Jughead (Cole Sprouse) watches last week’s Riverdale episode-ending videotape again, but this time in the company of Alice (Madchen Amick), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Charles (Wyatt Nash). Charles does a good job of pretending to be shocked by the tape. In an out of character move, Betty says she doesn’t want to be sucked into a new mystery. Charles offers to help out though. Uh-oh. Do not trust him, Jughead!
Over at the Lodge residence, Hiram (Mark Consuelos) announces that he signed a new rum deal to distribute to Elio’s family’s line of casinos. Elio the creeper from seasons past, not the supermarket frozen food pizza empire. This competition with Veronica’s rum has Hiram more energized than he’s been all season. Veronica (Camila Mendes) brags that her brand is going to enter the college market, which seems like an odd move when dealing with Hiram, a guy who gladly undersell you while beating you to market.
Reggie (Charles Melton) walks in on Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner) and Kevin (Casey Cott) counting cash in an empty classroom. This seems like an activity that would be more secure at one of their homes. Reggie wants in, before even knowing what their new industry is. When he finds out it’s tickle videos, Reggie is in. The man likes to follow the money.
Archie (KJ Apa) sit hunched over maudlin style over his guitar likes it’s season 1 of Riverdale. Remember how often he would say “But my music…” that season? I’m not looking forward to that return. He looks out across the window at Betty’s room. Betty is in her room, reading her 5th grade diary, in which she first announced being in love with Archie. Alice interupts her elementary school reverie with some mother daughter time.
Some frats bros pick up cases of booze from Veronica and Cheryl. To drive home the fact that they’re frat bros and not picking booze up for a national honor society mixer, one of the bros ask if the girls do anything else for parties besides booze. It’s at that moment that Cheryl takes their money and kicks them out. Selling directly to the collegiate market seems like a path that is going to put Cheryl and Veronica in hot water. At least selling to college town liquor stores would give them a sense of plausible deniability. Sure, those seniors picking up the rum might be legal, but I doubt most of that frat party will be. And Veronica told Hiram they’re entering the college market. It’s like they’re putting themselves on a platter for Hiram’s dinner.
A second group of guys show up. These are definitely not more college dudes. How did they get in? They say they’re there to check out the competition. They do not look like good guys. They’re from the Malloy family. Apparently they’re in the maple moonshine business, and the local college is their main territory. Uh oh. This guy looks like a trucker but talks like a Wharton grad. Veronica isn’t intimidated. She thinks Hiram sent them and sends them on their way. Uh, Veronica, I’m starting to think these guys are a third party. Also, go lock those doors.
Charles and Jughead review security footage obtained by Charles trying to find the person who dropped off the VHS tape at the police station. Jughead recognizes someone and wants to check the lead out alone. Charles agrees. Cool, cool, just keeping walking into this setup, Jughead.
Betty and Archie lie next to each other side by side in the very small bed in Dilton’s bunker. They profess their love for their respective significant others and then start holding hands on the bed. I feel like Bastille’s Bad Decisions should be playing over this scene.
Archie visits his dad’s grave, looking for advice. Archie, this isn’t just about choosing between two girls you like. You’re also looking at betraying your very best friend, the guy who skipped town with you when had to live on the lam. He thinks Fred would tell him to follow his heart, but I like to think Fred would pull a Red from That 70s Show and tell him to stop being a dumb ass.
It was Ethel who dropped off a couple of the tapes at the station. Jughead talks to her about it, to see if she knows anything. If she does, she does a good job at playing dumb. Ethel says, “I’m just trying to keep my head down and make it out of Riverdale in one piece,” which I feel could be a great tagline for both Riverdale the show and Riverdale the town.
Betty reads more old diary entries about she and Archie. This time she’s interrupted by Kevin, who is then interupted by Principal Honey, who calls for Betty over the PA. He gives her his headshot for the yearbook. From the sound of it, she has not had time to do any work on the yearbook this year.
Reggie gets his first envelope of tickle pay. His first thought is to ditch Terry and get into the tickle game with Kevin and Fangs on their own. Fangs likes the sound of it, but Kevin is more hesitant. Reggie has the line of the episode with, “This is going to pay for our community college education, boys.” Looks like Kevin, Reggie and Fangs are confirmed for season 5 of Riverdale!
Jughead and Charles check out the town video store, hoping to find a connection to the VHS tapes being circulated. It’s a literal book, the size of a phone book. Charles asks, “Who is E. Muggs?” Jughead practically jumps. Ethel took out Friday the 13th 16 times. Ethel is a regular according to the video store clerk (Kett Turton). Jughead defends Ethel, saying he’s seen Eraserhead more times than he can count. Charles is suspicious though.
