Welcome to Riverdale, the latest CW show based on a comic; but instead of DC superheroes, this one is all about Archie Andrews and his pals ‘n’ gals! Archie Comics aficionado Chris Sims and CW teen drama superfan Emma Lawson will be your recappers for our weekly breakdown of what’s hot and happening at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe.

This week, Veronica throws a party, Alice Cooper throws a righteous fit, and a couple of guys throw punches at Moose. Poor Moose. Guy just wanted to lift some rocks. "The Outsiders" was written by Julia Cohen and directed by David Katzenberg.

Emma: Chris. The Archie to my Jughead. Betty to my Veronica. I've missed you in these sad, Riverdale-less weeks.

Chris: Emma. The Cover Girl product placement to my teen drama. It has indeed been a desolate wasteland.

Emma: You know, I actually needed new mascara and almost bought some Cover Girl until I remembered it's been a long time since I was a teen.

Chris: We haven't really talked about it, but before we get into the content of the episode, we really should throw a special shout-out to Cover Girl for having the single most obtrusive product placement I've seen since... well, since the Power Rangers said the words "Krispy Kreme" like 35 times last week, but still. I didn't catch one in this episode, but there have been scenes where they will literally pull focus on just a bottle of nail polish or whatever for a solid two or three seconds before Betty gets back to wondering if her parents are murderers.

Emma: We keep meaning to talk about it every week, but then we get distracted by the rest of this crazy show. Which actually wasn't too crazy this week, except for maybe Alice Cooper almost attacking her husband. But we'll get to that! Let's start at the top: Polly is finally getting interviewed by Sheriff Keller about her plans with Jason, before his untimely death.

Chris: I've always felt that a police interview really requires a strong lip color.

Emma: You know Alice Cooper would never let her daughters wear anything but Perfectly Pink, Chris.

Chris: Polly's interview essentially functions as a recap, which --- while kind of welcome after a few weeks without new episodes --- comes right after the "Previously On Riverdale" segment, front-loading this episode with a lot of exposition. It is, however, the kind of episode that needs that. As much as it might not get as wild as a few other installments, this one actually ends up advancing the plot, albeit not before we cut to Archie and Jughead playing video games and quoting Sartre.

Emma: You know our boy Jughead reads French existentialists in his spare time. Archie and Jughead seem to be doing okay as roommates so far, until Fred Andrews walks in and exclaims "Whoa, it's kind of ripe in here!" It's canon, folks, Archie and Jughead stink.

Chris: Fred also mentions that he doesn't know if what he's building is going to be beautiful, but it's definitely big, and... Have we talked about this before? Like, he's absolutely building the Lodge Mansion so that Hiram Lodge can show up in the season finale and change the dynamic of all of Veronica and Hermione's relationships, right?

 

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Emma: We have! And he better be! Veronica and her mom can't stay in Hermione's pre-war apartment forever, they need a statuesque manor to rival Thornhill. Unfortunately, the Blossoms have essentially yanked Fred's crew out from under him, promising them two years of well-paid work, so construction is on hiatus and Andrews Construction is in trouble.

Chris: I feel like there are roughly 8,000 Archie characters that I would be more excited about showing up in the Riverdale finale than Hiram Lodge (the list starts with Sabrina and works its way down to Claude and Raul, the breakdancers who tried to drag Archie into the hottest hip-hop trends of the mid-'90s) but I do like how the show is building him as this strange unseen mastermind with international intrigue. If you consider "some shady business in Montreal" to really be International Intrigue, I mean.

Emma: It's barely international, but it counts. Think of all the young Americans who used to cross the border every day to visit our fine Canadian establishments and enjoy our lower drinking age!

The other main plot line this episode is that Veronica wants to solve Polly Cooper's rift with her parents by throwing a party, as you do. She and Hermione plan on hosting a baby shower, giving Polly a chance to see her mother in a safe, public space where hopefully no one will throw a fit.

Chris: Emma! I'm shocked at you!

Emma: Hey man, I didn't get into any "international intrigue" with any of those young men. Except for my American partner, I guess, but he was already well beyond the legal age when I met him.

Chris: No, I mean how you moved on from Archie's dad needing a new construction crew! I mean, I know that technically the baby shower comes first, but I thought we'd both be pretty eager to talk about his replacements!

 

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Emma: The "bruiser studs," you mean? I do love me a Moose in a construction hat. Oh, and I guess the rest of the football team that Archie recruited to work for his dad was okay too. I had weird, uncomfortable feelings seeing Jughead in a tank top, though.

