NOC Recap: ‘Riverdale’ Returns With All Its Glory

Wednesday nights were definitely not the same without Riverdale‘s craziness. Luckily, the show has finally returned with “Chapter Eighty-Seven: Strange Bedfellows,” which kicks off the second part of season 5. The series stars KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Mӓdchen Amick, Casey Cott, Mark Consuelos, Charles Melton, Vanessa Morgan, Erinn Westbrook, and Drew Ray Tanner. For the remainder of this recap, we will be getting into heavy spoilers; so only continue reading if you’ve seen episode 5×11.

RETURN TO RIVERDALE — In the aftermath of the prison break at Hiram’s (Mark Consuelos) jail, Archie (KJ Apa) leads the charge to round up the remaining convicts on the loose. Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) reaches out for Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) help when she realizes Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is missing. When Penelope (guest star Nathalie Boltt) re-enters the fold, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) becomes suspicious of her true intentions.

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When we first return, Alice reminds us of the fact that Hiram’s prisoners trashed Riverdale High, which will take Archie at least three weeks to fix with a crew. In the meantime, it’s remote learning for the kids of Riverdale, which is a concept we all definitely know well. Veronica has already returned from New York, not missing a beat despite staying in the city a little longer. She ordered a special gem, hoping she can use the commission to start paying back Chad’s investors. Smithers fills her in on what happened while she was gone and Veronica immediately rushes to check on Archie. She tries to see how he is, but he only briefly sums it all up in order to ask her about things with Chad.

Veronica expresses that Chad threw her a curveball and says legally, it’s better if Archie doesn’t know the details. Archie’s obviously hurt and confused by everything and Veronica apologizes, but he suggests they keep their distance until things between her and her husband are done; only wanting to be friends until the papers are signed. This decision is a good one for the couple though, because it automatically dissolves the idea that they reunited too fast or that their relationship is rushed. Veronica agrees, though she’s not thrilled with the idea, before Archie fills her in on his plans for the time being– rounding up the remaining convicts from the prison.

Speaking of convicts, Penelope shares that she started her own ministry while in prison. Cheryl and Nana Rose are clearly not amused. Penelope also reveals that she was up for early parole, meaning she’s probably not leaving any time soon, and adding that God will provide for them when they start their church. Meanwhile, Tabitha calls Betty to help her find Jughead. After hanging up, Tabitha gets to have a badass moment when someone tries to rob her at Pop’s and she hits them over the head with a botte.

Archie and Tom try to get information out of one of the convicts in the hospital, but they don’t get very far and Tom says he’ll stay with him while Archie continues his search. Veronica’s buyer for the gem comes in, but before she can make the sale, some familiar faces (Dodger and Darla) rob her store and take the gem. Hiram and the governor go on the news, announcing a reward for the safe return of the escaped prisoner and Archie decides that money is what they need to fix the school, so he takes them up on their offer, getting a list of the inmates. The governor isn’t happy with what happened and says he wants his cut of the palladium, which seems to have been their bigger plan this entire time. Hiram claims they didn’t find any under the prison, but the governor isn’t convinced.

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Veronica calls Reggie for help after the robbery, enlisting his assistance in finding her now stolen gem. This conversation leads to a revelation that fans have been dying for: why is Reggie working for Hiram? Reggie’s father got into some money troubles and Hiram helped. Reggie is working to pay off his father’s debt. Veronica tries to get him to switch sides and stand with the good guys, but Reggie doesn’t entertain the idea, only saying he’ll help her find the rock for old times sake. Veronica and Reggie’s dynamic together continues to be one of the best of the series and this storyline just shows why they need to team up more often. Tabitha fills Betty in on what happened with Jughead, leading to Betty agreeing to help despite Jughead not being her problem anymore because of Polly’s disappearance, obviously not wanting to lose anyone else.

