Riverdale Season 2, Episode 16 Recap: "Primary Colors"

Last week's Riverdale was all about twists, turns, and reveals. This week, not so much. Instead, the episode focused on toxic family ties and finally set us up for the Bughead vs. Varchie conflict the writers have been subtly hinting at all season long.
Oh man, where to start. For most of the episode, Archie (K.J. Apa) continues his blind devotion to Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) — doing everything from disrespecting his father to publicly betraying his best friend.
Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols) is running for mayor (and randomly getting an endorsement from Andy Cohen — in what may truly be the strangest thing to happen on one of the strangest shows on television). But with the campaign comes problems. The Lodge family isn't exactly popular, thanks to their evil private prison scheme.
But Archie doesn't care. He's 100% on team Lodge. Even if that means going toe-to-toe with his father, Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), who desperately wants to cut business ties with the Lodge family.
It takes a firm talking to from his mother (Molly Ringwald), over dinner one night to remind Archie that maybe his father isn't a mob boss who can buy anyone in Riverdale, but he's a hardworking, kind person who literally put the roof over his ginger head. I have to admit that when mama Andrews first came to town — to help Fred with Lodge family legal issues — I thought it was a waste of Molly Ringwald. But it was worth the guest appearance to have her yell, "You don't have to side with your dad, even tho Hiram is a crook — but I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit here and listen to you disrespect him."
That spurs Archie to do perhaps the smartest thing he's ever done: Cut a deal with the devil.
Hiram Lodge's accelerated timeline for the prison is met with protests by Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and the Serpents — because it means demolition of their old school, South Side High. Their peaceful protest includes chaining themselves to the building. Hiram asks Archie to break it up since adults taking down teens is bad press.
To be clear, Hiram is asking Archie to be at the centre of a potentially viral moment, to go against his best friend and family, and do his dirty work. At first Archie says no, but Hiram reminds him of the blood oath and "consequences" if he declines. So Archie agrees to the terms, but asks for Hiram to "prove your loyalty to me in return." How? By letting Fred Andrews off the hook.
Hiram honors the bargain and Archie does too.
He walks up to the protest, confronts Jughead face-to-face, and cuts his chains while hundreds of people live stream video and take photos.
Earlier in the episode, Jughead warned Archie about this pending confrontation, saying they were like "two trains running on the same track, in different directions, destined to collide."
Well, train meet train.
Things aren't going well for Veronica Lodge. Her parents are evil. She has to do their bidding. Her boyfriend is a lap dog. And by the end of the episode, she manages to become a pariah and lose her best friend. Ouch.
The Lodge parents have one request for their daughter: "We need you to be our good, obedient little girl."
That proves easier said than done. Ten minutes into the episode, Veronica punches Reggie (Charles Melton) in the face after he asks if her father will be the first inmate in their fancy new prison. One the one hand, violence is never the answer and her father is a crook. On the other, girlfriend took out a man twice her size with a single punch. Kudos!
It's not the only unfriendly confrontation at school. Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser) — who once loved Veronica for defending her after being harassed and slut shamed — is now her enemy, throwing a milkshake in her face as punishment for the Lodge family's crimes against Riverdale. It's a little dramatic, but a breaking point.
Veronica decides she's going to fight fire with flare — by running for President of the student body. She asks Betty (Lili Reinhart) to be her running mate. Betty agrees — much to Jughead's dismay— and at first it seems like everything will work out for Ronnie.
But things go south quickly. At an event, Josie (Ashleigh Murray) endorses Veronica (in exchange for an Andy Cohen connect), but midway through an awkward song about women empowerment, Ethel starts handing out fliers that spill some of Veronica's dirty little secrets, including the fact that Veronica knew about the prison since day one.
Betty storms out. Josie admits that she gave Ethel the intel because the Lodges are trash (and they are, but girl — look at your mom, look at her choices too, okay sweetie).
When Veronica tries to explain the vice grip her parents have over her life, Betty basically calls her a coward and liar. Most teens can't relate to mobsters for parents, but they can relate to being forced to support their parents in endeavours they may not agree with simply because they are children. Not everyone can disobey their parents like Betty and walk away from it with little to no consequences.
But Betty has no sympathy for Veronica. "I can't trust you, V," she says.
It's sad that their friendship once again dissolves under such little pressure. And perhaps even sadder when you remember that Betty is a girl who helped cover up a murder to protect her family, yet she's so quick to turn on a friend who's keeping secrets for her family too.
