Riverdale – Chapter Nine: La Grande Illusion
By: Jay Smith
We see Clifford (Barclay Hope) pouring the family’s maple syrup in a small glass with Penelope (Nathalie Boltt), Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Jason (Trevor Stines) waiting on him so they can toast as Jughead narrates that syrup runs the town with Archie (KJ Apa), Val (Hayley Law), Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Alice (Mädchen Amick) either consuming or discarding an empty bottle of the famous syrup. While still narrating, Jughead mentions Jason’s death and proposes the question on everyone’s mind of who would run the family business, eliminating Cheryl as a possibility, while we get a look at cars pulling into their property with Polly (Tiera Skovbye) by their side. Betty (Lili Reinhart) is in her room with Jughead (Cole Sprouse) telling him Polly isn’t answering any of her calls. Jughead assures her they’ll figure it out and as the teenagers share a kiss, Alice walks in cheerful and tells them of her plan to expose the family. She informs them there’s a board of trustees now in town and she wants to know why.
Hermione (Marisol Nichols) and Veronica are having breakfast when the ladies discuss speaking on Hiram’s behalf at the testimony. We can see Veronica is apprehensive on lying for her father and gives Hermione advice on telling Fred the truth once she learns that her father does know about the adults romance and neither Fred or the Blossoms knowing they own the drive-in land.
Archie is playing in the art room when Cheryl comes in and asks him to attend the annual tree tapping ceremony that celebrates the start of maple syrup season. She mentions its exclusivity and the ceremony being her and Jason’s thing. She does not want to do it alone, but Archie declines because he’s with Val and offers other suggestions. Cheryl doesn’t want to ask other boys because he defended her when no one else believed her.
Ethel (Shannon Purser) is in class giving a moving poem that confuses Kevin (Casey Cott) but catches Veronica’s attention. Veronica finds the girl in the student lounge and she praises her while lending an ear. Ethel opens up about her home life and Veronica offers her experience in the matter and an invite of pampering with Kevin. Ethel agrees and in the hallway Kevin asks about the gathering. Veronica tells him about her mean girl past and has a vow to make “misfits” lives better whenever she can.
Archie is startled by an overbearing Penelope in the hallway when she invites him to the tree tapping ceremony as well. Archie declines again, but the mention of a connection to a prestigious music academy changes his perspective on the invite. As Betty and Jughead walk into the lounge, Archie tells the group of his decision to escort Cheryl because of the potential connections. Of course, Jughead jokes that he’s being a gigolo but while agreeing with making connections Veronica also warns about the deal coming at a cost. Betty thinks it’s great and asks Archie to talk to Polly for her.
Cheryl and Archie are walking on the property when she mentions the fear of never doing the ceremony again because of Jason’s death and the game plan. Archie asks about the people and she tells him it’s the board of trustees. She notes the death of Jason and an unwed pregnant Polly there made them question Cliff hanging on to the business and the potential of them banding together to take the company away from the family. Cliff gives the opening speech and introduces Cheryl to commemorate the festivities. Everyone has anxious looks on their faces making Cheryl nervous. Archie gives her encouraging words, Cheryl succeeds tapping the spigot into the tree and everyone claps in relief.
Kevin, Betty and Ethel are having dinner at the Lodge’s place and Veronica notices Ethel isn’t eating. She mentions her family’s dilemma, which Betty can relate to at the moment and Veronica gives her experience and advice to push through this. Veronica mentions her last name and once Ethel repeats it with a background story, Hermione has a hard swallow of her drink which Veronica notices.
The group takes a photo and after Archie tries to talk to Polly. Penelope asks for Polly and before she completely leaves, she tells Archie to relay a message to Betty that she’s okay and not to worry. Hermione pulls Veronica aside and tells her Ethel’s family did business with her father and they are effected by his wrong doings. Veronica believes the family should testify against her father and asks and worries about Fred’s future as well. A couple is questioning Cliff and express their plans of revolting if Cheryl gets the business when Archie defends her character to them.
In the trailer Hermione finally comes clean to Fred (Luke Perry) and he’s livid. She explains her side and wanting to turn the business around, but he can’t get over the fact he’s in the middle of a war between Clifford and Hiram and that she lied to him. Cliff is walking with Archie and he invites Archie to another event. Cheryl overhears and Cliff insists on his presence, especially after expressing that Archie needs to be there because he’s grounded. Archie is apprehensive and Cheryl tells him they won’t take no for an answer before finally calling him “Archiekins” like Veronica does.
Alice is cutting a pie when it shocks her to say that Archie, who is at the table with Betty as well, is their mole for her story. He relays to Betty that Polly is okay and the Blossoms seem to be treating her well. Betty doesn’t Polly would choose with without a reason and Alice thinks Betty should forget it. Archie informs them on why the board of trustees is there and Alice suggests that’s her story. She tells Betty to drop the Polly talk once she mentions the potential damage of writing the piece while Polly is with them. Jughead and Betty talk privately with Cheryl, who gleefully tells them that Polly is indeed pregnant with twins like Nana Blossom predicted. Betty asks her to tell Polly to call home because Alice is upset. Cheryl jokes that she’ll try to remember the message before stating that she’ll do it and it’s up to Polly to make contact before pushing them out of her way. Veronica surprises Ethel with her old things and Veronica tells Ethel her father bought those things when he’s done something wrong. She still wears the pearls he gotten her, but Ethel informs her she just wants her friendship.