Darla dresses as a nurse to kill the inmate at the hospital, knocking Tom out in the process. Betty and Tabitha visit the bunker, finding Jughead’s phone and manuscript. Betty suggests they read it, hoping there’s some clues in it. Next, we finally get to see Jughead, who is out on the street, trying to keep warm by a fire. A group of men attack him and we see him seemingly pass out. The whole interaction is painful to watch. Mary is trying to get Frank an early release and Archie suggests that helping to find the other prisoners might help the case, adding another member to their team. Tom isn’t answering any of Kevin’s calls, despite the fact that he was supposed to meet the group at Archie’s, but Kevin tries to brush past it and encourages them to move forward with the plan.

Betty reaches out to Jessica on Jughead’s phone, who seven years later still has the same passcode, hoping that the other female might have heard from Jughead about where he was going. Jessica is thrilled to hear from “THE Betty” and insists on coming up to help them, seemingly leading to a trio effort to find Jughead. Penelope’s church is also in full swing, Cheryl interrupting to ask who “He” is and her mother reveals that him as Jason, claiming he was a sacrifice for the sins of the town. Collecting money from those attending, Cheryl clearly sees it’s a scam.

Going to the spot Fangs suggested, Archie discovers a bunch of convicts hiding out. Although, they aren’t prepared when one of them pulls out a gun. Luckily, Reggie saves the day just in time, forcing the convict to drop the gun as the group gathers them up to take them in. Archie questions why Veronica’s here and she fills him in on what happened to her gem. Dodger had been there, but slipped out right before they got there. Veronica asks Archie to get her Opal back, but Archie finally addresses the elephant in the room; he brings up her going to New York, adding how he didn’t want her to go, and her possibly spending the night with Chad, who still hasn’t signed the divorce papers.

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She apologizes again for Chad, still not telling him the reason that she needs the Opal so badly, but reasons that he’s going after Darla and Dodger anyway. Doc is the one who found Jughead and saved him, leading to a flashback of Jughead telling his former classmates at Stonewall Prep about a guy named Doc staying up all night to look after him when he was younger. One night, a bunch of business men beat the life out of him, but Jughead didn’t help. The situation is obviously identical and it’s obvious Doc didn’t die, but Jughead tells him that his name is Henry, afraid that Doc will remember him.

One of the criminals force Hiram to call the governor about the palladium, claiming he also wants his share and clear that it’s a much bigger situation than we originally thought. Betty, Tabitha, and Jessica go to Archie’s garage to see Jughead’s room and they search it, but don’t actually find anything. Next up, they head to Riverdale High, checking his desk, under the stairs, and the teacher’s lounge. When that all comes up empty, Jessica insists they take her back to the bunker. Cheryl calls Penelope out, delivering a really powerful speech about how her mother took away her belief in something eternal with her continued gaslighting. She ends it by saying any faith she had went up in flames at Jason’s funeral, which is a really devastating reveal with all she’s been through.

Veronica gets a call from Ted, the inmate we just saw with her father, claiming him and his associates have taken Hiram, the governor, and Sheriff Keller hostage. He reveals that they dug palladium out of the ground for Hiram and now they want their share. Hiram tells Veronica where they are and that there’s only three of them before adding not to cooperate. Dodger shoots the governor and at the threat of her father being the next one shot as well as the revelation that they have her gem, she agrees to get the palladium in return for Hiram, Tom, the governor, and her Opal. The scene ends with Veronica asking Reggie what he knows about her father’s quest for the palladium.

Kevin is officially beginning to worry due to his father still being MIA, but Fangs tries to assure him that they’ll find him. Veronica calls Archie to fill him in and they agree to meet at Hiram’s office; the palladium is hidden in a safe behind Hiram’s portrait. Archie grabs the tools from his truck and they manage to get the safe out of the wall. Jessica reveals that she’s been actually looking for Jughead’s manuscript the whole time, Betty revealing they have it from the first time they searched it. After Tabitha assures her they didn’t find anything in the manuscript, Jessica suggests they stay in the bunker and trip the same way Jughead did.

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Betty and Tabitha are on the same page, clearly sensing that Jessica has ulterior motives, but Jessica backtracks and says she’ll just return to New York in case Jughead goes back. But first, she wants a dinner at Pop’s. Jughead wakes up to Doc getting beat once again, but this time, he manages to save him. Although, he ends up collapsing again, obviously still extremely weak.

