This episode is subtitled ‘Back to School’, so it starts appropriately enough with the gang embracing their new roles as teachers. Archie (KJ Apa) is grilling and drilling military wannabes, Ronnie (Camila Mendes) is teaching economics, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is dissecting Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Betty (Lili Reinhart) is taking a car apart in what looks like the best Design & Tech class ever. Meanwhile, their arch nemesis Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) is worried that the all-new Riverdale High is attracting too many students. There’s a slight chance, he thinks, that the town he’s trying to trample to death will grow around it again, “like a weed”.
Hiram duly dispatches a couple of his Stonewall Prep lackeys to torch the school, but Archie and Betty are hooking up in a car outside – hey, it’s the only place they can do it on the down-low – and catch the blaze in time. Incensed that Hiram’s teenage arsonists will get away with it because they’re star football players, Archie has a bright idea: why not relaunch Riverdale’s own football team, the Bulldogs, to restore some town pride? He has a little trouble drumming up the budget, but by the end of the episode Ronnie has agreed to sponsor them. At this point, Toni (Vanessa Morgan) has already brought back the school cheer squad, the Vixens, who were once led by her reclusive ex, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch). When Cheryl discovers that Toni has reformed her beloved Vixens behind her back, she hotfoots it to Riverdale High to find out what’s going on. Could this be what Toni wanted to happen all along? Duh, of course!
Meanwhile, Ronnie’s emotional pull to Riverdale is growing stronger, so she decides to buy the old video store and turn it into a high-end jewellery boutique. This probably isn’t the first business most of us would choose to open in a struggling small town, but let’s try not to overthink it. Anyway, Ronnie has bigger problems with husband Chad (Chris Mason), who arrives in Riverdale uninvited and proceeds to wriggle his way back into her life. He even charms her friends by joining in at their karaoke night. Ronnie seems willing to welcome him back, but then he acts like a dick – her words – by telling Archie he’ll have to fix up their apartment if he wants that sponsorship money. Ronnie tells her husband she needs a break, packs his bags for him, then tells Archie and the Bulldogs squad to call her by her maiden name: Veronica Lodge. Things don’t look good for “Chonnie”.
With all due respect to Chad, who’ll surely be back soon enough, this week’s most interesting plot development has a touch of The X-Files to it. When Jughead goes to interview a local loner for his book about smalltown life, he hears a fascinating story about Riverdale’s supernatural past. Apparently, back in the day a group of miners working in the area were abducted by the Mothmen. The what? “Aliens, angels, mothmen — call ’em whatever you like. They live in the woods and the caves off The Lonely Highway,” the loner says. Jughead does some digging and discovers that everyone supposedly abducted by the Mothmen ended up dying of cancer. Perhaps they were exposed to massive amounts of radiation when it happened?
Meanwhile, Betty and mum Alice (Mädchen Amick) are getting increasingly worried about Betty’s wayward younger sister Polly, who hasn’t been home in a few days. Remember how we saw her running away from a truck in the last episode? After Betty puts on her FBI jacket – quite literally – and grills a creepy trucker Polly met online, they grab Kevin (Casey Cott) and head up The Lonely Highway to the spot where he dropped her off. Kevin finds Polly’s phone in some remote marshland off the highway, but she is nowhere to be seen. Before we can ask ourselves, ‘Could Polly have been abducted by the Mothmen?’, Riverdale cuts to a fire engulfing Archie’s house with him and Jughead trapped inside. Hiram Lodge is not messing about.
Did you notice?
- School secretary Ms. Bell (Marion Eisman) is snake of the week. She’s not just tipping off Cheryl on goings on at Riverdale High, but Hiram Lodge too!
- Ronnie and Chad’s rendition of ‘Shallow’ at karaoke night was actually pretty good, right?
- Pop Tate’s granddaughter Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) finally gets a bit of backstory this week. Apparently she gave up a six-figure salary in Chicago to run the diner, and has pretty grand plans for the place. She also seems to be growing closer to Jughead. Watch this space.