Chris: Okay, a few points: 1) If this show is going to really reach its full potential as the campy teenage Twin Peaks we need in this nightmare hellscape dystopia of a world, then they need to go ahead and and have a scene where Fred Andrews literally says "If only Riverdale had a seemingly endless supply of well-muscled hunks!"

2) Along those same lines, the scene where all the #teens work construction for a day --- which, I should add, is literally just them carrying large rocks from one place to another --- should have been about a thousand times more over the top. Like, I want "Everybody's Working For The Weekend" blaring in the background, Reggie pouring a bottle of water on his face in slow motion, Moose bicep curling Kevin Keller up for a smooch…

3) You already said it, but what the heck Cole Sprouse rolling up in here looking like John McClane?! Why is the nerdy kid who wants to be a writer so ripped??? Does Pop's offer crossfit?

Emma: Now I desperately need to see Cole Sprouse crawling through a vent with a lighter! But Chris, you know I am a librarian, and let me give you a protip: books are heavy.

And as for the boys just moving rocks around, we're not joking. Moose literally says "This is awesome! Lifting rocks beats working out in our crappy weight room.”

Chris: I would 100% be into Cole Sprouse starring in the inevitable remake of Die Hard. I truly believe that he could be McClane or Hans Gruber with equal results.

Emma: CHRIS. Cole as McClane and Dylan Sprouse as Hans Gruber.

Chris: OMG EMMA, YES.

As for Moose, he's another one that's deviating from his established comics canon. After a day of hard work, the construction site is attacked by some shady hoodlums, and Moose is the one who goes to investigate since he left his phone on the site. He gets beaten up a little, which is fine, but I think I really would've preferred it if he was the unstoppable Hulk-like strongman of the comics, and had scared them off by throwing one of them through a wall.

 

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Emma: Seeing Moose curled up in the fetal position in the dirt as he gets kicked by two bad dudes was awful. I understand it's two against one, but Moose should count as three guys himself, right?

And where was Reggie? Why wasn't he in this hot construction montage?

Chris: There is a brief mention later that he recovers quickly --- I think it's Jughead who says that there's a reason his name is Moose --- but still. As for Reggie, he really should be here, but I also have no problem believing that Mantle the Magnificent would refuse to pitch in and help out unless there was something for him in it.

Emma: Good point. Reggie is the worst, after all.

So Moose gets beaten up, and the guys who did it say they're going to keep coming back as long as construction is happening. Fred is convinced that it's Cliff Blossom's doing, since he already stole Fred's crew, but Archie thinks it might be the Southside Serpents --- it's their territory that's being disrupted by the construction.

Chris: Archie immediately decides that the thing to do here is to just roll over to a biker bar and start making trouble, and I kind of like that while Archie is still the most boring part of the show, they're finally trying to define him as what he is the comics: The guy who generally does the right thing the wrong way, matters of love excepted.

Emma: Can we talk about how there were LITERAL SERPENTS in this bar? They just have snakes hanging out there! Actual snakes!

Chris: The snakes are great, but my favorite part is that there's a guy named "Mustang."

Emma: Oh wow, how did I miss that?

Chris: He's the guy that tries to punch Archie.

 

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Emma: Right. He tries to punch Archie after Moose maybe recognizes a guy and Archie decides to get up in his face, with zero actual evidence that he was involved. Then FP comes down the stairs like a king descending from his throne and tells his boys to back off. This is how Archie finds out that Jughead's dad is a Serpent, which explains Cole Sprouse's face when Archie was letting the gang in on his plan back at Pop's.

Chris: There's a podcast I listen to called Campaign, which is an actual-play Star Wars RPG podcast where the players are all genuinely amazing Chicago improvisers and gamers, and there's a bit where they go to a bounty hunter convention and just start naming off all these increasingly ridiculous bounty hunter names --- Sneak, Chains, Creampuff, Regicide, Robosaurus, Mankind, The Undertaker and so on for like 40 guys --- and I like to think that's how the Southside Serpents work.

Emma: When your leader's name is Forsythe Pendleton Jones, you need to do something to distinguish yourself.

Chris: All of this comes to a head with Archie confronting Jughead (and Betty) at the baby shower, which means we need to go back and explain that. We fell too far down the rabbit hole full of hunks, Emma!

Emma: The baby shower looked lovely, as one would expect from a party hosted by Veronica Lodge, but both Alice Cooper and Penelope Blossom show up so you know something's gonna go down. Jughead gets major boyfriend points for helping Betty and Veronica set up, and watching him walk around with a tower of mini-cupcakes absolutely made my day.

