Capitalism is such a drag. Archie learns that his dream of renovating the boxing gym into a full-fledged community center will cost him $40,000. Given that even the sudsiest, pecs-twitching-est, shirtless teen-stud charity car wash in the history of shirtless teen-stud charity car washes nets him only one percent of that sum, we’re going to need a bigger boat. Or bigger abs? You get the point.
Monroe’s little brother Malcolm got beaten up by the thugs who’ve been hanging out around the Wipeout Arcade — an unsavory character named Dodger (as in, the Artful?) has been recruiting the kids there for drug deliveries, car thefts, and miscellaneous criminal mischief. Monroe wants to enact justice with his fists, but Archie talks him down.
Toni points out that it’s perhaps not the best idea to leave Cheryl’s infant niece and nephew (who I completely forgot existed. Sorry, Juniper and Dagwood) alone with Nana Rose during the school day, especially now that Nana Rose has taken to roaming the house in the middle of the night, calling Cheryl Penelope and raving about seeing the “triplets” burning in the fireplace. (Cheryl assumes she’s mistakenly referring to Juniper and Dagwood, but my gut is that this hints to Cheryl and Jason having a third sibling they don’t know about. If Betty and Jughead only just met Charles, why can’t the Blossoms get their own Bonus Jonas?)
So Toni hires a hunky male nurse to look after grandmother and great-grandchildren both. Cheryl begrudgingly accepts this development — if only because her girlfriend had the good sense to outfit him in on-brand red scrubs — but she bans the nurse, as she had previously banned Toni, from Blossom Chapel in the basement, also known as Jason Blossom’s Super-Secret Semi-Preserved-Corpse Clubhouse.
Edgar, who you should know has apparently developed a life-threatening allergy to shirts and is exuding some intense L.A. sex-pastor Hillsong energy, has sniffed out Alice as a double agent. He calls Betty on her mother’s phone to demand, among other things, $250,000, passports for his followers, and a bus — within the next five hours, please. In the meantime, Edgar dispatches Polly, strapped with explosives and not looking particularly happy about it, to the FBI field office. Charles mysteriously neglects to defuse the bomb himself, instead shouting instructions about how much of the C4 is really a decoy and which color wires are connected where to Betty, a legal child, as if he’s running an escape room she paid $30 to participate in.
The United States of America may not negotiate with terrorists, but the United States of Betty Cooper absolutely does. She meets Edgar’s demands by collecting five Glamergé eggs each worth $50,000 (what, is Edgar supposed to take a break from being on the lam and stop by Antiques Roadshow to get them appraised?), via Veronica; blank passports thanks to Toni’s connections; and a school bus from, it’s not totally clear, the lot where they park school buses? The Farm thanks her for her tribute by knocking her unconscious as soon as she sets foot on the motel grounds.
Over at Stonewall Prep, Jughead moves in and meets his two roomies. The first one is none other than our old pal Moose! Don’t call him that, though; he’s going by Marmaduke here in hopes of having a fresh start after recovering from the very same nervous breakdown one imagines any of us would have after their father pretended to be a notorious serial killer and their girlfriend was murdered by a second notorious serial killer. The third roommate is the obviously evil little shit who gave Jughead — I mean, Forsythe — his tour of the school last week. This son of a diplomat is named, I can’t believe I missed this, Brett Weston Wallis.
Mr. Chipping challenges his students to a mystery-writing contest. Brett spends most of their designated work time trolling Jughead about his “urchin” upbringing, and Jug, in turn, grabs him dramatically by the lapels, really tiptoeing right up against Stonewall’s “zero-tolerance violence policy.” Brett and young Forsythe tie for last in the contest; the winner is classmate Donna Sweet (our very own little Donna Tartt reference, and more evidence that we’re heading in a Secret History direction?), who, by the way, is hooking up with Marmaduke, congratulations to everyone involved. In the end, Brett finds a violence-free way to punish Jughead: by hurting Marmaduke. Flyers posted around the school ensure that every single member of the student body will be well-informed of Moose’s dark past.
Veronica still plans to change her name but finds she can’t commit to Gomez — it just doesn’t feel right. Hiram casually strolls out of the jail he owns and just as casually breaks into the apartment he also, presumably, owns. He tells Veronica he is very upset that she wants to change her name, just as his own father was very upset with him when he changed his name. The one he was born with was Jaime Luna. Veronica listens to him but not in the way he’d hoped: She’ll henceforth be known as Veronica Luna.
Mary Andrews reveals to Archie that she and Fred have saved money in a secret college fund for him but that she’d really prefer he not use it for the community center, and also how about he just move back to Chicago with her because Riverdale kind of seems like a terrifying murder cesspool, no? This makes Archie so angry that he grabs a baseball bat, climbs out his bedroom window, and heads right over to the arcade — doing exactly the thing he cautioned Monroe against and giving us yet another vigilante story line that I, for one, could have done without. Wearing the forensically impenetrable disguise that is a face bandanna, he apparently beats down on the Dodger and his four fully grown cohorts successfully enough to emerge with bruises, yes, but also a duffel bag full of dirty money.
Betty wakes up restrained next to her mother in one of the motel rooms. Alice explains that Evelyn is going to drive a bus full of Farmies off a cliff (with Alice and Betty tied to the front of it for some reason) as a distraction. Edgar, meanwhile, will take off in the rocket he’s been building — excuse me, the rocket he’s been building? The Cooper women manage to free themselves in time to knock out Evelyn when she comes to retrieve them; they commandeer her gun and, more important, her Patty Hearst–chic beret.
As Betty marches the Farmies onto the bus, Alice chases after Edgar, who is now wearing a popped-collar leather duster over his nonexistent shirt. By the time she finds him on the roof and holds him at gunpoint, he has changed into a truly bonkers, even by Riverdale standards, stars-and-stripes Evel Knievel white jumpsuit complete with his name embroidered into the waistband. It is such a spectacularly odd choice I almost forgot to mention the 15-foot rocket hanging out next to him by which he finally plans to “ascend.” He draws a gun, but she manages to shoot first. “Edgar is ended,” Alice tells Betty. Quoth the Raven, “Evernevermore.”
Swayed by Archie’s No. 1 non-blood-related fan, Veronica, who tries to offer Mary a check for the $40,000 after Archie refuses to take money from his girlfriend, Mrs. Andrews pledges her pro bono support to Archie on getting his community center officially declared a nonprofit. (Yay! Does this mean Molly Ringwald is sticking around on Riverdale for a while?)
The tenure of Thistlehouse’s hot nurse ends quickly when he explains that he went into the basement after hearing rats in the walls. Fired! Lo and behold, when Cheryl goes to check on Jason (… is that exactly the same spot where she left him?), a rat crawls right out of his shirt. Toni walks in just as Cheryl begins to sew up … his clothing? His abdominal cavity? Either way, not great.
Alice and Polly may be safe at last, but trouble is, as always, brewing at the Cooper house: A mysterious unmarked videotape is left on Betty’s doorstep. If any anonymous creeps want to torment me, for the record, I don’t even have a DVD player, let alone VHS.