Riverdale Recap: Sketch Alley


Season 4 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating 2 stars


Season 4 Episode 6
Editor’s Rating 2 stars

Archie’s one-man war against Dodger and his mass corruption of Riverdale’s kids rages on. FP offers to add “Sketch Alley” to his nightly patrol — there are exactly zero items on my personal professional sheriffing CV, but I would imagine that a thoroughfare known as Sketch Alley should have already been a top candidate for inclusion on patrol — and organizes a raid on the arcade, but fails to uncover any incriminating contraband on Dodger himself. After all, that’s what his legal-minor minions are for.

Dodger pays the desperate, hungry kids he recruits in arcade tokens and free pizza (better than most media internships, am I right, folks, I’m here till Wednesday, and the next Wednesday, and the next Wednesday). And so Archie attracts the yoots of Riverdale to the community center instead, offering free games and Pop’s burgers, thanks to Veronica. Archie further demonstrates uncharacteristic intelligence by declining Mr. Lodge’s offer of a blank-check donation to his cause.

With both Lodge parents free from prison, somehow (I’m not a lawyer), Hiram sits down with his aggressively estranged wife and his two daughters. He wants the family to let “bygones be bygones,” he wants to start producing rum, and he wants Hermosa — who runs his clubs in Miami — to stick around in Riverdale, at least for a while. Hiram tells V not to be jealous of Hermosa. She’s still his favorite, the “apple of his eye.”

Hermione, who has no intention of reconciling with her terrifying, terrible husband, accepts Veronica’s offer of a job as a hostess at the Le La Bon Bonne Nuit. But by night, Hiram apparates into the Pembrooke and wastes no time in removing his shirt and basically doing everything short of pec dancing in an attempt to seduce his ex-ish-wife.

As an Old, Riverdale’s standard sex scenes — children doing things to each other, often in a bunker, often to the steamy soundtrack of, like, OneRepublic — holds no allure for me, but I was genuinely unprepared for this scene, in which, all of a sudden, Hiram’s hand is around Hermione’s throat and he’s kissing her neck and the straps of her slip are sliding down her shoulders, and excuse me, I need an adult. If you had told me before this episode that Hermione would decide to sleep with Hiram, I would have found that narrative shift hard to believe.

Now? I mean … yeah, I get it.

When she catches wind of their reunion, Veronica is aghast, perhaps because she finds her parents’ chemistry less erotically compelling than I do, which, yeah, I get that, too.

After studying the “literary fingerprints” all over the first five Baxter Brothers books — all supposedly written by Francis Dupont — Jughead has come to believe that the sharper, more grounded first novel had a different author. He also has come to believe that that author was his grandfather.

“Your conspiracy theories are spot on, but this one feels like a real … stretch,” Betty warns. That’s funny, because this is the first and probably last Jughead conspiracy theory that makes me think, Okay, that could maybe be true.

After he finds an archived copy of Stonewall Prep’s literary magazine with an FP the First story listed in its table of contents, but the pages torn out, Jughead turn to the records of Riverdale High’s old lit mag. Therein they discover a story attributed to Frosty Pajamas — a possible pen name for Forsythe Pendleton Jones, and a possible ludicrous, apocryphal sex act I would have been horrified to read the definition of on Urban Dictionary circa 2001 — with similar language and even an identical character to the first Baxter Brothers installment, though this story was written years before the book’s publication. Pepe Silvia!

Betty has been trailing Charles — who takes all his meals at Pop’s or the Coopers’ house, and spends 90 minutes at the gym every day — but has yet to find conclusive evidence of his being a serial killer, or of his not being a serial killer, or of his not not being a serial killer. She goes to see Chic in prison and asks about what really happened between him and her half-brother back at the youth hostel. Yes, they were a couple, and yes, there were bloody sheets. They’d brought someone home, only for some inner “darkness” in Charles to emerge after too much jingle-jangle (aww, I miss jingle-jangle). Anyway, he stabbed the guy with a pair of scissors, if Chic is to be believed.

Betty demands Charles take a polygraph test, which she must have conveniently learned how to administer at Camp FBI Muppet Babies. Did he and Chic meet on the streets? Yes. Was someone murdered in their room at the hostel? Yes. As Charles tells it, he came home and found the dead man in their bed — then disposed of the body, cleaned up the scene, and ended things with Chic. Throughout all of this, the needle remains calm, until Betty asks if he’s hiding anything from them. It swings wildly. Fine: Charles admits he’s a recovering addict who attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the gym.

