The River Vixens have donned their mourning uniforms, complete with black cloaks, for their fallen sister Midge’s memorial service. That’s right: This time she’s actually dead. With all due respect to the deceased, how long is an appropriate period of time to wait before we can start shipping Moose and Kevin again? In a dark-purple grief lip, Cheryl sings “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel (wrong musical beginning with the letters C-a-r, but she sounds great!) and the cheerleaders raise their pom-poms overhead in a solemn salute. “Your days of failing this town over and over again are numbered,” Cheryl growls at Sheriff Keller.
Ethel tearfully cops to sending the letters about recasting Cheryl out of jealousy, though she insists she never planned to hurt anyone. For her part, Betty is suspicious of Chic: He may not have known Midge, but I’d personally consider him a person of interest for any and all murders committed in a 100-mile radius, just to be on the safe side.
After Betty reminds Jughead that both Chic and Svenson (as groundskeeper) spent time at the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, Nancy Drew and her Hardy Boyfriend pay a visit to the group home. A stern nun initially refuses their request to review Chic’s records, until Betty threatens to tip the FBI off to their “secret gay reeducation camp.” (Excuse me, hold up: Are there still other children being held prisoner in said secret gay reeducation camp? Is no one concerned about liberating them?) Jughead and Betty discover that the two did overlap for two years, and more alarmingly, that the boy seen in the photo in Charles Smith’s file is decidedly not Chic — not even Chic with the cosmetic assistance of any number of Instagram filters. And yet Sister Whomever is positive that’s the boy she knew as Alice’s biological son. When confronted, Chic grabs a knife from the Coopers’ kitchen table, swinging it wildly and even drawing blood from his “mother” before Betty knocks him out. Sure seems like there’s an innocent explanation.
Archie is newly convinced that Joseph Svenson was not, in fact, the Black Hood — and that his own father could be in terrible danger once more. After specifically promising Veronica he wouldn’t go creeping around Svenson’s old house, Archie goes creeping around Svenson’s old house. There, he comes across a black-clad figure scurrying around the backyard — wearing a mask, but not a hood — and then another, and then another. This trio promptly kicks the shit out of Archie.
Meanwhile, Veronica gets a call from his number, but it’s not Archie on the line. It’s our old friend, Nick St. Clair! The attempted rapist and Kirkland Signature™ brand Chuck Bass is holding Archie captive for a $1 million ransom, eager both to get revenge for his dorm-room, double-cast beatdown, and also to “make his bones” with his mobster dad by eventually killing Archie as initiation. Until then, he’s got him tied to a chair, in perfect getting-repeatedly-punched position. Just in case all of this information wasn’t enough to convince you that Nick has grown even more unhinged than we last saw him, consider his newly sprouted, very Men’s Rights Activist–y facial hair. Veronica is horrified when her parents refuse to either pay up to this “teen terrorist” or call the police; the St. Clairs are an underworld family themselves, and they can’t risk involving the authorities.
Chic comes to, tied to a chair in the Cooper family basement. “You must have known him,” Betty says, so where is her brother? Chic spins a tale: They met on the streets and Chic moved into his crappy motel room. Charles once came to the Coopers’ door, but Alice slammed it in his face. That very night, he overdosed on jingle jangle. At least part of this story is true: Alice remembers a boy coming to the door, and that she asked him to leave. She’s distraught, believing herself to be responsible for killing her son. “This demands biblical punishment,” she says. She finds her way to F.P.’s trailer, still sobbing, and confirms for the first time who the father really was. “I had your baby,” she tells Jughead’s father. “I named him Charles … and now he’s dead. He’s dead because of me.” F.P. responds by wrapping her up in a big, silent hug.
Veronica plunders what funds she can from the family safe (I mean, where do you keep your massive stacks of cash?), but it’s not enough. She meets Nick at Pop’s, where he shows her a photo of a badly banged-up Archie as proof of life. (I originally misspelled “Archie” as “Achie” in that last sentence, which feels appropriate.) She hands over the money in a duffle, but he can tell from the weight of the bag that it’s not nearly as much as he’d asked for. That’s okay. She can pay him another way: By finally giving him the “night together” he’s “owed.” Gee! I’m starting to think this Nick St. Clair isn’t a very nice young man.
Betty, who really should take, like, 30 seconds to change that “Lollipop” ringtone, gets a call from the Black Hood. Chic, he warns her, lived in a “den of sinners” and “has murdered before.” And so Betty and Jughead are off to the cheap motel where they found Chic to canvass the neighbors. A woman on the second floor recognizes Charles, “the nice one,” from the picture. “May he rest in peace,” she says. Charles used to live with Chic, “the bad one,” until suddenly she stopped seeing him around — and she spotted bloody bed linens in the dumpster. Back at the Cooper home, Chic continues to be extremely unforthcoming about Charles’s real demise, even after Jughead punches him a whole bunch. (This episode’s theme: hitting tied-up people.) And yet the Coopers can’t exactly let him go — what if he rats to the police about the death of Pseudo Cumberbatch? Black Hood calls to offer another option: Deliver Chic directly to him.
Nick opens up a laptop in front of Archie with a livestreaming video of his suite in the Five Seasons. Veronica arrives to find a luxurious spread of champagne, caviar, and pâté (the gassiest of aphrodisiacs) awaiting her. She pours Nick a drink; he purrs that Archie is “beneath” her. Watching them, Archie hulks out, managing to knock his chair over, free himself, and clonk Nick’s henchman in the head with relative ease. Nick asks Veronica to dance and sniffs her perfume like a grade-A creep as Teen Houdini sprints for the Five Seasons. Archie breaks down the door to their room to find Nick passed out on the floor. Veronica, fittingly, drugged him. Later, she presents her parents with a million dollars in cash, a ransom for Nick courtesy of the St. Clairs.
With the help of the handy-dandy revolver she swiped from Miss Grundy, R.I.P. (Real Icky Pedophile), Betty marches Chic out of the basement and to the cemetery. Holding him at gunpoint, she asks him again if he killed her brother. “We got in a fight,” he admits. “I lost control. I didn’t meant to hurt him.” Whether that’s true or not, it’s time for him to answer for his sins. The Black Hood is there, waiting. Chic takes off running; the Black Hood gives chase. I have to say, the Black Hood is in pretty good shape. Murder must be great cardio.
Having overheard her blast the sheriff at Midge’s funeral, Hermione recruits Cheryl to write an anti-Keller op-ed in the Register. To the credit of Cheryl’s persuasive skills, I suppose, it does some serious damage — both emotional, as Keller doubts himself and whether he “cut a few corners” with the Svenson evidence, and literal, as someone smashes the windshield and spray-paints “KILLER” on the side of his cop car. Before long, the deputy mayor demands he step down. Unless Fred Andrews wins the mayoral election, Keller is permanently out of a job.
As we wind things down, Archie wants to bone — er, I mean, make his bones with — Hiram, who maybe will make the slightest effort to rescue his loyal Mafiachef Jr. the next time he’s inevitably kidnapped, but I wouldn’t count on it. Oh, and he also wants to do it by bringing down the Black Hood.
Betty comes home to tell her mother she took Chic away, to the bus station. Suddenly, she realizes someone else is missing: Where’s Hal? “He went looking for you,” Alice says. Hmm. Did he happen to leave the house in a hood, by chance? Maybe a dark-colored one? But not navy blue?