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NOC Recap: ‘Riverdale’ Serves Up This Season’s Triptych Episode

Riverdale -- “Chapter Ninety: The Night Gallery” -- Image Number: RVD514fg_0047r -- Pictured: Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

“Chapter Ninety: The Night Gallery” begins the road to healing for a trio of characters. 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 5×14.

MÄDCHEN AMICK DIRECTS THE EPISODE — Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) enlists the help of Archie (KJ Apa), Kevin (Casey Cott), Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner) and Reggie (Charles Melton) after she learns there is palladium underneath her maple groves. Meanwhile, Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Alice (Mädchen Amick) confront a trucker who may have been involved in Polly’s disappearance. Elsewhere, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Archie each confront events from their past.

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In this season’s triptych episode, Cheryl acts as our guide. Minerva is back, representing us, the audience as we listen to the different stories told by the redhead. She brings up the time Cheryl nearly sacrificed her, but in the name of art, we’re moving past that for the time being. The first painting depicts a hero, Archie, leading us into our first story of the episode. After last episode, we see Archie finally getting some help for his anxiety and trauma. He immediately denies any pills, leading them to try some other treatments. He tells the story of losing Bingo and Apa does a fantastic job with the emotional content.

Cheryl then comes to the Andrews resident, requesting Andrews’ construction harvest the palladium in her mines. Naturally, this leads to Cheryl making the best comment of the episode when Archie responds that he’s not a miner, consider he’s just about every other job possible in the town. The crew consists of Archie, Reggie, Jackson, Fangs, Kevin, and Uncle Frank. We get a small moment between Reggie and Archie as they head in, Reggie asking if the redhead is okay, but of course Archie insists he’s good. Kevin tries to stay in the mines while the others take their lunch break, but Archie immediately goes back in to get him, not wanting any of them to be in there alone. Archie has another vivid hallucination, but ends up finding Kevin along with the palladium he discovered. At the next therapy session, Archie ends up deciding to take the medication due to his latest flashback in the mines, wanting to be reliable for his crew.

Reggie questions if any of the others heard about the Mothmen and we get the tiniest Jarchie crumb as Archie mentions Jughead investigating them and seeing his sketches. Fangs tells the tale he heard, but afterwards, Archie shuts down the storytelling so they can work. It is interesting to see them all acknowledge one of the other storylines that they’re not necessarily involved in. In the mines, Archie hears who he thinks is Jackson, but when he tries to help him, he’s actually one of the Mothmen. He tells his uncle that someone’s messing with his head, hitting his breaking point as he confronts his therapist. He’s convinced that the drugs were for some sort of experiment, demanding answers until one of the other patients gets him to leave the office. He tries to tell Jackson not to see the doctor anymore, but Jackson insists they both need to deal with their baggage.

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The crew has decided Archie should take the day off after yesterday’s episode and despite not wanting to, he agrees. Though, after hearing screaming coming from the mines, he quickly rushes inside. He discovers Kevin, Fangs, and Reggie all hallucinating before managing to get through to Reggie to get them all out of the mines. He finds Jackson attacking Frank, knocking him out before getting them out too. The hallucinations were being caused by carbon monoxide. He goes to Doctor Winters to apologize and beg her to keep seeing him, confessing that a lot of men died on his command and now he’s seeing all of them. The doctor says she’s scared of being alone with him due to his behavior and if the hallucinations are that bad, he shouldn’t be around anyone.

Next, we have Betty’s story, picking up with her and Tabitha at Pop’s. Betty insists they can’t hand the man over to the authorities before adding that Tabitha should take a step back. She agrees, but says she is there if Betty needs any backup. When introducing herself, she says she’s with the FBI, but the man immediately calls out the flaws in her statement. After he mockingly asks who hurt Betty, we see a flashback of her time in captivity with TBK, leading to Betty’s exit, seeing they’re not making any progress. She collects the pictures of the missing girls from her files before showing them all to the suspected killer.

Of course, she doesn’t manage to get anything real out of him, who sends Betty to dig up a grave with dog bones. Turns out, he knows who Betty is and that she’s looking for Polly. He seems to admit to hunting the women, though it’s unclear if Polly was one of them. Betty requests her mother’s help, thinking maybe by seeing Polly’s grieving mother will get through to him. Alice agrees, doing just that, but the man only seems to enjoy it. She attacks him, only leaving when Betty pulls her off. Betty tries to brainstorm her next move, but Alice simply tells her daughter to kill their suspect, adding that she gives her permission. Betty insists there’s one more thing she wants to try first.

