|“||I think many of us, maybe the entire town, had been hoping against hope that somehow Jason Blossom hadn't drowned on July 4th. That we'd come to school Monday morning, and there Jason would be. Or that we'd see him and Cheryl in a booth at Pop's. But that was before the undeniable, irrevocable fact of his bloated, water-logged body, a corpse with a bullet hole in its forehead, and terrible secrets that could only be revealed by the cold, steel blade of a coroner's autopsy scalpel, or the telltale beating of a guilty heart.||”|
|— Jughead Jones|
SECRETS UNRAVELED — As new details of Jason's death begin to emerge, Archie pleads with Miss Grundy to come forward with what they heard at Sweetwater River. Betty makes an effort to mend her friendship with Archie but takes a different stance with Veronica, who is trying to make up for her actions. With rumors around her brother’s death running rampant, Cheryl deals with the pressure in true Queen Bee fashion, while tensions boil over when Jughead stumbles upon a secret Archie was hoping to keep hidden. Finally, plans for the annual fall pep rally move forward with a performance by Josie and the Pussycats and a special appearance by Mayor McCoy.
The episode opens with narration from Jughead as he continues to write his novel centered around Jason's death. Before the discovery of Jason's body at the shore of Sweetwater River, many of the townsfolk had been hoping against hope that Jason had somehow survived the tragic July 4th incident, and that they'd return to school Monday morning, and there Jason would be, or that they would see him and Cheryl in a booth at Pop's. But that was before his body turned up with a bullet in its forehead, thus bringing an end to any hope of Jason's safe return.
Riverdale is abuzz with rumors circulating over who could have killed Jason. Archie, in particular, feels strained, and with a guilty conscious keeping him awake at night, he texts Betty, hoping they could talk. Unfortunately, she is not yet ready to forgive him after he turned her down the night of the Semi-formal, forcing Archie to turn to one other person, Ms. Grundy. He unexpectedly shows up at her house in the late hours of the night, persuaded to tell the police about the gunshot they both heard on July 4th, but he also wants to respect the wishes of Ms. Grundy, who remains adamant that they should stay silent about what they heard in order to prevent the exposure of their relationship.
The next morning, Fred wonders where Archie snuck off to last night. He'd been hearing Archie sneak out the house since he was eight years old going to Jughead's tree house, suffice it to say, he had gotten pretty good at noticing when Archie left the house. Archie couldn't sleep, so he went for a jog to tire himself out, or so he claims. Jason's death is weighing heavy on him, which can often be the result of a heavy conscious and lack of sleep. Fred insists that Archie desists with the late night jogs until they catch the murderer. Elsewhere, at the Cooper house, Alice and Hal enter Betty's room to alert her of the late nights they would be having due to Jason's untimely demise. No one cares about an accidental drowning, but the murder of the sociopathic son of the wealthiest family in town was bound to make headlines. After dismissing Hal, Alice tells Betty the thing she loves most about her is that she always wants to see the good in people, like Archie, Veronica, and Cheryl, but since their betrayal, Alice hopes that Betty can now see their true colors, advising Betty not to backslide.
Betty, who is in a precarious state, as she is still upset about what happened at Cheryl's party, desperately tries to suppress her feelings. Despite telling her mother that she would no longer seek friendship from Archie, Betty did just that by asking him to walk her to school. She needed time to process the situation, to separate what she wants from what her mom wants; what she wants is for her and Archie to be best friends. Archie is relieved to learn that she wants to continue their friendship. Betty would be lying if she said it didn't hurt, which she knows wasn't Archie's intention, but they both believe that everything will be better in the long run. Lastly, she warns Archie against telling her mother that they were friends again.
Jughead joins Archie by his locker for a brief conversation, where his sardonic humor in reference to Jason Blossom's death fell short with Archie. "Sorry, Coach, I'm just too depressed and freaked-out right now to do pull-ups.", Jughead said. Noticing Reggie, Moose, and Chuck coming his way, Jughead takes off, oddly enough, in the same direction of his tormentors. Reggie intentionally bumps into Jughead, calling him out of his name; Wednesday Adams.