Veronica calls Ted, telling him they found the palladium, but need Hiram’s combination. Ted insists Veronica makes the delivery instead of Archie, who silently tells her not to agree in the background. She makes the deal anyway and when she hangs up, the group makes a plan for Veronica to distract them for enough time for the boys to go in through the roof. Cheryl takes a look at what is seemingly Jason’s remains, but as she goes to walk away, a red cardinal makes an appearance, filling her with hope.

Jessica buys Betty and Tabitha dinner, trying to place blame for Jughead’s disappearance on Tabitha before the subject of Betty’s cheating comes to light. To defend herself and prove Jughead isn’t innocent, she plays the voicemail her ex left her two years ago. Jughead starts off by asking where she is, obviously upset and either drunk or on some form of drugs. He states how Betty said she would come to his release party, but she bailed and claims she’s been blowing him off for years. He adds how he sees her now the way he should’ve seen her seven years ago, as someone who looks for weak spots to press on them like a bruise. The example he uses is, of course, Archie, the one person who would hurt both him and Veronica. Calling her cold, among other things, he ends it by stating everyone else will see the same after his book.

Jessica says she was living with Jughead at that point, adding things were good for a while, but his writing deadlines sent him spiraling into destructive behavior. She also admits that they weren’t good for each other, most likely bringing out the worst in each other during these hard points as she experienced the same. The conversation ends there when Tabitha begins to feel hot, leading to Jessica finally confessing that she drugged them by putting the mushrooms on the fries she brought. She takes them to the bunker, telling them she wants to read the manuscript to make sure that Jughead didn’t write about her or their time together in New York.

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Betty gives her the manuscript and Jessica tells them to ride the trip out together rather than fight it. In true Riverdale fashion, Jessica turning on music for them in the bunker leads to an insane montage of the different storylines. Penelope and Cheryl sing a duet at their church, while Betty and Tabitha sing and dance to the same song in the bunker. Veronica brings the safe to the El Royale, distracting the group as promised. 30 seconds later, Archie, Reggie, Kevin, Fangs, and Frank come down from the roof like Batman and we’re thrown into a fight scene to go along with the singing montage. Veronica gets her Opal back and Cheryl sees Jason, seeming to regain her faith in something greater.

After, Archie and Veronica end up at Pop’s, Archie commenting on how that stone must be worth a lot. She tells him when the governor is awake, they’ll be asking for his uncle to get a full pardon before the two discuss their previous decision to hold off on their relationship. Archie sticks by it, but he admits he is “torn.” Veronica ends the talk by sharing her motivation to make the divorce happen as soon as possible and a final “I’ll be seeing you soon, Archie.” Hiram visits the governor in the hospital, threatening the other man and informing him that he won’t be sharing the palladium. The next morning, Doc tells Jughead to head home, but Jughead says he can’t. When questioned why, Jughead says something horrible happened in New York and he needs to find out what it is.

Jughead admits who he really is to Doc, but Doc already knew. He apologizes for what happened and the older man assures him that he was just a kid. Jughead thanks him and says he’ll come back to see him, making the whole storyline for this episode a really healing one and a full circle moment for the character. Betty and Tabitha finally wake up, Betty remembering that she gave Jessica the manuscript before Tabitha adds that she played the voicemail too. Tabitha promises that it’s okay and it’ll be their secret, adding that even though they didn’t find Jughead, she’d like to help Betty find the missing girls. This is definitely a beautiful way to start their friendship outside of Jughead.

Jughead left Tabitha a voicemail, which she plays on speaker for her and Betty to listen to. He apologizes for not calling and tells her not to blame herself for him wandering off. He expresses how he needs to go confront something in New York while we see him flagging down a truck on the highway. Lastly, as Jughead gets in the truck, he adds how maybe they can finish their dance once he gets back.

New episodes of Riverdale will continue airing on Wednesdays at 8PM ET on The CW.