Riverdale Recap: Chapter 3: Body Double


By: Packy Smith (@nerfedllamas)
Previously on Riverdale: The quiet little town of Riverdale is left reeling by the bizarre murder of popular teenager Jason Blossom, who was on a simple boating trip with his twin sister Cheryl on July 4th. While an investigation is ongoing, some semblance of normal life must attempt to go on. During this tumultuous time, Veronica Lodge and her mother Hermione move to Riverdale following the public disgrace and legal action against her rich father in an attempt to get away from the family money and negative press. Betty Cooper and Archie Andrews, best friends and next door neighbors, have hit a snag in the road as Betty has strong romantic feelings for Archie which he cannot reciprocate. Archie’s problem is that he has fallen in love with his music teacher, the young Ms. Grundy with whom he had started a secret relationship with over the summer. Compounding problems for Archie is his ever-straining relationship with his father Fred Andrews, who is having difficulty staying connected with his son and his newfound desire to pursue a career in music. Betty and Veronica become fast friends and join the cheerleading squad together, which is led by Cheryl. All the while Jughead Jones, Archie’s erstwhile best pal has been cataloguing all of the events in preparation for a novel he is writing based on the murder of Jason Blossom and the wild events that continue to unfold around Riverdale. An autopsy on Jason’s body reveals that he didn’t die on the day he went missing, but in fact died a whole week later. New evidence in the investigation lead the sheriff to detain Cheryl Blossom at school.

Recap: Chapter Three – “Body Double”

Jughead’s narration brings us back to Cheryl’s surprise admission of guilt as he examines the duality of good/evil and how the lines that define those concepts are beginning to blur in Riverdale. In questioning with the sheriff and Principal Weatherbee, Cheryl explains that she is not guilty of murdering her brother but of helping him run away from home by staging an elaborate boating accident. According to Cheryl, Jason wanted to get away from their parents and start a new life away from their control and scrutiny. He was supposed to contact her roughly a month later, once he had successfully found a place to start his life over. She also tells the sheriff that she heard a gunshot the morning of July 4th when she was helping Jason escape Riverdale. Before the sheriff can get any further information from Cheryl, her parents come into the Principal’s office, instructing her not to say another word as they proceed to take her and leave the school.
At the Cooper residence, Betty’s mother, Alice Cooper (no, not that Alice Cooper) slams a fresh copy of the local newspaper “The Riverdale Register” in front of her daughter. The headline reads, “Cheryl Blossom Guilty As Sin!” and the article contains very specific information about Jason Blossom’s autopsy. Betty and Alice argue over whether or not it is a good idea to sensationalize the murder and the people caught up in the investigation. Alice responds that as the owners of the Riverdale Register, they have a responsibility to keeping the town’s people informed of all the juicy details and tidbits. Based on all of the good questions that Betty asks about getting to the truth of the story, Alice suggests that Betty should join them at the newspaper and become a reporter, calling her a daughter, “a real Lois Lane type”.
Meanwhile, back at Riverdale High School, Archie takes a brief moment to gaze through the classroom door at Ms. Grundy playing a cello before going to the Principal’s office to make a confession of his own. With the sheriff present, Archie tells Principal Weatherbee that he was at the river on July 4th working on his music. He too had heard a gunshot like Cheryl did that morning, but he did not see who the shooter was. The sheriff asked if Archie was alone, to which the young lad protected Ms. Grundy and said that he was there only with his dog, Vegas.
Later that day on campus, a mess of teenagers including Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Kevin, are discussing the new developments in the murder mystery. Kevin cleverly asserts that they should all probably re-binge Netflix’s controversial series “Making a Murderer” as they prepare for the craziness that is coming to Riverdale. Betty cannot, as she has work with the high school newspaper “the Blue and Gold” to complete, and Veronica is out because she has a hot date with the captain of the football team, Chuck Clayton.
Betty summons Jughead to the office of the Blue and Gold in an attempt to convince the budding novelist to become a journalist with her as well. He notes his concerns about the school’s paper being a good fit for his “voice”, but Betty convinces him that he will have adequate freedom to report the truth and that she will only edit and make suggestions on his written work. Jughead agrees to be Clark Kent to her Lois Lane and is given his first assignment: talk to the only other known group that was at the river at the time of Jason’s disappearance, Dilton Doiley and his Boy Scout troop.
