Riverdale is back! With an all new season! But before we get to that, we need to finish off last season…this season! In case you forgot, Riverdale season 4 was shortened thanks to a COVID induced production shutdown. The bad news is we were left with plots dangling. The good news is we get a few more weeks of Skeet Ulrich in our lives before he leaves the show. Also, I’d like to say right now that Skeet Ulrich leaving Riverdale is up there with Rob Lowe leaving The West Wing. No good can come from the best part of a show leaving.
Where did we leave things off, you ask? Someone is harassing the gang with an ever increasingly creepy collection of VHS tapes. Originally, it was extended long shots of everyone’s houses. But it quickly evolved to actors in vintage style Archie gang halloween masks acting out killing people on camera, including Mr. Honey (Kerr Smith), the most recent principal of Riverdale High.
The season premiere starts with Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) investigating an active crime scene. Betty’s FBI agent brother, Charles (Wyatt Nash) has zero problems with this, and why should he? Oh right, because they are a pair of high school junior detectives, not actual law enforcement personnel. Though Skeet did deputize the Serpents at one point, and Jughead is a Serpent, and Betty even was Serpent Queen, so I guess they are kind of law enforcement? But still.
Jughead points out the similarities between his short story, Killing Mr. Honey, and the video they watched. Whoever made it had to have had access to his story! But who? Honestly, the list could be long. Security wasn’t really one of Stonewall Prep’s strong suits. Anyone could have looked at the story after getting access to Jughead’s computer in his room.
One piece of evidence that stands out are ripped in two tickets with BV on it. Betty and Veronica? No, Blue Velvet Video!
Over at Archie’s house, Archie (KJ Apa) left Veronica (Camila Mendes) in bed to go for a very sweaty early morning run. He wants to be in his best shape for when he meets with the Naval Academy Commandant. Veronica suggests Archie join the USO. Why? Because she found a new song that Archie wrote for her. Ominous music played when she picked up the sheet music. Uh-oh, honey, Archie didn’t write that song for you. Trying to change the subject, Archie invites Veronica into his shower with him, but she’s due back at home for breakfast with daddy. Veronica gives a very sweaty Archie a kiss goodbye. I can’t understate how sweaty Archie is here. No one would want to kiss that.
At breakfast, Hiram (Mark Consuelos) has news. His core and grip strength are building back up. He’s beating his disease. Veronica doesn’t quite believe him, and wants confirmation herself from his doctor. When Hermione (Marisol Nichols) asks why they think he’s recovering, he flashes back to beating up chumps late at night. “Active lifestyle choices,” eh, Hiram?
FBI Agent Charles Cooper questions David, the manager of the Blue Velvet, who denies ever seeing those ticket stubs. Jughead doesn’t buy it.
Betty follows up on her own lead. She questions Ms. Bell, the school secretary, just as Mr. Weatherbee walks out of the Principal’s office. How hard up for a principal does a town have to be to rehire this nine-fingered cult member? When Betty asks how he’s doing, he says “I make it through most nights without waking up screaming.” Not the most inspiring return, Weatherbee.
The Naval Academy Commandant tours Archie’s gym while Veronica brags to him about Archie. He lets Archie know that he’s also considering a boxer from Queens. Veronica suggests they box for the spot. The other candidate’s name is KO Kelly (I keep thinking he’s saying Kato, but it’s boxing, so KO). Apparently he’s dating Katy Keene but i don’t watch that show, so I’m going to have to take Veronica’s word for it.
Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) are manning the prom king and queen sign up table. When Kevin (Casey Kott) shows up to sign up, Cheryl won’t let him. She wants to win the election, and her favorite type of elections are North Korean style with one candidate.
Archie and KO meet up at Pops. KO questions if they’re even in the same weight class. Point: KO.
Betty and Jughead visit Brad…in jail. Remember prep school villain Brad? Man, this extended season break has been rough on him. From Stonewall to lock up. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Brad isn’t going to help until Jughead mentions he has a friend named War Baby in the same jail. That name gets Brad talking. Brad knows all about the freaky underground screenings that David from Blue Velvet runs. If they want in, they will have to impress David…with a snuff film. Just another day in Riverdale, am I right?
KO has 50 lbs on Archie. He’s seriously bigger than Archie. Archie tries getting in his head by challenging him to a series of physical exercises like pull ups, situps and pushups. Is he trying to tire KO out? Can’t this backfire? Archie tells KO “Your ass is grass.” Who still uses that phrase after 1989?
Betty and Jughead try to recruit Cheryl into their snuff film plan. She’s in if they can get her a wig so not one recognizes her. Cheryl in a wig looks a lot like Cheryl, just with darker hair. Reggie in a gimp outfit does not look like Reggie at all though, so his identity should be safe.
Over at La Bon Nui, Veronica sings Archie’s trashed song from earlier in the episode. KO and Jughead really dig it. Archie and Betty realize it’s the song Archie wrote for Betty. Ruh-roh. Archie acts all weird the rest of the night following that song.
