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'Riverdale' recap: Leader of the crack

Price Peterson
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Photos: The CW

Warning: This recap of the “Chapter Nineteen: Death Proof” episode of Riverdale  contains spoilers.

Sometime after the 80th or 90th phone call from a serial shooter, you have to start sending it to voicemail. For one thing, who has the time, and for another, it’s not like he’s all that great at murdering people. Betty Cooper is a good person and wants no further bloodshed in Riverdale, but she also needs eight straight hours of sleep and also to do her homework, and who even knows how long it takes to brush that hair. Point being, active killer or not, sooner or later you have to get your priorities straight, and following the whims of a masked weirdo should not be one of them. But maybe that’s all the more reason to take Sheriff Keller the Black Hood down? To be able to finally get regular everyday life stuff done.

“Chapter Nineteen: Death Proof” had drag racing, blackmail, urban legends, drugs, and even litter removal! It was a good episode and we should talk about it.

We began with an extremely sleep-deprived goodgirl who’d just gotten her first taste of honor killing, and it did not taste very good!

Betty had been bullied into naming the next “sinner” that the Black Hood would knock off, and by the next morning she was already having regrets about possibly causing the death of another human, no matter how date-rapey he’d been. Fortunately, upon running over to the Five Seasons Hotel (LOL) at the crack of dawn, Betty discovered that Cheryl’s would-be rapist, Nick, was not only still alive, he was being arrested by Sheriff Keller! A regular, nonlethal form of justice was being served this day, but that’s several hours of sleep Betty would not be getting back. Foiling shootings was getting exhausting.

Toni slept over at Jughead’s after they’d mouth-attacked each other the night before. You might’ve assumed from their slinky sleepwear and knowing smirks in the morning that they’d done sex, but they had not! In fact, Toni informed him that it was OK they kept it PG-13 because to be quite honest she prefers ladies. OK! Just a normal thing to say over breakfast while you still smell like each other. That settles that.

But of course Jughead and Toni’s suddenly platonic breakfast date was spotted by Archie and Betty, who immediately assumed Jughead had moved on to a new girlfriend ONE day after Betty fake-dumped him. Seemed reasonable enough to me. Maybe don’t dump your boyfriend for a questionable reason?

After some local parents and the mayor rounded up all the teens and berated them for partying at the hotel on Jingle Jangle, Josie’s mom joined Alice in getting so mad about poor people. Next thing we knew, the mayor and Sheriff Keller were raiding Jughead’s high school! Archie was able to pull Jughead to safety before he could be torn apart by police dogs, but Toni was definitely arrested. It was all very annoying to Jughead.

Yes, Jughead may have joined a gang reluctantly and that gang had beaten him in the face, neck, chest, breast, and body, but he was still proud of his south side affiliation and was now mad at Archie and his community for such ill treatment. Rich people can be such jerks sometimes.

The Black Hood had given Betty a task: If she could discover the identity of a local drug kingpin called “the Sugar Man,” he’d stop hassling her all the time. Betty correctly guessed that if there’s drugs and organized crime, it’s got to be Blossom-related, so she went and asked Cheryl directly. Cheryl had indeed heard of the Sugar Man, but in her mind it wasn’t a real person, just a terrifying boogeyman her mother used to frighten her as a child. Charming!

She even had creepy childhood drawings to prove it! Man, this family.

I loved when Betty attempted to ask Sheriff Keller about the Sugar Man and Sheriff Keller had to pretend he didn’t know why she was asking, because come on. He’s the Black Hood, right? Or is it too obvious? It FEELS very obvious and always has, but maybe that’s just misdirection. What you up to, show? How tricky we gonna be about this?

Oh, also, the falling-outs with her friends that Betty had to cause last week didn’t last long. First she made up with Veronica, and all she had to do was tell her she’d been chatting with a serial killer on the phone, and Veronica was so thrilled by the concept she demanded to help however she could. These two were never meant to be enemies, only partners in secret schemes, so this friendship was already back on track! Phew, I just wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to enjoy this show if they weren’t pals, y’know? Too tough.