Archie makes it home later than expected and Fred is waiting for at the front door. The concerned father is upset because he couldn’t get a hold of his son all night long. Archie explains that he was at football practice and then had stayed out a bit longer to work on his song writing. Fred seems less than impressed that Archie is still chasing after his musical aspirations, but is even less impressed with his son decision to divulge new information to the police without letting his father know about it first. Dutifully pointing out that Archie was supposed to be on a road trip with Jughead during July 4th, Fred grounds Archie for 2 weeks and tells his son that the lies have to stop.
Late at night, parked in front of Pop Tate’s, Veronica is enjoying her date with Chuck. They take a selfie, and discuss Veronica’s coming to Riverdale and Chuck’s athletic and scholastic achievements. Having satisfied the minimum small talk requirement for a date, they commence with the heavy smooching.
The next day at school, Ms. Grundy grills Archie on what he told the sheriff about July 4th. Archie explains that it was the right thing to do, that he kept her name out of it, and that he couldn’t sit by and watch them crucify Cheryl over her brother’s murder. Grundy freaks all the way out, lambasts Archie for doing the right thing, and suspends their music tutoring sessions because she is worried that the police will figure out that she was there with Archie on the 4th. Archie is understandably gutted by her over-reaction and rejection.
At the nearby lockers Betty, Kevin, and Veronica are talking about Ms. Lodge’s date with Chuck. Veronica said he was super fit but also a super dull conversationalist, neat for a date but that there was no future there. All is seemingly going well until a random female student asks Veronica how she liked the “sticky maple” that Chuck gave her. Veronica has no earthly idea what the student meant, and dismisses it as a one off comment from a jealous girl… that is until Kevin receives a social media update of the selfie that Chuck took with Veronica that has maple syrup digitally layered on top of her face. Apparently being “sticky mapled” is a Riverdale thing that some Jocks do to brag about girls they’ve made out with (and more). This will not do for Veronica, as she makes clear when she exclaimes, “I’m neither a slut, nor am I going to be shamed.” Betty offers to help by telling Principal Weatherbee or writing about it in the school paper, but Veronica wants a more direct approach and if Betty wants to help she’ll need to break the good girl routine and be able to go “full dark, no stars”.
Betty and Veronica barge into the men’s shower rooms and catch most of the football team with naught much more than a towel on. In fact, Veronica steamrollers over Archie damn near making him drop his towel completely (the visual is still compelling, if that’s your thing). Veronica confronts Chuck and demands that he take the photo off social media immediately. Chuck plays the alpha dog card (complete with Moose barking in the background) and tells Veronica it isn’t going to happen. Chuck takes it a step further and tells Veronica that if she fights back, she’ll only make it more difficult on herself.
Outside at the school’s athletics field, Dilton is holding a meeting with his Boy Scout troop. Jughead swings by to ask Dilton a few questions about July 4th. Not wanting to have his troops placed under scrutiny, Dilton dismisses them for a brief moment. Jughead gets straight to the point and asks Dilton if he heard the same gun fire that Archie and Cheryl reported hearing. Dilton quickly denies hearing or seeing anything out of the ordinary that morning, and sticks to the story that he found Cheryl on the shore of the river soaking wet.
In class, Cheryl thanks Archie for corroborating her gunshot story and as a reward is willing to offer him a single wish, just about anything he wants. Archie let’s Cheryl know that he didn’t do it to earn favor with her, but because it was the truth. That being said, he does cash that favor in really quickly. He has Cheryl setup an opportunity for him to sit in on Josie and the Pussycats rehearsals for a week to learn and gain wisdom from their musical talent. Josie is apprehensive at first, but is willing to do it as a favor to a dear friend.
Back at the Pembroke Apartments, Veronica is reading the comments about her “sticky maple” image and gets all sorts of frustrated. Her mother comes home and asks her how her date with Chuck went, and Veronica simply states that he wasn’t her type. Before Hermione can press her for more questions, Veronica gets saved by a call from Betty.
