We’re almost to episode 100 of Riverdale. Episode 99 is Thornhill centric, with three parallel stories of Blossom women separated by the decades: Cheryl, Poppy and Abigail, all played by Madelaine Petsch. Riverdale is still Rivervale, with no explanation as to why.
In the present day, Cheryl reads to Nana Rose stories of Poppy and Abigail Blossom. Nana Rose is on her deathbed, and Cheryl is helping her transition to the next world.
Abigail hires Thomasina Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) from nearby Greendale to work in her school. You might remember Greendale as the town from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (as well as Community…what I’d give for that crossover!). There’s an interesting bit where a candle lights itself for all three Blossom women across the centuries. I have no idea what that’s about. It’s Thomasina who opens up Abigail to teaching the girls things beyond etiquette and other finishing school topics. But Abigail isn’t happy at first about Thomasina’s liberal ideas, and wants her to stick the curriculum she set forth for her.
Poppy’s scene involves her providing Bitsy (Lilli Reinhardt) with an herbal abortion. She also offers her a poison to secretly feed her abusive husband. Afterwards, the two share a kiss. Wait, are these two related? Though I guess that’s nothing new in the Blossom house.
Thomasina and Abigail also share a kiss after reconciling their work differences. At least they’re not related.
Poppy gives out more advice, giving Velma (Camila Mendes) a copy of the Kamasutra and an aphrodisiac mix to help her love life at home. It’s unclear if Bitsy and Velma are ancestors of Betty and Veronica. If this is one of Veronica’s ancestors, I assume it’s someone on her mother’s side, since Hiram’s family didn’t move to Riverdale until later.
Late at night, Abigail and Thomasina are interrupted when Constable Keller (Casey Cott) comes looking for Thomasina, who he calls a confirmed murderess. Abigail buys Thomasina some time, scaring the constable away by saying there is a confirmed case of the plague at the school. Abigail wants answers from Thomasina. Thomasina admits she was once married, and her husband was physically abusive. She killed him in self defense and then went on the run. Abigail pledges to protect her.
Poppy also gets a late night visit from Bitsy and her husband Jack (Cole Sprouse), who threatens to kill Poppy if she doesn’t stay away from Bitsy. Soon after, a collection of Rivervale husbands show up on Poppy’s door, telling her to get out of Rivervale. They don’t like her meddling in the their married lives.
Fen Fogerty (Drew Ray Tanner) visits Abigail, claiming to be a friend of her brother, James. Fen is there to tell Abigail that her brother James died, and to give her a letter he wrote shortly before his death. In the letter, James says his dying wish was that Abigail and Fen marry each other. Thomasina gets a bad vibe off Fen and wants Abigail to turn him down. Abigail and Thomasina find some things in Fen’s room that hint that Fen forged that letter: the Blossom family seal, a sheet of practiced James Blossom signatures and some objects of the occult. Thomasina says Fen isn’t just a scoundrel, he’s also a warlock! They also find a collection of death portraits, including James’s! Fen murdered James! They return everything in his room to its proper place right before Fen walks in. When they confront him, he holds Thomasina at ax point and threatens to slit her throat if Abigail doesn’t marry him. Abigail has an hour to find a vicar or Thomasina is dead.
Poppy comes home to find Agent Keller (also Casey Cott) and other G-men ransacking Thornhill. McCarthyism is in full swing and Poppy has been accused of being a communist subversive. Keller interrogates Poppy, asking if she’s ever been to Russia. She says yes, to participate in a chess tournament. Stop trying bring Queen’s Gambit into your continuity, Riverdale! Keller wants her to sign a confession saying she’s a communist, and jails her until she’s willing to do so. But Poppy won’t sign and stays jailed for the full 9 months of Bitsy’s pregnancy.
In the present, Cheryl points out that these two stories both happened on the night of Bailey’s comet passing over Rivervale, which is also happening tonight in the present day. Abigail marries Fen. Poppy’s husband, Jack, begs Poppy to help deliver Bitsy’s baby, it’s an emergency due to a complication. He and Agent Keller promise her that she won’t return to jail if she helps them. Poppy delivers Bitsy’s baby. Poppy says being born under Bailey’s comet is a sign of great things to come for Bitsy’s little girl. Poppy also gives Bitsy the poison she offered to her earlier. Her husband dies one year later, shortly after drinking a special tea prepared by Bitsy.
Fen calls Abigail to bed. Abigail asks if Fen has heard of Lizzie Borden and then gives him a first hand account of Lizzie’s story by bludgeoning him with an ax. She runs to Thomasina, only to find her dead, already killed by Fen, her death portrait sitting on her lap. As the comet passes overhead, Fen curses Abigail with his dying breath.
Keller sort of holds up the bargain they made with Poppy. He doesn’t bring Poppy back to jail, but does put her under house arrest.
The doorbell rings and Nana Rose asks, “Is that her? Is she finally here?” At the door, it’s none other than Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka)! Finally! Cheryl and Sabrina are excited to see each other. When Cheryl thanks her for coming, Sabrina responds that she’s always happy to help a fellow witch.
Sabrina is there to perform a transference. Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose taught her how to do it. Nana Rose, Sabrina, and Cheryl recite an incantation. At the end of this, Abigail talks through Nana Rose’s body, saying she finally feels free. Sabrina says “Happy sad endings are the best.”
When explaining it to Britta later, Sabrina reveals there was no Cheryl and no Poppy. Both were really Abigail. Fen cursed Abigail with literal immortality. To hide that, she invented the persona of Poppy Blossom and later Cheryl. But she wanted release, so Sabrina and Nana Rose helped her do a body swap, with Nana Rose moving to Cheryl/Abigail’s body and Abigail moving to Nana Rose’s, free to pass on to the next world. Which means that Cheryl didn’t really have a twin brother or a mom for that matter? But this is Rivervale, not Riverdale, so who knows? I’m interested to see if Madelaine Petsch will act differently next week since she’s now playing a newly rejuvenated Nana Rose and not Cheryl.
In the graveyard, Thomasina and Abigail reunite. Happy sad endings really are the best.
And once again, we get a new town sign.
NEXT: RIVERDALE #100!!! Hopefully, we get the answer as to why Riverdale is Rivervale!