Cheryl wants to have a family dinner where Toni’s family meets Cheryl’s before prom. Toni would rather they didn’t tell her family about their relationship, which Cheryl agrees to, but knowing Cheryl, she’ll instead throw an over the top announcement to Toni’s family. Because Cheryl.
Damn, Archie, you couldn’t even let KO sleep on the couch? You gave him the floor? Even your dad’s criminal coworker from seasons past got the couch.
Jughead and Betty recruit Kevin to sell the snuff film to Blue Velvet. He’s immediately in. Seriously, he accepts way too quickly for me to feel comfortable about it.
Toni attempts to tell her grandma about her sexuality. Her grandmother seems totally fine with Toni being a lesbian but less so with Toni dating someone from the Blossom clan. Toni’s grandma hates the Blossoms and wants nothing to do with them. How did she know about Toni dating Cheryl? Oh, Cheryl stopped by and told her. Of course.
When Betty and Kevin attempt to sell David the Reggie and Cheryl pseudo-snuff film, he immediately spots it as a fake, so Betty gives him another tape. It’s a home movie of Betty’s dad as a kid with his Mrs. Bates-like mom lecturing him from off camera. It’s the birth of the Black Hood. David greedily accepts this one.
Fight night! Archie gets in more punches than KO. But KO punches harder. Much harder. He sends Archie to the ground but Archie rights himself.
Across town, Betty attends one of David’s screenings. After she gets inside, she sneaks in Jughead through a side door. Inside is a weird rave with different homemade movies playing in each room. Hey, it’s a tickle movie. I almost wrote “Remember those guys from a few seasons ago?”, but that subplot was late last season! God, 2020 was a long year. They finally find a room playing an Archie mask movie. Everyone in the room is wearing a clear plastic mask like Kim Bassinger in Batman. Jughead tries making conversation with people in the Auter’s room (am I the only one annoyed that the villain’s nickname is the Auteur?), but they all shove him away. There’s a guy in an owl costume down the hall with a video camera. He must be the Auteur…and not just another weirdo at this party? Jughead and Betty give chase to him, but run into Jellybean, giving Owl Head a chance to escape.
Both Archie and KO are bleeding from their noses and mouth. It comes down the judge’s decision, namely the Commandant who is the tie-breaking judge. He picks KO. Afterwards, the Commandant wants to stay in touch and possibly offer Archie a spot at the Academy later on, but Archie blows him off.
Jughead and Betty ask Jellybean how she knew about the party. Shes says her friends just told her about a rave, and she wanted to go. We know Jellybean isn’t as sweet as she seems. Could she be in league with the Auteur?
Prom Night arrives. Cheryl is sad to go alone, but Toni shows up to be her date. But more interesting is what goes down in the Lodge apartment pre-prom. Hiram offers Archie a job as his deputy mayor. I don’t know about you, but my gut instinct always tells me not to accept a job from someone who has repeatedly tried to kill me.
Shit really goes down at prom! First, to the surprise of no one, Cheryl’s one candidate prom queen election goes to Cheryl and Toni. But it’s during her prom court’s dance that everything hits the fan. While slow dancing, Veronica tells Archie she knows about the job her dad offered him, and that she plans on deferring Barnard for a year to be with him here in Riverdale. In response to this, Archie tells her the song from earlier was one he wrote about Betty, and that he and Betty kissed during Hedwig rehearsals. He later mentions that Betty and he swore to never tell Veronica and Jughead, but he did anyway, because Archie is the dumbest character on the show.
As they’re dealing with that revelation, the slow song (Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You...seriously, who is this prom DJ? I loved their 90s choices all prom) to Psycho Killer by Talking Heads. A bunch of kids storm the dance floor and a new video from the Auteur plays. In this one, a group of people wearing vintage Archie gang masks stab another man in a chair, but this time it’s Owl Head, with a sign saying David on his chest. What’s weird is only the gang, and their parents (side note: why are all of their parents at the Riverdale High prom?) seem to notice the film. Everyone else is too busy rocking out to Psycho Killer. Betty and Jughead manage to kill both the song and video and rush from the prom.
They find the room where it was filmed, but no sign of the masked killers or Owl Head, his chair is empty. But a camera is on a tripod recording them.
Archie and Veronica decide that night to keep Archie and Betty’s kiss a secret from Jughead, and Betty too, I guess. Even though she definitely knows about it. She just won’t know Veronica knows. Ah, high school. Ah, Riverdale. They’ll play their parts through graduation day and then go their separate ways. This should be interesting. How fast is Reggie going to try to get back in the picture? When Veronica goes home that night, she tearfully tells her mom what happened while Hiram watches from the shadows. I think you just lost that deputy mayor job offer, Archiekins.
Next week promises more excitement as we race to Riverdale season 4’s finale by way of Riverdale season 5.