Upon arriving back at the high school, Veronica finds that Betty has a classroom full of female students. It turns out that quite a few Riverdale students have been the victim of a “sticky maple” scenario. One student in particular, Ethel Muggs, is willing to go on record. She tells the group about how Chuck and the other football players had taken advantage of her, asking her to perform sex acts of some form or another and that the boys kept score of their conquests in a notebook. Cheryl Blossom shows up and and dismisses the story as just the ramblings of jaded sluts, stating that her brother Jason was the captain of the team and that he wouldn’t let anything is salacious as this happen. Veronica snaps back at Cheryl, letting the captain of the cheerleaders know that these terrible acts are most definitely happening, and that she will do anything it takes to provide the proof needed to get the Principal to take action. Also, Veronica lets Cheryl know that her wrath will be of the scorched earth variety, and if Cheryl didn’t want to get caught up in it then she had better stop calling the victims sluts.
Later at Pop Tate’s, one of Dilton’s scouts is finishing dinner with his dad. The father goes to pay the check as the young man is getting ready to dig in to a yummy looking ice cream desert. Before he can get a bite in Jughead appears and steals the cherry from the top of the sugary dish. After eating the cherry, Jughead snags the ice cream for himself and asks the youth for information about the gunshot on July 4th. The scout tells Jughead that Dilton fired the shot to teach the scouts about firearm usage. Turns out that Dilton is a hardcore survivalist and is desperate to harden his scout troop for potential worst case scenarios.
Archie is at rehearsal with Valerie and Melody of the Pussycats. Josie shows up and asks what Archie is hoping to get out of the experience. With his heart on his sleeve, Archie tells Josie that he was hoping to get guidance and possibly hear the Pussycats sing some of his songs. Josie stops him right there and gives him a lecture on race relations in Riverdale (which are not quite as evolved as they are in big cities like Los Angeles), and how that alone meant that he was not instantly qualified to write songs for a musical group of color. Archie admits that he doesn’t know how difficult it has been for the Pussycats to achieve what they have, and that he is willing to sit back and just learn. Josie is glad to hear that he is smart enough to admit it and with that allows the full rehearsal to start in earnest.
Back at the Blue and Gold, Ethel brings a football player to Betty. The athlete tells Betty about the score keeping notebook that a few of the jocks use to catalogue the points that they receive for their “sticky maple” victories. More than that, he knows where the notebook is. Fast forward to Betty, Veronica, Kevin, and Ethel sneaking through the campus hallways complete with flashlights, deep in the hunt for the smoking gun in their investigation of the football players. Cheryl shows up and joins them out of sheer morbid curiosity to find out whether the notebook actually exists or not. Ethel finds the book in Chuck’s shower locker, and after opening it they get a crystal clear picture of who the victims are and which players are involved. Cheryl is shocked to see that Jason was involved after all, and adding insult to injury had hooked up with Polly just to score points for the jocks’ stupid little macho competition. Betty drops some mad crazy truth bombs on Cheryl about her brother and how he screwed up Polly with this stunt. Veronica is happy that they have the evidence, but Betty is ready to take it a step further to get justice for all of the victims.
The Pussycats rehearsal has hit a creative impasse, as Josie is not feeling the new lyrics that Valerie has written. Archie interjects and offers a small lyrical tweak that Valerie digs a lot. Seriously, the look Valerie gives Archie is fire, like the good and sexy kind of fire. Josie decides to give his version a shot and after a quick vocal run through of the song, agrees that his suggestion was a good one. Surprisingly she asks Archie, “What else you got?”
Betty is in her room at home putting a crimson lipstick on. Her mom walks in and immediately disapproves of the color choice, adding that she doesn’t want Betty to grow up too quickly and that the color evokes a certain image that is unbecoming of a young lady. Turns out that the lipstick is Polly’s, and upon hearing that Alice smudges the lipstick on Betty’s face and then hands her a pink lipstick as a safer alternative. Alice then asks Betty if she is going to the Mayor’s special event tonight. Betty is not, as she has to study for a test with Veronica. Mrs. Cooper doesn’t like Betty associating with Veronica, but doesn’t stop her either.
Chuck Clayton is chilling out at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe. Betty shows up in her red lipstick and a much more revealing outfit than normal. Without much effort needed, Betty seduces Chuck and has him agree to meet her at her friend Ethel’s home for a dip in the hot tub. Chuck finds the location of the date a bit suspect, but Betty convinces him that no one will be there as Ethel and her family will be gone for the night. Liking the idea of a hot tub grind with Betty, Chuck mentions that she and Polly are very much like: nice on the surface but a freak in the sheets behind closed doors.
