Warning: This recap of the “Chapter 15: Nighthawks” episode of Riverdale contains spoilers.
When Cheryl Blossom casually called Jughead a “hobo” this week it did more than cause me to roll sideways off my couch and onto the floor. It also reminded me that Riverdale is TV’s greatest hobo stew. Back in my train hopping days we’d throw any old ingredient into a boiling tin bucket — old spaghetti, expired wine coolers, candy canes — and pray to the great tramp in the sky that our dinner would be edible. Riverdale‘s the same way… An insane brew of homage, reference, and inspiration, yet its end product somehow manages to be more delicious than any of us could reasonably expect.
Take for example “Chapter 15: Nighthawks,” which married an absurdly dopey “save the diner!” plotline seemingly borrowed from Saved by the Bell with the brutal ritualistic murders of ZODIAC. Now that is a combination I can get behind. But while Riverdale never shies away from name-checking its inspirations (this week’s shout-out to A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors was a personal thrill) it never forgets to make the characters themselves feel singular and original to this world. Betty and Veronica couldn’t exist outside Riverdale and something tells me future TV series will be paying homage to Cheryl Blossom for years. In other words, Riverdale‘s expert curation of icons is what will make it iconic. Hey let’s talk about this week’s episode!
We began in the desolate, dystopian parking lot of Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe. The world had changed a lot since Archie’s dad was gunned down while eating a grilled cheese sandwich, and things were starting to look almost Mad Max-esque!
Basically nobody in Riverdale wanted to gorge on diner food underneath flattering neon glow anymore! Pop was obviously bummed, but nobody was more brokenhearted about this than Jughead and Betty. Where would Jughead get his cheeseburger fix now? And where would she pout about boys? Something had to be done!
At this point the episode turned into a real DAD FIESTA. We checked in with all the dads to see how everyone was daddin’ these days. First up: Archie’s dad Luke Perry was home from the hospital (and his near-death coma experience) and was already up and about! Ever the good son, Archie was attempting to take care of him by preparing burnt breakfast and also foregoing sleep entirely so that he could sit by the front door with a baseball bat every night. Neither of these things was very helpful, but it was the Archie thought that Archie counted, y’know?
Meanwhile, Veronica’s dad Mark Consuelos was out trying to regain the town of Riverdale’s trust by jogging around in a tank top. It probably did the trick with most of the citizens, but Veronica was still very suspicious of her father. It was going to take more than good genes to change her mind about his born-shadiness.
Jughead’s dad Skeet Ulrich was still in jail awaiting his sentencing for helping dispose of Jason Blossom’s corpse last season. And despite what his lawyer believed was a generous plea deal, it was still looking like he was going away for at least a couple decades. This was another thing Jughead was not happy about! Losing a burger place AND a dad in the same episode? So rude.
Jughead ran into City Hall and shouted at Mayor Robin Givens about it. She was like, “GTFO” and Jughead had no choice but to tell her she was being a bad mayor or whatever and then storm out. Oh well, it was worth a shot.
But you are probably wondering, ‘How’s Archie?’
If you can believe it, the above picture represents Archie looking “tired” and “bad.” Everyone was very concerned about him looking so bedraggled because he’d begun substituting Red Bulls for sleep, and even Jughead made a reference to the sleep-deprived teens of A Nightmare on Elm Street in his presence. But he couldn’t help it! He was hallucinating a masked shooter every few minutes.
But rather than, like, get some extra Z’s, Archie decided the best course of action to really regain control of his life was to get onto hard drugs.
New Reggie, who I guess decided to stop being a jock meathead and start being a street hustler (?) promised to get Archie drugs called Jingle Jangle that would get him all meth-ed up and give him a boner, which seemed like a recipe for disaster if you ask me. But at least New Reggie is so dreamy. They should be friends! Rooting for them.
Also jumping into the mix in a bigger way was Josie, who decided to join the Vixens for no good reason except that it’s better to be a cheerleader than absent for six episodes in a row? Josie is a great character and it was so weird how little she was featured in Season 1. That being said, cheerleading seems beneath her, but at least she’ll be hanging with Cheryl more? I like that idea!
At this point word began to spread that Miss Grundy had been murdered. Archie did not take this news well, and he did the classic high school teen thing of running out of the classroom to, like, reel in private. But if he was paranoid about a killer targeting his family before, this new murder made Archie exponentially more terrified. Was the killer sending him a message by killing the woman he’d lost his virginity to? Maybe! (But also, why did they keep calling her Miss Grundy? Wasn’t it common knowledge that she was a con artist? Even the sheriff seemed unaware of her identity theft. Guys, I don’t remember most things.)
