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By Samantha Highfill
March 31, 2021 at 10:49 PM EDT
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Well, I don't think there was any way to be prepared for Riverdale's mid-season finale. Jughead's shirtless drug trip! Archie with a machete! A prison break! A Chic-Charles wedding! ANOTHER fire! Let's do our best to break down the madness.

We will start with the least insane storyline of it all, which is Veronica's. After Chad refuses to sign the divorce papers and instead sends her a bunch of photos of her making out with Archie, she agrees to go back to New York, meet him for dinner, and enjoy one final meal together before they go their separate ways. She assures Archie she won't spend the night — she says she's staying with Katy Keene, the spin-off this show won't let rest in its grave — but, spoiler alert, she sleeps with Chad. After a nice walk down memory lane and a moment where she asks if he crashed that helicopter on purpose — he says he didn't — she agrees to spend one last night together.

But then she wakes up to discover Chad has made all kinds of bad investments in the name of her new jewelry store. Has that thing even been open a week? How has he already had time to do that? So, long story short, she can't divorce him yet, because then he could testify against her and [insert blackmail here]. In the end, Veronica calls Archie and tells him she's staying in New York for a few days. He's... not thrilled.

Speaking of Archie, his day was MUCH more interesting. What begins as a day of prep for parent-teacher night at Riverdale High — why is that a nighttime activity? — becomes a bit of a reunion when General Taylor shows up wanting to give Archie a medal for his final mission, you know, the one where he lost 10 men. But when a New York Times reporter calls saying they're looking into some of General Taylor's shady missions, Archie visits Uncle Frank in prison for some guidance.

After they spend a few minutes discussing what's new in Archie's life, Archie says, "By the way, how are you holding up?" So you're telling me you just visited your uncle IN PRISON and waited until you got through your boring drama to ask how he's doing?! Better yet, when Frank says it feels like a riot is brewing, Archie responds with a good old "keep your head down" and then says he has to run. So if Archie deserves any award, it's one for the worst nephew ever.

When the lights go out at parent-teacher night, the school is attacked by inmates who've just escaped prison. (Maybe we should've paid more attention to what Uncle Frank was saying huh Arch?!) Archie starts taking them out, one by one, including an inmate who HAS A MACHETE. At what point between prison and the high school did this guy pick up a machete?! Are they just laying in the streets of Riverdale?

Uncle Frank, now freed, shows up at school and helps Archie lead the parents to safety. Archie then ends the episode telling General Taylor to shove his award. He knows he sent him on a crap mission and he's not scared to say it.

But while we're talking inmates, we need to talk about Betty. Did she spend the night with Glenn at the start of the episode? It's unclear, but Glenn does tell her about his plan: He's got 10 agents patrolling the Lonely Highway and now he needs Betty to focus on her father. Glenn's theory is that the bodies found along the Lonely Highway are from an assortment of killers — they're like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get! — and he thinks Betty's dad is one of those killers. So, he needs Betty to listen to old tapes from her father's analysis to see what she finds. Because that's not a conflict of interest!

In the tapes, dear old dad mentions using Ned's List to find women after Alice stopped being affectionate, which is the same way that the Lonely Highway women make connections. But that's about all the work Betty does on those tapes before she shifts her attention from her murderous father to her potentially murderous niece and nephew. It seems Juniper and Dagwood pushed a classmate down some stairs, and when Betty tells them he could've died, they don't so much as blink.

Riverdale
Riverdale
| Credit: The CW

Betty tells Glenn about it over dinner, and he desperately wants to meet the twins. Why? Because he's writing a dissertation titled "Family of Darkness: Varying Displays of the Serial Killer Gene in the Cooper Family Tree." I mean have you ever heard of something so romantic?! Glenn claims Betty's family is the perfect example of nature versus nurture, so she slaps him in the face and leaves.

BUT IF HE THOUGHT HER FAMILY WAS INTERESTING BEFORE... Juniper and Dagwood's birthday party has two uninvited guests in attendance: Charles and Chic. Because if you just broke out of prison, wouldn't you go straight to a children's birthday party?! Their reasoning? Alice has been visiting Charles in prison and she had previously agreed to get ordained and marry Charles and Chic behind bars. And now, they'd like to get married in their family's home!

