Riverdale’s back tonight but the real question for fans is: how much time has passed? When last we visited this small town, we found out the sheriff was dirty, the mayoral election wasn’t about doing what the town needed, and dear old Hiram Lodge is trying to set up a “red light” district on the south side of Riverdale. To top it off, our hero, Archie Andrews, was arrested for something he didn’t do. Why? Hiram Lodge figured if you took Archie out, the rest would fall in line. With a dirty sheriff in control, it should have worked. Did it is the question? And just what has Hiram got up his sleeves next — a brothel, a drug den run by his cartel? Can his daughter, Veronica, figure it out and take him down? Yeah, it is Riverdale. None of this will happen any time soon.
We open as always at Pop’s with Jughead’s narration and learn that summer has been hot but not spent as planned. No swimming but the prep and courtroom. The DA closing statement accuses Archie of having a dark identity and being the newest, biggest enemy that Riverdale has ever seen since — oh, the arrival of Hiram Lodge. (Excuse me, for the editorializing but Hiram is a mobster and a jerk). No matter, Momma Mary Andrews is on the case and points out the evidence isn’t clear. As the jury leaves the courtroom, we now know there is a dirty DA in town who will do anything she can to stay in the good graces of Hiram Lodge. While the jury is out, Archie disappears. Don’t worry folks! He hasn’t fled justice but is needing some alone time but Betty, Jug, and Ronnie find him. And then the judge calls all back to the courtroom.
The judge announces that there will be no verdict until after the Labor Day. As all leave the courtroom, the judge warns Archie to enjoy the time with his family and friends. As they leave, not hot dad, Hiram Lodge, stops the family to gloat. Hot dad #1, Fred Andrews, punches Hiram in the face and Lodge goes down for the count. Way to go Hot Dad #1.
Veronica and Betty want to spend the three days looking for evidence but Archie wants a normal holiday. And Cheryl arrives looking — well, un-Cheryl like. Having found an identity and purpose with Toni, she’s spent the summer on a motorcycle, riding across the country. She’s left her past behind her and she wants the gang to party for the weekend. This may be hard, especially for Betty, as her mom, Alice, has spent some time at Polly’s farm and wants some “quality time.” As Betty leaves to spend time with Archie, Alice now is filled with worry and love. What! Having a murderer for a husband sure changed her and as you will see, not for the better.
At Archie’s, Fred and Archie She goes to Archie’s where Fred and Archie are putting the finishing touches on an old red jalopy (for true Archie comic fans, you know the car). Of course, Fred breaks down in tears and has to leave. Hot Dad #1 has emotions. Way to go, Fred. You don’t see any emotion on Hiram’s face except glee. Speaking of Hiram, Veronica is attacking him for “trying to break Archie and her up). I’ll wait to tell you the reason. Why blow the show now! Hiram, of course, blames Archie.
Jughead and the Serpents are also there for Archie. As Hot Dad #2, FP, gives Archie a snake tattoo, Jug offers advice but it is FP who gives the best. He tells Archie the best way to survive is to keep his wits about him and watch what goes on around him. Meanwhile, Betty had headed out only to find her mom, Alice, reading Betty’s diaries. Alice wants Betty to go to the farm but Betty is much smarter than her mom. It’s a cult, Alice. Get over yourself. You goofed again.
At a pool party, Sweet Pea is making the move on Josie. She isn’t having any of it. We learn that Kevin may have found love. While Reggie gets advice on football and keeping things cool with the Serpents, Veronica’s planning on how to get Archie’s charges dropped. Josie has a piece of news to give. She tells them where the jury is housed and Ron hatches a plan. If one person goes against the rest, Archie will go free. At the party, Cheryl breaks down to remembering how Archie saved her life. She shares some of her past with Toni. Of course, Ron stages her plan pretending to be a maid. She makes it to the room when dirty Sheriff arrives who calls Heromine who yells at Ron for her plan. Ron tells her that she has no use for dear old dad. I’m thinking that neither does mom but she is trying to stop Hiram from turning Ron into a puppet.
