NOC Recap: ‘Rivervale’ Tells Three Chilling and Surprisingly Emotional Ghost Stories

“Chapter Ninety-Seven: Ghost Stories” tells three different tales, testing some of our favorite characters and couples.

Riverdale stars KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Mӓdchen Amick, Casey Cott, 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 6×02.

THE HAUNTING OF RIVERVALE — A vengeful spirit from folklore, La Llorona arrives in Rivervale to terrorize the rainy town. Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) find themselves in the specter’s path and must seek Cheryl’s (Madelaine Petsch) help to protect the children in Rivervale, including Baby Anthony. Meanwhile, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook), along with Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Reggie (Charles Melton), experience their own hauntings that begin to put a strain on their respective relationships.

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Ready for a ghost story? How about three? To start off, we see Toni accidentally kill Darla Dickenson’s son during a fight between the Serpents and Ghoulies. We then skip three months ahead to see Toni in therapy, clearly still struggling with what she did. It’s a refreshing setting and also something that fans will be happy about considering Toni did not get a session back in season four’s therapy episode. Seeing the character’s vulnerability for once is absolutely beautiful.

In a creepy scene, we see La Llorona rise from the water and enter the town of Rivervale. Cheryl informs Nana Rose that the maple trees are bursting, meaning their sacrifice worked. Dagwood makes an appearance, running to tell his aunt that his sister needs help. We then realize La Llorona is trying to drown the child, but Cheryl manages to get in before anything further can happen. She notices marks on Juniper’s arms as she comforts her and the tale is clearly just getting started. In the teacher’s lounge, Betty and Kevin are discussing baby names. They obviously decide to name it after Archie if its a boy and then Polly if the baby is a girl. Cheryl cuts them off before the conversation can go further, asking Betty to talk to Alice about taking the twins after the incident at Thornhill.

Betty then goes to Toni for help, telling her about a case where a mother drowned her daughter in a bathtub. The mother is a Serpent and Toni immediately tells the blonde that the woman would have never done this. Toni goes to speak to the mother and she reveals that it was La Llorona. Toni then explains the old folktale to Betty, but she is not convinced. Regardless, Toni does her own research on the ghost and tells the blonde how La Llorona exists in other cultures, despite the fact that there are variations of the legend. Betty doesn’t believe any of it, even with Toni’s insistence that something is wrong and their children aren’t safe.

La Llorona makes her way to Betty next and touches her stomach, going after her unborn child. At school, Toni notices water dripping on her desk and runs out into the hallway to discover La Llorona. She pulls the fire alarm and grabs the axe to fight the ghost, but La Llorona disappears before Toni can reach her, only leaving water behind. Kevin confronts her about it, but the scene cuts before we can see the rest of the conversation. The blonde goes to see Dr. Curdle after what happened the night before and we find out that Betty is no longer pregnant. He tries to tell her it was probably a hysterical pregnancy, but Betty isn’t convinced and finally believes what Toni has told her.

The two have a sweet phone call, Betty telling Toni that she is going to help her and Toni showing concern for the other female, sensing something happened. One of the more surprising moments of the episodes is when a social worker shows up on a wellness check for baby Anthony, saying she got an anonymous call. Toni has her suspicions on who called as she tries to defend herself and her parenting, but meanwhile La Llorona has reached Anthony. The baby cries out and Toni finds him on the floor in a puddle of water.

Betty comes over to talk to Toni and Fangs about her new discovery: La Llorona has a pattern and is following a specific line. They all come to the agreement that La Llorona’s target is Anthony and Toni’s next stop is Cheryl’s to contact the ghost. Fangs is in charge of taking Anthony to the rest of the Serpents to keep him safe. Cheryl, Toni, Betty, and Nana Rose gather to summon La Llorona and the ghost does come through. Possessing Nana Rose, Martha shares that she used to be a nurse in the children’s ward of Rivervale’s first hospital. She confesses how they lost many children due to circumstances out of her control, yet she was blamed. The people of the town murdered her and her children, drowning them in the Sweetwater River. La Llorona was summoned by Darla, from her son’s grave.

