This week’s movie tie-in title of Riverdale, “House of the Devil”, is tenuous at best. The 2009 film focused on a young woman hired to babysit for a couple but after finding old family photographs of a different family, she begins to believe the new owners murder the previous owners (which then turns into a film about witchcraft). Here, the house that the Black Hood led Betty to is investigated by Veronica and Archie and they find old photos of the family that was murdered there by the Riverdale Reaper that reveal a new twist to the case (and there’s no witchcraft).
Ever since Candyman told Jughead about the Reaper, he’s been determined to learn if the Reaper may be the Black Hood, and after he tells Betty about the Conway family that was murdered in the house in Fox Woods, aka the Devil’s House, they both want to know more. But Jughead is a bit distracted by the news of his dad’s impending release from prison — thank you Penny Peabody, now please go away! — so they ask Archie and Veronica if they will pick up the investigation for them. And they do. They ask Sheriff Keller if he knows anything, but that case would have been under the previous sheriff’s purview and he’s dead … and his daughter does not want to speak about the case any more.
So Archie and Ronnie go to the house and, tracing the steps of the Reaper, find a case full of the late sheriff’s files on the murders. Why they’d be at the house is anyone’s guess, but it sure is convenient. Up until now, the story of the Conway killings referred only to the parents and two children, but there was a third child who survived, Joseph, and learning he was adopted by a family with the name Svenson, the teen sleuths dug through some school photos and found a match … which just happened to be the creepy janitor who’d apparently been stalking Josie in the last episode. If Joseph witnessed the murder of his family, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched that it messed him up enough to be the Black Hood, but upon confronting him Archie realized that Svenson’s eyes were not green so he’s off the suspect list. And hopefully he was scared enough to stop creeping up on Josie (he even accidentally walked into the girls’ locker room while Josie and Cheryl were getting dressed, interrupting Cheryl’s attempts to give Josie a shoulder massage … which disturbed Josie more than the janitor did). But we’re still no closer in determining if the Reaper and the Hood are one and the same (and, by the by, was it too convenient that Hal Cooper is out of town and there have been no murders or letters from the Black Hood?).
While the Reaper investigation hit a dead end, things were looking up for FP. He’s freshly sprung from jail and ready to turn over a new leaf. But the world of the Serpents is crashing down on the Coopers with Betty revealing to her mother that Jughead is now a full-fledged Serpent, and Alice not really being able to judge since she had been one herself. And the fact that Betty wants to be “Serpent-adjacent” to keep an eye on Juggie is worrisome, because there is no such thing as a part-time Serpent. If she wants in, Betty is going to have to go through her own ritual … but it won’t involve anyone punching her in the face.
Just to make sure FP is on the up and up, Alice volunteers to go with Betty and Jughead to pick him up and she then grills him with a list of questions to which he has an answer — he’s not going back to the Serpents and he’s attending AA meetings, and he’s going to get a job (he ends up being a bus boy at Pop’s where Cheryl acts like a total bitch to him, still holding a grudge over her brother’s death). FP even agrees to let Jughead stay in the Serpents as long as he keeps writing. Betty even suggests throwing him a “retirement” party to help FP put the Serpents behind him once and for all.
But Jughead has one major problem on his hands — Penny Peabody, who summons him again for another job. Jughead refuses and tells her that if she doesn’t leave him alone, he will expose her to the mayor but Penny has one ace up her sleeve: the video of Jughead and Archie delivering the crate to Greendale. And she knows all about Juggie’s girlfriend Betty, which leaves him visibly shaken. And Alice isn’t thrilled with Betty’s decision to get so close to the Serpents, letting FP know exactly how she feels. He tells her to come to the party as a chaperone to make sure Betty stays out of trouble.
While all this is going on, Ronnie and Archie have been wrestling with a serious issue — in a complete moment of relaxation, Archie let slip the L-word and it totally blew up in his face. Ronnie pretty much shut down and Archie had to find a way to put that genie back in the bottle. Not helping matters is the fact that Archie signed the two up to perform “Mad World” at the party. There, Alice make a grand entrance all Serpented up, telling FP she’s disappointed that she couldn’t get Betty to dress for the occasion. That Alice sure is sending some mixed signals!
Things are going well enough until Archie and Veronica sing, but the lyrics are just too much and Ronnie dashes off the stage. Archie follows leaving no one to finish the song so Betty steps up for another verse and then … takes to the stripper pole, initiating herself into the Serpents and horrifying her mother, who storms out. Jughead ain’t too happy about it either. And to make matters worse, FP announces he’s not retiring, instead returning to lead the Serpents once again (even if it does violate the terms of his release).
As Jughead’s world falls apart around his ears, FP pulls him aside and confesses that he has to do this to save his son from Penny, and that Jughead broke his heart by not heeding his advice about her. Now he wants Jughead to leave, and FP will take on whatever debt Jughead owes to Penny. Stunned, and still angry with Betty — who doesn’t realize what adverse effect her actions would have — Jughead tells her they’re done and to go home. At the same time, Veronica, who realizes she’s never heard her parents say “I love you” to each other, admits to Archie that she just can’t say it to him either, putting another couple on the rocks.
But the episode ends almost as the series had begun, with a boy spotting a girl next door through their bedroom windows, and they lock eyes as if it was the first time.
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