On a side note, Jughead finds out that the Ghoulies has his dog, Hot Dog. They don’t want gang war, but the Serpents decide to stage a rescue. Cheryl, Betty, Sweet Pea, and others join Jug on the quest. You know (as well as I) that something is up when no one from the Ghoulies is around. As Jug frees the dog, Penny gloats that Southside isn’t the Serpents anymore. (Gloating is only for the villains on the show these days.) She wants Jug dead and also his little girlfriend Betty. As it looks like Jug is going to be attacked, Cheryl pulls an arrow and shots. Ah, one of the finks goes down. With Cheryl aim the arrow, all Serpents leave but not before Penny declares war on Northside. And I like Betty as Serpent Queen. From where her mom and Polly are mentally (the cult), I think she’ll need to be.
On the day before the jury comes back, Archie wakes from a nightmare of murder. He blames himself. Archie goes to the garage and later finds his mom and dad taking the blame (you know the divorce) for what happened to him. Archie proves that he’s wiser than his folks and say that he’s to blame because of his stand against Hiram.
FP and Jug talk about the Ghoulies. FP isn’t happy with what is going down but to know is better. While Jug is having a heart to heart, Betty is being accused of hiding her Adderall fake prescription and psychiatrist from her mom. Betty hits mom with the fact that Alice forced her to take the drug. Once again Polly and Alice push for Betty to admit her problems so they will let her go to the Farm. (I have to say — enough already with the farm. We sense something sinister is happening there.)
Archie, Ronnie, Jug, and Betty reenact a scene from the old comics by spending the day riding to the lake in Archie’s jalopy, swimming and roasting marshmallow. They deviate from the old days with both couples having a make-out session. At the end of their time together, Archie tells Ron not to wait for him. She will not let him leave her but Archie says that he feels like he is guilty. If he hadn’t left Cassidy with Andre, maybe Cassidy would be alive today. Archie tells Ron he must take responsibility for that.
As the families leave for the courthouse, Dilton shows up at Jug’s. He knows something and needs to talk. Jug is intent on getting to the courthouse and Dilton waits. There’s something funny going on with Dilton though. He’s not super-smart anymore. Whatever it is involving the Gargoyle must be setting the scene for season three.
In the courtroom, we find out that there is no verdict. The jury is deadlocked 6 to 6. As the judge starts to speak to declare a mistrial, the dirty DA offers a deal with time served and two years on probation. Archie accepts the deal (due to his guilt) against his mom and even the judge’s advice. Archie will go to detention and serve his sentence. Wait! Wasn’t the judgment time served? If so, why is Archie in handcuffs as he is led out.
At the Andrew’s home, Mary tells Fred she plans to appeal. In the living room sits Hot Dogs #2 and #2 (FP and Kevin’s dad, the former sheriff). With those three together with Mary, I think Hiram may not be so smug for much longer but it doesn’t stop him at home. As Ronnie enters their home with her parents, she attacks her dad. She knows that he did this because Archie didn’t play by his rules. Wrong, sweetie, he tells her. Ronnie betrayed him and had to be punished. Seeing Archie led away was her punishment. Ron goes takes it to the next level and tells Hiram he doesn’t have a daughter anymore. The only way this scene would be better is if she had slammed something into that smug face.
When Jug returns home, Dilton is missing but has left a picture of the Gargoyle and a map. Jug uses his map to figure out where Dilton is. Jug finds Dilton and Ben who are bowed before a Gargoyle of bones. They’re drugged out of their skulls and Ben starts having a reaction. Betty is facing her own problems. She hears the babies cry and goes to find them. Outside her house is a ritual (demonic by the looks of things) happening with the babies being dropped toward the fire. Now Betty’s down for the count with Alice bending over her. While all this is going on, Archie has been in chains heading to prison. As the prison bus passes the Riverdale sign, something has been added. The Gargoyle’s symbols are there or are the Ghoulies claiming the town as their own.
Is Ronnie really through with dear old dad or does she have a plan for revenge? Has a Mother Gothel’s apostle shown up with Polly in Riverdale (sorry, Once upon a Time reference due to Polly there)? Will Dilton survive and recover his smarts? Just what is Hiram’s plan to finish Archie off? And finally how many times will the Hot Dads team up next week. No hints from the preview, I’m afraid.
Next week: A prison riot erupts, Ronnie sees it and gives Archie instructions. And the Gargoyle comes more into play.
More of Linda Martindale's writing can be found at her blog TelevisionChangesBlog.com.