Riverdale, you keep upping your game as we move through the final season. Tonight, you have us wondering just what we will see. Will we see “Dirty Dancing?” “Hairspray?” “American Bandstand?” These are all movies I love or television shows geared to my generation. There are signs from the preview that it will have “Hairspray” elements but “American Bandstand” what also used in that show. And will Betty be “put in the corner” as Babe was in “Dirty Dancing?” The dancing will have me intrigued as none of these young adults have been exposed to it!
The Aftermath and Repercussions
Well, I wondered if there would be repercussions and there are. Mr. Cooper has told Alice that Betty was dancing in a negligee while Archie watched. Alice starts calling parents and they all get upset. Mary won’t talk to Archie but Frank will explain that what Archie did was normal for a boy his age. Alice tells Betty to keep away from Archie and that she will be dancing on Riverdale Grandstand (American Bandstand—first reference). Ronnie’s parents got a call about Ronnie's part in all this, and she’s been cut off from her allowance and must work at the Babylonium theater.
What about Kevin and Jughead? Were there repercussions for them? Well, Sheriff Kline found the men's magazine and questions what is going on with Kevin. Sheriff Kline decides that Kevin needs to be with “the guys” and so convinces Frank to put Kevin on the team. Frank tells Archie that the Sheriff thinks that will help Kevin be more manly. Jughead, while upset that he’s lost the friendship of Mr. Rayberry, has more problems than he knows. The principal and guidance counselor called him in and tell him to stop writing the violent comics or he will be expelled from school. Jughead is proud of his work but the two adults see it on the same level as pornography.
Aftermath and Riverdale Grandstand
At school the next day, Archie gets cheers and Betty gets rude looks and comments. Later, Ronnie and Betty talk during gym. Cheryl enters and she’s dance captain on Riverdale Grandstand (shades of Hairspray starting?). She gives Betty the rules which include no kissing and no groping. Meanwhile, in the boy’s basketball practice, they are interrupted by Kevin’s arrival. Frank accepts Kevin as a member of the team, but Julian isn’t happy. Ronnie goes to work only to find out that the movie theater, The Babylonium, is in danger of closing. They have a skeleton crew.
Riverdale Grandstand has a disk jockey and Alice at the music podium controlling the show. Cheryl has a geek picked out to dance with Betty. Betty doesn’t want to dance but must and with Cheryl’s pick. Archie works on his bike and Frank enters to tell him that Sheriff Kline wants Frank, Archie, and the team to get Kevin into sports and with the guys to straighten Kevin out. Archie talks to Kevin (who is with Clay) and invites him to hang out. Kevin doesn’t want to and before practice, they talk. Archie wants to know what is going on. They’ve known each other since kindergarten. Kevin doesn’t think they have anything in common. Kevin tells Archie that he just wants to be himself. After practice, Julian is talking about another team member who has gone “all the way.” Julian wants to know who will be next. Julian goads Kevin into saying that he will. Kevin’s scared but what can he do?
Jughead has skipped school and gone to Pep. Mr. Rayberry (could they mean Bradbury as in the author, Ray Bradbury) comes in to get his check cashed. Seems Rayberry is smart. He doesn’t trust the bank. Jughead again apologizes and Mr. Rayberry wants to know why Jug isn’t at school. Later, at Pop’s, they talk and Mr. Rayberry accepts Jughead’s apology and agrees to be his mentor. There is a condition. Jughead returns to school. Mr. Rayberry says it is a Freudian knot. They decide that Jughead will continue to write comics like Super Duck and write violent ones under a pen name.
zAt the theater, Ronnie is talking to Nick and he has pipe dreams about filming movies. Ronnie doesn’t like being in front of cameras but near them. They decide Ronnie will produce and Nick will film. Ronnie suggests that the owner do a commercial to build traffic to the theater. She and Nick do one where Ronnie says to return to the theater for the magic. The owner loves it but there’s a problem. Ronnie’s parents are buying the theater to turn it into a parking lot (oh, I hope this means Hiram will return).
Cheryl’s parents own the television station so of course she and Julian (and Penelope) do a commercial for Blossom syrup. The kids go back to dancing. What. This isn’t dancing, it’s pretend. Alice can bump the DJ but the kids have to keep a distance. Troy asks Betty for a dance and she agrees (wasn’t there a Troy in Hairspray?). Anyway, Troy comes on to Betty who slaps him. Of course, the camera catches it. Of course, Betty gets blamed. Alice won’t let her off the show but will tell the boys they cannot dance with Betty.
Kevin has his own dilemma. He must have sex and asks Archie for advice. Archie admits to being a virgin also and they decide to use the woman who Julian had sex with. When Kevin arrives, she’s waiting and tries to get Kevin to dance. He breaks down in tears.
