This week’s Riverdale is fire – or at least features plenty of it. The episode begins with the aftermath of Hiram Lodge’s arson attack on Archie’s house. Thankfully, Archie (KJ Apa) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) managed to catch the blaze before it caused too much damage, but Archie is sick of Hiram’s pyromania driving people out of Riverdale. Ever the man of action, he decides to reinstate the town fire department to protect its residents and restore some civic pride. And its new base, of course, is in his gym.
Betty (Lili Reinhart) is also crossed by Hiram (Mark Consuelos) this week, but he’s hardly her biggest problem. She, Kevin (Casey Cott) and her mum Alice (Mädchen Amick) find a dead body in Swedlow Swamp and take it to the morgue. Thankfully, it isn’t Betty’s missing sister, Polly, and neither does it belong to Margaret Harper, a local girl who went missing three years earlier. Alice finds Polly’s phone by the swamp, so they continue searching the area until Hiram turfs them out for trespassing. But, when another dead body shows up in the water, Hiram is persuaded by Reggie (Charles Melton) to let the search continue. Hiram wants to transform the swampland into a turnpike for his fancy new town SoDale, but according to Reggie, making SoDale a success isn’t even Hiram’s end goal. This is a very intriguing plot twist: what could he really be up to?
Meanwhile, Ronnie (Camila Mendes) comes up with a clever scheme to boost Riverdale’s flagging economy. By giving the town its own currency, “Riverdollars”, which can only be redeemed at local businesses, she hopes to encourage more spending within the town. It works a treat until some greedy students flood the market with their own counterfeit Riverdollars, devaluing the real currency in the process. Ronnie catches them out pretty quick, though, and makes them repay their debt with manual labour. Suddenly Riverdale’s most run-down street is being done up on the cheap: a result!
Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is also on fiery form as she challenges ex-girlfriend Toni (Vanessa Morgan) for the leadership of the Vixens cheerleading squad. Following a tense dance-off in which pregnant Toni appoints a substitute to bust some moves on her behalf, they agree to share coaching duties. Cheryl is definitely invested in her beloved Vixens again, but Toni questions whether she’s doing it for the right reasons. Don’t expect their co-coaching arrangement to proceed harmoniously in the coming weeks.
For Jughead, life is turning into an episode of The X-Files. When Pop (Alvin Saunders) recalls a possible extraterrestrial visit to Riverdale that happened 50 years ago, Jughead and Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) visit another witness: Cheryl’s grandmother Nana Rose Blossom (Barbara Wallace). She says she’s been keeping the corpse of a mothman (or possible alien) preserved in a barrel of maple syrup ever since the incident, then delivers it to Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe. During his graveyard shift, Jughead is interrupted by a blinding light outside. He wakes up four hours later with no recollection of what happened next, then discovers that the corpse has disappeared. Spooky, veeery spooky.
The episode ends well for Archie, who manages to persuade Riverdale‘s former fire chief to come out of retirement. It turns out that rescuing a local veteran from a burning building was a surefire way of impressing him. But things are much more worrying for Betty, who learns that the second dead body belongs to Margaret Harper – and that 21 girls have been reported missing in towns bordering The Lonely Highway. All signs point to a serial killer on the loose: something Betty has certainly experienced before…
Did you notice?
- After being under-used for weeks, Cheryl gets the best line of the episode: “I’ve seen a porcelain doll possessed by my deceased brother move faster than you lot.” After this zinger, the Vixens have no choice but to raise their energy levels.
- It’s only mentioned in passing, but Betty learns from FBI colleague Glen (Greyston Holt) that the Trash Bag Killer is back on the rampage. Expect this plotline to be picked up in a future episode.
- Archie’s army comrade Corporal Jackson (Sommer Carbuccia) returns this week and seems to be here to stay. A scene in which he and Archie discuss the impact of military service on their mental health provides this week’s most emotionally powerful moment.