|“||They're this gang of bikers who pretty much stay on the south side of town. And thank God, 'cause they're sort of dangerous. Drug dealers and petty thieves.||”|
|— Kevin to Veronica[src]|
The Southside Serpents (often referred to as just Serpents) are a gang of dangerous criminals who predominantly reside on the south side of Riverdale, hence the name. They are led by FP Jones, the father of Jellybean and Jughead Jones. The serpents typically hang out at a local bar called the Whyte Wyrm.
In order for one to become a Southside Serpent, they must undergo an initiation ceremony. As tradition goes, there are four stages; First, every new member must take care of the Serpent's dog, "The Beast" otherwise known as Hot Dog. Secondly, they must memorize and recite the serpent laws in the order provided; these are rules the Southside Serpents live by. Thirdly, they must retrieve a knife from the Serpent's rattlesnake cage. Finally, the last stage, known as "the gauntlet", involves a physical demonstration of loyalty and strength, specifically, being jumped into the gang by its members, which essentially requires the initiate to endure multiple punches to all areas of the body only to rise and stand firm. Completing the final task, the initiate is congratulated by shaking the other members hands, a sign of "good sportsmanship", and granted the Serpent Jacket, now accepted as one of their own. This last stage demonstrates a sign of respect within the Serpents, as they must be willing to die for one another. Female Serpents have an alternative initiation ceremony. Byrdie claimed that if women wanted to join the "club", they'd have to do the "Serpent dance", an outdated, sexist Serpent tradition that Toni attempted to have outlawed, though misogyny prevailed.
Although the Southside Serpents are seen as dangerous criminals, Kevin Keller contradicts this; that the Serpents are just petty thieves and drug dealers.
In Chapter Thirty-Five: Brave New World, FP retires from being the Serpents' leader, stepping down from the throne and presenting Jughead as the new Serpent king. As his first act as king, Jughead grants Cheryl membership into the Serpents, gifting her with a custom red Serpent jacket.
The Serpents date back as far as the 1940s, during the founding of Riverdale. The snake and the laws were all based on Uktena tradition. The Uktena is a horned serpent and/or a water serpent. Before there was a Riverdale, all the land belonged to the Uktena. Unfortunately, they were slaughtered, according to Thomas Topaz, one of the founding members of the Southside Serpents. When his grandfather was a baby, there was a raid led by Riverdale's very own General Pickens. The battle lasted all of 12 minutes, but the slaughter was total and savage. General Pickens, whose statue stands proudly in Pickens Park, was responsible for the massacre of men, women, and children. When Thomas' grandfather died, Thomas and the remaining Uktena formed the Serpents as a way to keep the family together.
At one point, prior to Jason's murder, FP became their leader after he was forced to resign from Andrews Construction. This is because he had become too much of a liability to the company due to his criminal activities.
After Polly Cooper became pregnant, Jason Blossom went to the Serpents, he needed money for him and Polly to run away together. The Serpents used him to run drugs which FP later clarified to be marijuana as a clean-cut kid like him would never be suspected. However, the last batch of drugs they had given him was never delivered, and they figured he had just run off with them until his corpse washed up at Sweetwater River.
FP almost got framed for the murder of Jason due to the cops finding a gun in his trailer. It was later revealed that Cliff was the one who shot and killed his own son in cold blood and FP having to take the fall to protect his son Jughead.
The Laws of the Serpents
|Editor's Note: The events that transpired in Silent Night, Deadly Night, where Sweet Pea states that the first law is "No Serpent stands alone", directly contradicts what was stated by Jughead in When a Stranger Calls; "A Serpent never shows cowardice." In addition to this, Penny stated that "Serpent law says you can't hurt one of your own." Whether this is the unknown 3rd law or a variation in phrasing of the 5th law remains unclear. In The Blackboard Jungle Jughead recites "A Serpent never sheds it's skin" to which FP confirms is one of the Serpent Laws, however it is unclear if it's the unknown 3rd law or a variation of one of the others.|
1. A Serpent never shows cowardice. / No Serpent stands alone.
2. If a Serpent is killed or imprisoned, their family will be taken care of.
4. No Serpent is left for dead.
5. A Serpent never betrays his own.
6. In unity, there is strength.
Throughout the Series
The Serpents were hired by Hiram Lodge to decrease the value of the Twilight Drive-In so that Lodge Industries could purchase the land for a low price. They were successful in doing so and the drive-in was shut down. On closing night, members of the gang attended, being loud and disruptive. At the same time FP met with Hermione Lodge for payment of their services, but according to FP, she was short. Also on the closing night, one of their members, Joaquin, became involved in a romantic relationship with Sheriff Keller's son Kevin.
After FP was rehired at Andrews Construction, Hermione wondered if he was there to shake her down for the supposed money she still owed him. However, FP explained that he had already been compensated by Hiram.
