overnights

Riverdale Recap: Never Ever Have I Ever Never

Riverdale

The Master
Season 3 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating *****

Riverdale

The Master
Season 3 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW

Mothers and sons have a special bond. Jughead knows Gladys turned their old trailer into a drug lab, and Gladys knows that Jughead blew up the trailer she turned into a drug lab, and Jughead knows he needs to drive his mother and her adopted gang out of town before they turn something else (the ladies’ room at Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe? An abandoned wasps’ nest?) into yet another drug lab. FP, meanwhile, is off to watch cartoons with his daughter. Even Jellybean knows more than he does.

Jughead’s DIY DEA will stop at nothing to track down Kurtz, the Gargoyles’ leader, or at least their most obviously anemic member. Undercover, Sweet Pea requests some “game enhancement” at a seedy comic shop, and when the clerk hands over Fizzle Rocks, Jughead smashes his head on a table and pulls a knife on him. He’s not exactly acting in his official capacity as a sheriff’s deputy, but nevertheless: We love some responsible community policing! This lightly concussed young man reveals to the Serpents that Gargoyles have a signal to flag the locations of their dealers — instead of flinging shoes over a telephone wire overheard, they toss up a pair of gargoyle figurines. (Which, yes, of course, are as commonly available as sneakers.)

And so the Junior Justice Squad rids street corner after street corner of fizzle rocks purveyors, until they interrupt an actual drug bust by the Senior Justice Squad, to FP’s extreme displeasure. At Gladys’s smug suggestion, Sheriff Jones decides it’s time to disband the deputy program.

At an open house for the Farm (you better believe I would miss my own wedding for the chance to take a free guided tour of the local cult compound), Betty sits down with Evelyn for a membership “interview.” There’s no E-Meter to be seen, but otherwise, you get the picture. Evelyn asks her exactly three softball questions (for one: does Betty ever bite her fingernails?) before abruptly concluding the conversation. Don’t call us; we’ll call you. Except we won’t call you, under any circumstances, because we’ve exceeded our yearly quota of pretty blonde ladies with a serial killer in their immediate family. Also, I would like to take this moment to deliver some belated praise to Zoé De Grand’Maison, who is really great as Evelyn. Zoe, you are praised.

Archie receives an unexpected collect call from Leopold and Loeb. It’s Mad Dog! Archie’s old cellmate explains that he and his fellow inmates are about to be shipped to the juvenile wing of Hiram Lodge’s new prison, where they’ll be overseen by the very same cruel guards currently dispatching them into the pit at L&L. Mad Dog’s upcoming parole hearing has even been mysteriously cancelled.

Riverdale: Raising a generation of young people with a healthy revulsion of mass incarceration in general and private prisons in particular! Archie snaps into action to defend his friend, the only human being in the Riverdale metro with more impressive abs than his — and whom he is thereby legally compelled to serve and obey.

With Veronica’s help, Archie threatens Governor Dooley in person: He’ll inform the press all about the illegal child fight club at Leopold and Loeb (you know, the one the Governor attended as the late warden’s guest?) unless Archie’s former boxing partners are pardoned. Faster than you can order up a burger and fries that taste exactly like freedom, Mad Dog and the single greatest-named character on this or any television program, Baby Teeth, are catching up with Archie at Pop’s. Wholesomeness abounds as Arch invites all the former inmates to stay in his gym and introduces them to boxing coach Tom Keller.

As Cheryl sees it, the Farm’s only crime is wearing white after Labor Day, but Betty nevertheless manages to enlist her cousin to go undercover on her behalf. After all, she reminds Cheryl, the Farm is where Jason told Polly that they’d run away to.

With the aid of a spider-brooch recording device, Betty listens in as Cheryl’s interview with Evelyn is taken over by none other than Edgar himself, who wastes no time in getting her mournfully reminiscing about the loss of her brother. Why, Chad Michael Manson observes proudly, between Cheryl’s plunge in the icy Sweetwater River and the towering inferno that devoured Thornhill, she’s already been baptized and reborn in fire.

