Chapter Twenty-Nine: Primary Colors
The results are in: Chic has no Blossom blood. (Blossom Blood, a new fragrance by Cheryl with notes of rose, spider venom, and maple syrup.) Betty interprets this news to mean they can’t be related. But back in Alice’s day, she wasn’t so busy solving serial murders that she couldn’t keep up with her freshman-year biology homework. Chic is her son, she explains: It’s just that Hal, the Coopers’ genetic link to the Blossom family, isn’t his father. So, who is?
As Hal interviews Hermione about her mayoral campaign for a front-page story in the Lodge-owned Register, who should appear but actual, real-life Andy Cohen (a friend of Mark Consuelos, who plays Hiram), here to endorse his old Manhattan gal-pal. This feels more like a surreal Bravo-CW crossover dream I’d have after eating dark-chocolate Flipz too close to bedtime than an actual scene of television, which I mean as a sincere compliment. “She’s a very savvy businesswoman,” Andy says of Candidate Lodge. “She’s a fighter, too. She doesn’t give up. I’d love to have her in my corner.” Hermione is Riverdale’s Bethenny Frankel, and the South Side their future Skinnygirl Prison.
Though Andy Cohen and Archie are #ImWithHer[mione], Fred intends to sever all ties with the Lodge family and their business. Molly Ringwald (okay, fine, “Archie’s mom”) has even come for a visit to help her ex work out the legal details. Jughead, too, is going to the mattresses: He embarks on a hunger strike to to protest the closing of South Side High.
Ethel Muggs, whose father was Bernie Madoff’d by Hiram, dumps a strawberry milkshake on Veronica’s head (like the slushies on Glee, but worse, because dairy) in the cafeteria to punish her for the Lodge family’s “crimes against the town of Riverdale.” V resolves to turn the other cheek when it comes to Ethel. But then Reggie — who’s running for student-body president, on the time-tested platform of being a hot dummy — taunts her about her dad being incarcerated in his own prison, she knocks him out with an impressive right hook. (Veronica definitely had a monthly unlimited membership at Rumble or Box + Flow when she got bored of SoulCycle.) Though her parents would much prefer she’d stay out of the spotlight, or, at a minimum, stop punching people, Veronica’s mind is made up. She’s joining the race for president with Betty as her running mate!
Cheryl invites the gals over for a dual-purpose sleepover, intended both to celebrate Toni, their newest River Vixen, and to assuage her rattled nerves. She’s pretty sure that Penelope and Uncle Fester have nefarious plans for her and Nana Rose, as her mother has been brewing up teas from mysterious herbs and Cheryl’s doorknob has been rattling troublingly in the middle of the night. Actually, this is a tri-purpose sleepover: As their friends snooze on the floor, Cheryl and Toni share the bed. “Full disclosure: I didn’t want to invite all the girls tonight,” Cheryl whispers. “But I knew my hideous mother would never allow me to invite just you. Just what I craved.”
They’re about to kiss — so, so close — when they’re interrupted by a loud crash outside. Nana Rose, out cold, has fallen down multiple flights of stairs. Penelope and Uncle Father Oscar — wearing Clifford’s own pajamas — tell the paramedics Nana must have tripped, her apparent confusion a symptom of sundowner syndrome. Something is rotten in the state of Thistlehouse.
Hiram asks Archie to deliver hunger-striking Jughead a message, and of course Archie will do anything that New Daddy asks of him, including building a wall between the South Side and the rest of Riverdale by hand. It’s a notice of demolition: South Side High will be torn down by the end of the week, much sooner than planned. In response, Jughead and his crew of young Serpents chain themselves to the doomed school’s gates.
Betty finds Kevin in her kitchen, enjoying milk and cookies with Chic, and having apparently filled him in on their whole catfishing scheme. Thanks, Kev. That night, Betty wakes her supposed brother up by holding a lighter to his face. “I’m going to bring you down,” she warns. “I caught Clifford Blossom. I caught the Sugar Man. I caught the Black Hood. You know what they all have in common? They’re dead.” Chic tattles to Mom about his sister implicitly threatening to kill him, which, fair. He also digs up Fugue State Betty’s black bob wig and says she wears it while having sex with Jughead, which, less fair.
“I am very well reacquainted with how alluring the Jones men are,” Alice recalls, giving life to 10,000 more Shelly Johnson–Billy Loomis fantasies in a single sentence. But no, she insists: There’s no way FP could be Chic’s dad. In deference to her mother, Betty tries yet again to make peace with Chic, but he takes this opportunity to point out that he wasn’t the one who touched Pseudo Cumberbatch, or the dead man’s phone — if anyone would look guilty to the cops, it’s Betty. Siblings, am I right?!
Meanwhile, Veronica courts Josie’s “celebrity endorsement” by offering her a spot on Watch What Happens Live (okay), and so the Pussycat emeritus sings her support for the Lodge-Cooper ticket in a duet with, obviously, Veronica herself. But their performance is interrupted by Ethel, handing out anti-Veronica flyers scrawled (in what can only be described as serial-killer-manifesto handwriting, but I digress) with secret Lodge family intel provided on the DL by Josie. Betty is so upset to learn that Veronica did know all about her parents’ machinations, contrary to what she’d told their friends, that she steps down from the ticket. Later, Veronica tearfully explains to her mother that she thought if she could become president, people would stop looking at her like “the daughter of criminals.”
Nana Rose survives (just as she did the Thornhill fire — I personally choose to believe that Nana Rose is immortal), and Cheryl waits by her bedside in the hospital. The doctor reports they found a trace amount of the paralytic toxin tannis root (shout out to Rosemary’s Baby) in her grandmother’s bloodstream, which Penelope and Uncle Fester said they caught her chewing in the greenhouse. Cheryl accuses her mother of drugging Nana Rose and pushing her down the stairs. “You have lost your mind and you leave us no choice,” Penelope responds. Surely this will end well.
Hiram warns Archie that Jughead’s continued protest is bad for business — it would make for terrible optics if adults went after them, but not if kids did. And the two of them did make that blood oath, so … Archie agrees, on the condition that New Daddy release Old Daddy and Andrews Construction from all ties to Lodge Industries. And so Archie and his gang of hunky boys, dressed identically in gym clothes, for some reason, show up at South Side High armed with bolt cutters. By now, a small crowd has gathered to observe the protest. Jughead doesn’t even bother to try to stop Archie from breaking his chains: Just about every onlooker is filming the events with their phones, ensuring the Serpents’ message will spread far and wide.
Filled with new resolve, Jughead decides to run for student-body president, so long as Betty will campaign as his co-president. Veronica’s would-have-been veep agrees immediately, so long as she can stay in the Jones trailer and stop sharing a house with Chic. Fred also announces he’s running — for mayor, not student-body president — to Molly Ringwald’s delight, if not Archie’s.
Toni goes to Thistlehouse looking for Cheryl, but Penelope cooly informs her she’s been sent away to boarding school in Switzerland. In reality, she and Uncle Claudius have committed our little Hamlette to a uniquely horrifying wing of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, where a nurse is preparing to give her an injection in a padded room. Cheryl’s “conversion” will begin tomorrow.