Just in case you were worried, Riverdale fans, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Archie (KJ Apa) survived last week’s porch fires, as did the Andrews’ house, thanks to a couple of well-placed fire extinguishers procured by Fred Andrews years ago, that survived both the Andrews family moving out years ago and the Ghoulies tenure living here. What are the chances?
The fire inspires Archie to walk in the footsteps of his grandfather and become a firefighter. Only problem? Riverdale no longer has a fire department. #ThanksHiram
The body that Betty (Lili Reinhart), Kevin (Casey Cott), and Alice (Madchen Amick) found in the swamp last week wasn’t Polly. Whoever it is has been there for 3 years. Alice heads back to the swamp alone. This doesn’t sound like a great idea.
Veronica (Camila Mendes) confronts Hiram (Mark Consuelos) about the fire at Archie’s house, but he denies everything.
Not only does Riverdale not have a fire department right now, Hiram Lodge firebombed the fire department building. Give the man credit for being thorough. Archie attempts to recruit the former Riverdale FD Chief to his cause, even offering to host the fire department out of his gym, but gets politely rebuffed.
Meanwhile, at Riverdale High, Toni (Vanessa Morgan) leads her new Vixens squad through practice, which is immediately interrupted by Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch). Unlike the old fire department chief, Cheryl is coming out of retirement. Cheryl challenges Toni to a dance off, but with Toni being very pregnant, a current Vixen fills in for her. The dance-off ends in a tie, so Toni offers to share the role with Cheryl.
Veronica arranges another Katy Keane crossover, bringing in one of Katy’s friends who is a New York City firefighter to help train Archie and his crew. Now Archie just needs an actual crew.
Veronica then bribes her Economics class with exemption from the midterm if they put in unpaid labor fixing up her seedy video store turned upscale jewelry shop. There’s a valuable economics lesson here about the rich getting richer on the backs of the working class, but all these kids hear is “no midterm!”
Jughead digs into the Mothman legend more. He’s hooked fully, but Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) thinks it’s bunk. That is until Jughead shows her a quote from Pop claiming to be an eyewitness.
Remember Archie’s buddy from the VA hospital, Jackson? He shows up at Archie’s doorstep, oddly with a rifle strapped to his back. Army doesn’t take that back when you leave? I feel like it’s safe money to bet that Jackson is one of this season’s villains. He’s given off an incredibly creepy vibe since his first appearance.
Betty thinks she figured out the identity of the dead body, but Curdle disagrees. Betty’s missing person had braces, this body doesn’t. Betty announces that “Three means a pattern.” The things you learn in FBI school…
Jackson’s first name is Eric. He joins Archie at the bar with Kevin, Fangs, and some other townies. Kevin gets the best line of the episode when Archie says, “I’m looking for a few good men,” and Kevin interrupts with “Story of my life!” Literally, zero people jump at the chance to run into burning buildings with Bad Decisions Andrews. Can’t say that I blame them.
Betty meets with Margaret’s mom, Margaret being the missing person Betty thought was the dead body. Margaret’s mom mentions that her daughter fell in with the truckers, just like Polly! She mentions a social worker named Toni who helped a lot. Could there be more than one Toni in town? Doubtful.
Veronica sees Cheryl hanging out in Riverdale High and feigns surprise to see her. I say feigns surprise because she had something on her that she wanted to show Cheryl. Veronica inquires about Cheryl’s art design skills in relation to a printing plate. Looks like these two are upgrading from their hooch business and going straight into counterfeiting money.
Jackson convinces Archie’s ROTC class to sign up for Archie’s fire department. We’re are now at two Riverdale grads using underage labor for their pet projects.
Veronica shows scans of her counterfeit money to her class. She pitches it as a town currency, citing a story about a town in Oregon that did the same thing. She’s going to pay her class for redoing her shop! Yay! But she’s going to pay them in River Dollars (Riverbucks sounds better, Ronnie), huh? The catch is that they can only use that money in town. She claims this is a good thing, as the money keeps getting reinvested in the town, but to me, this sounds like no one actually getting paid for work. Though Veronica is backing Riverbucks with her own real US currency. If anyone wants to cash out their Riverbucks, they can cash out with her.
Betty comes home to find dirty footprints on the floor. It’s not an intruder though, it’s Alice, who looks like she literally crawled out of the swamp. Oh, she did. And she claims she found Polly’s phone in the swamp. Okay, we last saw Alice yesterday during the day, because she was with Kevin and Kevin was later out for drinks with Archie and company that night, which means Alice was in the swamp alone overnight. Is it me or does that not seem like a great idea when you traipsing through the body dump of a new serial killer?
When Betty tells Toni about the body and Polly’s phone in the swamp, Toni offers up all the Serpents to help any way they can.
Pop returns to tell his granddaughter and Jughead about his encounter with the Mothmen. It’s 50 years ago, and Pops is working at Pop’s when the electricity goes out, but the jukebox starts playing Chances Are, and the whole place fills with a weird light like something out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But when they went outside, there was nothing there. Pops thinks it was military testing, not aliens. He never saw them again after that. You know who else was there? Cheryl’s grandmother. I swear, this “let’s interview all the old folks in town about alien sightings” is the least interesting subplot in the history of Riverdale.
Bernardo Bixby from Katy Keane gives Archie’s fire crew some pointers. Lesson one is “Don’t get burned.” Oh, my bad. It’s actually “Everyone works as a team.” Though I feel my lesson one holds up too.
