Archie (KJ Apa)’s PTSD is not improving. He is seeing ghosts of his dead soldiers everywhere in Riverdale.
Across town, Chad gives Veronica (Camila Mendes) a call at her Riverdale jewelry store, saying he’s going to get her all the money he owes her after he gets a big payday on a new venture he has cooking. For obvious reasons, she has little faith in him telling the truth here.
Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Kevin (Casey Cott) are about to sing a song from Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, but Penelope announces that Jason spoke to her, saying no more music at their masses. Cheryl and Kevin share a look over this. It didn’t take long for the First Church of Jason Blossom to start cracking thanks to a power play.
Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is 7 days sober and has reached the apology step in his 12 steps program. That seems pretty quick. He stops by Betty’s house to give her an apology, but she’s not home. Alice informs him that Betty (Lili Reinhart) is busy trying to pick up truckers outside Riverdale on the Lonely Highway, as one does.
Archie is pissed. General Taylor is retiring with full honors. That Times story he participated in, the one that was supposed to shine a harsh light on General Taylor’s command, never happened. Not enough proveable evidence. Eric Jackson advises Archie to move on, but he can’t.
Principal Weatherbee puts Jughead on administrative leave. Not showing up for three weeks of classes at Riverdale High will do that.
The SEC calls Veronica. They’re investigating her investment firm, Pearls and Posh, and want to see her books. She manages to hold them off for a week. She thinks it’s Chad who tipped them off. She needs money, and fast. She wants to steal her dad’s haul of palladium that those prisoners were after. Reggie (Charles Melton) thinks Hermosa would know where it is. Reggie offers to call her and lets it slip that he and Hermosa had a thing while Veronica was away at college. That Reggie really likes the Lodge women. Who’s next? Hermione? Veronica’s reaction to the Reggie and Hermosa news is ::chef’s kiss::.
Cheryl and Kevin want to oust Penelope from her own church. Kevin suggests Cheryl perform three miracles and qualify for sainthood. He says this without a hint of humor and then suggests Cheryl learn some magic tricks, which he can teach her, also without a hint of irony or humor.
Archie tells Uncle Frank all about the mission General Taylor sent them on that led to almost everyone in his squad dying. Taylor sent them on a suicide mission so that he could get glory from taking down a warlord in the area. The only two to survive the mission were Archie and Eric, who lost his legs. Uncle Frank suggests Archie not take the fight to the Army, but Archie says “it’s a war worth fighting.”
Veronica and Reggie break into Hiram’s apartment. Reggie still knows all the security codes. They find Hiram’s hidden palladium in a SoDale (South Riverdale) home model. Veronica says she needs to smelt the palladium down into coins, like Spanish doubloons. And then auction them off. How exactly is she managing to pull all of that off in a day?? Veronica then enlists Cheryl to help her with a little cover-up. If anyone asks, she wants to be able to say the palladium came from Cheryl’s mines. Cheryl is happy to oblige, just to screw over Hiram.
Jughead gets a call from his agent. He has pages due, and if he doesn’t deliver, he’ll be blackballed from the industry. Jughead pops into Pop’s and asks Tabitha what happened to his manuscript. She breaks the news that Betty gave it to Jessica. Jughead is flabbergasted as to why they would do that. Tabitha explains that they were concerned for Jessica. Jughead is understanding but needs those pages. Tabitha doesn’t think Jughead should reach out to Jessica or do any writing because either might send him into another drug and alcohol spiral.
Cheryl performs her first “miracle.” The congregation eats up her turning water into maple syrup. It’s an odd choice that she dressed like Zatanna for this. Like, I’m not a stage magician, I’m a saint, but watch as me and my assistant dress like stage magicians and perform parlor tricks!
Archie stops by General Taylor’s office (how’d he get in there?) and tells him “soldier to soldier” to retire quietly. General Taylor scoffs him off, telling Archie he’s no soldier, just a kid from Riverdale playing the part for a few years. He says he will tell his version of events, that Archie took his men rogue, which led to Archie’s men dying. Is Archie smart enough to be recording all this? Doubtful.
Eric doesn’t want Archie to go up against Taylor. He’s worried bringing all this back up might be hell for the surviving members of the platoon’s families. Archie says he won’t go forward unless he gets their approval.
Uh oh, Jughead is desperate. He finds Cora Carter’s manuscript, The Rules of Distraction, and mulls over giving it to an agent as his own. You might remember her as the grad student fan who gave Jughead a copy of her manuscript to read back in New York. Jughead, you know this won’t end well. But Jughead picks up a bottle of whiskey, so you know a bad decision is coming.
Archie leaves Riverdale and meets with one of his dead soldier’s moms. She asks if he sleeps soundly at night. Oh, lady, you have no idea. She doesn’t give her consent for Archie to go forward with his plans.