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Betty tells the killer that she knows her sister is dead, but that she wants to know where she is. He refuses, leading Betty to repeat the words that the TBK told her when he wanted her to suffer. The man then asks if Polly had blue eyes, had an infinity symbol tattoo, and went by the name Patty, basically confirming he or someone he knew did it, but when Betty asks if he remembers her, he tells her not in the least. She exists, grabbing a chainsaw and heading back in the room, but by that point, the man has killed himself.

Alice asks her daughter if she went through with it, but Betty shares that he did it himself. As Betty states, it’s unclear if he did it out of fear or guilt, but now they’ll never know. All they can do now is wait, no step closer to finding Polly. Alice says she does feel better, commenting that they probably saved some lives. Betty says that she does too, but she thinks there’s more killers out there, possibly even a family of them killing together.

Lastly, we get into Jughead’s story. We start with him at an AA meeting at Riverdale High, back from his trip to New York. He fills us in on his time in college after he graduated, leading us to what we can assume is the point he started to drink in order to write. He sends his novel to literary agents in New York and one of them actually gets back to him. Jughead wins himself an agent with his work and the first person he calls to tell the news to is Betty, though he comments how he was unsure if she was actually going to pick up. Betty congratulates him, asking if he’s going to celebrate with his friends, but we see that isn’t the case because he doesn’t seem to have any. He lies to Betty, assuring her they are later. After that, he moves to New York to become a real writer. We see more of Jughead and Jessica, starting off with her getting Jughead some maple mushrooms. It manages to push him to finish the novel and his agent predicts it is going to be a YA hit.

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He confesses that the year before the release was a whirlwind, adding how even though he was with Jessica, he was still hung up on Betty. He texts the blonde to ask if she’s still going to come to his book release and she insists that she wouldn’t miss it for the world. That leads him to text back that it’s going to be a great night, but that all quickly falls apart when Betty calls him to say she isn’t going to be able to make it. Beyond drunk, possibly on drugs, and stumbling on the street, he leaves what he calls a “super toxic” voicemail. It’s definitely a painful scene to watch, despite already hearing it.

After leaving the voicemail, he wakes up in a hospital room, Jessica by his side. He was out for a few days, but it wasn’t enough of a wake up call to stop the bad habits. We fast forward to Archie calling, Jughead acknowledging that despite being back in his hometown, something was still eating away at him and he was still heavily drinking. Hitting rock bottom was finally his breaking point, needing to go back to New York for answers. He found out he had been treated for rabies and Jessica fills him in on what she knows. She says he had been yelling about a rat king when they found him. The truth is that he fell down a sink hole in the pavement, never even making it to his release party. Wanting to vanish, he stayed, even setting up a cot for him to sleep.

The “rat king” had shown up and we see Jughead plead for his life by telling him stories. The rat king tells Jughead he wants him to stay underground with him and Jughead was eager for the escape. He then shares how Betty came to visit him, getting him to leave before the city floods the sewer. He says Betty walked behind him, helping him get out, comparing it to the Greek myth of the two young lovers escaping the underworld together. He does find the light, the cops finding him, and taking him to the hospital. Jughead adds how he was infected, though he didn’t know it at the time. Betty had saved him once again.

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How much of it actually happened? Jughead visited the sewer, finding the place he had previously been. He even discovers a copy of his book, revealing that the story of the rat king and his captive was something he had completely made up and written. The rat king had been a distraction from the real trauma of what had happened. He had fallen in the sink hole, but lost consciousness. When he woke up, he couldn’t scream for help because there had been rats covering his entire body.

Jughead then begins discussing how alone the whole thing made him feel. The night that was supposed to be a celebration ended up being one of the darkest points in his life and no one had missed him. We see the character finally coming to terms with what has happened in his life and wanting better. Sprouse does an amazing job with the content and this is probably one of the most well done recovery stories the show has done so far. Step one, getting his drinking under control, is being handled and now he can begin healing.

Minerva compliments Cheryl on the showing, who ends it with one final painting of the two of them. They both reveal there are still feelings between them, but Minerva says she is leaving the country in the morning. However, before that has to happen, they kiss, seemingly spending one last night together.

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

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