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Riverdale – The Sweet Hereafter

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By: Jay Smith

As Jughead (Cole Sprouse) narrates, we see Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) discovering Cliff’s (Barclay Hope) hanging body. We learn that the maple syrup was a front for Cliff to export heroine in and out of the town to Canada through his trucks. Alice (Mädchen Amick) is writing up the conclusion to this tragic town accident and suggests that Clifford hired Mustang to snatch up Jason (Trevor Stines), who found out about what his father was up to, killed him, proceeds to kill Mustang and blame Hiram Lodge to cover up his tracks. Jughead adds that Cliff threatened Papa Jones (Skeet Ulrich) to confess or Jughead will be dead like Jason.

We get a retro Scooby Doo reference after Pop (Alvin Sanders) slides Jughead a coffee and Alice calls Cliff’s suicide a coward’s way out. Jughead writes that this revelation about the town makes Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens) to want all the corruption to end. Keller and Jughead are seeing Papa Jones and Keller offers Papa Jones a deal for him to get a lesser sentence if he tells on people who are distributing the heroine across town. Papa Jones tells him Serpents only do weed and he’s no snitch. Keller informs him that if he doesn’t help he’s looking at 20 years for his part in Jason’s death. Fred (Luke Perry) is upset that he doesn’t know the town he loves and Archie (KJ Apa) tells him he’s okay, but his friends aren’t.

Smithers asks about Hiram’s return and Hermione (Marisol Nichols) says not until the end of the month but everything has to be perfect. Veronica (Camila Mendes) adds a snarky comment and Hermione corrects her. Betty (Lili Reinhart) is telling Archie about what’s happening at home and we see Alice bringing in breakfast for them with Hal (Lochlyn Munro) and Polly (Tiera Skovbye) smiling while Betty isn’t smiling, but has dug into her palms with her fingernails causing blood. Betty isn’t okay with them pretending nothing has happened. Veronica finds Archie and she wants to come clean and go Betty about them dating. Archie thinks they should wait because of what happened last time. Archie gets called to the office and Betty is already there. McCoy with Weatherbee (Peter Bryant) wants them to participate in the town’s jubilee. She offers Archie a spot to perform with Josie and The Pussycats and Betty to give a speech. Betty and Archie become a little apprehensive when McCoy doesn’t hide the fact that the town isn’t too keen on The Jones’ right now. At the lunch table Betty tells Jughead about their refusal to participate without him and he gives an update on his dad. Kevin (Casey Cott) tells them the Sheriff says the drugs are hitting the streets hard and Jughead tells them this isn’t “The Wire.” Betty still upset about the mistreatment of The Serpents and The Jones men while Clifford isn’t being mentioned at all. Betty is going to write about everything because the town needs to know the truth. Veronica and Archie take this opportunity to tell Betty that they’ve kissed a couple of times. Betty gives them her blessing. Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) are back from the funeral and Penelope is slightly upset that the funeral was less than stellar because of everything. Penelope says their family has been cursed and that maybe Cliff had the right idea to end it all.

Archie and Betty are in an empty classroom and he wants to make sure Betty is really okay with him and Veronica. Archie admits Veronica is great, but before he can finally admit to having some feelings towards Betty she cuts him off and is happy to know that they found people they were suppose to be with. Fred comes to work and is upset the Serpents crew has been replaced with new guys. Hermione tells him it’s because of the Mayor and Sheriff. Hermione also takes the time to ask Fred to step down and allow the Lodges to buy him out. Fred tells her to make him an offer in writing.

Josie (Ashleigh Murray) gives Archie praises on the progression of his song writing, but declines for them to sing them at the jubilee because they already have a pre-approved song. Alice and Hal are happy at Betty’s article, but they can’t publish it because she’s too involved and they don’t want her to become a new enemy. Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is in the locker room when Veronica comes in dressed for practice. Cheryl informs her she’s stepping down, the girls are waiting for her, and gives Veronica her HBIC shirt. Veronica offers an ear if Cheryl needs it, but she declines and heads out. Betty and Veronica are chatting and Veronica praises Betty’s article, who has published it to the school website and made hard copies of it. She then asks if she’s really okay with the new love between her and Archie. Betty again says she’s fine and Polly comes in expressing her feelings on missing regular teenager stuff. Betty invites Polly to come to school with her in spite of Alice being against it. Archie and Jughead come home and Fred is with a social worker in the kitchen. Fred doesn’t qualify to keep Jughead and a family has offered to take him in, but it’s on the south side and Jughead will have to transfer schools.