Now that romance is no longer in the cards for Betty and Archie, Kevin seeks to revisit the possibility of Archie being gay because no straight man has the type of body that Archie does. Using this as a transition into her next topic of interest, Betty asks Kevin how he was doing since finding Jason's body. If anything, he was more traumatized from having to explain to his father, Sheriff Keller, why he and Moose were out at the river, yet another perk of being the Sheriff's son, he remarks. Kevin joins Betty in the front office, where a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses (symbolizing friendship) awaits her. An apology was written on the card from "V", short for Veronica, who is keen to salvage her friendship with Betty. Along with the flowers came cupcakes flown in from New York, and an appointment for the two of them at the spa. To the surprise of Kevin, Betty accepts Veronica's apology, but doesn't seem convinced her friendliness will last long.
Mr. Weatherbee notifies the school that the upcoming Pep Rally will happen as scheduled, before handing the speaker over to Sheriff Keller, who announces that Jason's death is now officially being treated as a homicide. It is an open and ongoing investigation. Cheryl interjects, neither she nor her parents will rest until Jason's death is avenged, and his cold-hearted killer is walking the green mile to sit in 'Old Sparky and fry'. She, of course, had suspicions of her own but chooses not to reveal them. Sheriff Keller urges anyone who may know anything that could help find and apprehend Jason's killer, or anything about what happened to him on July 4th, to come forward immediately. After stopping by the display case, which features Jason in his Riverdale Bulldogs uniform, Archie passes Mr. Weatherbee's office, briefly making eye contact with him before being confronted by Jughead, who recalls that he and Archie were supposed to go on a road trip during the July 4th weekend, which Archie just so happened to bail on at the last minute. This lead leads Jughead to suspect that Archie is hiding something.
Back in July, Cheryl told the police that Jason's drowned, but come to find out he was shot, leaving Tina and Ginger to question Cheryl on the validity of her account of the incident. Cheryl is frustrated with their insinuation that she was involved in her brother's dead. Cheryl tells Tina and Ginger what she told the police; that they both fell into the water, and that while she made it to the shore, he didn't. She speculates that he could've made it to the other end, and was shot then. During their class assignment, Archie volunteers to be partnered with Cheryl as Veronica does Betty, which forces Kevin to pair with Moose, a pairing in which he isn't too excited about. Moose is hoping that the two of them can arrange another get-together on Saturday. However, Kevin declines his offer. Despite Moose's physical attractiveness, he has too many demons. Kevin tells him it's better if Moose sticks with what he knows best, which is girls.
Cheryl and Archie haven't spoken since the summer, and he merely wishes to give his condolences to her and her family. He asks if the police have any leads in the case. Unfortunately, they didn't. But it was only a matter of time before something came up. Cheryl's twin tuition is telling her that it is someone they all know. While science isn't Archie's strongest subject, he's willing to take lead on dissecting the frog if it is too much for Cheryl to bare, due to the fact that Jason is being cut open by a blade similar to that one, possibly in that very moment. She tells Archie that she's fine, before looking over to Tina and Ginger, and then forcefully stabbing the frog, causing them to shriek in fear.
Every corpse has a tale to tell. Dr. Curdle, the local medical examiner, instructs Alice to step closer as there are several morbid details that she should find relevant to her article. The marbling of the veins. Signs of scavenger activity. Ligature marks on both wrists. And a hint of cryo-necrotic preservation. She then pays him off in small bills for the information provided.
During lunch, Veronica wonders what Moose wanted earlier in class when he volunteered to partner with Kevin, though she already knows the answer. Kevin states that he doesn't even think Moose knows what's going on with himself. Although sexuality is fluid, and he was admittedly handsome in a classic, pre-accident Montgomery Clift kind of way, Kevin questions if someone named Moose could actually be that fluid. Regardless, Veronica "shipped it". Of course, she would. She's a big city girl with loose morals, Kevin says, though he instantly regrets saying it afterward. He states that Moose has an official girlfriend, Midge. Admittedly, it is terrible for him to say, but part of him wishes that Moose would just stay in the closet. The three of them then joined Archie at the lunch table, where Veronica urges him to play a song for them, which overwhelms Betty, causing her to run off as her eyes filled with tears, with Archie chasing after her. Betty explains that she feels safest and most herself whenever she and Archie were at a booth at Pop's, but after the events that took place that weekend, she no longer feels that way. She thought that she could pretend otherwise, but she was wrong. Before he can get a word in, Mr. Weather be called out to him, hoping to talk privately.
