Super Recaps: Riverdale Chapter 8 (The Outsiders)

Riverdale and all the images you see in this recap are owned Warner Bros Television Distribution and The CW

Episode directed by David Katzenberg

We’re back from the two week hiatus of Riverdale, and while I may be one of the more critical voices out there of the show, I’m honestly glad that it’s back.  The last few episodes have been a marked improvement and the show has been on an upward swing in general since SHE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED has packed her backs and skipped town, and even when the show is at its WORST… well at least it gives me something interesting to write about!  Has the show come back from its break rearing to go and ready to prove itself, or are we in for more of the same old same old?  Let’s find out!!

The episode begins with a rather helpful recap of what’s been going on for the last few weeks, and not just the PREVIOUSLY ON RIVERDALE one we get every episode.  Jughead is basically summarizing the Jason Blossom /Polly Cooper love affair with some brief snippets of the both of them together before they were ripped violently apart.  Of course, if you’re just reading this then you don’t GET to see the pretty pictures, but I’ll do my best to summarize as it HAS been a few weeks since we’ve last done this song and dance.  AHEM!  Jason Blossom disappeared on the Fourth of July and was found several weeks later with a bullet hole in his head.  He was trying to run away with his pregnant girlfriend Polly who was sent to a Girl’s Home for… I guess being pregnant, but the TRUE reason is that the Coopers and the Blossoms have a Hatfield/McCoy generations long pissing match going on and her parents wanted her out of sight and out of mind.  Jason’s plan was two-fold.  Number one, sneak Polly out of the facility, and number two, deliver some drugs (given to him by the local gang known as the Southside Serpents) to an address upstate so he can have a decent amount of cash to start their new life.  Well, as famed Prussian General Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke once said, “no plan survives contact with a bullet to the head” so now it’s up to the denizens of Riverdale (mostly Betty and Jughead) to figure out who pulled a Romeo and Juliet on these two.  Now I like the way they present these details in this opening bit, but there is a part of Jughead’s narration that’s throwing me off.  The series keeps pushing this point that the Coopers are some sort of ultra-controlling and outwardly perfect dynasty within the Riverdale community, and I just don’t see it.  I mean sure Betty and Polly’s mother (who I delightfully refer to as Lemon Mom) certainly ACTS like that’s the case, but there’s never been a demonstration of clout or even that much opulence (the same way the Blossoms have been portrayed) to have this make any sense.  Hell, I don’t even know what their dad’s JOB is, let alone if it’s anything important, and Lemon Mom is a journalist… for a local newspaper.  Oh, well SAY NO MORE!  DON’T CROSS THESE PEOPLE!

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It’s like the Reynolds Family before Frank lost all sense of decency.

God damn it, did I just spend four hundred words talking about the episode recap?  I’m already getting back into bad habits.  Alright, let’s move this along then!  So the big game changer that closed out the last episode (besides FP Jones having Jason’s jacket for whatever reason) was Polly deciding to live with Veronica and her mother after she ditched the Girl’s Home and went into hiding.  This is public knowledge by the way which I found a LITTLE bit odd considering how paranoid Polly was about being found by her parents, but I guess they couldn’t keep it a secret forever.  Needless to say that Lemon Mom is furious at Betty and Veronica for coming up with the scheme and will make sure EVERYONE in this school knows it.

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“I MUST SPEAK TO YOU, FOR THIS IS… UNACCEPTABLE!!”     “You wanna throw a freaking PLEASE on the end of that?”

Okay, so NO ONE seems to be happy about anything in this world and everyone is after this baby for their own nefarious reasons.  The Blossoms want the baby all to themselves (find a way to get Poly to be declared an unfit mother) except maybe Cheryl but she’s a straight up wild card so I have no idea what her motivations are episode to episode, and The Cooper parents want the baby to be given away as soon as its born, preferably in a wicker basket if that’s possible.  After all, who wants to leave a paper trail?  Then again, it’s not like it’s a secret anymore, so even if Lemon Mom SOMEHOW manages to force Polly into giving the baby up for adoption, the Blossoms will swoop in and throw lawyers as many lawyers as they need to ensure the baby ends up in their hands.  So whatever ends up happening, the road that they’re all currently on is certainly leading to an unmitigated disaster which they should try to avoid at all cost.  Now what’s the best way to do that…  Oh!  Veronica knows!  A BABY SHOWER!