For those keeping track, we've now had newly freed inmates head to high school and a children's birthday party, the two least likely places for newly freed inmates to go. Also, Charles and Chic claim most of the other inmates ran for the hills, to which I say BECAUSE YOU DON'T JUST GET TO STAY OUT OF PRISON IF YOU ESCAPE. If I were you, I'd run, guys!!

But when Glenn interrupts the wedding ceremony, Charles decides to introduce the family to the world's worst game. He calls it Pincushion Man, which is a stupid way of saying everyone has to stab Glenn. Betty goes first, and she's handed a butcher's knife, so I'm not sure that "Pincushion Man" is even an accurate name. She tells Glenn to trust her before stabbing him in the stomach, seemingly missing any vital organs. She then throws the knife at Chic while Alice tackles Charles, eventually shooting him. My only question: Why did Betty have to stab Glenn at all if she was going to throw the knife at Chic?! And Betty, WHERE IS YOUR CAT?!

Betty ends the episode by saying Glenn is okay and Charles is in the ICU at Shankshaw. (There's no update on Chic or his hair.) She then tells Alice that the FBI is relocating its Lonely Highway case upstate, but she promises not to stop searching for Polly. Her plan? To pose as a trucker and drive the Lonely Highway in a baseball cap and jean jacket. Because that way she'll blend in with all the creepy middle-aged men.

Moving to Jughead, after kissing Tabitha and then agreeing to remain friends, he gets the exciting news that Pop Culture Weekly — hi, I think? — wants to publish an excerpt of his new book. But he's got a serious case of writer's block, which means he only has one option: As all writers know, the only cure to writer's block is psychedelics. Jughead tells Tabitha that the last time he did maple mushrooms he woke up to realize he'd written 500 pages of his book!!! 500 pages!!! Again, kids, this is not how drugs work. No one writes 500 pages in one sitting. NO ONE.

Anyway, Tabitha tells him she's not interested in watching over him during his trip, but he calls his drug dealer, Speedy, anyway. Yes, you read that name correctly, his drug dealer is named Speedy.

Later that day, Jess, Jughead's ex, shows up with his $500 delivery that he doesn't pay for, and Tabitha has a change of heart. She cooks the mushrooms into a sauce that she puts on a burger, then she leaves Jughead alone in the bunker, promising to check in periodically. My question: How many mushrooms are in that sauce?! Is one not enough? I guess not if he's hoping for 500 pages.

By the time Tabitha checks on him, he's dancing shirtless around the bunker, so she decides to handcuff him to the table and tells him to write. HOW CAN HE TYPE IF HE'S HANDCUFFED?! But he doesn't stay handcuffed for long. He starts hallucinating Jess and Betty and then there's a trippy makeout scene and Jughead sees some weird stuff, but I guess it works because he wakes up and realizes he's written something? But by the time Tabitha shows up, he's gone and there's a lot of blood because I guess he essentially just pulled his hand out of the handcuffs? Or maybe the aliens took him.

Last but not least, we have Cheryl, who finds out that the maple trees aren't producing sap like they usually do. Nana claims it's the family curse and that it's Cheryl's fault for being happy with her new girlfriend.

So when Reggie asks Nana to sell the maple groves to Hiram — he wants to dig for palladium — she does. Except she can't. Cheryl shows up and informs Reggie and Hiram that she had Nana declared senile years ago, so she can't sign away the groves.

When Hiram tells Reggie to "fix it," Reggie decides to set the groves on fire. And because Cheryl doesn't have two fire extinguishers nearby, they have to figure out another way to extinguish the enormous flames. Thankfully, Penelope, fresh out of prison, arrives with a plan: They pray to their ancestors for wind. And it works?

Although, as far as Hiram's concerned, his plan worked best: A chunk of the groves burned and Riverdale High has officially been trashed by inmates. In other words, he's about the only happy person in Riverdale right now. (Well, plus Frank who I guess is staying out of prison?)

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