Under the assumption that the Southside Serpents had attacked Moose Mason at Andrews Construction, Archie, Kevin, and Moose made their way into a local bar, Whyte Wyrm, which was a known hang out for Serpents, in search for the two guys that ambushed Moose. However, they picked a fight with the wrong Serpent, a member named Mustang didn't appreciate Archie's accusations, claiming that he wasn't the first Bulldog to come here and start trouble, he was alluding to Jason Blossom. Mustang shoved Archie and then threw him onto the pool table just as their leader, FP instructed them to stop fighting. FP would later discover that the guys that attacked Moose were from Montreal, they were affiliates of Hiram Lodge.
After receiving a call from Jughead telling them to come to Riverdale General Hospital, Tall Boy and Young Serpent learned that his best friend's father Fred Andrews, was shot by a man wearing a black hood at Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe. While Serpents don't typically wear masks, Jughead informed them that some of those Serpents were working for Fred Andrews when for reasons of his own, he decided to suddenly let them go. Jughead suggested that maybe someone took it personally and went rogue. Regardless of the motive, Tall Boy and Young Serpent knew every hidey-hole in town. Someone had to have heard something about the shooting at Pop's. With that being said, Tall Boy agreed to look around and knock some heads if need be.
Jughead returned to his father's trailer that night to find Tall Boy and Young Serpent awaiting his arrival. However, they were not alone. With them, tied to a chair and badly beaten, was a man that they claimed was holding court in the Whyte Wyrm. He was going on and on about how if Fred Andrews was going let Hiram Lodge's bitch run the show by firing his crew, then it was good that he got shot. After a lengthy cross-examination, during which time Young Serpent assaulted him with brass knuckles, they concluded he was just being a loudmouth. Then what did you bring him here for, Jughead asked. Tall Boy explained that they did as Jughead asked because they were hoping that he would take that back to FP. Him knowing that they're looking after Jughead meant a lot to them. With or without the jacket, Jughead's a Serpent, Tall Boy stated.
Jughead met up with Tall Boy on the Southside to discuss FP's upcoming hearing. Even with Jughead playing fair and going to the Mayor for help, it felt as if the entire system was rigged to work against them. Tall Boy wondered what FP had to say about this and if he had taken the deal that was being offered for twenty years in prison. Fortunately, FP hadn't yet taken the deal. In a desperate attempt to free his father, Jughead suggested that they break him out of jail before he gets transferred to the state. Tall Boy chuckled, saying that Jughead had seen "Escape from Alcatraz" too many times. However, according to Jughead, the plan was doable. The Sheriff Station had worse security that Riverdale High School, he said. Once FP was out, it was a straight shot up Sweetwater River to the Canadian border. Taking a far more reasonable approach, Tall Boy suggested getting FP a better lawyer rather than breaking him out. FP needed a snake-handler. Someone whose livelihood depended on snakes. Who's used to dealing with them, and he knew just who to contact.
Jughead followed Tall Boy's direction to a lawyer and Southside Serpent named Penny Peabody. According to Penny, the Serpents put her through law school. Since they are often on the other side of the law, having one of their own on retainer, helping out, was clever, Jughead acknowledged. On to the deal that was being offered to FP, which in Penny's expert opinion was garbage. While there were no loopholes to be found in the deal, Penny suggested that Jughead get the family of the victim to forgive FP in front of a judge, as that could shift things in FP's favor. Instead of twenty years, he could get time served with parole. Jughead asked if he was now supposed to pay her for her consultation. Penny explained to him that they were friends. She did him a favor, and one day, he would repay that favor when the time came.
The following night, Tall Boy and two other Southside Serpents entered Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe during Retro Night. While they did nothing to cause trouble and kept to themselves throughout the night, some were uneasy with their presence.
After Jughead transferred to Southside High, he was greeted by Toni Topaz, a young Serpent, who would be his tour guide. As Toni showed him around, she explained that the classrooms don't have Wi-Fi. The bathroom stalls don't have doors. And the school paper, The Red and Black, had closed down long ago due to budget cuts. To their right was a rare glimpse of Jingle Jangle being consumed in its natural habitat, though Jughead had no knowledge of the term. Toni told him that it was a highly addictive gutter drug that's better off avoided. In the cafeteria, Jughead learned of the Ghoulies, a rival gang of drug dealers, street racers, and rumored cannibals. As for the two of them, they sat on the other side of the cafeteria with the Serpents. Despite her kindness and welcoming manner, Jughead would rather sit alone, which left Toni confused considering that he was a Serpent by blood; the son of FP Jones. While this was true, he identified as a loner. Toni advised him to hang with the Serpents. Should the Ghoulies discover that he's vulnerable, they'll seize the opportunity to attack.
Later, Sweet Pea and two other Serpents entered the the Red and Black offices in search of Toni and Jughead, wondering if the two of them wanted to join him at the quarry. While Toni agreed to come, Jughead denied the offer, sarcastically remarking that he didn't have his "beach body" yet. Sweet Pea took great offense to Jughead's refusal to join them, concluding that they were good enough for Jughead to ask for help from, but not good enough to hang out with. He instructed Jughead not to come crawling to them when some random Ghoulie decided to earn his stripes by taking out FP Jones' kid. While Jughead appreciated what the Serpents had done for him and his father, he had no desires in joining them, which angered Sweet Pea, enough to make him attack, though Toni was there to keep the two separate and prevent the situation from escalating. She then told Sweet Pea to take the hint as Jughead just wasn't that into him.
