Ever since the drive-in shutdown, Jughead has been sleeping in a closet under a staircase at school. Archie finds out the truth about his best pal’s living circumstances one early morning, after bumping into him in the boys’ locker room. (Hey, some shirtless Jughead for once!) Things aren’t good at home for ol’ Juggy: His dad has fallen off the wagon since Fred Andrews fired him, and his mom peaced-out to live with her family a while back.
Archie invites Jughead to stay with him, but he declines. He’s more concerned that Betty might find out that he’s effectively homeless. Uh, no reason he’s singling out Betty. He is definitely not in love with Betty. Betty, Betty, Betty.
Speaking of Betty, the woman Jughead certainly does not want to spend the rest of his life with, she and the gang debate whether they should tell the police about Polly’s escape from Sisters of Quiet Mercy. The timing might incriminate Betty’s sister, and God knows they don’t want the Blossom family catching wind of any of this. Too bad Ginger, several feet behind them, is texting all of this information to Cheryl Blossom in real time. Cheryl trades her intel to her mother and Sheriff Keller in exchange for permission to reclaim her rightful place as queen of the River Vixens.
“Let me do the math for you: Polly escaping plus Polly torching Jason’s car equals she’s Jason’s killer,” Cheryl says, and I can’t help but reflect on how gloriously insane her interviews for the Dateline report on her twin’s murder would be. She also takes the liberty of tweeting her theory with the restrained and subtle hashtags #PollyCooperKilledMyBrother, #NowhereToHide, and #SharpenYourPitchforks. I’m imagining that last one with a tiny custom pitchfork emoji.
Determined to get to Polly before the Blossoms can, Betty and Jughead instruct a group of volunteers to scour the woods near Sisters of Quiet Mercy. But a posse of Blossoms soon arrive, looking like they stepped out of the pages of a Barbour catalogue in head-to-toe equestrian gear. “The noose is tightening around your murdering daughter’s neck,” Penelope hisses to Alice Cooper.
After a disorienting closeup of Alice’s Covergirl Outlast All Day Compact (because teens love brands!!!), the Coopers launch into “damage control mode,” addressing the press outside a church. Mrs. Cooper — wearing a crucifix that conveniently appeared around her neck earlier that morning — denies all the rumors about Polly. Then she drops some knowledge that she’d once been determined to keep secret: Polly was pregnant with Jason’s baby. Why would she harm the father of her child?
That night, Betty finds her sister hiding in the Coopers’ unreasonably creepy attic, amid a Ouija board, a dollhouse that would terrify any child, and a wedding dress that, I’m sorry, is clearly haunted. (Fun fact: Polly was the name of one of the dolls George Bluth befriended in the model home attic. Is Riverdale the longest-con Arrested Development reference of all time?) Polly still wants to raise her baby on a farm upstate, like she and Jason had planned, but she has no resources. More pressingly, the Coopers are insisting that she give the baby up for adoption.
The pregnancy bombshell seemingly melts Cheryl’s icy heart. She tells Betty that she wants to help her little niece or nephew however she can. Mr. and Mrs. Blossom make overtures to Betty, too. Penelope doesn’t just want to support Polly financially, she says, but emotionally — so where is Polly, anyway? (If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge across the Sweetwater River to sell you.)
Jughead returns to the Jones family mobile home to ask if his dad, FP (Skeet Ulrich, prayer-hands emoji), would consider going back to work for Fred. But Archie’s dad has already called, and FP turned him down out of pride. Besides, employment would distract from his busy schedule of moping, being a terrible father, and decorating his home with empty bottles of booze.
But a humbled FP goes to see Fred about that job. He feels like this might be his last chance to have his son look at him like he’s something other than a “piece of garbage.” They work something out, but will Hermione Lodge — with whom FP had some shady dealings in his capacity as a Southside Serpent — snitch to Fred about his newly rehired employee’s gang ties?
The Andrews and Jones guys head to Pop’s to reminisce over the good old days. But the flask-swigging FP makes things real weird at an after-dinner jam session with Archie, when he fills the boys in on his long-standing resentment toward his former best friend. He and Fred started Andrews Construction together, but when FP was desperate to be bailed out of jail, Fred bought him out of the company for much less than he was owed. Unsurprisingly, Fred’s side of the story is very different: FP was stealing from him. Nevertheless, it seems like he feels a little guilty for cutting his buddy loose. Is Fred responsible for all of Jughead’s misfortune, too?
Meanwhile, Veronica is harboring a Fred Andrews–size grudge over Hermione’s budding extramarital relationship, and hasn’t forgiven for her mom for forging her signature to award a lucrative contract to his business. After doing some expensive spite-shopping online, Veronica escalates the mother-daughter “cold war” by going clubbing on a school night — only to find that Hermione already cancelled her credit card. Two generations of Lodge women sit down for a negotiation: It’s agreed that Veronica will tentatively accept whatever’s developing between Hermione and Fred, so long as 1) They don’t do anything under their roof, and 2) Her mother will come clean to her father about the forgery. Fine. Back to normal.
Sheriff Keller unexpectedly summons Jughead to the station for questioning. He’s discovered that Juggy’s fingerprints were on file for a childhood criminal incident, when he, ahem, tried to burn down Riverdale Elementary. Jughead maintains he was just playing with matches, but between that and his long history of bullying by the football team, he’s now a person of interest in the Jason Blossom murder.
Fred takes it upon himself to provide his son’s best friend with an alibi. He says Jughead was working for him in July, removing drywall (it’s hard to imagine Jughead having any interaction with drywall whatsoever), and even forges a time card to that effect. FP rolls up as his son is released, threatening to fight Sheriff Keller and generally making a big scene. He promises Jughead — who’ll spend the night, and probably longer, with Archie — that he’ll make things right and get their family back together. He just needs some time. Guess we’ll see.
Betty has brought Polly to meet with the Blossoms at Pop’s, in what is so clearly a trap that I feel like I’m going to break out in hives. Cheryl walks in first, without her parents. She touches her would-have-been sister-in-law’s slightly swollen belly and is overcome with emotion. She tells them to leave, now. It’s not safe for Polly or for Jason’s baby if the Blossoms have their way. (On a scale of one to Rosemary’s Baby, we’re talking about at least a four.) Polly holes up in the Lodges’ apartment instead, with Hermione’s blessing.
Back at FP’s trailer, we catch a glimpse of something familiar hanging in the closet: Jason Blossom’s varsity jacket, last seen in the trunk of the getaway car Jughead and Betty found before it was torched. Seems like we have another suspect!