Toni and Betty go to the Dickenson’s grave, finding Darla and finally allowing Toni to apologize. Betty demands that the woman call La Llorona off, but Darla states that nothing will stop the ghost until Anthony is dead in her arms. The two rush to discover all of the Serpents on the ground, water soaking all of them. Fangs tells his girlfriend that La Llorona has taken their son to the river.

They find the ghost with Anthony and Toni speaks to La Llorona as if she is a human being, saying how she knows Martha and her children were innocent and apologizing for what happened to her. She asks for mercy, but La Llorona says she cannot return without the baby. Toni offers to take all of Martha’s suffering in order to spare her son. She reasons that this would be her punishment for killing Darla’s child. Martha gives Toni back her baby, and we see Toni emotionally hand him off to Betty. She then takes the place of La Llorona and we see flashes of Toni as a mother mixed with images of the ghost. After that, Toni reveals her face, taking one last look at her baby and asking Betty to tell Anthony that his mother loved him before going into the river.

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Tabitha and Jughead are still getting used to their new life together, Tabitha heading to work at Pop’s while Jughead stays home. Jughead forgets to hang up the art like Tabitha asked, but she doesn’t make a big deal of it and begins to do it herself. Though, when she goes to hammer one of the nails, she makes a hole in the wall. They both notice a draft and find a secret room on the other side. Jughead immediately wants to turn the room into his writing area, excited by the new space.

Tabitha addresses the new room with the real-estate agent and we find out that she disclosed the fact that a young couple died in the apartment to Jughead. The news clearly shocks Tabitha and when she gets home, she sees Jughead has already done some work on the room. Tabitha comments how he still didn’t hang their paintings before asking why he didn’t tell her about what happened here. He says that he knew she was in love with the apartment before admitting he wanted to write about them and the story.

She tells Jughead that she’s not upset about the story, but that he hid it from her at all. He promises it won’t happen again before telling Tabitha that he’s starting to get inspired again. That night, Tabitha has a dream similar to the story of the former couple that lived there. We see a typing obsessed Jughead as Tabitha raises the hammer before hitting him. She shoots awake, realizing it was just a nightmare but the next morning Tabitha is once again frustrated at her boyfriend’s lack of consideration. It is clear the two are still struggling to adjust.

Pop and Tabitha discuss how she hasn’t been able to sleep lately, and Pop tells his granddaughter about how the diner also had ghosts before the riots managed to scare them off. Tabitha once again comes home to find Jughead spent the entire day trying to put a ship in a bottle. Tensions are only continuing to build, but they once again put it all on the backburner for the time being. Tabitha finds a hammer in the fridge the next morning and goes to confront Jughead about it, but he excitedly reveals that his process worked and he’s almost finished with his writing.

Tabitha asks when she can read it, but he tells her that he never lets anyone read his vomit drafts. While at Pop’s, we then discover that was a lie. Tabitha and Betty discuss Jughead, leading to the blonde sharing that she used to read her ex-boyfriend’s vomit drafts all the time. As expected, that clearly upsets Tabitha and she goes home, reading Jughead’s drafts without his permission. She quotes it back to him, assuming the words are about her, before finally letting go of everything that’s been bothering her. Jughead insists the story is about the couple who lived there before them, but Tabitha continues to point out the similarities that audiences have noticed throughout the episode’s story.

She begins to break things from the bottles of rum to Jughead’s typewriter that Betty bought him. She then picks up the hammer and glances to see the ghost of the former female in a mirror. Realizing what she is about to do, Tabitha drops the weapon and falls to the floor to tell Jughead that they are stronger than this. She then utters the three words that we haven’t heard from the couple before: she loves him. She apologizes, but all Jughead can focus on is her previous confession. He doesn’t hesitate to say it back after they both comment how they’ve been wanting to say it to each other for a while. The door then slams shut, symbolizing that the ghosts have left and their love scared them away.