Wait, no.  That is LITERALLY the worst idea imaginable.  There will be blood in the streets if this goes through.  Okay, to be fair it wasn’t Veronica’s idea to include the Blossom parents as she just wanted to invite Cheryl which would have been bad enough but not quite cataclysmic.  Polly’s the one who wants them there as she seems determined to mend the rift between the two families, which is… admirable I guess, but then when it comes to Mother Blossom (first name Penelope), extending an olive branch is on par with sticking your arm out to be hacked off, so I’m NOT quite sure that this is the most… shall we say PRUDENT move.  Oh well, it can’t be THAT bad, right?  Well we’ll have to wait to find out because for now we’ve got to catch back up with Archie while the shower is being planned (and presumably the furniture is being covered in plastic in case of blood splatter).  Okay, so remember the big job that Fred Andrews got which is going to save his company and all that Lodge baggage that’s involved with it that’s annoyingly complicated?  Well get ready to be even MORE confused!  So Fred’s crew of workers, who you would think would have a modicum of loyalty and would be eager to start on this BIG NEW PROJECT, get scalped by Papa Blossom (first name Clifford) to work on something else I guess, which leaves Fred high and dry as far as this project is concerned; all of which is some sort of power move to get the land he’s working on.  Now why would Clifford be after this land all of a sudden?  Well it turns out (and they waited until RIGHT NOW to tell us) that the land that Fred’s construction company will be developing used to belong to the Blossoms, and somehow this is going to get it back to them eventually.  How did they lose it?  I DON’T KNOW!!  THEY DON’T TELL US!!  Look, it’s just an excuse to generate drama as Fred is about to lose his business if he can’t start working on the project soon.  He’s already rented the equipment, the project is gonna fall behind, it’s just bad news all around.  Archie, sensing that his dad is super stressed, manages to get this information out of him and proceeds to come up with an idea that SOUNDS good, but probably wouldn’t actually work.

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YOU GAVE MOOSE THE HAMMER!?  I can FEEL the Three Stooges shenanigans coming!

So Archie’s plan is to grab a couple of the bros at school and to have them work on the project until Fred can get some legitimate workers.  The show doesn’t make a thing out of this so I’m not gonna harp on it TOO much, but… these are minors we’re dealing with and this is a PRETTY dangerous job.  There’s gotta be mountains of forms they need to fill out, Fred’s insurance is gonna go through the roof, and there’s no way they’d be allowed to use ANY of that heavy machinery that’s still going unused!  On the other hand, it’s a sweet enough gesture from Archie and is honestly one of the few proactive things he’s done in the series up to this point, so I’ll let it slide… for now!  Things go rather well all things considered, but once it’s time to close up for the day, disaster strikes!  Moose goes back out to pack up some tools and finds two dudes in hoodies busting up some of the equipment.  Moose tries to jump them, gets jumped himself, and is left bleeding on the ground while they drive off into the night.  They ALSO told Moose that this shit will keep happening as long as Fred Andrews’s construction company continues to work on the site.  YOU SEE!?  THIS is why you don’t hire minors!  Even if something freaking ridiculous like that happens, you’d still be held responsible for their wellbeing, at least more so than if a similar thing happened to an adult!  The show just kind of skips that detail, so instead we can focus on whom it was that’s trying to stop Fred.  Now the obvious answer would be Clifford Blossom, but Archie gets it in his head that it might have been the Serpents who did it.  Moose didn’t see enough to really identify them (nor did he see any snake tattoos) so there’s not much the cops can do without more evidence as to who exactly did it which puts Archie in QUITE a mood.

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“FUCK THE PO-LICE!”     “Archie!  NOT helpful!”

Seriously, the dude is just flipping out and is ready to do something REALLY stupid instead of, oh I don’t know… WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT NIGHT AND SEE IF THEY SHOW BACK UP!  Hell, you can even get a cop car to patrol the area if you’re so inclined!  No!  Instead he huffs and puffs while Valerie tries to talk him down (oh hey!  She’s still in this!) and eventually decides to go to a Serpent’s bar with a HUGE chip on his shoulder and only half a plan.  He grabs Moose to help identify who might have beaten his ass and he also grabs Kevin Keller was well.  Why?  Well do you remember that Southside Serpent he made out with ALL the way back in episode four?  Well, he’s finally shown back up again and is doing a favor for Kevin by letting them into the BAD GUY BAR to snoop around.  Despite Kevin’s boyfriend giving EXPLICIT instructions on not starting any shit, it ends up going about as well as you’d expect.