Archie tries to sneak back into his house after curfew and gets busted by Fred, who actually gets to bust out a wicked good Ferris Bueller reference while busting his son’s chops. Archie tells his father the truth about being with the Pussycats, helping them write a new song, and asks if he can go to the Mayor’s event to see the song performed in front of a crowd. Fred says no and tells Archie that he can’t just continue to do whatever he pleases. It turns into a big argument about Archie’s music and how the teenager believes that his father doesn’t respect his decision to pursue music.
At Ethel’s home, Chuck is surprised to see Veronica answer the door. Veronica lets the horny jock know that she and Betty had decided to stop fighting over Archie and agreed to share more. Young Miss Lodge in a ravishing swimsuit walks into the hot tub, inviting the athlete in with her. Just as he’s asking where Betty is, she shows up in an equally amazing swimsuit of her own, however she is also wearing a raven black wig. Betty tells Chuck that “Betty couldn’t make it”, but that she was there to make up for it (effectively Betty is roleplaying as a supposedly different person).
The Mayor’s Event “The Taste of Riverdale” officially kicks off. The Mayor engages in a conversation with the Blossom parents, hoping to find out how they are doing. Momma Blossom is less than impressed with the Mayor and how the investigation of her son’s death is going. Just then, Alice Cooper shows up and antagonizes the Blossoms which leads to Mrs. Blossom smacking the fool out of the mouthy reporter. In a bid to defuse the situation, Josie and the Pussycats start a music set. Archie sneaks into the event and finds Jughead hiding up on a balcony. The 2 lads share a brief moment wherein Archie tells his friend about the song he helped write, and Jughead agrees that the song is pretty good, but that he can’t stick around because he has an evil scout leader to interview. Downstairs Fred finds Ms. Grundy and chats with her about Archie’s music. Grundy lets Fred know that Archie has genuine talent and that it would be a shame for him to not pursue it. Alice finds Hermione Lodge serving drinks and uses that as a good opportunity to razz her about Veronica’s dating misfortune and humiliation. Hermione has no idea what Alice is talking about and walks away to call Veronica.
Back at the hot tub, Betty has slipped muscle relaxers into Chuck’s drink and makes sure to get him good and drugged. Veronica is uncertain that this is a good idea, but Betty assures her friend that it is what is required to get the needed response from Chuck.
Outside of the Mayor’s event, Jughead confronts Dilton about the gunshot and what the scout said at Pop’s earlier. Dilton tries to wriggle out of the situation, but Jughead isn’t having it. He tells Dilton that he can either confess to the sheriff or to the school paper, but that he had to do it by no later than tomorrow morning.
Chuck, now fully loaded, finds himself handcuffed to the rails along the hot tub. Betty then proceeds to interrogate the football player as her friend Veronica films the whole thing on her smart phone. Catching his full confession on camera, Veronica stops recording and is satisfied, but Betty is most certainly not satisfied. Going a smidge off the deep end, Betty continues her persecution of Chuck, calling him Jason and alluding to herself as Polly as she pushes his mouth and nose under the water. Chuck vehemently apologizes between gasping breaths. Veronica petitions her friend to stop, and eventually Betty lets him up for air. To finish the whole thing off, Betty pulls out a container of syrup and gives Chuck a legit ‘sticky maple” all down his face and body, all while Ethel looks on in secret with gleeful approval.
Early in the morning the next day, Fred is putting sound proofing panels in the garage. Archie sees his dad working and asks him what’s up. Fred tells Archie that he believes in Archie, and wants to support him in his pursuit of a musical career. Archie is super appreciative of the gesture and the 2 share a good father/son moment.
On campus, Veronica shows Betty the cover story from the Blue and Gold about the “sticky maple” football players. Although highly appreciative of all of Betty’s help in exposing the truth, Veronica can’t help but be concerned about her friend’s mental health. Betty tells Veronica that she knew what she was doing, and that she did what she had to to get justice for the victims.
