To kick off an episode that was apparently shadow-funded by the powerful Coffee Lobby, Archie makes coffee, pours coffee, serves coffee, and presumably also drinks coffee in order to power himself awake at 4:45 in the morning for a busy day split between the community center, Andrews Construction, and school.
Shockingly, this multitasking isn’t going well. Mr. Honey warns him that (a) contrary to what Archie apparently believes, he missed college application deadlines literally months ago, and anyway (b) his bad grades mean he won’t graduate, but (c) no, he can’t walk with his friends at the ceremony because that would be “absurd” and “dishonest.” Also, “hollow.” “Undeserving!” Nobody ever accused Mr. Honey of not loving an adjective. Though his plate is full enough to strain polite buffet convention, Arch can’t bring himself to sell off the company his grandfather built, but he does hire Tom Keller as foreman.
Veronica is also having a bit of a day. Week, really. Month? From the school music room to the chem lab, she attempts to initiate a therapy-meriting amount of public sex with her boyfriend. To paraphrase The Office, someone is desperately trying to fit in a whole relationship before Toby comes back from jury duty and Holly has to go back to Nashua. Except, you know, the Riverdale Goes to College version of that. And then of course there’s the fact that her father is terribly sick, spilling coffee on himself as he suffers tremors at breakfast. (Do not cross the Coffee Lobby.)
When the principal discovers a flask inside Party Girl (1995) Starring Parker Posey’s locker, Archie takes the fall by pretending it was his. (By the way, it is revealed this week that Hiram is a member of a boutique gym called Soulstice, confirming what we have all long suspected: Riverdale exists within the same universe as Broad City, a revelation that adds an entirely new dimension to Kelly Ripa’s character.)
Thanks to Betty’s unsanctioned expedition into their sanctum sanctorum, Jughead is kicked out of Quill & Skull and his Baxter Brothers contract is terminated—provided he can’t turn in a serviceable draft of an entirely new story by Friday, which just so happens to be the Ides of March. Fitting, because waiting for the once-refreshing Stonewall storyline to get somewhere interesting has begun to feel like being stabbed, repeatedly.
Undeterred, Jug begins to puke out an autobiographical novel about two newly recruited students (Jarhead and Bison) at a prep school (Brickbridge) and how their classmates committed murder, which he reads aloud to his real-life classmates who may or may not have committed real-life murder. But, like, they probably did, though, right?
Lo and behold, Dupont suddenly accuses Jughead of plagiarizing the short story that got him into Yale, but the old laptop with a document timestamp that would exonerate him has mysteriously, conveniently disappeared from his dorm room. Jug and Betty search the school, which needs to seriously rethink its security practices, for further evidence, but turn up none — until they jimmy open a drawer in Dupont’s desk and find the next Baxter Brothers manuscript, labeled “ready for print.” Jughead recognizes his own original Jason Blossom-based narrative, but learns from Dupont that his classmates were enlisted to collaboratively ghostwrite it. To prove his innocence, I guess, Betty administers a lie detector test to Jughead and, truly, no one gives a shit. Then she invites Donna out for milkshakes at Pop’s and tells her she doesn’t believe her Chipping affair story — if she’s being manipulated by Dupont, she should come forward. Donna continues to not give a shit, truly, and leaves with her milkshake undrunk, an extremely grave insult in diner culture.
Toni is assigned to vet a big spender interested in the Maple Club who proves to be none other than Hermosa in glasses and a white bob wig off the clearance rack at Party City, which is otherwise mostly Anna from Frozen costumes. She accessorizes a pink crop-top tweed suit with her compulsory pearl necklace to form a butt-rubbing train on the Le La Bon Bonne Nuit’s dance floor with TT and Cheryl, before Veronica leaps out of the darkness at the Maple Club to reveal they all knew who she was the whole time, ha ha, but who could resist a butt-rubbing train, I guess? But Hermosa in her own way emerges the victor when she lets it slip that Hiram told her all about his medical condition, which Veronica had to find out from her mother.
When Veronica finally confides in Archie that her dad is gravely ill, Archie is such a good little listener — when did I start loving Archie and why? Are my cerebral plaque deposits building up? — and advises Veronica that her unique ability to get her father “fired up” could prove to be an unlikely source of strength for him. And so, over breakfast the next morning, she presents the new ad campaign for Red Raven Rum (cute, I like it), all about how taste tests prove consumers prefer it to the stodgy Lodge brand. And did she mention that Cheryl’s renovating the old maple factory into a new production facility? Consider Hiram successfully agitated. “Prepare to be eaten,” he snarls at his daughter, in what I have full confidence is destined to be a GIF used in very different contexts.
Jughead plans to spill all the dirt he has on Stonewall at his tribunal before the school’s headmaster and disciplinary committee, until Brett threatens to release the secretly recorded Bughead sex tape that has just been waiting to emerge from its blackmail chrysalis and fly. When Dupont tells Jug he can choose between quietly withdrawing from school at once or fighting this messy battle publicly, he chooses the former — to protect Betty, to her great displeasure. Nevertheless, the two of them (and Varchie, for some reason) are invited to Stonewall’s annual Ides of March party in the woods. And Jughead has a plan. Supposedly.
Jug swaps his uniform blazer for his Serpents jacket, his beanie for that creepy bunny mask, and his, well, lack of a knife for a knife. He silently marches up to Brett, who leads him into the woods. Betty, who can’t find her boyfriend, separately follows Donna into the woods. Donna claims she took a field trip to visit Evelyn Evernever in prison and learned Betty’s fugue-inducing magic word. Not “tangerine” — there’s another one. (If this turns out to be, like, “clementine,” “kumquat,” or any other citrus fruit, one of you is going to need to hold my earrings.)
Jughead’s classmates next dispatch Veronica and Archie, who just finished having sex in the woods, to a different part of the woods, as Brett and Donna return from whatever parts of the woods that they were just sinisterly traipsing around in. There the kids encounter the grim scene we’ve already seen a flash of in an earlier episode: Betty standing over Jughead’s crumpled, pulse-free body, holding a bloodied rock.
Friends. What is happening? I dare not believe that Jughead is really… Jugdead. But if not, then how is this television program going to resolve this? Did he take some kind of Romeo and Juliet almost-poison to induce a coma? Is Sabrina going to hop on the bus from Greendale and do some necromancy? Or are we borrowing heavily from the last season of (the original) Roseanne, in that this will ultimately be revealed as the events of a fictional story dreamed up and narrated by our aspiring author himself? If that’s the case, then I’m going to need to borrow that rock so I can bludgeon myself, too.