Toni insists Cheryl go to school, though she’s reluctant to leave her grandmother and little niblings alone with Julian the almost certainly evil doll, who’s now haunting even her nightmares. But first, as a precaution, Cheryl surrounds Waspy Chucky in a circle of salt, because she must have caught the Hocus Pocus Halloween marathon on Freeform.

It’s no use. She’s called to the principal’s office because Dagwood is in the hospital. He somehow choked on a Ping-Pong ball, but following an emergency tracheotomy, he’ll be fine. Lo and behold, back at Thistlehouse, Julian has somehow crawled himself out of Cheryl’s salt circle and into Jason’s cold, hard lap.

Riverdale’s ongoing global casting call for red-headed, spooky talent continues to pay dividends with the arrival of Cheryl’s Aunt Cricket and Uncle Bedford, who seek her permission to sell off the family’s no-longer-profitable maple-syrup business. Cheryl is tempted by the prospect of finding a fresh start with Toni somewhere far, far away but opts to play things extremely uncool when her aunt asks to light a candle down in the chapel, also known as her My Decomposing Dress-Up Twin™ clubhouse.

Her relatives continue sniffing around, insisting Cheryl’s in the midst of a psychotic break. They vow to have her declared unfit to manage the family assets — and to find whatever it is she’s hiding in the chapel. Cheryl “drowns” Julian in a tub of water, weighing him down with a brick, though I have to think her time would be better spent setting Jason’s corpse up in, I don’t know, a nice, quiet storage unit somewhere in Greendale?

Since his friendly little hang with Betty, Chic has been busy: He asked his lawyer to report to the FBI that a murder was committed in the Black Hood’s house, but by the Black Hood’s wife. (Pseudo Cumberbatch!) As you can imagine, Alice is not thrilled. But FP and Charles save the day, digging up the body from the grave Chic claimed to have known about and reburying it elsewhere. That display of family loyalty earns Charles an apology from Betty.

We then learn a little about Hermosa’s origins (Hermosa: Origins, coming to the CW in spring 2020): Her late mother was a singer at one of Hiram’s clubs in Miami, and when their fling resulted in a baby, he took care of both of them. She invites Veronica on their father’s behalf to attend Hermione and Hiram’s vow-renewal ceremony, but after Ronnie spies a painting of Hermosa hanging in Hiram’s study where her own portrait once did (“He said, ‘Only the best for the apple of my eye,’” Hermosa explains), she RSVPs a firm “no thank you.”

Dodger has apparently solved the non-mystery of the masked vigilante’s identity. Bullets rain through the front window of the Andrews home, with mother and son diving to the floor just in time. Worried for their safety, Archie asks Hiram to intervene with Dodger, but Mr. Lodge primly demurs at the implication that he — a guy who does scary crimes and murders and stuff — would involve himself in any kind of violence.

Jughead confronts Mr. Dupont with his suspicions about the true authorship of the first Baxter Brothers book: The syntax! The tone! The voice! The author is furious in the fanciest possible way, calling Jughead’s father a “vagabond” and warning he could have him expelled.

Jughead presents his case to Mr. Chipping, who agrees to help. But the next day in class, the teacher seems a little ill. “I’m sorry, Jughead, I couldn’t help you,” he announces, before immediately proceeding to dive out the window. Jughead loses his mind, like a normal person; his classmates looks on coolly, without getting up from their seats.

Who will be taking over Mr. Chipping’s seminar for the rest of the semester? Why, Mr. Dupont, of course.

Down in the chapel, late at night, Cheryl and Toni discover Uncle Bedford discovering Julian and, more pressingly, Jason. Let’s say Uncle’s attitudes toward amateur recreational exhumation are on the more conservative side. He grabs Cheryl by the neck and threatens to turn her into the authorities — “Or maybe I’ll save them the trouble,” uh, yikes? Toni, always our heroine, knocks him out.

Archie and Reggie come upon Dodger — badly beaten and very bloody, but alive — wrapped in a rug by the community center’s trash. Guess getting back together with Hermione put Hiram in a sentimental mood.

Chic gets another visitor: Charles. Agent Smith tells him that their plan went “smooth as cream, babe,” and they exchange I-love-you’s. I look forward to next week, when we learn that Charles is a double agent, working a long grift on Chic, and also to the following week, when Charles will be outed as a triple agent, and of course to the season finale, when it is finally revealed that the person we know as Charles is really Bella, Betty’s secret half-sister from Minneapolis.

Riverdale Recap: Sketch Alley