As far back as Archie can remember, he always wanted to be a gangster. Okay, maybe not that far back, but at least for the last, I don’t know, 48 hours or so? There’s a real Goodfellas energy in the air as Archie runs menial errands for Hiram in his effort to break into the inner circle of the Lodge crime family. Veronica is about to be belatedly confirmed (a Catholic rite of passage that normally happens around age 12), having selected what there’s no disguising is a low-key wedding gown for the occasion. Supposed FBI Agent Adams is awfully curious to hear more about this event, at which a whole church full of the Lodges’ equally shady associates will be in attendance.
Meanwhile, there’s hardly anyone who isn’t mad at Jughead right now. Sheriff Keller, convinced that Jughead either stole the head off the General Pickens statue or that he knows the Serpent who did, posts an eviction notice on F.P.’s trailer. Per Mayor McCoy’s orders, the Joneses and most of the trailer park will have to pack up and go within 14 days. Among the Serpents, Tallboy blames Juggie for starting this whole mess with his anti-Pickens story. Unhappy over all the drama surrounding the same article, Principal Weatherbee suspends Jug and Betty from the newspaper. Jug is sorry for dragging her into this mess, but she understands — he was just trying to avenge Toni’s grandfather. Um, speaking of: What’s the deal with him and Toni, anyway, you know, romantically, if he doesn’t mind her asking, or whatever, it’s cool either way? “She gave me a tattoo and we did some stuff, but not everything,” Jughead explains, chivalrously. So, has Betty done anything since their breakup? Of course not, she tells her ex, conveniently omitting any mention of her Christmas kiss with Archie.
I, for one, have been counting down the minutes until the reappearance of Fugue State Betty’s black bob wig, and I am so happy to tell you that she — or her hair, anyway — walks among us once more. Wearing a black lace bra to match, she’s clearly picked up a few camming tips from Chic. “Do I look good? Can I undress for you?” asks a male voice from her computer, until an abrupt knock from Alice on Betty’s locked door puts an end to their session.
Chic has a lot going on himself. Betty returns home to find a young man leaving. That young man, by the way, is Ben, the kid who (1) used to work at the drive-in and (2) was smooching Miss Grundy right before she got Black Hooded! Even though Chic is drinking milk in a bathrobe like some kind of a postcoital McPoyle brother, he tells Betty this was an innocent “job interview” about working concessions at the Bijou. Chic insists that he wasn’t a client, because he’d never tell a client his address. Hmm(mmmmmmmmm). Hal, meanwhile, continues to pitch a fit about Chic’s presence in the house and temporarily moves into a “ShareBNB.” (Do they take American Excess?)
Hiram has heard through the mafia phone tree that Archie nearly punched the casts off Nick St. Clair, perhaps the first thing his daughter’s boyfriend has done that’s legitimately impressed him. He explains that he’ll be hosting some out-of-town guests for a poker game at Pop’s on the eve of Veronica’s confirmation. He’ll need someone to help serve drinks, if Archie’s interested. Of course he is. Veronica, who’s familiar with the kind of “inner, inner circle” tough guys whose cigars her pure, naïve Archie will be cutting, is less excited about this gig. She warns him to be “extremely careful,” and I’d have to agree — don’t forget what happened to Spider, Archie! But Veronica will have to make a decision eventually, Hiram tells her. Will they bring Archie in, or will they leave him out, closing the office door in his face like he’s poor Diane Keaton? Veronica goes to confession, worried she’s leading Archie down an “unrighteous” path, but her family-friend priest only assigns her a measly ten Hail Marys and five Our Fathers as penance.