Maybe Betty's real problem isn't Veronica or secrets or brunette wigs or Chic (Hart Denton). Maybe it's just her?
We've had weeks of build up on this whole "Is Chic a dangerous stranger?" plot line and it's going nowhere fast. It's definitely one of the most boring stories of the season and if Chic doesn't turn out to be F.P.'s secret son or an axe murderer, I'm out.
Betty starts the episode by telling Chic she secretly got a hold of his blood and sent it for testing (which sounds pretty illegal, tbh). And it proves that that he has no Blossom blood! Why is that important? Remember: "Blossoms are Coopers," as Betty says, thanks to dear old dad Hal.
But when she breaks the news to Alice (Mädchen Amick), she comes back with a twist. Chic doesn't have Blossom blood because Hal isn't his dad. When Betty tries to press for more info about his paternity, Alice shuts her down and hugs baby Chic. Yes, Chic gives Betty a creepy look, but I'm starting to wonder if that's just his face? Like maybe he can't control it because he's a little off.
When Betty finds Kevin (Casey Cott) and Chic hanging out together in her home, she loses it. "Don't mess with my friends," says the girl who set up an elaborate catfishing scheme to entrap her brother who she sought out after being advised not to do so.
Chic doesn't listen to her. So Betty does what any rational girl would do you would expect from her: She terrorises him.
Girlfriend literally puts a lighter next to his face in the middle of the night and says: "I'm going to bring you down because I catch bad men. I caught Clifford Blossom. I caught the Sugarman. I caught the Black Hood" — but did you, boo? — and points out the one thing they all have in common: They're dead. "Consider yourself warned," she says.
Totally normal behaviour.
Alice confronts Betty about her behaviour — and admits that she and F.P. have hooked up before *insert bulging eyes emoji here please* — and Betty acts like Chic did something wrong. Look, maybe he's evil. But right now, girl you just look crazy.
She confronts Chic one last time and he tells her that she's crazy and that she scares him. Is he just the best creep ever and using Betty's darkside against her? Or is he actually just weird and frightened of a girl who assumes a new identity when she wears a wig? Unclear.
Either way, Betty ends the episode by asking Jughead if she can live with him. Surprisingly, he agrees. LOL.
Betty, what are we gonna do with you?
Jughead was the least interesting part of the entire episode. But it's worth noting two things: (1) He tries to have a hunger strike to protest the Lodges' prison. Yes, this is the kid who is always eating. Yes, Archie laughs at him. Everyone watching did. And (2), Jughead is running for president now. Is that now an official head on collision for V and J? My, my, a few weeks ago they were kissing in a hot tub and now they're headed for a showdown.
It's still hard to gage what the writers want to do with Cheryl. Her story always seems like an after thought, mostly because it doesn't weave into the others quite as neatly.
This week, Cheryl is still living in purgatory, only now it includes attempted murder.
Cheryl's mother Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) and her sketchy brother-in-law, Claudius (Barclay Hope) are clearing hooking up. I mean, he's wearing her father's silk robe. They're also poisoning nana. What a fun family! So much for Veronica's home life being the worst, eh?
Cheryl invites Josie, Betty, Veronica, and Toni (Vanessa Morgan) over for a Beguild themed slumber party. It's weirder than it sounds. The girls are actually sitting in a line, combing each other's hair while wearing silky, lacy evening wear.
Cheryl tries to tell them about her fears at home, but Josie brushes it off as Cheryl being crazy and Betty makes it all about herself (surprise, surprise). That night, under a red fluorescent light that looked better suited for a Pussycat Dolls video circa 2007 than a teen girl's bedroom, Cheryl tells Toni that she wanted to only invite her over, but mama Blossom is NOT here for it. This only makes us want this romance more.
Just before they kiss, there's a noise. Looks like nana Blossom was tossed down the stairs. Cheryl suspects that she's next — and she's right, sort of.
By the end of the episode, Toni finds that Cheryl Blossom no longer lives in Riverdale. Penelope claims that Cheryl was sent to boarding school in Switzerland.
Thank you, Toni, for being the only person smart enough in Riverdale to straight up say that's BS lady.
The truth? Cheryl Blossom is locked away, with Sister Woodhouse for some conversion therapy. Where the writers are planning to go from there is unclear, but poor Cheryl.
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