Chapter Eleven: To Riverdale and Back Again
Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom.
Archie’s mom — whose name is Mary, but who is played by Molly Ringwald, and who I therefore cannot conceive of as anyone but Molly Ringwald — is in town. It’s perfect timing for a visit: The Riverdale High homecoming dance is approaching, and did I mention that this particular homecoming dance also happens to be a reunion for alumni of all ages, because sure, why not?
Jughead is pleasantly surprised to discover that his dad has neatened up his trailer, which is looking markedly less like an active portal to hell than usual. He even shaved! But Alice Cooper, who is working at the school newspaper despite the fact that she should clearly be banned from Riverdale High’s grounds, isn’t buying this Eliza Doolittle act. With Jason Blossom’s murder on her mind (is Jason Blossom’s murder ever not on everyone’s minds?), she wants Betty and Veronica, her two-gal Nancy Drew squad, to spy on him. Betty refuses to betray Jughead by investigating his dad. More pressing, she’s apparently entirely responsible for planning the homecoming dance, so, catch you later. But Veronica wants to get to the bottom of F.P.’s shadiness, to see how her own father — who may be released from prison sooner rather than later — and his various criminal enterprises fit in with this mess.
Cheryl Blossom announces that she’s bringing Polly Cooper as her date to the dance, and that the two will campaign to be co-queens of homecoming court as a tribute to Jason. (Has Polly just given up on school, or what? Can the Blossom fortune not cover a tutor for this young woman?) But Polly has other priorities: She’s determined to find out what’s hidden in Clifford and Penelope Blossom’s forbidden wing of their mansion. Polly cleverly suggests to Cheryl that they swipe some of Penelope’s “vintage bling” from her mother’s off-limits bedroom. There the girls stumble on Nana Blossom’s ring, which Jason proposed to Polly with. How in the name of sweet, sweet maple syrup did it end up back at Thornhill?
Penelope explains it to Polly like this: Just before his death, Jason had washed his hands of the family, then thrown the ring in his father’s face as an act of defiance. Okay! Then Penelope serves Polly a drug-laced milkshake and her would-have-been daughter-in-law passes out cold. Okay! (If Rosemary’s Baby taught us anything, it is that pregnant women should not accept mysterious blended beverages from weirdos who are inordinately interested in their unborn children.) The Blossom parents are pleased to hear that Cheryl took it upon herself to flush the ring down the toilet, in case it might somehow connect the family to Jason’s murder. But really, their daughter is lying. She’s holding onto that ring.
Without consulting Betty, Alice invites Jughead and F.P. over for a pre-homecoming dinner — her ulterior motive being that, with F.P. otherwise occupied, his trailer will be wide open for snooping. Archie, worried his best pal will get hurt by his father yet again, agrees to join his recent makeout partner Veronica in some light breaking and entering.
Dinner is uncomfortable, with Alice interrogating F.P. about the Southside Serpents and his spotty work history. Well, it’s uncomfortable until Betty’s dad (slash Alice’s estranged husband) shows up, at which point it becomes wildly uncomfortable. Alice and Hal were homecoming king and queen back in their heyday, we learn from F.P., who remembers hearing the couple have a terrible fight about something that night. Mrs. Cooper instructs him to shut up. Surely that’s not another dark secret waiting to be revealed.
Archie and Veronica don’t find a single incriminating shred of evidence in F.P.’s trailer, although they do find another opportunity to make out again. What I am pretty sure is a Big Mouth Billy Bass mounted on the wall goes uncommented upon.
As his dad drops him off at the dance, Jughead tells F.P. that he wants to come back home and live with him. Well, good news: F.P. wants that too. He also wants his wife and daughter to be reunited with them … in Toledo, where he’s lined up work, and where teenagers are seemingly less likely to die under mysterious circumstances. But what about Betty?
The homecoming theme is “Blast From the Past,” which, sadly, does not refer to the 1996 Brendan Fraser/Alicia Silverstone rom-com, though that movie would make an objectively great homecoming theme. Fred enters the dance hand-in-hand with both Hermione and Molly “Mary” Ringwald, who soon has a run-in with Alice in the ladies’ room. Mrs. Cooper spills the tea on Fred’s fling with Mary’s old frenemy, but the Character Played by an Actress Known As Molly Ringwald — who really only came to homecoming to watch Archie perform — doesn’t seem to mind. It’s unclear exactly where Archie’s mom’s head is at. She’s still separated from Fred, but she shares a sweet slow dance with him, then tells her son she wants him to live with her in Chicago. (Of course she lives in Chicago, have you never seen a John Hughes movie?)
Over on the other side of the tracks, cops surround F.P.’s trailer. Sheriff Keller has a search warrant. They tear the place up and come across something that eluded Veronica and Archie: a lockbox that contains a gun.
As soon as Betty sees her mother conferring deviously with Archie and Veronica at the dance, she knows something’s up. She confronts her friends about colluding with her mom, then all three have to break the news of this espionage to Jughead, who’s furious that they’d think even for a second that his dad could be a murderer. He blames Betty. “To think I was going to pass on moving to Toledo with my family for you,” he scolds her, a sentence that must sound pretty bizarrely specific to Betty, given that this seems to be the first time she’s hearing anything about Toledo. But Jughead’s night is about to get much, much worse: His dad has been arrested for the murder of Jason Blossom.
Betty heads to Pop’s in search of her boyfriend, who tearfully fled the dance, but Archie and Veronica are there waiting. They have something big to tell her: Kevin told them that the gun, the very weapon that killed Jason Blossom, was discovered in a closet in the trailer. But #Varchie searched the same closet, and they’re positive there was nothing suspicious inside — which means someone must have planted the lockbox after they left. Who framed F.P. Jones? And excuse me, but who won homecoming queen? Is it me? It’s me, isn’t it?