Chris: That cupcake tower absolutely should've dwindled in inverse proportion to the amount of crumbs around Cole Sprouse's mouth between shots, though.

Emma: They're not burgers, but they're free food and you know Jughead. He also looked really good in that sweater? Riverdale is making me uncomfortable thinking about Cole Sprouse's body. Give me more shirtless men closer to my own age. Like, I wouldn't mind seeing FP in a tank top. Just saying.

Chris: Two other major events around the baby shower. First, Polly asks Betty to be her baby's godmother, which is understandable but still kind of weird when you consider that Betty is a fifteen year-old who tried to drown a man in a hot tub last month. Second, Cheryl's grandmother uses her straight up magic powers gifted to her by occult artifacts to determine that Polly isn't just pregnant, she's pregnant with twins.

 

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Emma: Okay, I had thoughts about that. I imagine Polly might not have been receiving the most regular prenatal care when she was with the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, but surely Hermione Lodge would have taken her to a doctor now that she's living in her apartment? Like Alice Cooper said, "This is occultism at it's most ludicrous."

Chris: Everyone seems to have a pretty laissez-faire attitude towards the pregnancy. Except, of course, for Hal Cooper. It turns out that he offered to get Polly an abortion, and, further, that he paid for Alice to have an abortion too, when she was Polly's age. And, like... is it just me or is this presented as way more scandalous than it should be for 2017?

Emma: They can't even say the word abortion. I don't think it would have been as scandalous for anyone outside the Cooper family --- like, Veronica would have no problem presenting the option if one of her friends got pregnant --- but within that family any unplanned pregnancy is automatically treated as a mistake. And the Coopers don't make mistakes.

Chris: Ah, that's a much better way of putting it. It seemed so weird to me that they would be okay with shipping her off to the convent/sanitarium/stealth level from an Arkham game but not with any other options, but looking at it that way, their discussion makes a lot more sense.

Emma: Shipping her off means they can hide her "mistake" while still not forcing her to have an abortion, which Alice Cooper seemed to regret from her own youth. She throws something at Hal when she comes home after finding out what he did, and grabs him by the throat to shove him away from her. Alice Cooper was mad.

Chris: She ends up kicking Hal out, and with Polly going to live at Thornhill --- at Cheryl's urging and against the warnings of literally everyone else on the show --- the Cooper family is down to two.

Emma: But don't despair, readers, Jughead and Archie made up from their fight. Jughead tells Archie that he was afraid his dad was involved, and ashamed of his involvement with the Serpents. Archie, our sweet puddle of mud, of course forgives him. Jug has the same conversation with Betty in this episode too, and they have a really nice moment. (I'm moderately on board with Bughead now, but this show better not make me regret it.) Betty thinks they should check in with FP now that she knows he's a Serpent, though. Since the Serpents gave Jason drugs to move, FP might know something about his death. Hell of a way to meet the family.

 

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Chris: Speaking of the Serpents, FP brings them to the construction site, and introduces them as Fred's new construction crew --- which is pretty hilarious, because they're still all dressed like criminals and ne'er-do-wells straight out of central casting, someone just let them hold toolboxes.

Emma: "I'm the best foreman you ever had." Uh, don't think so, bud.

Chris: This is only true if every other foreman manages to stumble over the very low bar of "doesn't steal things."

Emma: We also get to see FP stuffing Jason's letterman jacket into a backpack for Joaquin to hide. I was really hoping Joaquin was just a cute, queer, biker boy, but apparently he's only been macking on Kevin on FP's orders, so the Serpents can have an inside line on the Sheriff. At least Joaquin has the decency to feel bad about it.

Chris: There's some interesting stuff here with Joaquin feeling real guilt and telling FP "He likes me... for real," with the unspoken corollary that Joaquin likes Kevin, too.

Emma: He's still doing it, though, which sucks for him and Kevin both.

Anything we miss, Chris?

 

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Chris: Just that it was Hiram who sent the thugs to rough up Fred's construction site. Other than that, I think we're good. So who's your final ship of the week?

Emma: You and me. Friendship forever, Chris. No, wait, Moose and rocks.

Chris: Aw, Emma! I feel the same way. But since we're going out, I'll go ahead and say it: Betty and Jughead are cute together. I don't want them to last too long or ramp things up and they'd be just as good as friends, but I think it's well-done!

Emma: Same. The writers have done a really good job with the two of them together.

And with that, we're out. See y'all in Riverdale.