Ted puts it, cancer “rotted his guts,” so one thing we know about Ted is that he’s not gentle. And yet, Archie invites him over to the house for dinner, where he asks him to stay the night! It’s not the first time Archie’s naïveté will land him in trouble and it won’t be the last.
When another old friend calls Frank saying someone else died, Frank realizes something’s off just in time for Ted to try to stab him. Archie ultimately hits Ted over the head with a frying pan, but that somehow doesn’t knock him out? Ted (and his skull of steel) runs off and Frank explains: After the war, Ted hired Frank to work at a private security firm. They were mercenaries. And now, Frank thinks Ted has been sent to tie up the company’s loose ends. So yeah, Riverdale has turned into a Jason Bourne movie now?
Long story short, Ted isn’t going to stop until Frank is dead, so Archie does the only thing he can think to do: Get FP, Riverdale’s resident badass cop/gang leader, involved. Apparently, FP has gone up against a mercenary or two in his life, which seems about right. The plan is to use Frank as bait and then have FP arrest Ted, and it works! At least until Ted tells Frank that he broke the code, which means “all bets are off now.” I don’t exactly know what it means, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out it’s not good (so someone might want to translate for Archie).
Just as Frank decides to run away to Alaska, Ted breaks out of prison because Riverdale cops have the same IQ as, well, Archie. Ted then attacks Archie at school, where the guy slams Archie’s head into a mirror and then throws his body THROUGH A PORCELAIN SINK. And you’re telling me that he’s still conscious?! Kevin accidentally walks into the bathroom and distracts Ted, giving Archie an opportunity to knock him out with the toilet lid. But let’s not forget about Ted’s skull of steel! The guy gets up again like three seconds later and chases the two of them down. He knocks Kevin out with one push into the lockers — the most realistic part of this scene — and starts strangling Archie before Frank returns and knocks him out with a trophy. And somehow, the trophy is the only blunt object that really works.
They turn Ted over to the feds, and Archie convinces Frank to turn himself in as well. Because if anyone knows what should be done in this situation, it’s the teenager. But Frank doesn’t actually listen to the teen. Instead, he leaves Riverdale and Archie behind. Archie’s next move? Being a simple man with honor, just like his dad. (And probably fighting the occasional bear and/or assassin when they come to town.)
Veronica heads to New York with her parents — they’re going on business and she has an interview at Barnard — where she meets up with her old friend Katy Keene. Katy’s into fashion so she’s the obvious choice to help Veronica pick out the perfect college interview outfit. (Spoiler: It looks a lot like her “another day of high school” outfits.)
The best part of this story comes after the girls finish shopping and Katy asks, “Wait, do you like drag?!” She then takes Veronica to Molly’s Crisis, where the two catch up. Katy asks if Archie will follow Veronica to college, and she says Riverdale wouldn’t survive without him, so their plan is to do the long-distance thing. Katy then reveals that her mom is sick, which, don’t get me wrong, is very sad, but it’s a character we’ve never met so it doesn’t quite land despite Lucy Hale’s solid delivery. The news does, however, tie into the end of the episode.
It turns out that Hermione and Hiram didn’t go to New York for business. They went to see a specialist. Hiram has a neuromuscular disorder that will weaken him and cause him to lose his motor skills. They did catch it early, so there’s a chance he’ll be okay, but for now, Veronica changes her name back to Lodge and tells her parents she’s been accepted to Barnard.
When Nick St. Clair shows up at the Maple Club, Cheryl fills Toni in on their past. And Toni sees it as an opportunity for revenge: She drugs Nick and enlists tickle experts Kevin and Fangs to make a video with Nick to use as blackmail if he ever sets foot in Riverdale or assaults another woman again. Also, “we in the tickle business” is something that Kevin says, and I’ll never be okay with this.
Betty and Jughead
It’s duel time for Jughead and Bret! The two agree to the terms: There will be a fencing match, a “bare-knuckle brawl,” and, if necessary, a chess match as a tiebreaker. They’re each allowed to choose a “second” to help them, and Jughead chooses Donna for some reason. But I guess she can help him learn to fence?
Speaking of fencing, the match goes down in the seminar room? I find it hard to believe that there’s not a better place for two people to fence, not to mention that they’re surrounded by fellow students who could be harmed? Whatever. Bret wins and we move to the brawl, which Jug wins with one punch. But we all knew this was going to come down to chess.
While all of this is going on, Alice is trying to fix her mistake: She tells Mr. Honey that she acted alone in getting the quiz show answers, but he doesn’t believe her. Instead, he suspends Betty for a week, strips her of her editor-in-chief title at the paper, and bans her from her senior prom. Oh, and Bret also took out a restraining order against Betty at some point in all this chaos.
But Betty has other things to work on: She enlists her mom in looking into Mr. Chipping’s death. They start by talking to Mrs. Chipping, who doesn’t believe for one second that her husband was having an affair with a student. All she knows is that Mr. Chipping wished he never got the Baxter Brothers contract, so why would he kill himself when he was so close to being done? He’d just finished his last book! Mrs. Chipping has a lot of questions, and she leaves behind a box of her late husband’s personal things so Betty and Alice can look through it. And what do they find but Army pamphlets.
That brings us to Moose. Moose reveals that not only did Chipping suggest the Army, but he was actually the person who recruited Moose to play football for Stonewall Prep in the first place. Then, when the story came out about Moose, Chipping practically shoved Moose out the door. Apparently, he learned that Bret had videotaped Moose having sex with a classmate in their dorm and added it to “his collection.”
So naturally, Betty and Alice head to the dorm to see if they can find said collection. Instead, all they find is Bret, who denies any knowledge of such tapes. That leads to Plan B: While Jughead and Bret play chess in the seminar room, Betty and Alice will search the school’s basement where the Quill and Skull meetings take place.
And Betty does find a tape collection there, but it’s not what she thinks. When Bret gets alerted that the Quill and Skull alarm is going off, they pause the game and head downstairs, where he reveals that all Betty has found are the tapes of every Quill and Skull member’s initiation testimony. So she hands them over and he and Jug get back to their game. At least until Jughead throws it. It seems Jug is no longer interested in honor the way Stonewall defines it. He doesn’t want to be a Stonewall man.
Once back home, Betty reveals she did manage to sneak Donna’s tape out, and her confession is eerily similar to the story she told Betty about her affair with Mr. Chipping, except her tape is about an affair with a different teacher. Turns out, Donna’s been lying this whole time. Her story about Mr. Chipping was a rehearsed speech she’s given at least twice. Perhaps they’ve been looking at Bret as the evil mastermind when they should’ve been looking at Donna.
And that’s where we leave it. As far as guest stars go, I enjoyed the Katy Keene stuff the most, though I think Betty and Alice working together was the strongest story of the hour. And can we please be done with the tickling nonsense now?!
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