The VHS videotape bandit is back! But this time, they are leaving videos that are dun, dun, dun, shot in a tighter close up of everyone’s doors! Eeek. From the shots they show of these tapes, no one in Riverdale ever uses their front door.
Over in the halls of Riverdale High, it’s early decision college admissions season. A kid is crying at his locker looking at a college rejection letter. Why would he get that mail at school?
At the Cooper-Smith (not to be confused with Barney Coopersmith, inventor of the rotary engine) house, Alice (Madchen Amick) breaks the news to Betty (Lili Reinhart) that Betty didn’t get into Yale. Alice isn’t happy. She wanted that Rory Gilmore life for her daughter. Betty isn’t happy. She wants her mom to give her a little space. Alice shoves Betty’s birth control pill ring to her across the table and accuses Betty of neglecting her studies for other things.
Betty goes to the school Counselor, Ms. Verbal (Firefly’s Gina Torres), in order to get some advice on dealing with her helicopter mom. On cue, Alice barges in. Alice sticks around and the session quickly turns into mother-daughter couples therapy. Betty lets it all out, everything Alice did to her over the last four seasons. Between giving her college fund to a cult and locking her sister up with the creepy Sisters of Quiet Mercy, among other things, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of Alice’s mothering style.
Betty gives Alice an ultimatum: treat her like an adult or not have her in her life. Ms. Verbal makes some insights into their relationship, which leads to a tearful apology from Alice. Despite that, Betty is still exasperated. When Betty suggests Alice turns some of her maternal attention to Polly, Alice admits she loves Betty more. Oh wow. I’m not looking forward to Alice’s therapy session with Polly.
Archie (KJ Apa) sleeps through Physics class. The teacher sends him to Ms. Verbal. It comes out that Archie hasn’t applied to college, or slept in days. He says he wants to clean up Riverdale instead. Archie is like Dumb Batman. Verbal is concerned about the cuts and bruises on Archie. She’s smart enough to know that they’re not football bruises. Archie admits to his costumed adventures at night. Verbal thinks he’s living in a dreamworld. Archie lashes out, he’s angry. He says he doesn’t like her talking to him like he’s a moron. I mean, if the shoe fits, Archie… He then explains his nighttime vigilante life to her. If Archie were Batman, half of Gotham would know he’s Bruce Wayne.
Later at home, Archie announces his plan to keep his mother safe. He plans to move out of his parents’ house and move into the Community Center. I’m not sure how having your mom live alone makes her safer, Arch, or just a more accessible target.
Archie starts the Riverdale local tip line. I can already see his enemies using this to lure him into a trap. The tip line is recorded on a tape player answering machine. Between this and the VHS tapes, it’s like Riverdale is stuck in 1987.
Archie chucks his black mask in the trash. Black Hood II no more!
Principal Honey (Kerr Smith) calls Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) into his office. She has 26 unexcused absences. Because of this, he’s going to put the the Vixens under adult supervision instead of hers. Because of this? I mean, shouldn’t that be the case already? He relents a bit and says Cheryl can keep control of her team if Ms. Verbal gives her the okay.
Cheryl goes immediately in standoff mode when she meets with Ms. Verbal. Verbal knows about the videotapes dropped on the town stoops and Cheryl doesn’t even blink. I mean, I’d be surprised if a person I didn’t think knew about the tapes was talking about them. Verbal reads off the laundry list of trauma Cheryl has endured since the start of Riverdale. She’s impressed that Cheryl hasn’t fallen apart. Verbal wants to know how she copes. When Cheryl says she talks to her dead brother, Ms. Verbal assumes she means prayer. That’s when Cheryl lets her know that no, she talks to her dead brother’s body and he responds to her. Cheryl thinks she’s going or has gone crazy, but Ms. Verbal isn’t so sure. I have to say I’m with Cheryl on this one.
Cheryl then tells Verbal that she’s being haunted by her other dead brother, Julian. Verbal thinks Cheryl is being gaslit, but by who? Verbal wants to have Cheryl’s saliva analyzed to see if she actually did absorb Julian’s fetus in the womb. Cheryl is amazed this test exists. The bad news for Cheryl is that Verbal is going to suggest that Honey hire a coach to supervise the Vixens. What is with this crazy town of Riverdale and letting the kids run everything?
