Riverdale finally returned with a high-stakes episode that set up new partnerships and rivalries for the back half of season three.
Fresh off a three-week hiatus, Riverdale picks up right where it left off. Gladys and Jellybean are back on the Southside, and neither Jughead nor FP are aware of Gladys’ drug dealing business. Veronica is still indebted to Gladys, and Hiram (back to his normal, awful self after getting shot) is growing suspicious that someone betrayed him.
Meanwhile, Archie and Josie are officially together, Toni and Cheryl have formed a girl gang, the Pretty Poisons and Betty is growing increasingly concerned about Alice’s ties to The Farm. Here’s a look at what down in “Requiem for a Welterweight.”
To help turn over a new leaf and get his life back on track, Archie takes up his old juvie pastime: boxing. Ever the impulsive risk-taker, he completely ignores Coach Keller’s insistence that he continue training and arranges a fight with Randy, a big-time champion managed by Elio. But here’s the catch: Archie has to throw the fight. In exchange, he’ll get $5,000 and start making a name for himself. (He already got a jump on that by being Riverdale’s Most Wanted, though, right?)
Josie tries to convince Archie that he should have more respect for himself and call off the fight, and Tom threatens to stop coaching Archie if he doesn’t cancel it. However, when Archie goes to Elio to back out, Elio explains that it’s too late — the bets have already been placed and dangerous people will be after both of them if Archie doesn’t fight and lose.
Fortunately, Archie decides to stop being dumb and comes clean to Tom about the deal he made with Elio and his fear that Randy might actually kill him in the ring. Tom promises to help Archie hold his own, and Archie ultimately returns to Elio with a new proposal. He’ll fight, but he’s fighting to win.
In the end, the judges name Randy the victor, but Archie gives him a run for his money. A proud Tom even tells Archie that he was the superior fighter. Josie also cheers on Archie from the stands. Afterwards, they, uh, celebrate some more in Archie’s room.
A Tale of Three Schemers
The moral of this episode: Do not underestimate Gladys Jones. In exchange for staying silent about Hermione’s involvement and lessening Veronica’s debt, Gladys gets Veronica to spy on Hiram for her.
To Veronica’s credit, she has a plan of her own. She wants to get her family out of the drug business and tries to convince Hiram to refocus his efforts on profiting off that Southside Prison he owns. Unfortunately, Hiram isn’t ready to give up on Fizzle Rocks yet and believes recruiting the Ghoulies to work for him will get him back on top.
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Veronica informs Gladys of Hiram’s plans, and when Hiram later invites Gladys over, Gladys tries to get him to focus on the prison, too. She wants a monopoly on Riverdale’s drug trade, and she wants to save the Ghoulies for Jughead, who has lost several Serpents to the Pretty Poisons.
However, Hiram is not receptive to Gladys’ pitch either, so she prepares to play her ace: revealing Hermione to be the person who stabbed him in the back. Having crashed their meeting, though, Veronica intervenes just in time with an ace of her own. She offers to go into business with Hiram if he leaves the drug dealing to Gladys and concentrates solely on the prison.
Veronica saves her mother yet again when she later admits responsibility for burning the Fizzle Rocks and claims Hermione wasn’t involved in any way with the deal. Fortunately, Hiram seems to believe Veronica. Unfortunately, he wants her to pay up.
Meanwhile, Jug discovers that the Ghoulies joined the Gargoyles and seeks out their leader Kurt. He offers the Gargoyles immunity from drug dealing charges if they join the Serpents, but Kurt proves to be a G&G true believer. He tells an alarmed Jughead that the citizens of Riverdale are “sacrifices waiting to be made.” Jug informs Gladys that the Gargoyles are a lost cause, but she successfully recruits them, much to Jug’s chagrin.
A Baptism of Kool-Aid
In order prove herself, Alice prepares to be baptized into The Farm. While Betty initially tries to be supportive, she immediately changes her tune when she learns that Alice has to sign a form saying The Farm isn’t responsible if she dies during the ceremony.
Desperate to save her mother, Betty tries to get dirt on The Farm. She meets with a defector, who reveals that she escaped after her sister drowned during her baptism. A horrified Betty sprints to the ceremony, but she’s too late.
Polly had held Alice down, even as she’d started struggling under the water. When Betty pulls Alice out, she’s not breathing. Betty is able to bring her back with CPR, though, and the two share a tearful hug.
So it’s all good now, right? Nope. Having seen “her destiny” during the baptism, Alice is more dedicated to The Farm than ever. She plans to sell the house and move into the new Farm facility with Betty, Polly and the twins.
Bottom line: Betty’s life is falling apart. On the bright side, Reinhart delivered one of her best performances of the season.
Trouble in Poison-dise?
So remember all those amends that Cheryl made three weeks ago? She regresses real hard this week.
Desperate to stop hemorrhaging members, Jughead tries to convince Toni to rejoin the Serpent “family.” Toni says she’ll only come back if she can be Queen. Aside from being a Serpent by blood, she’s gotten a taste for leadership as the head of the Pretty Poisons.
With Jug unwilling to oust Betty, though, they reach an impasse. (Am I the only one who feels like Betty wouldn’t mind if Toni became Serpent Queen? Betty is barely involved with the Serpents, anyway.) Back at the Pretty Poisons camp, Toni tells Cheryl what happened but says she wants to handle it herself.
Steamrolling Toni yet again, Cheryl has the Poisons beat up Sweet Pea and Fangs in retaliation for Jug’s poaching attempt. When a furious Toni confronts her, Cheryl reluctantly admits that the Poisons are Toni’s gang. She promises not to go over Toni’s head and make the Poisons vigilantes again. But will she keep her word?
- Aww, Tom being so supportive of Archie was nice to see. But also, where was Fred? Does he even know what Archie’s up to these days?
- So did Betty just casually tell her informant the location of the bunker over a potentially tapped phone line?
- Josie was right. She did kill it at La Bonne Nuit!
- Although it would’ve been cool to see Archie and Josie take things a bit slower, it’s a good sign that they’re still having meaningful conversations. Josie is literally the first and only person to tell Archie that he needs to have some self-respect, and he really needed to hear it.
- Is Archie repeating a grade, or did he somehow get caught up on months’ worth of work?
- Does Gladys genuinely not care if Jug finds out about her day job? I guess we’ll find out when he inevitably finds out.
- Is Kevin really going to join The Farm?
- When is Chad Michael Murray going to show up? I need to prepare myself for an onslaught of 2000s flashbacks.