With Betty and Toni already gone for the night, Jughead left the office on his own. He proceeded down the hallway after hearing some strange noises. Whilie looking for an exit, he was ambushed and repeatedly hit and kicked. Following the attack, Betty applied alcohol to Jughead's wound, which he claimed that he sustained during a motorcycle incident, though Toni knew the truth. For a moment, Betty suspected that he had been attacked by the Ghoulies, which he supposedly had, but he would rather not worry Betty with the truth. Toni then interjected, telling Betty that the Serpents had Jughead's back. Even though he wasn't an actual member, there was still a connection of family loyalty. Once Betty left, they were able to talk freely about the attack, which she had previously warned Jughead about. She was hoping that this would force him to take them more seriously.
Jughead returned to school the next day and walked over to Toni and Sweet Pea in the cafeteria, asking if he could join them. As he sat, Jughead and Sweet Pea exchanged looks, nodding to one another after coming to an understanding.
On the Verge of War
Jughead joined Toni, Sweet Pea and Fangs Fogarty at their table in the cafeteria to find that they too had seen the video of Archie and The Red Circle threatening violence towards the Black Hood. With Fogarty looking to ear his Serpent stripes, Sweet Pea could think of no better way for him to do so than to bring them the head of the Northsider in the video, that being Archie. Jughead advised them against such action as Archie was someone he knew, who he described as being milquetoast and a lame target. If the Serpents felt as if they had something to prove, Jughead suggested that they go after the Black Hood themselves, though this wouldn't be in their best interest. With the Black Hood targeting Northsiders, he was doing their work for them, essentially making him a hero.
The following night, Sweet Pea, Fogarty and another Serpent caught Archie tagging their territory with the Red Circle's logo. He quickly realized that it was a message for the Black Hood. Even though Archie had no intentions on antagonizing the Serpents, he achieved just that by tagging their turf. Sweet Pea insisted that Archie return to the north side before the altercation turned violent, though Archie failed to heed his warning. On that note, Sweet Pea pulled out a pocket knife. However, that would do him little good against the gun that Archie then pulled from his bag, which sent the Serpents running in the opposite direction.
Despite the fact that he retreated the last time they met face-to-face, Sweet Pea was far from done with Archie. He and his fellow Serpents unexpectedly showed up on Archie's door step the night after their previous dispute. Archie opened the front door as they approached. Sweet Pea stated that they were there for payback following their last encounter. Reggie and the Riverdale Bulldogs then joined Archie at the front door, commenting that Bulldogs eat Serpents for lunch. While Archie was willing to fight Sweet Pea, he wanted Veronica to stay behind. Veronica agreed to Archie's request, but if they insisted on fighting, they would do so under certain rules, no weapons for instance.
The Southside Serpents met up with the Red Circle in a vacant lot, where a brief standoff took place between the rivals, as a storm came in. Both Sweet Pea and Archie stepped towards the middle of the lot, with Archie throwing the first punch, knocking Sweet Pea to the ground. From there, chaos ensued as the respective groups began attacking one another. More concerned with his fellow Circle members than he is the fight itself, Archie became distracted, providing Sweet Pea with the opportunity to deliver a heavy hit, leveling Archie to the ground. Although, the beating did not stop there as Sweet Pea closed in on Archie to deliver a powerful kick to his abdomen, injuring him greatly. Fortunately for Archie, before Sweet Pea could follow through on one last blow, the sound of a gun shot rang throughout the lot. The fighting ceased as they each looked to Veronica, who had fired the gun in an attempt to bring an end to the rumble, which resulted in injuries on both sides.
Jughead found Toni, Sweet Pea and Fogarty in the courtyard after learning that Dilton Doiley had supposedly been jumped and stabbed by Serpents. However, according to Fogarty, Dilton stabbed himself with his own knife. Furthermore, they didn't jump anyone. There was a fight; Riverdale Bulldogs vs Southside Serpents, during which time, Sweet Pea acquired the black eyes he was currently sporting. Archie gave it to him, just before Veronica shot a gun into the air. And to no surprise, the Northsiders went unpunished while they were hauled in by the police. Tired of being the source of blame for everything wrong with Riverdale, Sweet Pea and Fogarty devised a plan to blow up the Register with a pipe bomb, after hours, as payback. Jughead objected to the bombing due to the fact that blowing up a building would only worsen the matter. So, he asked that they hold off from exacting revenge until he could talk to Archie. But that was his answer to everything, Sweet Pea stated. Moreover, they didn't even know which side Jughead stood with. He couldn't be half a Serpent. Jughead then took a seat next to Toni as Sweet Pea and Fogarty left the courtyard. He blamed Archie for starting World War III. While Northsiders had been dumping on them for years, Toni informed Jughead that his father always put forth the effort to maintain peace and avoid bloodshed. But with him in prison, reckless individuals like Sweet Pea, only believed there to be one solution — violence.