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“I’M SORRY!  PLEASE DON’T HURT ME!  I BRUISE EASILY!!”

Thankfully the red headed idiot is saved a severe ass beating from none other than PF Jones; Jughead’s father and I’m pretty sure he’s ALSO the leader of the Serpents, though that’s not a hundred percent clear yet.  At the very least, he has the power to give Archie and his friends a free pass, by which I mean a swift boot out of the bar and a phone call to Fred.  Archie, not realizing how far out on a limb this guy just went for him, gets all up in his face about him being a Serpents and MAYBE POSSIBLY being the ones to bust up the construction site.  Okay, I will say that having Archie ACTUALLY do something in the show for once is definitely two steps forward for the series, but did they REALLY need to take the one step back by making him act like an idiot?  Granted, he’s STILL a teenager which goes hand in hand with being STUPID, but he’s not coming off as very likable right now.  More importantly though, Archie’s little stunt has just revealed FP’s secret to both him and Fred; neither of whom knew he was a Southside Serpent which was  honestly a stupid idea in the first place so I’m glad that they resolved that little subplot here.  Now the fallout of this revelation will have to wait for now because this also happens to be the night of Polly’s Baby Shower, so we cut to that the moment Fred arrives to pick up Archie.  Who’s paying for all this by the way?  Isn’t Hermione Lodge strapped for cash right now?

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“These are my cupcakes and no one else’s!”

Oh, and we can add yet another BAFFLING EIGHTIES COVER while we’re at it as we have a… I don’t know, Pop Synth?  Okay, we’ll go with that.  We have a Pop Synth version of Madness’s Our House playing in the background which is… not particularly good.  I’m not about to claim to be an expert on Madness or anything, but the song seems PRETTY tied to its cultural context and doing a cover that sounds like this… well it sounds like doing an EDM cover of Come on Eileen or a slow ballad cover of 500 miles.  Oh wait… Sleeping at Last already did that.  Anyway, it pretty much goes as well as you’d expect.  Lemon Mom’s barely concealed rage is overtly palpable as she forced on a fake smile through all of this, and when the Blossom flock (minus Clifford for some reason) shows up, it only gets worse.  Seriously, Lemon Mom can find a reason to complain about ANYTHING; even when Granny Blossom does some… I don’t know, crystal readings or something?  She predicts that Polly is gonna have twins (one of each gender) to which Lemon Mom LITERALLY says “This is occultism at its most ludicrous.”  Wow.  Good thing no one brought a freaking Ouija Board, lest she bust out the Holy Water and start smacking people in the head with crosses.  Still, everything is at that perfect level where the seething black hatred is mitigated by the requirements of basic social interactions, so nothing bad has happened quite yet.  Unless of course, SOMEONE here was a Wild Card of sorts who’s known to blurt stuff out at a moment’s notice, but it’s not like they’d invite someone like THAT, right!?

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“WILD CARD, BITCHES!!  YEEEEEEE-HAAAAAWWWW!!”

Okay, so we all knew Cheryl was going to stir some shit.  What I WASN’T expecting is for her to blurt out that they want Polly to stay with them at The Addams Family Mansion… I mean Thornhill Manor.  I call bullshit on this RIGHT away.  I understand that Cheryl can be a tad capricious and has flip-flopped her allegiances several times already… but she LITERALLY told Polly to stay the fuck away in the last episode.  Where did this turn around come from?  Does she actually BELIEVE her mother when she says that she won’t try to take Polly’s baby away from her?  It’s not like she can’t be in the baby’s life if Polly is somewhere else (she will make DAMN sure of that) so I hardly think it’s a self-serving gesture.  It’s just odd and is another example of the show not really knowing what to do with her and just fitting her in wherever the plot requires.  Naturally this idea is what causes the tension in the room to boil over as Lemon Mom starts arguing with Cheryl’s mother who I should probably think up a witty name for as well.  Hmm… Lady McBlossom?  We’ll go with that for now.  Naturally, the fighting between Lemon Mom and Lady McBlossom causes Polly a great deal of stress and she finally sets the two straight about how it’s ENTIRELY their fault (and by extension the families as a whole) that everything has gone to shit in the last few months.  That’s… actually a really good point!  If Jason and Polly weren’t forced to stay away from each other, they wouldn’t have had to run away and Jason would still be alive!  I was already on team FUCK THESE TWO for all the bat shit and sadistic crap they’ve been pulling, but let’s make it a DOUBLE FUCK THESE TWO after this!  That’s basically the end of the baby shower as everyone else (there were A LOT of people who showed up for the damn thing!) presumably left soon after that, so let’s do a quick catch up on Archie’s subplot before we wrap everything up.  Alright, so Fred and PF Jones finally have a talk about the latter being a Southside Serpent which basically amounts to “Meh.  What are you gonna do?” as Fred honestly has much bigger things to worry about right now.  One of those things is Archie who you’d think would be dragged back to the house and grounded for a month after the stunt he pulled, but instead he heads to the Baby Shower (right before the big blow up) to confront Jughead about the whole Southside Serpents thing.  Honestly, I’m still not sure what crawled up Archie’s ass and died to get him so worked up about this, but the scene is really only there so that Betty and Veronica can get into the loop on this development as Archie storms out about a minute after arriving.

