Welcome back to Riverdale, everybody! Hiram has generously offered up the Lodge family lake house to Veronica and Archie for a “romantic getaway” — and hey, why not invite Betty and Jughead, too? But just between him and Archie, Riverdale’s Don Corleone isn’t just randomly treating his daughter and her beau to an idyllic sex romp. Hiram will be hosting a meeting at the Pembrooke with the New York families. It’s a tense gathering in the wake of Papa Poutine’s death, so Andre the driver will be quietly chaperoning the kids from a distance.
Betty is glad for an excuse to spend time away from Chic, who’s taken to using her shower and drinking the family’s orange juice straight out of the bottle (and Hal thought the camming was worth taking exception to). Chic also makes a stellar impression on his sister’s boyfriend, vaguely threatening harm against Betty and Alice if Jughead tells anyone about the killing that happened in the Cooper house. Jughead, meanwhile, hopes to use the weekend to court Veronica as a source for his exposé on her father, which I’m sure will go well. If there are two values the mafia is sort of meh on, they’re definitely (1) family and (2) keeping secrets. Cheryl, moody over her mother’s newfound courtesan-ing habit (and longtime emotional-cruelty habit), tries to invite herself along, but Veronica shuts her down: It’s a couples-only trip. Cheryl, just pull a Dwight Schrute and show up with your babysitter-turned-lover and beet salad to share.
The Lodge Lodge proves to be a sprawling, beautiful lake house right on the water. Veronica bids Andre farewell, or so she thinks, with a “TTFN.” TTFN is apparently short for “ta ta for now,” but is only a tenth of a second faster to say, which I know for a fact because I just timed myself. Anyway, the house is secluded, but not so isolated that Jughead doesn’t have the cell reception he needs to receive a call from Cheryl informing him that Archie and Betty kissed that one time, okay, have a great weekend, bye! Jughead isn’t mad, though it is a little weird Betty didn’t bother to tell him. They’re fine, if not quite as fine as Veronica and Archie, who are demonstrating just how fine they are with the loud creak of bed springs that interrupt Betty and Jughead’s conversation.
The kids change into swimsuits, Veronica makes jalapeño margaritas (you mean your “rustic” cabin isn’t fully stocked with cocktail umbrellas?), and everybody hops into a hot tub (again, rustic). It’s there that Veronica suggests she and Jughead kiss, because, if I remember high-school algebra correctly, of the transitive property. Jughead goes for it, seemingly seeing this as an opportunity to further his journalistic agenda. Remember how the best part of All the President’s Men was when Woodward and Bernstein stuck their tongues down Deep Throat’s (regular-depth) throat? The psychosexual mind games continue at bedtime, when Betty emerges from the bathroom in her repurposed Chuck Clayton–torturing lingerie and Fugue State Betty black-bob wig and offers to “punish” Jughead. Now it’s Archie and Veronica’s turn to be serenaded by bed springs! Surely there are enough spare bedrooms in this massive house to designate a Jersey Shore–esque communal smush room on an otherwise deserted floor.
The next morning, Veronica catches Archie meeting with Andre in the woods. Angry at all parties involved, she demands Andre call her father and leave immediately. Veronica and Betty decide to blow off some steam in town, where she tells the flirty creep working the register where she lives and that her parents are away, which are good choices to make if and only if you’re hoping to get murdered.
Far away from Teen Sex Lake, Kevin invites his sometime–boy toy Moose to go see Love, Simon — an actual IRL movie, directed by Riverdale executive producer, that’s about a closeted high-school student — but Moose already has plans to watch it with his girlfriend Midge, and no, Kevin would prefer not to tag along. Good for you, Kevin! You deserve better than this James-Logan-Raquel Vanderpump Rules dynamic, whether it’s about the pasta or not. Yet this is not the worst thing that happens to our good pal Kevin this episode: Josie, fed up over Mayor McCoy’s secret romance with Sheriff Keller, decides to drop the bomb of their parents’ affair on her classmate.
At the movie theater, a bummed-out Cheryl and Toni bump into each other, and despite a rocky start to their friendship (read: Cheryl being a huge jerk), they decide to sit together. Josie and Kevin too make amends, sharing a box of, in classic Riverdale fashion, “Senior” Mints. Then we are shown an actual clip from the movie Love, Simon, a marketing ploy I genuinely admire for its brashness. This is somehow more ridiculous than season one’s never-ending CoverGirl product placements.
Back at the lake house, Jughead gets a call from FP: The residents of Sunnyside Trailer Park are celebrating because all their back rent has been paid off, compliments of the new owner, Hiram Lodge. Jughead is suspicious of Lodge’s continued shady dealings on the South Side; Veronica, along with Archie and Betty, fails to understand how this good news could possibly bother him. But then Betty’s mom calls: Hiram Lodge also bought the Riverdale Register. Now it’s Betty’s turn to be angry with Veronica, and battle lines are drawn between the couples. “There’s nothing, like, evil about buying a newspaper,” offers Archie, whose incisive political analysis will probably get him hired by the New York Times op-ed section by season’s end.
Their two-on-two fight is interrupted when balaclava-wearing townies break into the house. Wielding baseball bats and axes, they’re here to rob the uppity, moneyed visitors. Veronica manages to press a panic button without anyone noticing. The leader orders the kids down on their knees, hands behind their backs, and we seem poised for some Walking Dead–inspired gore when the insurance company calls. With the police no doubt on their way, the bad guys flee after snatching Veronica’s necklace. Archie stupidly gives chase, apparently determined not to relive the guilt he felt over failing to protect his dad from the Black Hood. He tackles one of the Strangers squad (of course it’s the guy from the general store) just as Andre emerges from the woods and sends him back to the cabin. Archie soon hears a gunshot. Later, Hiram will hand Veronica’s stolen necklace back to him. Rest in peace, general-store guy. We hardly knew ye.
In a booth at Pop’s, Josie and Kevin have a peace summit with her mother and his father. At the counter, Toni and Cheryl enjoy milkshakes and tearily recount the plot of the movie (again, that’s Love, Simon, IN THEATERS MARCH 16). It clearly struck a chord with Cheryl, who once lost someone she loved dearly. She doesn’t mean Jason, though: She’s referring to her junior-high best friend, Heather, who slept over every weekend until Penelope caught them in the same bed and labeled her daughter a “deviant.” Toni comforts her: “You’re not loveless, you’re not deviant. You’re sensational.”
She takes Cheryl’s hand and … her heart? Please, Riverdale, give us Choni, or Blopaz, or whatever the good people of Tumblr have no doubt already started to call them. This is the ‘ship America needs now.