Riverdale premiere recap: The town of Rivervale kills [Spoiler]
Riverdale — or should I say Rivervale? — is starting off season 6 with a bang! And by "bang," I mean a cut-out human heart! Let's get into it!
First, I imagine you're wondering, what is Rivervale and how did Betty and Archie survive the bomb that Hiram planted under Archie's bed at the end of season 5? Both great questions! And they're related. You see, Rivervale is an alternate universe to Riverdale, which is how Betty and Archie are not only alive but planning to have kids. As Jughead tells us at the start of the hour — literally to camera, because in Rivervale, our narrator doesn't hide behind a typewriter! — Rivervale exists at the borderlines. It's a place of nightmares and dreamscapes, a place where superstition outweighs science, and folklore carries more weight than fact. In other words, it's a town where anything can happen (and therefore it makes sense for Sabrina to eventually show up)!
Our narrator then walks us through town, catching us up on how everyone's doing. First up...
Tony and Fangs
Tony and Fangs are a couple in distress because baby Anthony has colic and therefore isn't sleeping. Or more accurately, he's crying incessantly. And when they say a polite "no thank you" to Dr. Curdle Jr.'s truly insane idea of putting a toad in their son's mouth to suck out the colic, they're left with only one option: To leave their baby on a tree stump in the woods overnight. It's a classic remedy for colic, I'm sure you've heard of it.
Fangs informs Tony that it's actually kind of a Serpent tradition and even cured him of colic when he was a child. So... Tony heads to the woods! And here you thought the parents in Riverdale were questionable!
Thankfully, Tony's stopped before she lays Anthony down on a tree stump by none other than the forest-obsessed Cheryl, whose "calming perfume" seems to be the thing that cures his colic?!
Veronica and Reggie
Meet Rivervale's power couple! Their interests include: Running on the treadmill while making all-important business calls about their upcoming casino and having sex on a bed covered in money. And yet, something is off in their relationship.
Even in this alternate universe, Reggie can't help but feel inferior to Veronica's ex, Archie. But Cheryl claims to have a solution for them too...
Frank and Alice
Yes, "Frank and Alice" are a thing. Or at least they're trying to be. It seems the two have grown close recently, mostly thanks to the fact that all of Alice's appliances keep "breaking" and Frank is one heck of a repairman. But when Alice gets sick of waiting and straight-up invites Franks to her bedroom, he turns her down.
He later explains that, when he was a mercenary, he had a wife and child. Ever since losing them, he's been scared to start anything new. So, they agree to take things slow: And it all starts by attending Cheryl's Maple Harvest Festival. (Are you seeing a through line yet?)
Jughead and Tabitha
Our narrator is ready to take a big step in his relationship: He's moving in with Tabitha! And things seem to be going well until he kills a spider, which Tabitha tells him is bad luck. And, spoiler alert, she's right! Suddenly, Jug's cereal is infected with bugs, they both wake up in the middle of the night covered in bug bites, and everything is terrible. But do you want to guess who has a solution?!
At Pop's, Cheryl — who calls Tabitha "Tab Tab," which should not be allowed — notices the bites and offers an ancient cleansing formula to help with bugs and curses. In return, she requests that Tabitha and Jughead participate in her Harvest Festival... but we'll get to that.
Archie and Betty (and Archie's nemesis, Cheryl)
After Archie wakes up from a crazy dream involving a bomb under his bed, Kevin calls Betty. He's found something in the woods. Specifically, he found a deer that had been sacrificed on some kind of altar. Just as Betty tries to declare this a crime scene, Cheryl shows up with her army of teen girls, each wielding a bow and arrow. (Where exactly she got these girls, I'm unsure. Last I checked, she only had one teen in her possession.)
Cheryl sends them all away, which brings us to the town meeting. Now that Thornhill has succeeded, the town needs a maple tree reforestation plan. Archie proposes that every family in Rivervale gets one sapling to grow and care for. But Cheryl has a plan of her own.
At Thornhill, Cheryl's trees have dried up. So, she wants to return to the "old ways" of doing things, back when they worshipped "she who walked amongst the trees," otherwise known as the Maple Maiden. Cheryl believes if they reinstate their pagan traditions — including sacrifices — the Maple Maiden will bring her trees back to life.
First things first, she gets her girls to make pagan dolls that seemingly kill Archie's saplings. Betty recognizes the dolls from an old case, one that involved the sacrifice of a drifter on the Thornhill property 50 years ago. (Like she said, the old ways.)
Speaking of Betty, she and Archie agree that marriage isn't for them, but that they do want to have kids. However, they also agree that there's no rush. They're still in their 20's so it will happen whenever it happens. Or... maybe not.
Betty visits Dr. Curdle Jr. and finds out that she essentially can't have kids. Not only that, but she's the fifth healthy young woman struggling with this in Rivervale...
When Betty asks Archie about adoption, he's Mr. Optimist and tells her he believes it will still happen for them. (Some things don't change, even in an alternate reality).
The Maple Harvest Festival
Welcome to Cheryl's festival, which seems to be centered around a "sin pie." Once the pie is consumed, the sins of the town will dissolve. But it has to be consumed by someone strong enough to shoulder that burden. And naturally, Cheryl's targeting the other redhead in town. (To be fair, if he can fight a bear, he can eat a pie.)
Something seems off as soon as Betty and Archie arrive at the festival. Everyone in town seems to be pushing Archie to compete in every event. I mean, each event is literally Archie versus one other person. If dear, precious Archie was just a tiny bit smarter, maybe he would've realized that's WEIRD. (He also only gets slightly confused when Jughead tells him he loves him like a brother, an obvious goodbye.)
First up, Arch beats Jughead in a pancake eating competition — in which they both somehow ate more than 100 pancakes?! — and then Reggie purposefully loses to him at sawing a log. Lastly, Archie goes against Betty in a hatchet throwing competition, and despite the fact that Archie won everything else, with one throw Betty is crowned the Maple Queen and Archie gets second and wins... a pie.
Back home, Betty informs Archie that Cheryl's creepy dolls are actually fertility dolls, so, she makes sure he takes a bite of that pie, and then she sleeps with him one last time, with that doll right by her side.
Cut to: Archie wakes up in the middle of the night to a phone call from Kevin. He says Cheryl has Betty and Archie better come quick!
At Thornhill, the entire town — Kevin included — is waiting for Archie. Betty informs him that her plan worked, and she's pregnant. Cheryl then explains that women can't be sacrifices because they must bear children. Men, however, are perfect sacrifices. Especially Archie, the town's one true pure heart. Veronica then hits Archie over the head with a rock. And when he wakes up, he's tied to the altar, and Cheryl cuts out his heart.
So THAT just happened! Guys, I didn't think it was possible but I think I'd rather like in Riverdale than this creepy place! But if this is only a five-episode event, I appreciate that Rivervale came out swinging. And knowing that Sabrina's coming to town eventually, I'm not too worried about Betty's baby daddy.