‘Riverdale’ season five episode 10 recap: a family reunion goes wrong

**Spoilers for 'Chapter Eighty-Six: The Pincushion Man' below**

This week’s Riverdale is the last until July 8 – yes, really. Thanks to production delays caused by the pandemic, the show’s midseason break is a whopping three times longer than normal. Still, the writers manage to pack a lot in before ending the episode on a cliffhanger, so you’d better make sure you’re paying attention.

It’s an eventful week for everyone, but Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) really bears the brunt. First she learns that her FBI agent boyfriend Glen (Greyston Holt) is writing a dissertation about her family’s serial killers; then mum Alice (Mädchen Amick) finds out that her two youngest kids, nine-year-old twins Juniper and Dagwood, have cruelly pushed a schoolmate down the stairs. Might they also have inherited the Cooper family’s deeply creepy gene?

Riverdale
CREDIT: Netflix

Meanwhile, Betty’s ex Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is suffering from yet another bout of writer’s block, so he decides to take some psychedelic maple mushrooms to get his creative juices flowing. He asks his boss/confidante Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) to watch over him while he trips, which she only agrees to do after Jughead’s shifty ex Jessica (Phoebe Miu) shows up to deliver the shrooms. At the start of the episode, Tabitha makes a pass at Jughead, which he says he’s not emotionally ready for yet. There’s definitely chemistry between the pair though, so watch this space.

Speaking of chemistry, Archie (KJ Apa) and Ronnie (Camila Mendes) are still very much an item, but Ronnie’s estranged husband (Chris Mason) is refusing to sign her divorce papers. Chad blackmails Ronnie into visiting him in New York by sending her potentially incriminating long-lens photos of her kissing Archie, then does the dirty on her again. After they share one last night of passion, Chad informs Ronnie that he borrowed money against her jewellery store without her knowledge. If she wants a clean and pain-free divorce, she’ll have to wait for him to make that money back.

Riverdale
CREDIT: Netflix

Archie isn’t happy that Ronnie has left town, but he also has more pressing problems to contend with. His old army superior General Taylor (Gardiner Millar) shows up wanting to give him a medal for sterling service, but Archie gets a tip-off that it’s just Taylor’s way of covering up a dirty mission. When Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) sets up a fake prison break to disrupt parents’ evening at Riverdale High, Archie stands up to the dodgy General. With the school invaded by escaped convicts – only in Riverdale, right? – Archie ignores Taylor’s orders and follows his own plan to lead the parents to safety. He then declines the medal, even though the General tells him he’ll be made a scapegoat for the dirty mission if he refuses to play ball.

The prison break takes things from bad to worse for Betty. After escaping from jail, her serial killer brother Charles (Wyatt Nash) and his prisoner boyfriend Chic (Hart Denton) arrive at the Cooper house demanding to be married by Alice, who’s apparently an ordained minister now. Malevolent as ever, an armed Charles tells nine-year-old Juniper to play a real-life game of “the Pincushion Man” by planting a knife somewhere in Glen’s body. Betty barters with her brother and says she’ll stab Glen to save her little sister from the trauma. She goes through with it, giving Glen a carefully placed flesh wound that won’t threaten his life, then stabs Chic as well to stop the sadistic pair in their tracks. When Charles pounces on Alice in the fracas, Betty shoots her brother to stop him from hurting her. The wound he sustains isn’t serious, though, and we’re told that both Charles and Glen will make a full recovery.

Riverdale
CREDIT: Netflix

Though Betty is told that the FBI are moving the investigation into Polly’s disappearance upstate, she can’t let it go. At the end of the episode we see her disguising herself as a trucker and presumably heading up the Lonely Highway: the last place we saw her missing sister alive. Meanwhile, Tabitha checks on Jughead while he’s tripping in his bunker, but he’s nowhere to be seen. All she finds is a bloody pair of handcuffs and a blood-strained copy of what seems to be Jughead’s completed novel. In fairness, it’s a hell of a cliffhanger…

Did you notice?

  • In the opening scene, Tabitha and Jughead nearly get it on after bonding over a Duran Duran song on the radio. Who’d have guessed Jughead is an ’80s new wave fan?
  • Hiram’s typically shady plot to burn down Cheryl’s maple grove so he can access the precious metal that lies beneath doesn’t quite succeed. Though most of the maple trees are destroyed in the fire, others remain standing after a freak windstorm pushes the flames away. Will Hiram be able to persuade Cheryl to sell him the land after the midseason break?
  • When Jughead’s editor tells him to make his novel “more like Stephen King”, it’s presumably an in-joke from the writers. After all, Riverdale takes more than a bit of inspiration from the horror maestro’s work.

‘Riverdale’ season 5 episode 10 is streaming on Netflix now

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