Jughead sat at the trailer, contemplating his next move in the war between North and Southside. He decided to put on his Serpents jacket and head down to the Whyte Wyrm. However, upon entering the bar, he didn't receive the warm welcome he was hoping for. In reference to him playing both sides, Sweet Pea remarked that Jughead was a lost Northsider. Jughead countered that he was over being half a Serpent. Unfortunately, Sweet Pea mistook this as a ploy to save his friends on the Northside. Jughead assured the Serpents that he was willing to stand with them, just as his father led them. Tall Boy gave him the jacket, it was finally time that he started wearing it. However, he would first have to survive the initiation, if he truly wished to join them.
First thing the next morning, before the sun had even risen, Sweet Pea, along with multiple other Serpents, entered FP's trailer wearing green snake masks as part of the initiation process. He stood over Jughead's bed as he woke from his sleep. Sweet Pea told him that his initiation began with assuming guardianship of the Beast, otherwise know as Hot Dog, the Serpents' personal dog.
Toni tested Jughead's memory of the laws of being a Serpent, which were the following; "a Serpent never shows cowardice", and "if a Serpent is killed or imprisoned, then their family will be taken care of". However, he failed to cite the remaining laws. Toni instructed him to focus and to take the initiation seriously, which he swore he was, but he was struggling, though this still left the question as to why Jughead suddenly wanted to go from conscientious objector to full-fledged member. Much to Toni's surprise, Jughead's sudden change of heart was because of her earlier statement in regards to his father being responsible for keeping Serpents like Sweet Pea inline. Somone had to step up in order to prevent an all-out war from erupting. Hearing these words from Jughead convinced Toni to continue helping him with his review of the laws.
After what was presumably a successful review of the six serpent laws, Jughead and Toni returned to the Whyte Wyrm, where Jughead was then instructed to cite all six laws to Tall Boy. Upon completion of this, Jughead moved on to the third trial, which required him to retrieve a knife from inside the cage of a venomous rattlesnake. He grabbed the knife with little to no hesitation, though he was bitten. Unbeknownst to Jughead at the time of retrieval, the snake's venom glands had previously been removed. Toni explained it was a trial to test his courageousness, and he passed, thus making him one step closer to becoming a Serpent. It was during this chat with Toni that she called him "Juggie", for the first time, which they both simultaneously realized, resulting in an awkward exchange of looks.
The following night, Toni dropped by the trailer to warn Jughead about the final step in his initiation. She told him that if he was having any second thoughts, now would be the time to back out because of the final trial, the gauntlet, was on a whole other level. He remarked that he would be fine if the gauntlet was anything like the Beast. Though, he didn't appear to be taking her warning seriously. Toni explained if he joined the Serpents, he had to be willing to die for them, because they were willing to die for him. As for his Northside friends, he'd look up one day, and they'd all be gone. That's what happens when you join a gang, the Serpents were no exception. Jughead thanked Toni for stopping by, telling her that she can consider him warned.
The next morning, as Jughead prepared to proceed with the initiation, Archie unexpectedly dropped by the trailer to deliver some news, but before he could get a word out, Jughead attempted to get him to leave, as Sweet Pea and the others were on their way. Unfortunately, the Serpents rounded the corner just as he was pleading with Archie to go. That moment, Archie learned that not only was Jughead friends with the guys that attacked him, he was also joining the Serpents. Archie came to inform Jughead that Betty was breaking up with him. Archie claimed that she's been wanting to end it ever since he crossed over to the dark side, but she couldn't bring herself to do it, so she sent Archie. Realizing that it's over between him and Betty, he told Archie that the message has been received. He then turned around to see the Serpents watching as it all unfolded, asking if they enjoyed the show.
Later that night, it was time for Jughead to face the final trial; the gauntlet, which consisted of the Serpents standing on both sides of him, forming a straight path, which would eventually lead down to Sweet Pea. Prohibited from fighting back, Jughead walked down the path, as the Serpents landed many powerful punches, one after another. He continued down this pathway until reaching Sweet Pea. Beaten and bruised, Jughead asked if that was all they had to offer. Sweet Pea, who was wearing brass knuckles, delivered a massive punch, knocking Jughead to the ground, instantly. After regaining consciousness, Jughead stood to his feet and shook Sweet Pea's hand. He was then handed his Serpents jacket by Toni.
Jughead was congratulated by Toni back at the trailer for officially becoming a Serpent. As he held an ice pack against his face, Toni pointed out that he was going to have a difficult time hiding his brand new double-headed Serpent tattoo from Betty, though as Toni would come to learn, he and Betty broke up, thus making his tattoo a non-issue. The two of them then momentarily gazed into one another's eyes, before sharing a kiss.
Street Racing the Ghoulies
Sweet Pea, Toni, and many other members of the Serpents are taken into police custody after Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller raided Southside High in search of Jingle Jangle dealers. Of the Serpents, Jughead was the only known member to have escaped after being warned by Archie.