Archie is currently in a very good place, Mr. Weatherbee admits. Varsity football. AP music tutorials. However, that morning, in the hallway, Archie wouldn't meet his eyes. The reason for which being that Archie was distracted and wasn't feeling well, but Weatherbee isn't buying it. He tells Archie that if there is something he wants to get off his chest, perhaps about Jason, now would be the time. Despite hearing the gunshot that was fired on July 4th, Archie continues to deny having any knowledge of Jason's case. He then immediately runs to inform Geraldine of his latest encounter. Archie questions if what she feels about him is real, because if it not, then he doesn't know what he is protecting. Geraldine sensually grabs his hand, claiming that what they have is indeed real, even if it isn't right, which is why he can't go to Weatherbee or else they could never see each other again. Jughead's suspicions are piqued when he witnesses Archie and Ms. Grundy in an intimate embrace at school, watching from the doorway as they display affection for one another.
Cheryl cuts the River Vixens off halfway through their routine at practice, addressing their lackluster performance. The weather's predicting a downpour the night of the rally, but already, they're raining on her parade. With Jason still present in their collective consciousness, all eyes will be on her. Will this beautiful, exotic, hothouse flower drown under the town's scrutiny, or be swamped by her emotions? The answer, ladies, is no and no, Cheryl says. That said, she needs star power, meaning the Pussycats. She tells the Vixens to hold on while she makes a call.
Veronica questions Cheryl's intentions by hosting a Pep Rally in mourning of her brother, claiming that Cheryl is either brilliant or psychotic or both. Still struggling to forgive Veronica over the kiss at the after-party, Betty defends Cheryl by saying at least she wasn't putting on an act, pretending to be a butterfly when she's really a wasp. Veronica senses the tension between her and Betty; for the record, she only went into the closet with Archie to prevent Cheryl from going in, however, while she may have gone in with the best intentions, it did not end that way. Archie and Betty were fine before Veronica's arrival, by that she means pining after him in secret, but at least they were friends. Veronica explains that it wasn't anyone's fault that Archie didn't like her, if that's what she's thinking, that's just the way it is. The people they like often don't like them back, Romeo and Juliet are the exception, not the rule. Veronica will accept if Betty never wants to talk to her again, but she's curious as to why Betty is so frustrated with Archie. Betty doesn't address the question at hand, and it doesn't help that Cheryl interrupts. To get back at Veronica, Betty offers Veronica's other hers-and-hers mani-pedis to Cheryl, which she graciously accepts.
Hermione is miserable at her new job as a waitress at Pop's, in spite of her forced smile. Veronica advises her to keep up the good work because, at the very least, Hermione is doing better than her. They're surviving by their wits because that's what the Lodge women do. She can't even imagine what Hiram would say if he saw them in their current state, which for Hermione, was more of a Joan Crawford/Mildred Pierce look. Archie then enters the diner with a pickup order for him and his father. Hermione recognizes him as Fred's son, she says that he's just as handsome as his father was. However, she quickly catches on to the awkward exchange between him and Veronica. Hoping it will get them to resolve their issues, Hermione volunteers Archie to walk Veronica home.