I loved that the teens were all forced to pick up litter in the local park (the bad one, the one that Kevin won’t cruise in) and Hotter Reggie was boasting about his jock-bod to Josie and she wasn’t mad about it.

Is this going to be a couple? I would not mind! Whatever gets Josie more screentime works for me!

I also loved that the drug dealer Veronica and Betty staked out was dressed like a gay biker hustler from the ’70s. The gang situation in Riverdale is truly wild. Anyway, the gals traced the manufacture of Jingle Jangle to the lair of the Ghoulies, the gang with whom Jughead and his Southside Serpents were currently locked in a turf tussle. But just because we knew where the Jingle Jangle was coming from didn’t mean we knew who the Sugar Man was yet! Betty was just going to have to keep sleuthing.

Meanwhile, Cheryl’s mother had decided not to press charges against this rich rapist guy, and at first Cheryl pretended she didn’t care, but then she discovered it was because Mrs. Blossom was accepting hush money from the guy’s parents. Cheryl did not take this news well.

Cheryl’s point was a valid one: How could her mother protect her father, the man who’d murdered her own son, yet sell Cheryl out like it was no big deal? It was a lot for Cheryl to deal with.

Can’t remember what happened in this scene.

I mean look at these teens! Jughead and his co-pilot, Archie, had agreed to a drag race with the Ghoulies, the end result would change the gangs’ territories in town and whatnot. But everyone showed up like it was a cute day at the park, and everyone looked great. Even Jughead, whose face was looking like it had been forced through a keyhole. Still, he looked pretty good considering a dozen men had beaten him senseless the night before.

Also, Betty finally got a chance to attempt to unbreak-up with him, but he seemed pretty steamed about the whole thing. And if I’m being honest, she didn’t seem overly concerned with making things right? Even hours after she’d made up with Veronica she was still allowing him to walk around feeling dumped and heartbroken. Yes this is TV and yes they’re great together and everything will be fine. But still. Cold!

Then there was a race. But the Ghoulies in the red P.T. Cruiser got arrested by Sheriff Keller, mostly because he had decided to arrest ALL of the Ghoulies in general. This weirdly ticked off Jughead even more because he feared they’d get revenge now. Ugh, gangs are a problem.

In a rare showing of good mothering, Mrs. Blossom burned the check that the date rape guy’s parents had written, and she even finally revealed to Cheryl who the Sugar Man was! And because she is a team player, Cheryl immediately passed the scoop on to Betty.

But instead of telling the Black Hood the drug kingpin’s identity, she informed him that she’d already turned the person in to Sheriff Keller, so he wasn’t gonna get murdered this day…

And the Sugar Man was Jughead’s handsome English teacher! The one who’d forbidden him to write articles about Jingle Jangle or the gangs. But then, guess who got murdered in his jail cell THAT NIGHT? This guy, you’re right, you’re so smart. But who on earth has free run of the jails and can simply go murder people locked away in jail cells? I can’t think of anybody. It’s a mystery.

Oh and in one last bit of old business: Veronica finally told her parents that the date rape guy had attempted to assault her as well, and they changed their opinions of him ON THE SPOT. Before then they were just going to write off the “allegations” and continue doing business with the guy’s family, but after she informed them of what happened… Well, guess who was then mysteriously injured in a mysterious car accident? Sometimes it’s nice to have very shady criminals for parents!

“Chapter Nineteen: Death Proof” gave everyone something fun to do. Jughead’s turn into full-blown gang member has been more believable than I ever expected it could be, and I loved seeing Betty, Veronica, and even Cheryl get results when it came to detective work. Archie and Reggie looked great! All in all, another entertaining episode. It’s slightly brutal we have to wait two weeks for the next one, but this season has been pretty gang-busters so far. Literally in the case of the Ghoulies! Farewell for now, my darling Ghoulies. Anyway, yeah I liked this one.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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