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“YOUR DAD IS A MEAN PERSON!”     “Why are you yelling?”     “I DON’T KNOW!!”

Now as much of a bugbear as Archie has been this episode, he does manage to pull off a decent performance in his next scene which is when he goes back home and has a heart to heart with his dad.  Sure, the dialogue is SUPREMELY cheesy, but Luke Perry is selling it so hard that it kind of works, and he also can’t help but bring KJ Apa’s performance up as well simply by bouncing off of him.  Overall, while I like that Archie FINALLY feels like he’s participating in the story instead of just drifting through it, they still need to work towards giving him PROPER motivation instead of whatever is most convenient for the story.  At least when they do that with Cheryl, Madelaine Petsch knows how to ham it up to a delightful level of camp; something they can’t really do with the quote-unquote STAR of this super serious drama series, so his writing still has a way to go.  Alright, so since we have THAT straightened out, what was the fallout from the Baby Shower which was obviously a dumb idea in the first place and ended EXACTLY the way we all knew it was going to?  The party is over and the only ones still around are Polly, Betty, and Lemon Mom; the latter of whom tries to convince Polly to come back.  She’s still not too keen on the idea for obvious reasons such as LOCKING HER ASS UP IN AN ASYLUM, but she drops a whole new bombshell on us which… I have mixed feelings about.  Apparently Papa Cooper (first name Hal) had scheduled a “DOCTOR’S” appointment for Polly right before she was sent away to “FIX” her “PROBLEM”.  Ugh… alright, so right off the bat it’s a bit obnoxious that they never use the word ABORTION and dance around it for seemingly no reason which I feel only goes to stigmatize the perfectly legal and safe practice even further; only referring to it in hushed tones and outside of polite conversations.  Second, while I buy that in THIS show one of these awful parents would bring it up, I don’t like how they just let it hang there like Polly dodged a bullet.  NO ONE, not even the parent of a minor, can FORCE someone into having an abortion, and a doctor will not perform one if their arm is literally being twisted when they go in.  In fact, attempting to coerce someone to have an abortion is considered battery and could even include charges of child abuse, so using it in this context as some sort of scare tactic feels inaccurate and completely tone deaf in the current political climate; especially for a show that’s trying THIS hard to be quote-unquote PROGRESSIVE .  On top of that, it’s kind of weird on a narrative level because Hal has barely been a freaking presence in this show, and now he’s THE BAD GUY to everyone; even Lemon Mom.  In fact, she goes back home to confront him about this which leads to her revealing to the audience that he tried the same shit when she was pregnant with Polly (ugh…) and eventually kicking the guy out of the house.  Oh no.  Not… Hal.  Seriously, does ANYONE give a shit about Hal Cooper; good or bad?

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“I’M THE ONE WHO KNOCKS!”     “Really?  You?”