Archie and Veronica discuss their mutually strained friendships with Betty. Archie was back to no texting, while Veronica was back to being the shallow and toxic rich-bitch that ruins everything in her path, which is unfortunate because even though she had just met Betty, she feels they were destined to be best friends. Now, it feels like she just missed the train that was headed to the rest of her life. Archie relays a story from many years before; he and Betty have been next-door neighbors since they were four. They've always gone to the same school, been in the same class. In the second grade, he was having trouble reading, and his teacher told his mom and dad that he should stay back a year, to get caught up. Betty was so against them not being in the same grade that she took it upon herself to tutor Archie every single day. When he passed, thanks to Betty, he kissed her, and asked her to marry him, to which she responded that they were too young, but if he asked her again when they turn eighteen, she'll say yes. Veronica advises Archie to give Betty time, and not to despair, as she didn't believe their story was over yet
At the Cooper house, expresses her fondness of Betty's room, then inviting Betty over to her house to see her room some time. However, that invitation does not extend to Veronica. She must be evil incarnate if even Betty won't have her as a friend. On the subject of being friends, Cheryl apologizes to Betty for treating her so poorly; she was angry after Jason and Polly's break-up, so she took out her frustration on Betty, which is unfair, especially since they both lost a sibling in a sense. Cheryl quickly turns her attention to Polly, asking Betty if Polly knew Jason was dead, and what did she think went down between Jason and Polly. Betty is unable to provide much of an answer for Cheryl, but she wonders why Cheryl has suddenly taken an interest in Polly, forcing Cheryl to reveal her true motives as she accuses Polly of being Jason's killer. Fed up with Cheryl and her vindictive ways, Betty orders her to get out the house, otherwise, she'd kill Cheryl.
That night, Jughead confronts Archie at his house over his secret relationship with Ms. Grundy. Jughead explains that he's simply trying to help, and be Archie's friend even though they aren't anymore. He wonders how long they've been together. Archie tells him since the summer. He likes her. Jughead scoffs, presuming that she's the reason for Archie's recent, strange behavior. One of the reasons, Archie says. He reveals that they were at Sweetwater River together on July 4th, and heard a gunshot, possibly the same gunshot that killed Jason. Jughead urges him to go to the police, but Archie refuses to do so in order to protect Ms. Grundy and the relationship he's forged with her. Jughead's critical of Ms. Grundy's behavior, certain that she is only concerned about protecting herself. She's messing with Archie's mind, Jughead says. Archie disagrees, asking Jughead what knowledge he could possibly have on the subject. Jughead admits to not having all the details, but he used to know this guy. Archie Andrews. He wasn't perfect but he always tried to do the right thing. As Jughead attempts to leave, Archie grabs him by his arm, and threatens Jughead should he tells anyone about Ms. Grundy, though Jughead doesn't seem to be too concerned with Archie's empty threat.
Alice comes bursting into Betty's room with sage, hoping to banish the evil spirits that Cheryl may have brought in with her when she had visited earlier. The Blossoms are pure evil, Alice claims. She is wondering if maybe they killed Jason as a sacrifice to a dark Pagan God. Betty asks about her sister, and Alice professes to have told Polly about Jason's death, but also claims that half the time Polly doesn't even know what day it is. Alice was adamantly against Polly and Jason's relationship, Betty wants to know why. For many reasons, Alice explains, one of which being that everything the Blossoms touch eventually rots. Now that some time has passed, Betty seeks to visit Polly, but Alice quickly changes the subject back to Cheryl. While Alice is proud of Betty for standing up to her, Cheryl never should've stepped into their home, to begin with. Would Veronica or Archie be entering their home next? How many times do they have to hurt Betty before she learns. Until I learn my lesson, Betty sarcastically replies.
The next day at school, Betty admits to Veronica that she was right on what she said about Archie, and how him not liking her is no one's fault. Sometimes its difficult to admit things to yourself, like her mother being crazy, fearing that she'll never see her sister again, and to top it off, the boy she likes doesn't like her back. Though, Veronica reminds Betty that while Archie may not like her romantically, he does love her, and he's miserable without her. Veronica's mother often says that sometimes a friend is better than a boyfriend. Veronica suggests that this is one of those times.
