Riverdale turns 50 with this episode! And so does FP! I gotta say, Skeet looks good for 50. Heck, he even looks great for 49. According to IMDB, Skeet won’t actually be 50 until January 20, 2020.
Gladys surprises the Jones family by taking them to the Cooper house. Surprise, she’s Alice Cooper’s anonymous buyer. Betty is shocked that her mom sold the house to the Joneses. FP and Jughead are equally shocked, and want to walk away from the sale, but Alice is all for selling. Jughead offers for Betty to move in and stay with them in her old room. Betty isn’t too sure about the idea of living with Jughead’s entire family.
Kill the Red Paladin
Later, Jughead fills in Archie and Betty that when Warden Norton committed suicide, in his files was a Kill the Red Paladin card. It’s still in good condition, so it’s clearly not the same one Ricky had last week. Jughead figures that someone printed up multiple Kill the Red Paladin cards. Just how many are out there? And who printed them?
Cheryl wants to run away with Toni on an international ski trip. When Toni says she had other plans with the Poisons for that weekend, Cheryl takes it well, as Cheryl always does. Just kidding. Cheryl has her typical temper tantrum.
Archie confronts Hiram Lodge about the Kill the Red Paladin card. He wants to know how many were printed. Lodge says printed 12, giving 3 to Norton and 9 to Tall Boy. Truce or no truce, Archie still has 10 questers out there looking to off him. Hiram gives Archie a list of locations where his Gargoyles used to distribute fizzle rocks. Archie will likely find the questers there.
What are the chances that they’d pick this song?
Cheryl pops into La Bon Nui to visit Toni. She’s not happy when she sees Toni on stage, arm in arm with Veronica, singing a duet about cheating on your girlfriend. Yeesh, that song couldn’t be more on the nose.
Alice stops by Skeet’s office to ask if he still loves Gladys, and if still loves her. Skeet lets Alice down as easily as he can. He needs to do what needs to do to keep his family together. I honestly forgot about this love triangle.
Reggie wants a raise. He’s Veronica’s right hand man and wants to be Veronica’s business partner. Veronica isn’t loving the idea.
Jughead asks his mom about the Cooper house. She claims she came into the money by selling the chop shop in Toledo. Gladys tries to play dumb to Jughead’s suspicions of her. Jughead sees through her BS at first, and even when it seems like he’s swayed by it, he still looks suspicious. Gladys wants Jughead to give the speech at Skeet’s 50th. That gets him to smile for a full three seconds before he’s back to suspecting her. To paraphrase my favorite Ben Affleck line, “Ya suspect, Gladys!”
All that before the title card!
Skeet and Tom Keller lecture the Serpents, er, I mean the deputies, about their new duties. Before he leaves, Skeet sends the “Boy!” count to 1.
It’s Training Day, starring Skeet and Jughead! Skeet drives Jughead around town in his Sheriff’s car. He tells Jughead that he’s most proud of Jughead and Jelly Bean. He’s excited to move the family to the North Side. It’s a new, fresh start for the Joneses.
A 1023 is called in at Pop’s! What’s a 1023? Some fizzle rocks junkie freaked out and threw hot coffee on a customer. Is a 1023 drug related, or is it assault? Or is it reserved purely for coffee related crime?
Cheryl hears from Nana Rose that Toni is paying Nana Rose rent. Cheryl looks confused. So do I. Why on Earth would Toni think the Blossom family needs more money, especially unasked for?
But did they connect on LinkedIn?
Veronica gives Reggie an envelope full of cash. She calls it a fair starting salary. Wait, has Reggie not been paid all this time? Reggie’s not happy “being the hired help.” He wants a partnership. When Ronnie balks, he bolts.
Archie seems a little too trusting fo the info Hiram gave him. Jughead, Betty and Archie hit up the local comic shop and walk in on a candlelit round of G&G. Riverdale is a nice looking town, but this shop looks like a dump. One out of five stars on Yelp. Also, how are there not a bunch of Archie or Red Circle comics on the walls in the background? The DM isn’t happy being interrupted and tells them they can’t be back there. Dude, that attitude won’t help the store’s Yelp score.
The DM won’t tell Archie who has the Red Paladin card.Veronica fills Betty in on Gladys’s real business, namely the Riverdale drug trade. Betty wants her to tell her everything. Betty says she’ll have to tell Jughead, which Veronica must have realized when she broached the subject.
Jughead wants to counterfeit an addendum to the quest to get the challengers out in the open. Betty wants them to stipulate no weapons. Jughead recommends it take place on a mountaintop, to give Archie an advantage. Before leaving, Betty tells Jughead the truth about Gladys and her fizzle rocks business. Jughead says he’ll look into it, but doesn’t want help from Betty.