Tallboy brings Penny Peabody to the Wyrm, where she shows everyone the scar Jughead left when he sliced off her Serpent tatt. (Oh, yeah. That one’s a little tough to get past, Jug.) As retribution, she wants to carve his ink off, “with a dirty knife.” F.P., hearing all this for the first time, is beside himself. “You will be the death of us. Not the North Side. Not Penny. You,” he tells his son. The Serpents will meet to decide whether not to kick Jughead out. He may have broken up with Betty because he didn’t want to drag her into Serpent matters, but now, he’s desperate for her to help him find the missing head and get the Mayor-Sheriff-Lodge industrial complex off all their backs. Betty’s plan: They’ll treat the decapitated statue like a missing person and plaster Riverdale with flyers offering a reward for information. “Find the head, save the trailer park,” Jughead says, which would have been a much better new direction for the Heroes reboot, don’t you think?
For poker night, Pop’s is lit by enough insane red neon light that I am pretty sure an entire nuclear power plant has been earmarked to supply its electricity needs. Bouncers guard the door. Loudest of all the players is a Québécois gangster with the instantly lovable alias of Papa Poutine, who obliquely needles Hiram about Hermione’s affair with Fred Andrews. Archie, dutifully unclogging the toilet in a natty little vest and bowtie (but not the wire Adams wanted him to wear), overhears a secret conversation out in the parking lot. “Lodge is a problem,” Papa Poutine tells an associate. He’s gotten “sloppy” and “weak,” so right after Veronica’s confirmation, he’ll have to be “removed.”
At Veronica’s confirmation, she and Josie — with a level of forced non-enthusiasm that makes me wonder if she’s in the Sunken Place — duet to “Bittersweet Symphony” in the middle of the church. As your friendly neighborhood Catholic, allow me to assure you that no, this is not remotely a thing that happens at confirmations. As is customary, though, the priest asks Veronica if she renounces Satan and evil. She hesitates, until her eyes find Archie’s dopey, smiling, resolutely non-evil face in the pews.
There’s a big break in Betty and Jughead’s case: Riverdale’s answer to Radio Man found Pickens’s head on his property, stashed in an old fridge. He also reports seeing a new face around recently, a “lowlife type” in a Serpent jacket. And did he mention the man was tall? Now, do we know anyone in town with a nickname that references his height? F.P., Jughead, and Betty march the head right into the Wyrm and confront Tallboy. He explains that Hiram promised to sic the cops on the Serpents if Tallboy took the head, leading to a munity that would clear the way toward his own reign as Grand Poobah Supreme Imperial Snake Wizard (or whatever it is the Serpents call their leader). Tallboy is stripped of his jacket and exiled.
Speaking of attempted coups, Archie confides in Hiram, on this, the day of his daughter’s confirmation, what he heard in Pop’s parking lot. Just minutes earlier, Veronica told her father that she doesn’t want to taint Archie with their dirty business dealings after all. But when Ronnie tries to spill multiple generations’ worth of RICO-violating secrets to her human strawberry shortcake, Archie cuts her off — he knows Hiram’s a “mobster” (a term she doesn’t seem to love, but fine), and he won’t let her tell him anything else. He loves her. That’s it. Later that night, Veronica opens her last confirmation gift, which someone dropped off in the Pembrooke lobby. But what’s inside seems like it’s intended for her parents, who just learned their purchase of the Southside High land is a go. It’s the head of General “Khartoum” Pickens.
Jughead is officially on “probation” from the Serpents, but is suddenly on far better terms with Betty. In the afterglow of their successful investigation, they make out, he takes off her dress, and she tells him, “I want all of you tonight.” Congratulations, Team Bughead! Back at Chez Cooper, a scary bleach-blond Benedict Cumberbatch knockoff interrupts dinner, looking for Chic.
Supposed FBI Agent Adams informs Archie that Papa Poutine has been found dead in his hotel room. Does Archie know anything about that? Nope. Nothing. But before we go, this episode’s body count has a little more rising to do. Betty returns home, hers and Jughead’s V-cards seemingly happily punched (nine more and you get one free!), to find a gory scene. Pseudo Cumberbatch is dead, or at least very unconscious, on the living room floor, with Alice on her knees mopping up his blood.