Veronica gets a late night phone call from Cheryl. The Malloys vandalized the Maple Club, or at least that’s Penelope’s story. She swears vengeance on her father. The next day, Veronica takes it directly to Hiram, who says he would never have anything to do with the Malloys and that she needs to steer clear of them. Veronica says she can handle them, but that look on Hiram’s face says he’s not so sure.
In the Riverdale school newspaper office, Betty continues her re-read of her greatest hits with Lil’ Archie from the 5th grade. 12th grade Archie surprises her when he stops by for a visit. He offers to help her with the yearbook, but Betty turns down his “help.” Archie admits that he can’t stop thinking about her, and Betty says the same. Archie wants to meet up in secret tonight, but Betty suggests waiting a day. Archie says that gives him time “to finish something.” Oh Archie, I hope what you’re planning on finishing isn’t your relationship with Veronica. You and Betty will never work out!
Jughead works on his VHS sleuthing by paying a visit to the school’s AV Club. Sorry, Jughead, members only. He finds out two interesting things from the faculty advisor though: Ethel is the club president and Charles came around for a visit earlier today. Charles and Ethel left together. Jughead rushes out, but to where?
At Pops, Kevin meets with Terry to break things off. He gives a list of excuses on why he wants out of the tickle video game, none of the them the truth. Across town, in the locker room, Reggie attempts to recruit his teammates in his new tickle video enterprise. They seem pretty leery of it, especially the dude on dude tickling aspect. One guy suggests adding girls to the mix, which sends Reggie over to Toni, who shoots him down immediately. But she reconsiders, saying the Vixens are in if the girls are the ones doing the tickling.
In a seedy looking hotel room, the Bulldogs and Vixens get together with drinks. A Bulldog’s name is pulled followed by a Vixen’s. Toni then instructs them to follow her “to the tickle suite,” as the camera pulls back to reveal a bed, lighting and video camera setup further down the hall. The weird part being this is all one room. It is easily the biggest seedy hotel room in America.
That night, a Malloy exits a pub for a smoke. Before he can find his lighter, he finds Hiram’s fist connecting with him repeatedly. He’s warned to back down from Veronica. Malloy makes some jokes, which leads to another punch and a gun being pulled by Hiram. The Malloy begs for mercy. Hiram doesn’t pull the trigger. Unfortunately for Hiram, he drops his car keys on the way back to his car, and Malloy pounces on him, delivering a more severe beating than the one Hiram just dished out.
Jughead confront Charles, saying he already said he doesn’t think Ethel is the VHS bandit. Charles says they “found” (read: planted) something at Ethel’s house that says otherwise. He gives it to Jughead to watch.
Veronica comes home to find Hiram’s bloody handprint on the wall of their apartment. She rightly freaks out. She finds Hiram on the couch, bloodied and beating. Hiram blames himself for not shooting the Malloy boy in the head when he had the chance.
Cheryl comes to drop off her yearbook photos and it’s revealed that at this school, every senior gets their own full page of photos. Of course Cheryl wants two, though she claims it’s to pay tribute to Jason. I loved being an editor on my high school’s yearbook, but this has even me thinking, “Hey, Principal Honey, maybe redirect some of that bloated yearbook budget into getting your kids some text books!”
Cheryl snatches Betty’s 5th grade diary from her and reads from it aloud. It’s an entry about Cheryl, who was also vying for Archie at the time, which got Lil’ Betty to declare that she hated her. Cheryl realizes that Betty reading this confirms her theory that Betty and Archie weren’t actually pretending to date when Jughead was thought dead. Cheryl, in a very surprising turn, tries to talk sense into Betty, telling her that she loves an idealized idea of Archie, and that was she and Jughead have is too good to let go of.
Kevin is enjoying a meal at Pops when he’s boxed into his booth by Terry and two thugs. Terry found out the truth about Kevin’s new tickle video business. Terry wants 40% of their profits, of they they break all of Kevin’s fingers. It’s an offer he can’t refuse.
Jughead confronts Ethel at her locker. The tape Charles gave her was a sex tape of Betty and Jughead. Jughead wants answers. She says she got it not from Bret, but from a secret room in the back of the Blue Velvet video store called The Scarlet Suite. It’s got sex tapes and snuff films. I’m just amazed that Ethel didn’t plant that tape on Ethel. Also, I’m wondering how much Bret got from Blue Velvet for that tape, and why someone as rich as Bret needed to sell sex tapes for spare cash.