Cheryl is at the door and after complementing Fred and walking into the kitchen where Archie and Jughead are hanging out. She presents Archie with a Les Paul as a thank you for him escorting her to tomorrow night’s event. She kisses his cheek and leaves, but Fred thinks he should give the gift back. Jughead jokes about Archie pimping himself out again and Fred informs a naïve Archie that the Blossoms are only using him and that the family looks at them like they’re dirt.
Alice and Betty are at the newspaper trying to get Hal (Lochlyn Munro) to publish the story. He refuses and Alice tries to log in to her account to do it herself when she discovers she no longer has access. Alice tries to get him to understand the reason and reward for the piece but he doesn’t care since he was kicked out and fires Alice. Before her and Betty completely leave the property, an angry Alice throws a brick at the window expresses her frustration in wanting Polly back.
Archie is at the tailor’s getting fitted when he asks to speak with Cliff. He asks to change his personal favor to do something for Fred instead. Cliff is moved by the selfless act and ponders if Jason would’ve done something like this for him. Cliff, unfortunately, tells Archie he can’t because he made calls but will consider it after the banquet. Betty breaks down to Jughead over her family dysfunction and he lifts her spirits by praising her resilience. Cheryl finds Val and then Val finds Archie to warn him about what Cheryl said to her about the two getting close. Val also tells Archie the Blossoms are buying him, asks him wouldn’t it be better to earn his place and becomes upset that he would even ask her what she would do in his place. Kevin rushes to tell Betty and Veronica the news of Ethel’s father trying to commit suicide last night. Kevin’s voice becomes faint as Veronica runs to the bathroom, rips her necklace and cries hysterically until Betty comforts her.
Clifford gives a toast and praises Cheryl at the end. Cheryl tells Archie that the praise is fake and they wanted her to fail. Cliff pulls Archie aside and lets him know he will help Fred and Archie tells him he doesn’t want any more favors because he likes Cheryl. But, in so many words, Clifford tells Archie that he by Cheryl’s side gives the board the illusion that the family deserves to keep their company and he needs him. Polly interrupts the men to take Archie away for a dance. Polly tells Archie she’s at the Blossoms because she feels they had something to do with Jason’s death. We can see Cliff take Cheryl aside to chat when she becomes upset at some news. Polly tells Archie to tell Betty to not worry about her when he abruptly leaves to be by Cheryl’s side.
Veronica and Betty arrive at the hospital to give flowers and well wishes to Ethel and her mother. Feeling guilty before they leave, Veronica comes clean about her name and Mrs. Muggs (Jenn MacLean-Angus) unleashes pent up anger into her. Ethel is in disbelief and her mother wants Veronica to tell the truth about Hiram and says he should rot in jail before they leave to be with Mr. Muggs. Cheryl is by the pool and Archie listens to her open up about the family hating her. He tells her she’s awesome and after giving him praise for being genuine and not wanting anything from her she kisses him. As he’s walking back, Archie overhears Penelope and Clifford discussing being close to getting the drive in land back and wondering if they shouldn’t send Hermione to jail instead of Hiram. Veronica gets home and breaks down to Hermione about the day. She informs her mother she’s done lying for her father.
Cheryl catches up to Archie while joking that the prince doesn’t run away from the ball. She warns that if he leaves all the perks go, too. Archie says he was there as a favor for Penelope, but Cheryl calls him out and compares him to the others because he didn’t want anything from her but didn’t pass up the opportunity from getting things from her parents.
Alice is enjoying a glass of wine when Betty with Jughead gives her the good news that Polly is being a mole as well. She’s happy to hear this after she thought the story would finally drive her away. The kids invite her to the school newspaper to get her story out and she accepts. Val is walking when Archie tries to apologize. Val congratulates him on standing for something, but dumps him and throws a final jab at not being bought when he offers to work it out between them.
Hermione tells Fred she’s going to sell to Clifford but he advises against it since he’s staying on the project. He tells her everything will be legal, gives his terms for a new deal, and terminates their romantic relationship. Hermione is crushed, but accepts this deal. Veronica apologizes to Ethel on behalf of Hiram and Ethel accepts the apology and continues their friendship. Archie drops the news to Betty and Jughead that he believes the Blossoms are responsible for Hiram’s incarceration and this makes him a murder suspect especially since the Blossoms hold family and legacy near and dear to their hearts.
Jughead narrates that winter came early to the town as Penelope and Clifford wave their guests away before expressing their work isn’t done yet. A tearful Cheryl is in her room scratching out Archie’s face from the tree tapping ceremony photo when Polly knocks to wish her goodnight. Cheryl fakes a pleasant “Goodnight Pollykins” and returns to a scowl and scratches out Polly’s face in the photo as well.