In the student lounge, Reggie wildly speculates about potential suspects in the Jason Blossom murder case. He is in disbelief that he, 'Mantle the Magnificent', was being interrogated by Sheriff Keller when he had zero to gain in Jason's death. Losing Jason is the last thing Reggie would want considering he was the only decent Quarterback that they had. Reggie states that he should've sent the cops to Moose, who was down by the River with Kevin. Though being with the Sheriff's son comes with advantages, Reggie claims, looking to Kevin for reassurance. If the killer was a student at Riverdale, Reggie believes him to be some spooky, scrawny, pathetic Internet troll, too busy writing his manifestos to get laid. Often a smug, moody, serial killer fanboy freak, like Jughead. Reggie asks if he "did stuff" to Jason's corpse afterward. Jughead reminds him that the technical term is Necrophilia, then taking a jab at Reggie's "dumb jock" personality by doubting that he could actually spell the word. This leads to a heated confrontation between Reggie and Archie, who comes to Jughead's defense, though Reggie continues with the insults, referring to Jughead as Suicide Squad and Donnie Darko. With Archie stepping in, Reggie suspects that they may have killed Jason together, which angered Archie, so he pushes Reggie, leading to a fight which results in Archie getting knocked out, and left with a black eye.
Archie returns home, and applies ice to his black eye. Fred asks if he received that during a fight with Jughead, which he did not. It was a long story that he'd rather not get into. As for Jughead, they were disagreeing about something else entirely; a girl. But it's not about Archie and Jughead, it's about Archie and the girl. Archie thinks they should do something. And it's the right thing. But the girl says that if they do or if he does this thing, it'll ruin what they have. Archie realizes that this doesn't make much sense without context, but Fred is just happy that Archie is being honest with him again. This is the most honest talk they've had in a while. Fred's also glad that Archie wants to do the right thing, even though it's tough, and might cost him.
The night of the Pep Rally had finally arrived, with many in attendance, such as Kevin, Sheriff Keller, Mr. Weathebee, Alice, Hal, and even Penelope, and Clifford Blossom. Archie approaches Ms. Grundy at the rally to tell her that he would be coming clean to Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller about the gunshot. Geraldine urges him to slow down and think his decision through, but Archie has already made up his mind that he's going to do it the next day. If she wants to join him, then they could figure that out, if not, he respects that, and he'll do his best to keep her out of it. He then apologizes for breaking his promise to stay quiet, but he couldn't sit back and do nothing. Meanwhile, Jughead watches from the bleachers as all this unfolds. Archie not only tells Jughead of his plan, but he apologizes for his words from the previous night. Jughead forgives him, but he insists that they're not going to hug in front of the entire town. Instead, they'll nod like douches and mutually suppress their emotions. As for them being friends again, that's to be discussed over many burgers and many days.
To kick off the Pep Rally, Principal Weatherbee hands the stage over to Mayor McCoy. She gives a brief speech while on stage; "It is heartening to see so many of you here, even in weather like this. But a lack of heart and school spirit has never been the Riverdale way. Tonight's pep rally isn't like any other we've had in the past. And we shouldn't pretend that it is. Which is why I would like to dedicate this evening to the memory of one of our brightest. Jason Blossom. We're with him tonight. She then welcomes to the field their very own River Vixens, and their special guest stars, Josie and her Pussycats. After a performance by the Pussycats and the River Vixens, Cheryl is triggered by memories of Jason after seeing Archie enter the Rally with his jersey on, and so she races off the field in tears. Veronica goes to comfort her as she sobs in the locker room, unknowingly witnessed by Betty. Cheryl tearfully confesses that Jason was supposed to come back, and that without him, she is all alone.
The sight of Veronica's compassion for Cheryl induces Betty to make up with her. Not many girls would've done what Veronica did. Full disclosure, Veronica has had her fair share of mental break downs. Betty invites her out for milkshakes at Pop's, during which time they vow never to let boys get between them again. By mere coincidence, the also newly reconciled Archie and Jughead enter the shop, making awkward eyes contact with the two ladies. Betty offers them a seat at their booth. Jughead agrees, but only if they're treating. He introduces himself to Veronica as Jughead Jones III. To someone on the outside, peering in, it would've looked like there were four people in that booth. But really, there were only three. A blonde girl, a raven-haired girl, and the luckiest red-headed boy in the universe. For one shining moment, they were just kids with those bright neon lights of Pop's keeping the darkness at bay. Giving way, as all nights must, to a morning of reckonings.