I can only assume this scene is here as a way to soften up Lemon Mom and Hal was a disposable enough character that they can do anything they wanted with him (“I WILL NOT BE PARTY TO RAISING A CHILD THAT HAS BLOSSOM BLOOD!!”), but… no.  Sorry, that shit isn’t gonna work on me.  I’m not about to forget that she sent Polly to an asylum for no god damn reason and in the LAST episode she confirmed that she wants to “CONVINCE” Polly to give up the baby for adoption, so as far as I’m concerned they’re both practically in the same boat (trying to get Polly to do what THEY want instead of looking out for her).  With that, we’re finally at the point where we wrap up the current plot lines for now as we head into the next episode.  First, Jughead and Betty confront his dad about his involvement with Jason’s disappearance.  I guess since the cat’s outta the bag about him being a Serpent that now is a good time for the Junior Detective League to drop by for a visit.  He confirms that Jason was going to deliver drugs for them but that he had nothing to do with the murder.  I’m PRETTY sure this is true, but he also neglected to tell them what WE know from the last episode; namely that he was the one who set Jason’s car on fire and took the drugs (as well as the jacket for some reason) out of it.  At the very least, it’s enough to satisfy the brats, but that’s not the end of it just yet.  After they leave, it’s implied that FP Jones has much more nefarious plans up his sleeve and that we’ll find out about them next time.  For now, we know that Kevin Keller’s boyfriend is part of this elaborate scheme (get an inside man in case shit goes down)… but maybe that will fall apart as the boyfriend (Joaquin) seems to be developing feelings for Kevin as well.  Honestly, this subplot with the Serpents is probably the most interesting part of the show; mostly because it reminds me of Sons of Anarchy (albeit on a much lower level) but also because of how good Skeet Ulrich is in the part.  This somewhat leads into the resolution for Fred’s story line where he manages to find the workers he needs as arrives to find FP and several members of the Serpents ready to make an honest living.  Now obviously there’s some risk in hiring a bunch of ex-cons, especially considering this could all be part of whatever scheme FP has planned, but for now Fred’s problems have been at the very least postponed.  Before FP begins his work though, he does have an update about those men who jumped Moose and fucked with some of the equipment and shares it with Hermione Lodge who you may recall is working as Fred’s accountant.  Apparently the guys who were hired are from Canada, and since her husband Hiram does business in Canada, then CLEARLY he’s the one who’s sent them to bust up the work site.  Because no one else does business in Canada.

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“My girlfriend who lives up there told me all about it.  You probably don’t know her, but she’s a model.”

Now obviously that reasoning is PRETTY spurious for a number of reasons (who hires Canadians to cross the board just to bust up some equipment?  How is Hiram hiring people from behind bars even if he did business in Canada at one point!?), but let’s just go with that explanation for now as I don’t think the show wants us to question the logistics of it.  The reason that FP suggests for why Hiram would sabotage a project that HE HIMSELF wanted to get done was because he may have gotten wind of Hermione’s ongoing affair with Fred and the question they want to leave us with to ponder until the next episode is who ratted her out to Hiram.  Correct me if I’m wrong though, but didn’t she call him in the last episode and explained what was going on?  Wasn’t that a big deal for Veronica that she let him know about her relationship with Fred?  I don’t know, and maybe I’m wrong about what happened in the last episode.  I’m honestly having trouble mustering too much thought about ANYTHING regarding Hiram Lodge and Lodge Industries at this point as it is the weakest plot thread of the entire series and has been dragging down Hermione and Veronica since it kicked into full swing.  Finally, the last story wrapped up before the episode ends (I promise I’m almost done) is what Polly is going to do in regards to her living situation.  Well, shock of all shocks, she ends up going to live with the Blossoms and the episode ends with her entering the front door; presumable to never be heard from again now that she’s boarding at The House of Usher.  I can’t say I BLAME her for not wanting to move back home even if Dad’s been kicked out and I get that she doesn’t HATE the Blossoms the same way everyone else does, but aren’t these the people who Cheryl herself warned you of in the last episode!?

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Nice hair.

The episode is… fine I guess as we get solid progression on the primary subplots (Jason’s death, Polly’s pregnancy, FP Jones, and all around shady business practices), but so much of it felt half assed and only somewhat explained whether it’s Clifford’s sudden interest in the land that was bought up all the way back in episode four, or how Archie out of nowhere has a huge grudge against the Serpents.  At least when The Coopers blame The Blossoms for everything that goes wrong, there’s a freaking history behind it!  We’re more than halfway through the season so naturally things are starting to converge as we head towards the resolution which definitely helps this show maintain a sense of focus, but they still have a ways to go in making ALL their stories compelling and believable instead of just a few of them.  At this point, I’m pretty much just watching to find out who the killer is (my current guesses are Hiram or Mayor McCoy) and to just watch Skeet Ulrich work his ass off to be the best damn thing in here.

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