Jughead narrates as Principal Weatherbee takes action to resolve the football player scandal. Hermione intervenes on behalf of Betty and Veronica, and although they receive some level of punishment for their activities with Chuck, it is a significantly reduced punishment. The football players involved in the “sticky maple” shenanigans are cut from the team. Jughead states that it takes a few weeks to manifest, but that the football players being cut from the team yields harsh consequences in the weeks ahead. Betty tosses the “sticky maple” notebook in a metal trashcan outside and lights it on fire. Cheryl joins her, and apologies to Betty for what Jason did to Polly. Archie thanks Ms. Grundy for talking musical sense into his dad.
Honoring one of the options laid out before him, Dilton meets Jughead and Betty at the Blue and the Gold’s office to confess. Dalton wants a deal. Essentially, he will tell them a more important fact about July 4th if they agree to not report about him firing the rifle. Betty agrees to his terms, and Dilton states that Ms. Grundy’s car was at the lake on the 4th. Jughead’s narration comes on one last time as he notes that he would do just about anything to protect Archie, but that this admission in front of Betty was going to make it impossible.

My hot take on the third episode:

– STILL NO CHEESEBURGER FOR JUGHEAD! I’m starting to have serious concerns that the writer’s staff for Riverdale do not understand exactly how quintessential cheeseburgers are to the Jughead experience. This is the same guy that once went on a date with a girl who worked as a cheeseburger mascot in front of Pop Tate’s, not because he wanted to date the girl but because he wanted to go on a date with a cheeseburger. Fix the cheeseburger deficiency STAT!
– Full Dark, No Stars Betty is either the best thing ever, or the worst… I’m just not sure. It definitely seemed like one might have flown over the cuckoo’s nest with Betty in this episode. The elaborate sexy swimsuit, the wig, the makeup, the torture sequence, and the maple syrup finale were totally over the top. I’m very cool with this if Betty is in control. I’m less cool with it if they are trying to paint her character as having a serious mental illness, as it would go against everything that her source material character is. Betty can be harsh, even severe when the situation calls for it, but she has never been legitimately certifiable before. This is a very narrow line they are walking with her character.
– Real world problems were at the front and center of this episode. Racial divide and the objectification of women were the driving force of Body Double’s narrative. It was nice to see Josie being willing to accept Archie’s input. It was even better to see Archie willing to see the Pussycats hardships and all of the challenges that they have to overcome purely be being young black women in a small town. The harsh treatment of young women, and the hurtful games that adolescent men play on them was also handled with brutal accuracy. No punches were pulled during the “slut-shaming” story and it was excellent to see Betty and Veronica teaming up to protect the victims of their school.
– Betty and Veronica are an institution now. This episode left no uncertain terms as to how far Betty and Veronica were willing to go in order to support each other. They have a wonderfully strong bond and are willing to play by their own rules as a team. Riverdale better watch out, because B & V are here to stay!
– As a fan of the comics, I did not love how they chose to portray Chuck Clayton or Dilton Doiley. In the comics, Chuck Clayton is a good natured guy who loves both art and athletics. In Riverdale he’s that douche-nozzle jock that only other douche-nozzle jocks liked. In the comics, Dilton Doiley is a genius level scientist and all around technology guru. In Riverdale he’s still highly intelligent, but with leanings more towards nature and survival (like almost militia level survival). I’m not sure why they drastically altered those 2 characters so much, but hopefully further reveals of future classic characters will have them be at least vaguely like their source material.
– Shannon Purser was exceptionally compelling as the victimized Ethel Muggs. As the one girl in the “sticky maple” group that was willing to speak out and go on record, Ethel showed a mountain’s worth of courage telling her story. The payoff to the humiliation story is doubly sweet as Betty avenges Veronica & Polly, but Ethel gets to watch with much approval as Chuck Clayton gets taken down hard. All in all, a heart-wrenching but great first appearance for Ethel.
– The jig is up for Archie and Ms. Grundy! YAY! I hoped after episode 2 that they would resolve this specific story sooner than later, and it would appear that I’m gonna get my wish after all. Now that Dilton has opened up that can of worms, hopefully they’ll split Archie and Grundy up. This should do wonders for Archie’s character and how he interacts with the other teens on the show, as I am ready for him to be more involved with his contemporaries.

Be sure to tune in for the next episode, as the whole gang from Riverdale attempts to unravel the mystery of who Ms. Grundy actually is.

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