Jughead met with Tall Boy at the House of the Dead, which he would come to learn is a drug den ran by the Ghoulies, and that Tall Boy was looking to unite the two gangs after the recent heat being brought down on them started to deplete their ranks. They met with Malachai, leader of the Ghoulies, who shared the same sentiment as Tall Boy, believeing that a union would be in the best interest of both gangs, and successfully doing so would be easier to do if Jughead endorsed the partnership because he was FP's son, which carried weight with the younger members of the Serpents. Jughead was adamantly against the partnership, as the Ghoulies were responsible for Southside High being raided. Malachai replied that chaos is how they thrived, and that Jughead best get use to it. Tall Boy was supposed to be his father's right hand, so Jughead questioned how he could betray him so easily. But with the Northsider declaring war, and his father in prion, that left Tall Boy in charge to call the shots. The dynamics of the Southside were changing. Tall Boy advised Jughead to either change with it or suffer the consequences.
Jughead and Archie visited FP at the prison in hopes that he can help them save the Serpents. Jughead was accepting of whatever future punishment his father saw fit for him joining the Serpents, but right then, they needed his help stopping the Ghoulies from having full control of the Southside. His father explained that while Ghoulies dressed like fops, they were a nasty crew. However, the Serpents have survived much worse. Unfortunately for Jughead, the Ghoulies had him out numbered, meaning he had to avoid bloodshed at all cost by out thinking them. The one thing Ghoulles loved above all else was there souped-up retro cars and hearses. With that being said, FP informed the boys to challenge the Ghoulies to a one-on-one street race, but to keep it quiet. Should the cops learn of the race, they'd all be arrested. As for the terms of the race; if Malachai won, the Serpents would surrender, but if they won, the Ghoulies stand down and they'd gain control of Southside High, thus bringing an end to the Ghoulies and the Jingle Jangle problem, while simultaneously getting Mayor McCoy off their back.
Off FP's advise, Jughead and Archie returned to the House of the Dead to challenge Malachai to a race. He explained that If they win, Serpents remain autonomous and Ghoulies quit dealing at Southside High. However, if the Ghoulies win, the Serpents will fold, and he and his kind can continue polluting the Southside with his "little straws of death", though, with the Ghoulies having nothing to actually gain from this arrangement, Malachai wasn't interested in Jughead's offer, who he referred to as the "Serpent Prince". Betty and Veronica were then brought in after they were caught by the Ghoulies, trying to sneak in through the garage. On that note, Malachai wanted them all out. In a last ditch effort, Jughead offered up the Whyte Wyrm should Malachai agree to the race, which he does, only after adding on the Sunnyside Trailer Park.
At the drag race, Jughead shook hands with Malachai and told him that the race was to take place over Herk Harvey bridge to dead man's curve. First one back to the starting point won. Cheryl took to the center of the road as the flag girl, asking both drivers if they were ready before waving her flag, signaling the start of the race. Jughead took a momentary lead as the rival gang sped down the road. However, it didn't last long as Malachai began repeatedly ramming their vehicle. As they approached the bridge, Archie advised Jughead to fall back because it was too narrow for both vehicles to cross, though Jughead refused to back down, "the serpents are joining the Ghoulies over my dead body, Archie". With Herk Harvey bridge approaching fast, Archie pulled the emergency break against Jughead's wishes, forcing the car to a stop as the Ghouiles crossed over. Furious over Archie's interference, Jughead grabbed him, and demanded to know why he would do such a thing. Archie explained that Jughead would thank him for it, just before hearing police sirens at the end of the road. They followed the sirens over the bridge to find that Malachai had been stopped by Sheriff Keller and the police department.
Jughead and Archie returned to the starting pointing, alerting everyone of the police's presence, and telling them that it was time to leave. Tall Boy accused him of calling the cops, questioning how any honor could be found in his actions, but Jughead insisted that it wasn't his doing. Archie revealed that he called Keller. It was his idea. This way, the Ghoulies would get arrested for street racing. However, as Jughead informed Archie, they wouldn't be locked up for long. And when they got released, they'd wanted everyone's heads on a stake.
The next day, Jughead returned to school, where he walked the hall with Toni, who revealed that while some Serpents were giving him props for challenging the Ghoulies to a street race and beating them, others hate that he cut a deal with Sheriff Keller, because it put them in bed with the police. And while Jughead and Toni knew that it was Archie who called the police, others didn't. Jughead was startled by the sight of two officers rounding the corner, as he suspected another raid was in order, however, as Toni informed him, they were there to arrested the Sugarman, who had been identified as Mr. Phillips, the adviser for the Red and Black.
That night, after Betty came clean about her mysterious calls with the Black Hood, which is why she broke up with Jughead, the two of them cuddled up in the trailer; Jughead - working on his novel, and Betty - reading a book.
At the Whyte Wyrm, Jughead reveals that his father is getting out of jail. The Serpents applaud and celebrate. Jughead will bring him up to speed on their plan to have a sit down with the Mayor McCoy, which will supposedly "bring the Southside back". Tall Boy expresses his frustration with Jughead's plan to compromise with the Mayor and the Northsiders, to which Jughead explained that he is sick of Tall Boy acting like "a little bitch". Furthermore, Tall Boy's whispers of Jughead being half a Serpent are becoming a great concern of his. Looking to resolve the conflict, Jughead decides to put their next move to a vote. If the Serpents disagree with his objective to find a peaceful resolution with the Northside, then he will step aside, however, if they stand alongside him, he will follow through with the plan as scheduled. Many of the Serpents within the bar raise their hands in agreement with Jughead's plan to negotiate with the Mayor on their behalf, Toni]] and Sweet Pea included.