The next morning, Archie heads to the principal's office to confess that he was at Sweetwater on July 4th and heard a gunshot, potentially the same shot that killed Jason. But Weatherbee and Keller are busy with other matters, having just completed the autopsy of Jason's body. The results lead them to Cheryl, who is sitting in class with her peers. She stands up under the impression that they are there for her. Weatherbee tells her that they don't need to do it in front of her entire class, but Cheryl doesn't mind as they would all find out soon enough. She extends her wrists to be cuffed and declares that she's guilty. As shocking as those words were, they were nothing compared to the secrets that Jason's body had given up during its autopsy; that Jason didn't die on July 4th, as believed, but over a week later.
- Hal: "We just wanted you to know, it's gonna be a bit of a late night for us."
- Alice: "It's going to be a lot of late nights for us. I mean, an accidental drowning, who cares? But the sociopathic son of the wealthiest family in town, murdered? That's a national obsession waiting to happen."
- Hal: "He's barely in his grave, Alice—"
- Alice: "Can you warm up the car, Hal? I'll be right down."
- ―Hal and Alice Cooper speaking with Betty
- Jughead: "Hi. Do you think I can use Jason Blossom's death as an excuse to get out of PE? "Sorry, Coach, I'm just too depressed and freaked-out right now to do pull-ups.""
- Archie: "Don't joke about Jason Blossom."
- Jughead: "What? Sardonic humor is just my way of relating to the world."
- ―Jughead and Archie at school
- Betty: "Speaking of bodies... Have you recovered from finding Jason's?"
- Kevin: "It was more traumatizing having to explain to my dad what I was doing with Moose at the river. Yet another perk of being the sheriff's son."
- ―Betty and Kevin discuss Kevin's night before
- Sheriff Keller: "So as of the weekend, Jason's death is now being treated as a homicide. It is an open and ongoing investigation—"
- Cheryl: "And may I interject, neither I nor my parents will rest until Jason's death is avenged, and his cold-hearted killer is walking the green mile to sit in Old Sparky and fry. I, for one, have my suspicions. #RiverdaleStrong."
- ―Sherrif Keller and Cheryl Blossom over the school intercom
|“||It's not anyone's fault. It's not even stupid Archie's. It's just how it is. Most of the time the people we like don't like us back. Romeo and Juliet are the exception, not the rule.||”|
|— Veronica comforts Betty|
- Reggie: "Isn't it always some spooky, scrawny, pathetic internet troll, too busy writing his manifestos to get laid? Some smug, moody, serial killer fanboy freak, like Jughead? [laughs] What was it like, Suicide Squad? When you shot Jason? You didn't do stuff to the body, did you? Like... after?"
- Jughead: "It's called necrophilia, Reggie. Can you spell it?"
- ―Reggie ponders aloud on Jason Blossom's killer
- Archie: "I'm sorry."
- Jughead: "It's cool... We're not gonna hug in front of this whole town. [laughs] So why don't we both just do that bro thing where we nod like douches and mutually suppress our emotions?"
- Archie: "Yeah, but as friends, right?"
- Jughead: "To be discussed, over many burgers, and many days."
- ―Archie and Jughead rekindling their friendship
- Veronica: "Betty... Can we make a vow?"
- Betty: "Sure."
- Veronica: "That no matter what, no boy will ever come between us again. Deal?"
- Betty: "Deal. [clinks milkshake glasses]"
- ―Betty and Veronica at Pop's
- The episode title comes from Orson Welles' 1958 noir film of the same name.
- Kevin references "Madam Satan", whilst talking to Veronica. Traditionally in the Archie Comics, Madam Satan is a recurring character, most recently being the main villain of "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina".
- Betty's nickname for Archie when they were in the second grade, "Little Archie", is a reference to the comics as that was Archie's official nickname for when he was young. It also spanned its own separate comic series.
- This episode marks the first mention of Midge Klump.
- It may also derive from the 1958 film "Touch of Evil".
- Marion Eisman, who portrayed Mrs. Phillips, also portrayed Doris Bell, in the ninth episode of the second season: Chapter Twenty-Two: Silent Night, Deadly Night.
- Josie and the Pussycats perform "Candy Girl (Sugar Sugar)", which is a cover of the same song by Inner Circle and Flo Rida, itself being an updated version of The Archies' "Sugar Sugar".