AA + HL = BFF
Archie stops by Hiram’s again. This is weird. He wants help finding a location for their quest. Even weirder, Hiram agrees to help him, and gives Archie the keys to a shut down boxing gym.
The gym is in serious disrepair but still has electricity. Who’s been paying this bill? Jughead has the Serpents dress up as Gargoyles to convince the players out there that this new message is really coming straight from the Gargoyle King. And he sends Sweet Pea out to verify Betty’s story about his mom.
Reggie ain’t looking good. He tried stealing his car back from Gladys. It didn’t go well. To save his skin, Veronica offers to let Gladys host her party for Skeet at La Bon Nui for free. Reggie apologizes and then sasses Veronica all in the same minute.
What do you call a virgin bellini?
Cheryl shows up to La Bon Nui looking like a barrel of dynamite about explode. She treats Toni like the hired help and commands her to fetch a bellini. This is going to end great, I’m sure. And we get confirmation that La Bon Nui serves minors, unless there are virgin bellinis out there. Ordering a virgin bellini makes as much sense as ordering a virgin Cuba libre. It would just be peach juice, right?
Archie has a Red Paladin boxing robe! And we get our first shirtless KJ Apa of the episode. A guy announces he’s here for the Red Paladin. I think he’s dressed like Thor. Jughead welcomes the challengers to the Iron Mountain. Every challenger gets 3 minutes to try to defeat the Red Paladin.
The first challenger gets one punch in before going down hard. The second challenger goes Tyson are Archie and takes a bite out of his shoulder. The third falls without landing a punch. Challenger #4 looks like trouble.
Over at a now closed La Bon Nui, Toni catches Cheryl, now in a black catsuit, trying to break into Veronica’s safe. This is an odd showdown that ends in Toni and Cheryl undressing quickly. What was Cheryl’s endgame here? Did she want to get caught? On the one hand I’m glad they momentarily set aside their issues , on the other hand, this scene was written like the writers cribbed the dialogue from Skinemax and I’m expecting a sax solo to cut in.
King of the Hill
Challenger 4 fights past the bell ring, and Archie punishes him severely for it. More challengers go down. Betty’s got 11 cards. Archie asks if anyone else wants to challenge him. One of the old prison guards show up to fight. Oh damn. The guard is big. He pummels Archie. He telegraphs his final punch though, and Archie uppercuts him him hard to end the challenge.
Meanwhile at La Bon Nui, Toni has Cheryl blindfolded and tied to a chair. I’m glad they’re having this night of fun, but this doesn’t solve their very real problems with each other. Afterwards, as they dress, Toni addresses the elephant in the room. Toni thinks Cheryl has a problem with the Poisons because Toni’s in charge of something that Cheryl isn’t. Toni feels cooped up in Cheryl’s house. Cheryl isn’t happy to hear any of this and suggests Toni move out.
Now these two should move in together.
Archie pays his third visit of the episode to Hiram Lodge. They’re basically best buds now. Hiram gives Archie the keys to the gym to make amends for launching the Red Paladin quest in the first place. Hiram tells im there’s no strings attached, and honestly, he could not look more like the devil as he says this.
Reggie wants more from Veronica. Veronica gives him the keys to his car, which he bought from Gladys. Reggie takes the keys and leaves. Geez, these two.
Sweet Pea verifies what Betty said, that Gladys is in charge of the drug trade in Riverdale. When confronted, Gladys fesses up immediately and unrepentantly. She’s not sorry, says so, and gets back to cooking breakfast. She tells Jughead that if he tells Skeet, it will break him. It seems to me like he’s better off telling him now, what with Skeet being the town sheriff. He and the local drug lord are headed on a collision course eventually.
Happy birthday, Skeet!
The drinks are literally flowing for Skeet’s 50th. The Joneses play the part of the happy family. Fred Andrews shows up for the birthday party and I cry a little when he hugs FP.
We cut away to Cheryl’s house. Kevin pops by for a visit. Cheryl quickly announces to him that the town musical is going to now be Heathers, she’s starring it and he’s directing. That’s what this whole scene was. Too weird.
Jughead gives his toast. He tells Skeet that he’s had a transformation that Jughead could never come up with typing on his keyboard at Pops. Jughead says “There’s something you need know about this family,” and the whole place goes silent. Is there where he thinks it would be tell him the truth about Gladys? Nope. He simply says, “We’ll always be there for you.”
Betty asks Jughead what his plans are going forward. His answer? “Save Jellybean, protect my dad and run my mom out of town. Do you want to help?”
Billy Henehan writes for The Beat. In his free time, he likes to hunt down foreign language reprints of Todd McFarlane Spider-Man comics.