Upon FP's release, he and Jughead ride their motorcycles along the coastline of Sweetwater River. They parked off-road and discuss past grievances and future plans. Things got out of control while FP was away, leaving Jughead to often question what he would do in certain predicaments. Concluding that Penny is responsible for his releases, FP asks if she had bothered Jughead, who claims that he made a simple delivery for Penny, and considering that it was a one time job, he didn't ask too many questions. While Jughead knows this to be untrue, he assures his father that they are squared away. FP tells Jughead that he was kicked out the house by his father when was sixteen and told to go to hell. Instead, he joined the Serpents and then the Army, but only to return to the Serpents. He didn't want Jughead to follow in his footsteps given that he is destined for better things. However, Jughead doesn't wish to leave, though he wants his father's blessing in staying, reasoning that he ran the gauntlet and fought with and for the Serpents. FP is only willing to grant Jughead his blessing so long as he promises to keep writing, which Jughead agrees to, considering that he had been doing so every day.
The night of FP's Retirement Party has arrived. All the Serpents are in attendance. Betty, Alice, Archie and Veronica also attend. After Archie and Veronica perform "Mad World", from the soundtrack of the film Donnie Darko, Betty gets on stage to perform the "Serpent dance" in front of the entire bar, which is a tradition of acceptance amongst the female members of the Southside Serpents. Essentially, it is a strip show that Jughead watches in shock and anger. FP then gets up on stage, covering Betty with his jacket before sending her off. FP gives a speech in regards to his time as a Serpent. He describes the good times and the bad times. Despite the letter of the law telling him that he isn't allowed in the Wyrm to associate with the Serpents, FP announces that he has decided against retiring. As FP steps off the stage, Jughead asks him what happened to his retirement plans. FP holds him close and whispers into his ear that he is aware of Jughead's deal with Penny; how he made a drug delivery for her and the debt he owes. This breaks FP's heart considering that it is the one thing he had asked him not to do. Jughead offers to fix the dilemma, but he is already out, as his father put it. Penny is no longer Jughead's problem. They are then joined by Tall Boy, Sweet Pea and the other Serpents, who insists that FP have a celebratory drink. "Hail to the king", they say.
At the trailer, Jughead wants to talk to FP about the predicament they are in with Penny. However, as far as FP is concerned, Penny is not Jughead's problem, FP wants to keep Jughead out of Penny's grasp, even if it means as Jughead puts it "pimping the Serpents out as drug-runners". The more Jughead pushes, the greater he tests his father's patience. FP warns him multiple times to steer clear of Penny and her trafficking of drugs. Jughead fails to adhere to his father's warnings, asking Tall Boy about the contents of a mysterious bag that he had brought into the trailer. However, Tall Boy does not respond and Jughead is sent to school.
At the Whyte Wyrm, the Serpents are wrapping gifts and putting forth the effort to help their community; the Southsiders. Toni and Fogarty explain to Jughead that they give back to the Southside every year. It had become a Serpent tradition to look after the young and the elderly of the Southside during the holiday season and to help out via Toys for Tots and Meals on Wheels. Jughead remarks that he is always down for charitable works. He then runs into his father. FP questions why he isn't in school. Jughead reveals that it is a half day due to Christmas break. With that being said, FP requests that Jughead looks after the Wyrm while he and Tall Boy make another delivery for Penny. Jughead asks to join them, but FP refuses to allow him to accompany them. Instead, FP calls on Sweet Pea to assist them in the delivery.
Later that evening, Jughead rallies Toni, Sweet Pea, Fogarty, and many of the younger Serpents to reveal that Penny has forced his father into dealing drugs. He knows this because he was dealing Penny's drug before his father's release from prison. Since then, she has dragged in Tall Boy and Sweet Pea. Jughead fears that the Serpents will eventually end up like the Ghoulies. Furthermore, he doubts that any of them became Serpents merely to be at the beck and call of a drug Queenpin like Penny. The path that the Serpents are currently headed down only ends in two ways, jail or death. Which is why in the interest of self-preservation, Jughead wants to take out Penny before she can take out the Serpents. Unfortunately, Sweet Pea is hesitant in joining Jughead's cause given that the Snake Charmer had helped some of them in the past. Though this admittedly came at a price, several favors to be exact. If they didn't stop Penny that night, Jughead promises that she was going to drag every single one of them into the business of drug trafficking. The only remaining question is whether or not they are willing to risk their lives in order to his father's life. "What is the first law", Toni asks. "No Serpent stands alone", Sweet Pea replies. Having said that, Toni, Sweet Pea, Fogarty, and the others agree to assist Jughead in stopping the Snake Charmer.
At a warehouse in Riverdale, Penny hears a knock at the door while loading drugs into a crate for FP to later deliver. She assumes it is FP, arriving early. However, she is surprised to see that it is Jughead on the other side of the door. She looks down, noticing the crowbar he has in his possession. Jughead explains that he was going to use it in case he had to pry the door open. With FP on his way, Penny asks him to give her a hand with the drugs, which she assumes FP won't be too happy about considering that he had taken Jughead's place because he didn't want him involved in drug trafficking. However, Jughead isn't concerned with what his father will have to say given that neither of them will be at the warehouse when FP arrives. Penny turns around to the sight of at least half a dozen Serpents wearing snake masks. "Is this supposed to scare me?", she asks. As they advance towards her, she warns the young Serpents to stop what they were doing at once. However, under Jughead's command, they place a black hood over her head and carrying her away.
