Riverdale Recap: Party at the Death Diner


Chapter Fifteen: Nighthawks
Season 2 Episode 2
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

The youthful sexiness of Riverdale’s main ensemble rightly gets a lot of attention, but I don’t want us to overlook the veritable Justice League of Hot Dads that the show has managed to assemble. (Welcome to the club, Mark Consuelos.) Speaking of, Skeet Ulrich is back, baby!

Faced with charges like arson, destruction of evidence, and that messy matter of dumping Jason Blossom’s corpse in Sweetwater River, F.P.’s court-appointed lawyer strongly encourages his client to take an unappealing plea deal: 20 years in prison. Oof. One of the Serpents suggests Jughead seek the services of “snake handler” Penny Peabody, the gang’s covertly tattooed attorney who operates in the backroom of a tattoo parlor. She explains that F.P.’s best shot is if the victim’s family forgives him in front of the judge. No charge for the advice, she tells Jughead, but she might need a favor in return one day. Ah, yes. Those arrangements always end well, don’t they?

Betty and Jughead pay a visit to Cheryl and her mother at their new home, Thistlehouse, to ask for their cooperation. Still-recovering Penelope is a vision of hagsploitation glory, in a jeweled silk turban and matching robe over lace and gauze. Betty may be family to them, but she’d sooner F.P. fry in the electric chair than publicly forgive him. The surviving Blossoms just want to put their (many) family tragedies behind them, as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Archie can’t stop dozing off while guarding the house, in case the Green-Eyed Man should return to finish the job. Is this really his plan? Just do this forever and never sleep? Archie is so dumb. Newly recast Reggie (who, thank God, is still very cute), an enterprising young drug dealer, offers him a whole menu of uppers to help keep him awake. Wanna try jingle jangle, a new drug with an even more ridiculous name than Glint on Strangers With Candy? He just sold some to Midge Klump, who is wearing what I can only describe as a wig modeled after Shirley MacLaine’s hairstyle in The Apartment.

In late-night watchdog mode and a baseball bat at his side, Archie spies a masked figure creeping up to his backdoor. He tackles him, only to discover it’s Reggie, making his delivery and generally being a jerk. What if it wasn’t, though? What was Archie going to do? As Reggie correctly observes, “Only a dumb-ass lunatic brings a baseball bat to a gunfight.” Archie’s quality of life declines yet again when the principal announces that former Riverdale High music teacher and statutory rapist Miss Grundy has been murdered. She was strangled with a cello bow — very possibly the one Archie gave her as a gift. Sheriff Keller reveals that Miss Grundy’s abusive ex-husband isn’t a suspect because he has a solid alibi. Could the killer, whoever he is, be targeting the people Archie cares about?

Archie and his dad aren’t the only ones suffering in the wake of the shooting. Poor Pop is heartbroken. Someone graffitied “DEATH DINER” on the Chock’lit Shoppe, his entire staff has quit, and he’s considering selling the business to the aptly named liquor store chain Chugmo. (Side note: I would gladly pay a 200 percent markup to go to a Death Diner.)

As Betty pitches Kevin and Veronica her idea for a throwback fundraiser to save Pop’s, Hiram bursts into the school newspaper office with a bouquet in his arms. “Daddy?” Veronica says. “Daddy?!” Kevin and Betty say, with a strong undertone of zaddy. But as much as Hiram might want to be a happy family again, Veronica is doing her best to avoid her dad, whom she still suspects had something to do with Fred’s shooting (which he vociferously denies). She’d been all ready to welcome her father back home, she explains, until he sent her that letter threatening her mother if she didn’t obey him. Or did he? Hermione tells her daughter that she wrote the letter to manipulate Veronica into testifying on her father’s behalf.

Manipulation is in the air in Riverdale tonight, or maybe it’s just the jingle jangle. Betty confronts Cheryl in the locker room (of course Cheryl installed red mood lighting in her locker) and threatens to circulate the video of Clifford shooting Jason Blossom if she doesn’t 1) Help out Jughead and F.P. and 2) Lend the services of her newly reclaimed Vixens to volunteer at Pop’s. Fine. In court, Cheryl expresses her family’s forgiveness for F.P., but the judge isn’t impressed. And so she lies under oath: She says her father threatened to hurt Jughead if F.P. didn’t do his bidding. Well, in that case, the judge will have to reevaluate.

Retro Night proves to be a hit, with kids in ’50s outfits and roller skates working the restaurant. (It’s a tremendous liability on linoleum, what with the milkshakes being slung in every which direction, but whatever.) Val is down with norovirus — too much Chipotle, one has to imagine — and so Cheryl selflessly volunteers to take her place among the Pussycats for a supposedly impromptu yet professionally lit and custom-arranged performance of Kelis’s “Milkshake” on the roof. Even the Lodges arrive to show their support. Touched, Veronica tells her parents she’s ready for a “new beginning.” Hiram offers to make a “charitable contribution” to Pop’s, with visions of sweet, sweet tax write-offs seemingly dancing in his head. But little does Veronica know that Lodge Industries secretly buys the diner, promising Pop Tate a job so long as he shuts up about the change in ownership. Worse, we learn that Hermione didn’t write that letter after all, but only lied to cover for her husband. (When is she going to get fed up with him?)

Another development to file under Daddy Issues: Jug gets a phone call from F.P. in jail, who is furious his son went to see Penny Peabody, and even worse, that he didn’t pay her. He orders Jughead to cut off all contact with this woman: “You do not want to be in bed with a snake charmer.”

Over on Sweetwater Bridge, Archie has a secret meeting with Dilton Doiley. Riverdale’s favorite bargain-basement Wes Anderson character hands Archie a backpack … and inside, there’s a gun. Archie! No, bad! Leave it! Into your crate!

Meanwhile, parked in a remote make-out spot, Midge and her boyfriend, Moose, do some jingle jangle, which delightfully, looks exactly like Pixie Stix. But the Man With the Green Eyes has other plans. He approaches the car, flashlight in hand, and shoots the young lovers in a very Zodiac moment. Moose and Midge — and most important, Midge’s hair — we hardly knew ye.

Riverdale Recap: Party at the Death Diner