Riverdale Ep. 23 recap “Chapter Twenty-Three: Blackboard Jungle”

Riverdale is back after a month-long break, and so are the “small town intrigues.” So it’s business as usual, whatever that “business” is anymore.

In the aftermath of the Black Hood killings, everyone seems to be moving on pretty quickly. But no one is moving faster than the Lodges. With help from Veronica and Mayor McCoy, Southside High is closed down due to the “toxins” in the basement of the school. While the students are distributed to other schools in the district, the Lodges make their move to expand their project to the school land.

The move is suspicious to a lot of people in town, namely Alice Cooper, Jughead and a new FBI agent in town.

Yes, kids, the FBI have reached Riverdale!

The agent introduces himself to Archie, and asks for his help in investigating the Lodge family. When Archie agrees, his given his first mission: find out what happened to Nick St. Clair. His “accident” appears as incidental as the sudden closure of Southside High. Though I’m not sure why the agent has asked the worst detective in Riverdale to help, but this at least gives Archie a plotline. Even if it is shit.

But Archiekins has a bit of a web to untangle. He and Fred discover that Fred’s medical bills have been paid in full. Veronica admits to her and her parents’ part in it almost immediately. Fred sells off part of his company to the Lodges in order to start paying them back – much to Archie’s dismay.

When the Serpents arrive at Riverdale, Cheryl begins to push her power around immediately. (To be fair, her mom is now a prostitute or, uh, “providing comfort”.) She threatens Archie when he doesn’t join her side. She saw his kiss with Betty, and will tell Veronica if he doesn’t help her. But he offers her something that will help them both: he will visit Nick to get a second check for Cheryl, and he will be able to question the boy.

Cheryl gives him another reason to pay Nick a visit when she lets slip that Veronica was also almost a visit to Nick’s attacks. So when Archie pays Nick a visit, he gets to get a check for Cheryl, get information for the FBI AND beat the shit out of the weasel!

All in a week’s work when you’re a spy for the FBI, am I right?

Meanwhile, Betty doesn’t have much to occupy her time now that she’s not chasing down killers. Polly surprises her one day when she finds her packing up things in her room – with no babies in the womb. Polly explains that she gave birth, but didn’t want the family to know. Betty is certain that it’s the “leaders of the farm” controlling Polly, and I hope it is. Riverdale season 3: the season of the cult, please!

Deeply hurt by her sister’s attitude, Betty decides to look up her long-lost brother. Though when she finds him, she seems to be the only one happy about it. Hal immediately warns her away while Alice looks more hesitant.

Alice, behind Hal’s back, asks Betty to go with her to meet the boy. When they do, Chic is a bit of asshole. He lives in a one bedroom room that looks fitted out for a cockroach king. But he’s understandably upset about the fact that his parents decided to keep two of their three kids, and feels like he pulled the short straw. Feeling guilty, Alice leaves.

But Betty, as ever, is determined. She returns to speak to Chic, and finds him being stabbed by his landlord. She takes Chic to the safety of the Coopers’ home, where he continues to be creepy and stare at Betty while she sleeps. As someone who doesn’t have a brother, I cannot confirm whether or not this is normal behaviour.

Jughead has a storyline here, but boy has his character been turned to shit. He’s upset that he’s not allowed to wear his Southside Serpents jacket at school. And boo hoo “I don’t want to shed my skin” or whatever.

Please, writers, sort this shit out. What the hell have you done to Jughead to make him so unlikable? Anyway, he sets up a fake gaming club to that he and his fellow Serpents have a safe space. Whatever.

The first Riverdale episode of 2018 was a solid “meh”. I just can’t make myself feel excited for this show after how hard the writers threw away the Black Hood storyline. But I’m so glad I’m not the only one that thinks this.

Towards the end of the episode, Archie admits to the FBI agent that he isn’t certain that the real Black Hood was caught. Thank fucking goodness for that. “Tales from the Darkside” and “When a Stranger Calls” were both such strong, clever episodes. I understand Riverdale trying to bring things back to the style of season 1, but things are really confused right now, I have a feeling it will be a number of episodes until we are anywhere near being back to business as usual.

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