Jughead and Mr. Rayberry have come up with a plan. They visit the principal and the guidance counselor. The principal isn’t happy that Mr. Rayberry has become Jughead’s mentor. Mr. Rayberry explains the comics Jughead will write and that he (Rayberry) will serve as Jughead’s mentor. Jughead will continue to write for Pep with a comic called Super Duck (and produces a copy). Mr. Rayberry points out it's not porn but the counselor and principal don’t seem happy. Mr. Rayberry says that if they keep pressuring Jughead, he and his mentee will file a lawsuit and take it to the Supreme Court. Jughead returns to school but I’m even more suspicious about these two who are in charge of Riverdale High. Oh, and Mr. Rayberry later tells Jughead he’s going to release his book.
At Pop’s, Archie sees Betty and asks if Kevin is “girly.” Betty tells Archie that she won’t kiss and tell and Archie lets slip what Kevin is doing. She makes Archie think and he goes to get Kevin who he finds sitting on the bed. The woman tells Archie that nothing happened and comes on to Archie. He refuses and helps Kevin up and out. Of course, she assumes Archie is gay also. At the school, they sit on the steps. Kevin is upset and wants to know why Archie came. Archie tells Kevin that Archie felt he had to stop Kevin before he became scarred for life. He asks Archie what will he tells the guys and Archie says they will come up with something and Archie will back him up to the guys.
At home, Ronnie is upset and then suddenly she looks at a painting on her wall. She realizes that it is worth a lot of money. She’s going to sell that painting and buy the Babylonia. The next day, she gives the painting to the movie theater’s owner in exchange for the movie theater. At home, she asks the butler to send a message to her parents that she is now the proud owner of the theater and to forget the parking lot.
Kevin goes home where his father is waiting. Sheriff Kline had started the plan to have Kevin lose his virginity. He knows all that happened. Sheriff Kline storms off upset. The next morning at breakfast, Frank tells Archie that Kevin has quit the team. Sheriff Kline had called. Archie leaves the table without finishing breakfast which makes Frank ask why. Archie says he has no appetite. At school, Archie walks up to Kevin and Clay and asks them to have lunch. They can talk about anything because Archie likes poetry and drama also.
Betty and Archie are in the student lounge and Cheryl enters with an invitation to Riverdale Grandstand. It seems her parents want more fresh faces on camera, so Cheryl is handing out invitations. Betty and Archie talk about the false image that Riverdale Grandstand is presenting. They both feel that the show presents everyone as being perfect, peachy keen, and doing no wrong. In other words, boring and not as they really are. The image isn’t true. Parents (adults) are dictating everything about the kids’ lives. Betty has an idea, and I don’t think she told Archie.
That afternoon, Alice and the DJ are at the podium and Cheryl and Julian are on camera. Ronnie and Archie are dancing and Betty has to watch. Alice even goes so far as to stick her tongue out at Betty. They announce that it’s time for a new dance, the Swirl. Of course, Cheryl and four others come up to perform it. All the dance consists of is turning in circles. I’d get dizzy. Suddenly, Betty comes up and tells all that she’s going to show the audience (and dancers) what the Swirl is really like. She starts turning in circles with her dress rising higher and higher. Wait a minute. My parents were teens in the 50s and they didn’t dance like that! My dad was the jitterbug champ. As Betty “swirls,” her skirt rises higher and higher until you see her panties and bare skin. Alice stops the filming by going to a commercial (another Hairspray reference). All leave but Alice and Betty who have a heart-to-heart. Alice yells at Betty and is very upset with her. Betty tells Alice to let her off the show and Alice does. Alice tells Betty that she’s broken Alice’s heart. And of course, the control force meet Betty at school the next day. The counselor calls Betty in for a meeting. He tells her that Alice is concerned about Betty’s actions recently. Betty tells him that she has a mind and desires of her own. The counselor is trying to decide what to do with Betty.
Jughead meanwhile is writing all the time. He does his Pep work but he’s also working on a novel it seems about high school. He goes to show Rayberry who seems happy. When Jughead leaves, a mysterious-looking stranger (and it definitely isn’t FP!).
The basketball team starts playing. And did Jughead mention dope? Okay, I’ve been through body organ cults, Dungeon and Dragons, and so many other strange plot twists. Fans of the show know villains are always trying to control the gang. As I see it now, we need to watch the principal and counselor as they are the real ones behind the control while the parents have lessons to learn. The gang will “bend to justice” everything but at what cost to the adults?
Also, subscribe to my free, daily Too Much TV newsletter at toomuchtv.substack.com