Veronica prints her Riverdale Dollars. Of course, they have her face on them. She pays her underage work crew with them, who use them at Pop’s. No one told Jughead until now, but he’s happy to spend them on booze at the Bijou.
Cheryl runs a tight ship. Toni is angry that Cheryl went behind her back, holding practices without her. I thought this was going to bring these two back together. But perhaps not.
Polly’s search party is stopped by Hiram and an armed Reggie, who kick them out of the swamp. Apparently, Hiram owns Murder Swamp?
Jughead and Tabitha interview Nana Rose about the Mothmen and I’m doing my best not to doze off. Nana Rose claims to have kept a dead alien that she had dissected and preserved in a barrel of maple syrup. Let this old lady take her nap, Jughead.
Veronica gives a lecture on inflation and flooding the market with her Riverbucks. The class wants to print $10,000 more but she talks them into easing the bucks into town, saying they should start with $1,000. Hiram stops by to tell her she’s impressed with her creating her own currency, though that doesn’t stop her from kicking him out.
Some homeless dude named Earl strolls into the gym and is surprised to see the fire crew there. Archie tells him the fire department is going to make the town better for everyone, but Earl is pretty much, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” This was easily the weirdest scene of the episode.
Betty calls her partner Glen for help dealing with Hiram, but Glen tells her that the Trash Bag Killer is back, working out of Tulsa now. Hmmm, is Glen the Trash Bag Killer?
Betty searches the swamp alone and is ambushed by Reggie. But Betty talks him into helping her out. Reggie fills her in on some info, he found another body.
The pool hall is one fire! Archie’s team hits the scene…without any equipment. They’re literally all wearing t-shirts. When Archie hears Earl’s inside, Archie runs into the fire alone, not even carrying a squirt gun.
Veronica figures something out: someone is flooding Riverdale with counterfeit versions of her Riverdale Dollars. She quickly surmises it’s her own dear old dad behind it.
The dead body Reggie found? It’s Margaret!
Cheryl finds Nana Rose chatting with the art dealer from last week, Ms. Marple, in front of both the original and forged versions of her brother’s portrait. Ruh-roh, Cheryl.
Archie is back in the hospital. That’s twice since the time jump. He really should walk around in a rubber suit or a protective plastic bubble. The good news is, he’s okay, and he saved Earl’s life. Mr. Keller thinks it was arson, and both he and Archie think it was Hiram Lodge. Jackson isn’t happy and gives a very Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA speech.
Hiram isn’t happy that they found a second body in the swamp. He tells Reggie “The turnpike, just like the rest of SoDale is a necessary smokescreen.” A necessary smokescreen from what? What is Hiram really up to? Apparently, Reggie knows. You trust Reggie with your secrets, Hiram? That doesn’t seem like the smartest move.
Betty, Alice, and Toni break the news to Margaret’s mom about her daughter’s body being found. She wants answers about who did this, but Betty can’t provide any for now but swears she will find out.
Jughead gets to work at Pop’s only to find a barrel of Blossom Maple Syrup waiting for him. Is there an alien body preserved in there? If so, I bet you could bottle that syrup and sell it for bank!
They pop the top off the barrel and retrieve the Mothman body, which is about the size of Baby Yoda. Is it a Mothman? Is it a coconut carved into a human-like shape? Who can say? Jughead wants to bring in a cultural anthropologist who specializes in alien artifacts. Tabitha isn’t too keen on leaving the dead alien body in her diner’s back room. I mean, the smell alone. Jughead promises to stand guard all night.
Veronica fills her class in on their counterfeit fake money problem. She wants to recall all Riverdale Dollars. Maybe design them a little better next time? She notices one kid fidgeting in the back of the class, his fingers covered in pink ink, the same color as Riverdale Dollars. Busted! Damn dude, wash your hands before class! Or wear gloves! Or keep them in your pockets! But don’t draw attention to them during her announcement about her counterfeit counterfeit money problem! Betrayed by her own class. They printed $10,000 instead of $1,000 behind her back. Veronica fails them all. They want to bargain with her for passing grades, which leaves them all stuck working off their $10,000 debt. Veronica indentures her econ class into servitude They’re cleaning up the alley for free.
Archie comes home to find Jackson leaving, his gun on his back. Earl died, and Jackson blames Hiram. He wants to introduce Hiram to his rifle. Archie tries to talk him out of it. Archie promises him that he’s got as much PTSD as Jackson does, and that’s why they need to stick together. He gives Jackson the job of Fire Department Commander to keep him from going over the edge.
Jughead pulls an all-nighter at Pop’s. Just like in Pop’s story, the jukebox turns on Chances Are on its own and the electricity both goes out and goes haywire at the same time. That’s when the lights appear. But by the time Jughead goes out to investigate, everything is back to normal. That is until a floodlight shines down on him from the sky. Man, they really don’t know what to do with Jughead this season if he’s getting abducted by aliens.
The next day, Jughead tells Tabitha all about it. After the white light at 2 AM, the next thing he knew it was 6 AM and he woke up in a diner booth. And the Mothman body is gone!
Bad news for the fire department. Principal Weatherbee canceled the RROTC’s participation after Archie led them barely trained into a burning building. But Archie’s bravery inspired the old chief to come back. Plus, Kevin and Fangs are on board too.
Mr. Keller, Alice, Toni, and Betty meet to discuss the missing girls case. The list is now up to 21 missing girls. Toni thinks maybe it’s human trafficking. Betty thinks it’s a serial killer. Maybe they’re both right? But knowing Riverdale, safe money is on the serial killer.