Veronica has her auction. Even her dad is in attendance. He’s bidding on his own palladium, now cast into doubloons. Despite Hiram (Mark Consuelos) waving his paddle furiously, Veronica sells them to someone else. Hiram confronts her afterward, accusing her of intentionally low-balling her own sale to not sell to him. She basically responds with “Yup.”
Another soldier’s parent is more forgiving of Archie and offers his full support.
For “miracle” #2, Cheryl manifests the collective pain of their congregation, manifesting stigmata in her palms. Come on, I think even I could pull that one off! Quick, get me some ketchup packets!
Archie meets with a soldier’s wife, who tells him that she’s stretched thin enough being a single mom, and has made her peace with her husband’s death, and leaves the decision of what to do next up to Archie.
Veronica gets another call from Chad. He asks if she wants in on Copter Cab, his new start-up. Hiram is an investor. Veronica turns him down but accepts an invitation to Copter Cab’s launch party.
Jughead reads the entire manuscript and says it’s good. Uh oh. He calls his agent saying he has a novel ready to go. He tears off the original cover page, punctuating his guilt with another shot of whiskey. Oh, Jughead. That’s when Betty texts him. He asks if they can meet up in person. She says sure.
Eric isn’t happy with Archie going forward with accusing Taylor at a military tribunal. That’s when Eric admits that Taylor also brought him into his tent that day. Eric had training as a sniper, and Taylor used him to kill the warlord. When Archie left to call for support, Eric snuck off to assassinate the warlord. He blames that decision on why he lost his leg. But really, that move probably kept him alive.
It’s time for Cheryl’s next “miracle.” She’s going to put her hands into a fish tank of bees and not get stung. Penelope speaks up, calling Cheryl and Kevin charlatans. For some reason, both Kevin and Penelope have developed southern accents for this scene. Cheryl confronts her mom with two fistfuls of bees. You heard of the Mother of Dragons? Well, Cheryl Blossom is the Queen of the Bees.
Archie heads to testify. Eric, in full uniform, Eric joins him. I guess that one mom objecting didn’t count? At least he has Eric’s support.
Chadwick holds his Copter Cat party. Veronica shows up with girls, booze, and drugs. Hiram is the only one raising an eyebrow at this.
Betty meets up with Jughead in Dilton’s safe house. She fills him on her what she’s been doing on the Lonely Highway. Jughead apologizes for the horrible voicemail he left her five years ago. When she asks why now, he says it’s one of his steps, and that he’s in recovery, right before he takes a swig of whiskey. Betty says she’s an addict too. She’s addicted to hunting for the highway killer. She tells Jughead that the reason she missed his book launch party is she joined the Trash Bag Killer Task Force that day. She wanted to be at his party but needed to be on that task force.
Jughead gets a call from his agent. He’s excited, telling Jughead it’s the best thing he ever wrote. Jughead admits it’s not his. His agent doesn’t deal with plagiarists and drops Jughead as a client. But Jughead does offer to send his agent Cora’s info, which the agent accepts. Betty disappears by the time the call ends.
At the party, Copter Cab’s stock is crashing. Uh oh, Veronica leaked to the press that Chad crashed a helicopter and then covered it up years ago. The girls, booze, and drugs were all a distraction. Veronica tells him off, saying he’ll never be an alpha, only a beta. When Hiram says he didn’t invest much in Copter Cab, Veronica tells him to check out his SoDale model, all but admitting she stole his palladium…which he didn’t even notice was missing, Veronica!
Jughead wants to help Betty. Tabitha tells Jughead to not worry about Betty, she’ll help her. Jughead needs to worry about Jughead. She makes him promise that he’ll keep going to his Riverdale AA meetings.
Hiram opens up his SoDale model, to find fake Palladium in it. Again, Veronica, why tell him?
Archie gets a call at his house that night. The JAG officer has a verdict. They ruled Eric was only following orders so he’s okay, but that General Taylor is being discharged without honors. It’s a win for Archie!
Betty heads out late at night, dressed like a sex worker. Alice is asleep on the couch. Before Betty can get out the door, Tabitha stops her to confront her. She knows Betty won’t stop, so Tabitha is going to join her on the Lonely Highway.
Uncle Frank is proud of Archie and Eric. Archie raises a toast to their fallen brothers, whose ghosts still haunt him. Across town, Kevin wanted to know how Cheryl managed to not get stung by those bees. She says she didn’t have any special ointment on her body, that something powerful inside her has shifted. She’s not saying she’s the first-ever living saint, but she’s also saying she’s not saying that and wonders if she is “the holiest of holies.” Oh boy. Hello, new Riverdale cult.
Jughead goes back to his meetings, saying he’s worried about a couple of his friends, saying he has a really bad feeling about what happens next. That feeling is just called living in Riverdale.