Charles, some other FBI agents, and for some reason Jughead, serve a warrant to the Blue Velvet to search the store. The secret room is hidden behind one red velvet curtain. Come on! This is Riverdale! Up your hiding your secret room game, Blue Velvet! Amid a a set of shelves marked Submissions, Jughead finds a tape of Clifford Blossom executing Jason Blossom. Uh oh, Blue Velvet.
Reggie and Kevin meet with Terry in their suite. Reggie also brought the rest of the Riverdale Bulldogs to the meeting. Reggie offers Terry nothing. Terry and his guys leave, telling Reggie he’ll regret this.
Cheryl wants out of her business deal with Veronica. It’s amicable, Cheryl’s mainly worried for her safety.
Terry gets back at Reggie and Kevin by reporting their business to Principal Honey. Kevin cops to all of it, saying they did nothing wrong because they’re all fully clothed in the videos and nothing sexual took place, just tickling. The problem for them is that they were wearing Bulldogs and Vixens uniforms in the videos, opening them up to lawsuits from Riverdale High and violating the school code. Principal Honey wants their site taken down immediately. They agree to his terms so quickly that I start wondering what they’re really planning.
In the bunker, Archie plays Betty a song he wrote for her. I guess that was his unfinished business. A tearful Betty stops him, and tells him that they can’t do this. She says she loves Jughead and that Archie loves Veronica. Betty says it’s over between them, and you can tell from KJ Apa’s face that Bad Decision Archie doesn’t like it.
Archie plays his song in his room. His mom, passing by, says she loves the song and hopes Veronica loves it too. Archie announces to her he’s 100% all in for the Naval Academy. Gotta love this guy, never one to sleep on a decision.
Betty burns her diaries in the fireplace. Her mom convinces her to keep the final one in her stack. It’s not the 5th grade one, that one is burning. I wonder what’s in this diary. Season five of Riverdale plot point, maybe?
At Pops, Kevin and Fangs talk about next year. Kevin got into Carnegie Mellon, and Fangs got into Pitt. Looks like they’ll be hanging out at Fuel and Fuddle in Oakland together in the fall. I’d totally watch this Kevin and Fangs become yinzers Riverdale spin-off. I can’t wait for the Kennywood episode!
During their conversation, Kevin and Fangs theorize that it was Terry that tipped off Honey about their tickle videos, but the next scene tells a different story. Honey shows up to the Blue Velvet, but is told by David (of course), the manager, that the FBI raided the place and The Scarlet Suite is closed down until further notice. From the sounds of things, Honey was a very regular customer. Looks like he found out about the tickle videos after he rented them. But wait, I thought Kevin and the boys set that up as a website, not a VHS distribution through Blue Velvet. Unless this scene is just to show us that Honey is the type of guy who would stumble upon their tickle video website on his own, no help from Terry needed.
Veronica and Hiram have a heart to heart. She’s proud of him for not killing that Malloy boy. She’s impressed that he’s turned over a new, non-violent leaf. As she’s saying this Hiram flashes back to return to that pub from before, this time intercepting papa Malloy. Hiram apologizes for going after one of his sons. When Papa Malloy admonishes him that he should never turn his back on a Malloy, Hiram agrees and then shoots him twice at close range. Veronica and Hiram are back in business, and I’m happy to hear him call her “M’hija” again, but he’s far from changed, Veronica.
Jughead tells Betty about their sex tape, which was titled Ponytail Playmate. He gets a call from Cheryl, who says she received another tape. Betty wants in this time, so unlike Betty from the start of this episode. The new tape shows a man in an Archie mask bound to a chair. Another man in an Archie mask pulls a gun on him and shoots him in the head. Cheryl wasn’t the only one to receive this tape. Jughead says it went all over town.
Riverdale by way of David Lynch was definitely less Lynchian than the episode title would have led me to believe. It was a good episode overall, but I feel like we got little more than some David Lynch project name checks.
Thanks to COVID-19, we’re dealing with a shortened season of Riverdale. Riverdale was shut down due to a crew member contracting the coronavirus before widespread shutdowns happened in the US, which wouldn’t give the creative team time to wrap up all the loose ends. This is the penultimate episode of season four, with the finale coming next. I honestly have no idea how they’re going to end things. My suspicion is we are going to be left with many more questions than answers, which will hopefully be resolved in the fall.