Meanwhile, Betty helps Tabitha look for Jughead.
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Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter
S5 E11
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Riverdale is back, and things are already getting weird! After a long hiatus, we're picking back up right in the middle of season 5, so allow me to refresh your memory on where we left off: Jughead somehow escaped the handcuffs Tabitha put him in, so he's off on a drug trip somewhere, and Hiram planned a prison break, so the town is full of criminals. Talk about a draw for tourists!

As for what comes next, let's start with the criminals. Archie is trying to figure out how long it will take to clean up the high school when Veronica makes her way back into town. She has her own mission: paying back Chad's investors so she can finally get that divorce and reunite with Archie. Her plan to do so involves selling an Ethiopian blue opal to a buyer from Montreal… but that plan quickly goes awry.

After Archie tells her he wants to remain friends until the divorce is final, Veronica's store is robbed. To be fair, she's the one who buzzes Dodger and Darla Dickinson into her store when she isn't paying attention, but still. Those two clean out Veronica's shop and take the blue opal right out of her buyer's hand.

While Veronica calls Reggie for help, Archie discovers that Hiram and the governor are offering a bounty for anyone willing to help them catch criminals. So if Hiram's going to pretend to be a good guy, Archie's going to take advantage: He wants to collect the money so they can start fixing up the school. Thankfully, he's got Kevin, Fangs, and his uncle Frank to help him.

Riverdale recap
KJ Apa, Drew Ray Tanner, and Charles Melton on 'Riverdale'
| Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

And he needs that help when the criminals take Hiram, the governor, and Sheriff Keller captive. (Hiram's probably rethinking his great prison escape at this point.) It seems they want Hiram's palladium, and if that's what it takes to get Veronica's freakin' opal back, she's going to give it to them!

Reggie leads the guys to Hiram's safe, which they easily extract from the wall. Then it's time to play Batman. While Veronica buys them some time, the guys make their way up to the skylight at Archie's community center. Then they enter from above, kick some butt, and the good guys win.

Sorry, forgot to mention that they do all that while set to a musical number! In order to get to that point, allow me to catch you up on what's been happening elsewhere.

When Tabitha realizes Jug has escaped, she calls Betty for help. Betty, super-chill about a missing person, says she'll come by tomorrow to help. Tomorrow?! I guess Betty isn't worried about that whole "the first 48 hours are the most crucial" nonsense?

Together, Betty and Tabitha start to read Jug's manuscript for any clues. But ultimately Betty decides to call Jess to see if Jug's been in contact. Not only is she his ex, but she's also the one who sold him the mushrooms. Jess says she hasn't heard from Jug, but she wants to help, so she offers to come to Riverdale… tomorrow. Again, I say, where is the rush?!

But as the audience knows, Jughead is actually fine. Well, not fine, but he's alive. After a group of drunk businessmen beat him up, he wakes up on Sketch Alley, once again in the care of Doc. Who's Doc? The man at the center of Jug's darkest secret, the story he told the Stonewall Prep kids about how Doc used to care for him and then one night he watched Doc get beaten up and did nothing to stop it. At first Jug lies about who he is, but when he saves Doc from another beating — people in this town really love violence — he finally confesses his identity. But Doc had already figured it out.

While all this is going on, Jess arrives in Riverdale and helps Betty and Tabitha look for him. And here's where I'm once again going to call Betty's FBI training into question: First, Jess suggests they all take mushrooms to get in Jug's headspace. Seconds later, she says she's going to go back to New York but wants to share a meal at Pop's first. In this scenario, SHE'S OBVIOUSLY GOING TO DRUG YOU. And yet, Betty doesn't notice anything weird.

So the women share some fries at Pop's and actually start to bond. Betty even shares a pretty awful voicemail that Jug left her two years ago when she didn't show up to his book-release party. "You found the one person that would hurt both me and Veronica and you just went there," he says in the voicemail. "You're a cold, fake, duplicitous bitch, and once people read my book everyone's gonna see that." Yeah, it's not great.

Jess mentions how dark things got for a time there, and then she confesses to drugging them. Why'd she do it? She just really wants to read Jug's manuscript because she's scared that he's written about their time in New York and she really doesn't want her family reading that. A very high Betty hands the manuscript over, and then Jess leaves Betty and Tabitha alone in the bunker to enjoy their trip.

That once again leads us back to the random musical number, but there's one more element you should know about first: Penelope has started a ministry! Well, apparently she started it in prison and has decided to continue it now, holding two services a day. But wait, it gets better: Penelope is preaching about the son who died for their sins… but she's talking about Jason!

At first Cheryl rolls her eyes at the idea, thinking her mother is in it for money. But when she visits Jason's corpse, which is still a thing, she sees a red cardinal fly in the window. And suddenly, Cheryl's all in on the church. And THAT leads us to the strange musical number, which is sung by Penelope, Cheryl, and a high Betty and Tabitha.

The episode ends with Hiram telling the governor he'll never share the palladium and Jughead telling Doc he can't return to Riverdale yet because something horrible happened to him in New York that he can't remember, so he has to go figure it out. He leaves Tabitha a voicemail letting her know he's headed to N.Y. but then he gets into a truck on the Lonely Highway. This cannot be good!

And just like that, this weird, violent, sometimes musical show is back in our lives.

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Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter
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