They work together to board the hole in the wall back up, Tabitha asking if their fighting was because of the ghosts or them. Jughead assures her that either way, that was only their first real fight and they survived. The test only strengthened their relationship.

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It is revealed early on in the episode that Reggie’s father is not doing well and in the hospital. It’s not clear what exactly is wrong with him, but Veronica tries her best to comfort him and assure her boyfriend that he can be upset about it. Reggie shares that the father and son had been doing better in terms of their relationship, which makes it all harder to accept. He does comment about seeing his girlfriend when he gets home so it seems the couple are still together and possibly living together despite last episode’s struggles. A man then pulls up to the dealership with a car that is the same one that Reggie had back in high school, which he named Bella. Most likely looking for a distraction or a way to remember good times, he purchases the car without hesitation and starts to fix it up.

Though, fans will be taken off guard by the female in his passenger’s seat that he imagines when he first gets in. It’s an unfamiliar face and there’s clearly history there, but he’s interrupted by a phone call from Veronica before we can get any answers. When he gets home, he acts distant from Veronica, which his girlfriend notices. He then fails to show up to a meeting and when Veronica calls him to find out where he is, he lies and says he’s at the hospital. In reality, he’s at the school working on his car and the bell alerts Veronica, who goes down to see what’s going on. Reggie explains how Bella was given to him by his dad, adding how it was the greatest day of his life. Veronica is nothing but supportive of his decision, just wanting her boyfriend to feel better with everything else going on.

The couple drive out to Pop’s in Reggie’s new car, making out in the parking lot while Reggie has his old Bulldogs letterman on. Some of Veronica’s students catch them and she is upset by Reggie’s reaction, insisting they go home. The next morning, they start to discuss what happened and once again, we are given another piece of how Rivervale and Riverdale’s pasts are strangely similar. Veronica brings up what Chuck did to her on their date back in season one.

Veronica ends up calling her sister, who tells her that Reggie is most likely going through a quarter life crisis. Hermosa then says that she should cut Reggie some slack and that seems to get through to her. She goes to hang new dice in the car, only to discover a picture of the female we saw earlier in the episode. Going to confront him, Veronica runs into Principal Weatherbee, who instantly recognizes the woman as a former teacher. The woman was a driver’s ed teacher until she allegedly had inappropriate relationships with male students. And just like that, we realize who his car was named after.

Veronica texts Reggie, who comes to meet her, only to discover that Bella has been smashed up. He immediately questions it and the raven haired female brings up her new discovery. Reggie denies all of it, saying they never did anything, and that Bella was the only adult he could trust and tell about his father’s abuse. They unfortunately don’t go much deeper with this storyline, moving on to an even more emotional moment as Reggie tells Veronica that he just got back from the hospital where his dad died twenty minutes prior. Veronica drops everything to go comfort him. This leads to what might be one of my favorite moments between the pair as she tells him that she will always be there for him and that it’s just them, as it should be. He leans his head on her and breaks down.

We see Veronica has stepped up to handle everything with the funeral, telling everything to a very numb looking Reggie. She tries her best to cheer him up, showing him that she bought him a new car, saying they could take it for a spin together that night. He does thank her, but is clearly still struggling and she grabs his hand, asking if they’re going to be okay. He assures her that nothing will come between them, though audiences are left wondering if that will truly be the case.

This story’s ending is probably the most frustrating, though one can only hope it isn’t actually an ending and will be addressed in another episode. We see Reggie in his car, looking down at the picture of Bella before he sees her again in his backseat.

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Now how do you possibly tie together all of those stories? Have Jughead narrate an ending, of course. He informs us that the next time a “weeping woman” rises from Sweetwater River, a different soul will take her path, one that begins and ends in Rivervale.

New episodes of Riverdale’s special five episode event will continue to air Tuesdays at 9 PM on The CW.