In one of the more hilarious things that have happened on this show, Jughead momentarily considered breaking his dad out of prison, but the biker he proposed it to was like, “Um, relax.” Instead Jughead was sent to consult with Debbie Pelt from True Blood, as she was a very shady lawyer with connections to the South Side Serpents. She agreed to help Jughead however she could, but by episode’s end she hadn’t really done anything PLUS Jughead’s dad seemed terrified of the idea that she was now in their lives. Uh-oh. This was not going to be good. What you up to, Debbie Pelt?
The episode then got straight-up wacky when we paid a visit to the Blossoms’ new home, an ivy covered gingerbread house designed by Thomas Kinkade. Inside, Mrs. Blossom had taken to dressing like Little Edie from Grey Gardens. We’re talking lacy negligee, kimono, and turban at the dinner table. Truly a vision. Anyway, Betty and Jughead had arrived to plead with the surviving Blossoms to put in a good word for Jughead’s dad in order to get his prison sentence reduced. They impolitely declined and that was that. It was then that Betty decided she needed to be a little more proactive.
The next day at school she barged directly into the girls’ locker room and interrupted Cheryl during her makeup-and-bra moment and threatened to release a SNUFF FILM of Cheryl’s dad murdering Cheryl’s brother-lover if Cheryl didn’t take the stand and get Jughead’s dad’s sentence reduced. Oh, and also Cheryl would have to enlist the cheerleaders to help save Pop’s diner at a fundraiser party. Cheryl did not particularly want a video of one quarter of her family murdering one quarter of her family, so she gave in to all of Betty’s demands. And in my opinion she seemed almost impressed that Betty would resort to such a loathsome tactic. But it’s like they say… All’s fair in love and snuff videos.
Reader, it worked. Cheryl took the stand, did her thing toward the judge, and next thing we knew Jughead’s dad was home again! And to think Jughead was prepared to, like, run a bulldozer through a prison wall or whatever. This was much easier.
I loved when Betty shanghai’d Josie and the Pussycats into performing against their will, and only two of them were able to show up and perform a cover of Kelis’ “Milkshake.” If you were thinking, “Well, doesn’t Veronica fill in sometimes?” then how does it feel to be humiliated by your hubris? Nay, it was CHERYL who filled in as the third Pussycat, and she did a bang-up job! But yeah, I love the revolving door nature of this weird band. When’s Betty’s turn? Or Barb? Is Barb coming back? We’ll see.
Betty’s mom decided to do some work at Pop’s diner despite the fact that it was mostly a party for teenagers. She’s just a cool mom like that! Except then she kept spotting scoops and had no choice but to document them with her phone. One such scoop was the drug deal she spotted in the parking lot! Pulitzer Prize, here she comes.
Meanwhile, Veronica’s shaky relationship with her dad (and by extension her mom) began to recover slightly when they made a generous donation to keep Pop’s diner afloat. But what she didn’t know was, they secretly bought it, thereby continuing to gobble up the valuable real estate and businesses of Riverdale! They were very shady people, but damn they looked good.
Wait, was this part supposed to be heartwarming? After Cheryl fulfilled her obligations to Betty, she was given the remaining copy of the snuff video and she decided to show it to her mom? What a cozy family movie night! In my opinion the Blossoms are strange, I’ll explain later.
For her part, Betty’s mom figured out what the Lodges had done and took the opportunity to shame her daughter for being a dum-dum and an idiot. But this was very harsh, since Betty was merely trying to save a town landmark. Ugh, no good deeds etc.
Then Archie bought a gun from a nerdy gun dealer. He claimed it was for his protection, but isn’t it always that way? Archie’s got a gun now, guys! And if he continues to be a sleep-deprived pill popper, this won’t end well!
Speaking of not ending well… Moose! Kevin’s erstwhile closeted bisexual ex-boyfriend was just enjoying a pleasant evening huffing Pixie Stix with his new girlfriend when their car was approached by a hooded man with a gun, Zodiac style.
They were shot and possibly murdered! This was a terrifying way to end the episode, and continued this season’s seeming serial killer plotline. The killer was now targeting innocent teens just like baghead from The Town that Dreaded Sundown! I will be honest, I was dreading the idea of the killer being some kind of hired hitman designed to, like, de-value real estate or whatever. No, this is an actual, evil serial killer and I’m extremely excited about it. Pity about Moose though. He seemed nice.
“Chapter 15: Nighthawks” was a fun combination of dopey teen plotting (gotta save that diner!) with terrifying nightmare moments and the usual dreamy visuals. Again, wary of this show resting too much drama on the Lodges’ business dealings, but fine. As long as we get the lurid scares and emotional meltdowns, it’s a small price to pay. May we all bask in Pop’s beautiful neon aura forever.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.
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