Cheryl reports back to Betty that “Eddie” is not just a “yummy snack,” but also, more concerningly, a “great listener.” During their next session, Betty eavesdrops anxiously as Edgar leads Cheryl into an apparent broom closet to show her their collection of sensitive “files” on the Farmies. Then the sound cuts out. Cheryl returns to school the next day unscathed, but informs Betty that she won’t be her mole anymore. And no, she won’t tell her what was in that room, either.

Hermione, conspicuously disinvited from the prison’s ribbon-cutting ceremony with Governor Dooley by Hiram, is quaking over the prospect of the Lodges’ enemies finding out about the divorce. Her worst fears come to fruition when she finds dead fish wrapped in newspaper on her desk. Hermione is unappreciative of this thoughtful gift — she’s just a few lemon slices, thyme sprigs, and a grill short of a lovely rustic dinner! — instead choosing to interpret it the traditional way: That somebody wants her dead. Veronica raises hell with Hiram. He can’t divorce her mom, or at the very least, he can’t publicly shun her.

Lo and behold, when the Lodge Detention Center finally opens, Hiram has both Lodge women at his side. Hiram has the marriage quietly annulled, but agrees to continue to protect Hermione. Lodge correctly deduces that the dead fish was calling from inside the house, so to speak — it was a ploy by Veronica to force her father to look out for her mother.

Mad Dog tells Archie that the apartment building where his grandmother and brother live has been overrun by Gargoyles. Once Jughead hears this, the Serpents waste no time in launching a raid, with the L&L boys pitching in their fists of fury.

Of all the koo-koo, bananas things that have happened on Riverdale, this sequence, somehow, might strain my suspension of disbelief the most. Inside the dark, confined space that is this building, there are dozens and dozens of Gargoyles armed with actual bang-bang shooty guns. The good guys fight them off with, in one case, a stray fire extinguisher and, more frequently, their bare hands. Statistically, someone should be dead. Arguably, most people should be dead! And yet there are no casualties. Also, amid a smattering of indoor Gargoyle King-themed vandalism, seeing the words “Not My President” half-heartedly graffitied on someone’s door actually makes me laugh out loud. Did we just establish that Trump is also president in the Riverdale Cinematic Universe? Or is the Gargoyle King perhaps Commander in Chief?

After a few minutes of wildly improbable survival, Archie and Jughead find a mini armory of weapons, plenty of drug-cooking equipment, and, finally, Kurtz. Jughead manages to zip-tie his hands, but then Kurtz runs backwards, propelling himself and Jug both through a boarded-up window and down onto the ground. He flees. Back home reading a historical romance novel on the couch, Gladys, who I am beginning to suspect is not a great parent, insists Jughead has no one to blame for this ordeal but himself.

Undeterred by Cheryl’s defection, Betty finds her way into the Sisters of Quiet Farmie and enters the mysterious room on her own. It’s no broom closet. As, via P.A. system, Edgar welcomes Cheryl to the community, Betty pores through shelves on shelves of boxes on boxes of tapes on tapes containing all the Farmies’ most intimate secrets. One has to wonder, though: Is this shit not backed up in the Cloud?

Following their attack on the block, Mad Dog agrees to fight for corrupt boxing manager Elio of the Sweetwater Pizzas in exchange for a less bullet-ridden home for his family. (I mean, fair.) Baby Teeth is MIA. A “Defang a Wolf Cub” quest card and a chalice with a human tooth within are discovered outside the gym. FP stumbles upon the rest of Baby Teeth, looking awfully dead in front of a ritual Gargoyle circle of twigs and candles and bones and other occult miscellany. There are runes carved into his back, and he definitely has fewer teeth than he woke up with that morning. We did not deserve you, your name, or your molars, sweet Baby Teeth.

Even though Betty’s retrieved the tapes of her interviews, Cheryl “Squeaky” Blossom doesn’t care. She’s still going back to the Farm, and for good reason. As she tells it, Edgar brought her to her beloved Jason. The twins even had a conversation. Betty asks Alice if that’s what drew her to the farm, too — do they let her talk to Charles? Alice tearfully confirms it. At long last, thanks to her mom, Betty gets to meet Edgar.

Please, please, please let the Farm’s necromancy be the result of either (a) actual, canonical magic or (b) Home Alone 2-style shower hijinks. Either way, I’m onboard.

Riverdale Recap: Never Ever Have I Ever Never