Hiram (Mark Consuelos) wants to show off some changes he made to his office. He hung his Harvard diploma and encased the first bottle of rum he ever produced in a display. Veronica is thoroughly unimpressed. He asks Veronica (Camila Mendes) if she applied to Harvard early action, which she did. The only thing saving this scene is that he called her “m’hija.”
Kevin (Casey Cott) is leading a class discussion on game theory aka “What I learned living with a cult.” Veronica gets a call from Dean Kingsley and she runs out. He’s the dean of Harvard. He called to let her know she was accepted into Harvard’s class of 2024. She’s excited. He tells her to thank her dad for the rum he sent. This has Veronica much less excited.
Veronica meets with Ms. Verbal. She’s not happy that Hiram bought her way into being a Crimson. Verbal suggests that Veronica and Hiram are obsessed with each other. Veronica doesn’t like being diagnosed with daddy issues. Verbal goes on to suggest that Veronica sees Hiram as her ideal future self. When she lays out all the things Veronica has done on Riverdale over the years, Veronica does seem like a mini-Hiram. “He’s trolling you so you might try ghosting him,” Verbal tells her. Veronica suggests Verbal update her teen speak. I don’t know; I think Ms. Verbal’s teen speak is on fleek.
Jughead (Cole Sprouse) meets with Mr. Dupont (Malcolm Stewart). At least he can’t be sent to meet with Verbal. Dupont isn’t happy. He feels that Jughead is squandering his opportunity at Stonewall. Jughead hasn’t even applied to any college yet because he’s too obsessed with his conspiracy theories. Dupont doubts Jughead will get any letters of recommendation from any of his here there and suggests he try the teachers at Riverdale High instead. Which leads Jughead right into Ms. Verbal’s office. Son of a bitch!
She brings up Chipping’s suicide, which gets Jughead to spew out all his Baxter Brothers conspiracy theories from this season of Riverdale. Man, he really does sound crazy as they’re coming out of his mouth. Verbal thinks he’s chasing this conspiracy theory because he’s trying to avoid trying and failing at his writing. She suggests seeing her grandfather through Skeet’s eyes instead of lionizing him. This hits Jughead right in the solar plexus. Jughead grabs all her candy from her bowl on his way out as a coping mechanism.
Later at home, Skeet (Skeet Ulrich) is happily surprised to see his “Boy” hanging out at home, which leads to Jughead hugging him and telling him he loves him. They’re the new Archie and Fred! Seriously, Skeet is my favorite part of this show. If they ever kill Skeet, I’ll riot.
As Betty sets the dinner table, she finds a letter from Yale and a check for a few thousand dollars to her from Alice. She tells her mom that she loves her most too.
Archie gets a tip on his tip line. Some kid leaves a message saying that the man that lives down the hall hits his mom. He begs for help. Archie fishes his black mask out of the trash and grabs his baseball bat. Black Hood II lives! …for now. I really think Archie is walking into a trap.
Toni (Vanessa Morgan) is reading The Amityville Horror at Pops when Cheryl shows up to tell her about her DNA test results. Hmmm, is that book a hint that Toni is the one gaslighting Cheryl? The test results show that Cheryl didn’t eat Julian in the womb. Cheryl pledges vengeance on whoever is gaslighting her.
Hiram is pissed. Veronica turned down Harvard. He demands to know why. She pretty much gives her dad the “I don’t want your life” speech from Varsity Blues. Veronica says the only way to get out of their messed up relationship is to kill him, not literally (in case the authorities are listening), but in business. She downs her glass of rum and says she’s going to make better rum. Hiram isn’t happy. That came from his first bottle display!
Jughead has been looking into Skull and Quill society members. Apparently Dupont and his grandpa are the only members who haven’t met mysterious ends. Betty suggest Jughead get out of that school and return to Riverdale High immediately, out of fear for his safety.
Flash forward to Skeet leading Bret (Sean Depner) and Donna (Sarah Desjardins) through a lineup that consists of Betty, Archie and Veronica. They say the Riverdale three are the ones they saw kill Jughead. Oh boy.
After we didn’t get a flash forward at the end of the Thanksgiving episode, I assumed we were done with them. I have to say, I’m happy they are back. It really gives an oomph to the end of every episode of this season of Riverdale. Do you have a theory about what’s going on in these flash forwards? I’d love to hear it in the comments.
Overall though, I felt like this episode was meant to remind everyone what was going on after having (only) a week off. It just seemed like spinning wheels. Thank goodness for Gina Torres, who I’m hoping is not making her final appearance on the show. Riverdale needs more Ms. Verbal!