Archie goes to see Papa Jones, but of course Papa Jones isn’t going to take a deal and tells Archie that Jughead is going to need them and to not let him be by himself no matter how many times he tries. In a retro reference, we see Jughead eating a burger when Veronica asks to sit next to him at lunch. The two talk about sticking together because of their similarities when Cheryl comes up to apologize to Jughead. She offers him a brooch to pawn off for endless burgers and t-shirts. Veronica goes on and before Cheryl can answer Kevin calls for them to go to Betty’s locker. Veronica grabs Archie and they all head to a big scene. On her locker someone or a group of people have put Betty’s article with “Go to hell Serpent Slut” in pig’s blood with a Betty doll hanging from a noose. Archie expresses his frustrations to his father and he’s upset that he can’t do more. Betty and Jughead are walking home when he tells her he thinks the town being against him is the universe’s way of telling him to leave. Betty informs him this is his home and he belongs here. Hermione is watering a plant and before she can go to her room she asks Veronica to talk to Archie to get Fred to sell. Veronica jokes that she’ll use her sex appeal to do it, but Hermione thinks she’s serious. Veronica asks why is she trying to push Fred out when he’s the only one that stood by her and Hermione confesses that Hiram and Fred won’t get a long. Alice is home with Polly and she grills Betty about today’s misadventure. Betty wants the truth and asks Alice some truth questions. We get a flashback to the homecoming dinner and Alice shuts the interrogation down.

Cheryl tells Penelope she doesn’t feel well, but she doesn’t care and makes her go. Alice comes into Betty’s room and finally confesses about a family secret. Her and Hal got pregnant in high school, she went away to the same place as Polly was and had a closed adoption once she had the baby boy. She regrets giving him away. Betty tells Archie the news when Jughead calls to tell her he’s at Southside High and they’ll talk after school. The teens leave school to go rescue Jughead. Cheryl is at home laying out the outfit she was in on the day of Jason’s abduction. They get to the lunch room and Jughead is making his whole lunch table crack up at his joke. Betty tells Jughead she isn’t going to let the town tear them apart and as the two hug, Archie is watching them in a “wishful thinking” kind of way and Veronica sees it. She can see something is wrong with Archie, but before she can pursue it she gets a message from Cheryl saying she’s going to be with Jason now. They head to the river and they see Cheryl breaking the ice and then falling in it. They run on the ice and Archie tries his hardest to save her causing his fist to be bloody and potentially broken. While he’s bashing his fist Cheryl sees a dead Jason trying to grab her. Archie finally rescues her, gives Cheryl mouth to mouth and she eventually starts to breathe again.

Veronica has Cheryl wrapped in a blanket in front of the fireplace with spiked hot chocolate to warm her up. Hermione comes home and in a cold voice asks about Cheryl’s presence. Veronica declines Hermione’s offer to take her to the jubilee before calling her Lady Macbeth. Betty is getting ready when she opens up to Alice that she’s nervous about Jughead not her speech. Archie is practicing when Veronica opens up about being conflicted for Archie when she saw how he looked at Betty. Archie admits he’ll always like Betty as a friend and he does want what she and Jughead has with Veronica. The two kiss and are interrupted by Josie, Val (Hayley Law) and Melody (Asha Bromfield). Josie reconsiders the song choice because of Cheryl’s accident. McCoy introduces the group and Josie tells the crowd before they start playing. Archie starts singing and Jughead sees Papa Jones in his cell. Jughead tells him he’ll be okay and Papa Jones admits he may be put away, but he’ll need Jughead to be there for his mom and sister. Veronica looks at Archie as the song is coming to a close and Archie also gets a glimpse of Betty as well. The crowd cheers and Betty takes the stage for her speech. Jughead comes right on time to hear Betty and she projects a thought provoking piece. She wants the town to accept everyone including The Jones men and for the town to be better and not have a repeat. Jughead initiate the clapping and everyone joins in with a standing ovation.

Hermione catches up to Fred and he declines to sell. Hermione sees Archie and Veronica and the two head out. The teens are at the diner celebrating Archie and Betty as Jughead narrates about the booth being a safe place for them. Penelope comes home and finds Cheryl holding a candelabra in a gasoline soaked family room. Cheryl tells her this is how they can start over and throws the candelabra on the ground causing a fire. Betty and Jughead are at the trailer. Jughead takes his hat and coat off and the two share their first “I love you” to each other with a kiss once Betty admits to not giving up on Papa Jones. Archie and Veronica are in the Lodge apartment when Veronica tells him that Hermione is out cold. The two sets of teens start hooking up when Jughead and Betty are interrupted by a banging on the door. Jughead answers and with another retro reference we see a barking Hot Dog with the Serpents. They inform Jughead they have his back because Papa Jones didn’t snitch on them and they give him a jacket. Jughead puts the jacket on and he kind of embraces it while Betty looks a tad worried and confused.

Penelope and Cheryl watch as the house burns down and Cheryl is pleased. Archie is getting dressed when Veronica calls him a scoundrel for trying to sneak out, but he tells her he’s seeing his dad for breakfast at Pop’s. Archie arrives at the diner and heads to the bathroom to wash his hands after he greets his dad. Archie looks in the mirror and he has a smile on his face. He hears commotion and peeks back into the diner and sees a thief threatening Pop’s. Archie sees Fred and silently tells him to do nothing. The assailant sees Fred and points the gun at him, but Archie jumps in front and we hear a gun shot. Jughead narrates that this moment is when the town finally succumbs to the darkness as we see the assailant leaving the diner, Pop’s calling for help and Archie holding his bleeding father. Jughead suggests this attack wasn’t random.

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