The Serpents drive Penny out to Greendale, her new place of residence, as she has been banned from returning to Riverdale. While they don't care where she sets up shop, it isn't going to be on the Southside or with the Serpents. If she sought to deal drugs and extort people, that would be done elsewhere. Penny laughs at them, then pulling up the sleeve of her leather jacket to reveal her Serpents tattoo, stating that Serpent law prohibited them from hurting one of their own. With that being said, it was time that she learns that her tattoo doesn't make her a Serpent considering that she hasn't been honoring their ways. Sweet Pea and Toni hold Penny down as Jughead pulls out a knife, and forcefully removes her tattoo with said knife, which is an excruciatingly painful process.
Transfer to Riverdale High
On the steps of Southside High, Jughead sits with Toni as she read over his novel, which she remarks as being "very Lovecraftian", a direct reference to the subgenre of horror fiction that emphasized the cosmic horror of the unknown more than gore or other elements of shock. Toni asks if he had written the script on a typewriter, which he had, claiming that his interest in typewriting is merely a technique to better understand H. P. Lovecraft's head space. However, Toni believes that his interest peaked with Betty giving him a typewriter for Christmas. They were then interrupted by the sound of Sweet Pea and Fogarty kicking open the school's doors. From them, Jughead and Toni learn that Southside High is closing down due to quarantine, and that they are all transferring to Riverdale High.
The next day, Jughead, Toni, Sweet Pea, Fogarty and the other Southside transfers arrive at Riverdale High to the sight of a welcoming committee, spearheaded by Veronica. To ease their transition to the Northside, she has set up a registration desk in the hallway for locker assignments, class schedules, and a list of sports and extracurriculars. As Veronica encourages each of them to drink deeply from the cup that is "fair Riverdale", Cheryl and Reggie interrupt. With the River Vixens and Riverdale Bulldogs in tow, Cheryl approaches the registration desk and hurls insults their way, referring to them as "Southside scum" and "raggamuffins". Cheryl refuses to allow Riverdale High's above average GPA to suffer because of overcrowded classrooms with underachievers such as themselves. So she tells them to find another school to deface with their "hardscrabble ways". In doing so, she offends Toni, who dares Cheryl to say it to her face. Just as the two are about to face off, Archie steps between them, hoping to put their Northside and Southside differences aside so that they can start over. When Reggie declines Archie's offer, Sweet Pea steps forward to finish what they had started during the rumble. The rivaling sides go back and forth until Mr. Weatherbee arrive to send them off to class.
In the student lounge, Veronica and Toni exchange pleasantries. Veronica is fascinated with the discovery of Toni's last name, Topaz, like the purple colored gemstone, she commented. As Sweet Pea and Fogarty were becoming acquainted with Josie and Kevin, Mr. Weatherbee called them out into the hallway to find out who had defaced the school's seal with a spray-painted on Serpent. Next to Weatherbee stands Reggie, who they suspect of being the actual vandal. The Serpents were innocent, though Weatherbee believed otherwise, especially with Reggie in his ear, claiming that the Serpents were known for tagging their turf. Having fallen victim to Reggie's lies, effective immediately, Weatherbee outlawed gang behavior of any kind. As of that moment, Serpent jackets would no longer be tolerated and tattoos were expected to be covered. Possession of any gang paraphernalia would lead to immediate suspension.
At the Whyte Wyrm with Toni, who's having a drink, and Sweet Pea, who's playing arcade games, Jughead expresses his frustration with Weatherbee, stating that they were being profiled. He was already telling them what to wear. Jughead is worried about what might follow, possibly brain implants that can control what they think. Toni advises him to calm down as he sounded like a conspiracy nut. She and Sweet Pea go on to explain that with the closing of Southside High, they are now attending a better school with a computer lab, textbooks, and fully functioning toilets. As far as Toni and Sweet Pea are concerned, getting transferred to Riverdale High is the best thing that could've happened to them. If it means that they have to take off their Serpent jackets from 8:30 am - 3:00 pm, Monday - Friday, then so be it.
The following day, despite Mr. Weatherbee explicitly prohibiting them from wearing their Serpent jackets on school property, Jughead arrives at school, jacket and all, proudly strutting throughout the halls of Riverdale High. He enters the lounge, acknowledges his friends, and then heads over to the vending machine, where he is confronted by Reggie, who demands that he remove his Serpent jacket. Jughead refuses to comply, telling Reggie that he couldn't possibly understand what the jacket meant because that would require for him to have a sense of honor, history and loyalty. This angers Reggie enough to the point of physicality, as he forcefully tries to tear Jughead's jacket from his body. Without hesitation, Sweet Pea and Fogarty come to Jughead's aid, resulting in a brawl in the center of the lounge between the Serpents and Bulldogs. As Toni stands back, watching helplessly, Veronica stumbles onto the fight, calling out to Mr. Weatherbee for assistance with breaking it up. In the office, after the fight has been brought to an end, Mr. Weatherbee gives them a week of detention. Though, he isn't quite done. He looks to Jughead, and tells him to remove his jacket or else he will be suspended. With that being the case, Jughead takes the suspension.
On his father's advice, Jughead returns to school the following day without his jacket, only to find that Toni and Sweet Pea have been given standard issue uniform (navy blue collar shirts and khaki pants) by Weatherbee, who claims to understand that not every Southside student has the means to purchase Riverdale High acceptable clothing. The uniform will supposedly help them fit in. Where's Fogarty, Jughead asks. Sweet Pea tells him that Fangs was suspended after refusing to wear the uniform. Essentially, their choices are to conform or be cast out.
In an empty classroom at school, Jughead welcomes Toni, Sweet Pea, Fogarty and the other Serpents to the inaugural meeting of the "Swords and Serpents" club. When Toni asks him to elaborate on the purpose of the club, Jughead explains that officially, they are a gaming group sanctioned by Mr. Weatherbee, where like-minded students can meet to concoct world building, role-playing scenarios, inhabiting fantastical heroes, and dispatching mythological creatures. Unofficially, it's a safe haven-like club for them to be Serpents during school hours and under everyone's noses. Jughead refuses to allow them to shed their skin, rather they would simply be lying low in the tall grass.
Pickens Day & The Uktena
Jughead interviews Toni's grandfather Thomas Topaz, who happens to be one of the founding members of the Southside Serpents. He tells Jughead that the snake and the laws are all based on Uktena tradition. The Uktena, he explains, is a horned serpent and/or a water serpent. Before the founding of Riverdale, all the land belonged to the Uktena. Thomas laughs hysterically when Jughead asks how did the Uktena evolve into the Serpents. The fact is they didn't evolve. They were all slaughtered. When his grandfather was a baby, there was a raid, and it was led by Riverdale's very own General Pickens. The battle lasted all of 12 minutes, but the slaughter was total and savage. General Pickens, whose statue stands proudly in Pickens Park, was responsible for the massacre of men, women and children. Yet the Northside honors him every year in spite of this. When Thomas' grandfather died, they formed the Serpents as a way to keep the family together. Jughead wonders how no one knew of this, though according to Thomas, some are aware. However, as Toni put it, this is a direct result of the whitewashing of history, adding that Jason Blossom wasn't the first person to be murdered in Riverdale.
The next day, Toni confronts Jughead after he published a Blue and Gold article addressing General Pickens and the massacre of the Uktena tribe. The article reads "General Pickens was a murderer and ripples from his gruesome acts continue to be felt today. Descendants of the victims are still being displaced. So I challenge the Northside, instead of honoring men like General Pickens and Hiram Lodge, hold them accountable. Reparations must be paid to men like Thomas Topaz, who are too old and beaten down to fight back for themselves." Riverdale is a deeply troubled town, and Jughead thought that publishing the article would strong-arm them into owning up to it. Toni cries out that her grandfather isn't a broken down victim nor is he a prop for Jughead's vendetta against the Northside. While she understands that he hated the Northside and that being invited to work the Pickens Day party triggered all the rage about being born on the wrong side of the tracks, the Uktena tribe, as far as Toni is concerned, isn't Jughead's story to tell.
Jughead returns to Thomas' trailer with Toni to apologize for his published article from the Blue and Gold that unintentionally painted Thomas as a "broken-down victim." Jughead explains the reason behind his actions. He was angry because the Southside is their home and he is sick of watching it get dismantled piece by piece in front of their eyes. The Northside took their drive-in. Then they took their school. Nonetheless, he shouldn't have used Thomas' story or what happened to the Uktena against the Northside. Jughead knows that he has no right and for that, he is sorry. However, whatever his reasons were, Jughead had opened an old wound by publishing that article, and something had to be done to heal it. Toni asks Thomas if he has something in mind. And as it would turn out, he does.
The Serpents protest the Pickens Day celebration with duct-tape covering their mouths and signs that read 'honor this land' and 'sacred land'. Surprisingly, Cheryl joins in on the protest, standing just behind Jughead and Thomas. With Sweet Pea and Fogarty at her side, Toni, who is seemingly leading the protest, stand in front of the stage to announce that they represented the dead and the silenced. Pickens Day was a lie. General Pickens slaughtered the Uktena tribe, Toni's grandfather's family. And the land in which they were standing on, would soon give way to a new Southside, which was stolen from them. While the Serpents couldn't bring them back, they could at the very least honor them. Hoping to defuse the protest and prevent any kind of riot, Hiram Lodge gets on stage to applaud the Serpents for standing up for justice, as well as the honor and legacy of the Uktena, who contribute to the rich tapestry that is Riverdale, that is the Southside and that will be SoDale.
- In the Archie Comics, the Southside Serpents were a rival gang of Little Archie and his friends.
- Affiliates to the Southside Serpents bear the symbol of the gang tattooed on their body, usually the arm.
Season 1 Screencaps