Last week’s Riverdale premiere, “In Memoriam,” should be viewed as a season 4 prequel. Rather than set the 2019-2020 season’s plot into motion, it announced the mournful pall that will hang over coming episodes. That’s why Wednesday's new episode, “Fast Times at Riverdale High” feels like a proper season premiere. It even sees the Core Fore of Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) start their first day of school, a classic season-opening tactic.
While the quartet is coming together in ways they haven’t in ages, they’re also splintering off on their own little journeys. That means football drama, family drama, dubious propositions, and, of course, major federal investigations into known dangerous cults. Just normal high school stuff!
Let’s get down to the most bonkers moments of the episode and try to unravel them. They’re in no particular order, because Riverdale excels in the chaos.
The Core Four comes thisclose to a foursome
“Fast Time’s” cold upon hits its stride when the Core Four gather in Ronnie’s apartment. The girls wax poetic about their anxiety and excitement over their last year of high school, until Betty is distracted by Jughead’s mouth. After Bughead (aka Betty and Jughead) starts furiously making out, Varchie follows suit and passionately kisses on the couch across from their friends. “I think that’s our cue, Archikins,” Veronica says. At least one friend of mine agrees the scene appears to be the beginning of group sex à la fellow Archie Universe series Sabrina.
Nevertheless, Riverdale hits the breaks before going that explicit. Instead, Archie and Veronica slink away to Ronnie’s room to have sex while Betty and Jughead hook up in the living room. Boundaries. The twin sex scene gives Ronnie a chance to show off her absolutely lovely lingerie and for Bughead to remind us of their boundless chemistry. This is what a penthouse without parents looks like the day before starting senior year (remember, Hiram and Hermione are both in prison right now).
The sex was so good for all parties involved, it made everyone forget to set an alarm for class.
Everyone nearly stumbles into Jason Blossom’s Corpse Room
In Cheryl Blossom’s (Madelaine Petsch) first scene of “Fast Times,” she asks the propped-up, years-old corpse of her long-dead brother Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) what she should wear to school the next day. He chooses the red dress, naturally. As you watch this “conversation,” it’s impossible not to wonder how Cheryl’s live-in girlfriend Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) hasn’t seen J.J. yet, let alone smelled him.
Two subsequent moments in the episode shed some light on Cheryl’s stealthy operation. First, Toni creeps down the corridor that leads to Jason’s room looking for Cheryl. But Cheryl closes the gate to Jason’s resting spot before Toni can get a peek. Then Cheryl distracts Toni with the promise of a party, leading her away from the cursed area. Later, when a drunken Reggie Mantle (Charles Melton) almost accidentally muscles his way into Jason’s room, Cheryl screams him out of there.
Television is run by the rules of threes. The next time someone tries to look behind that metaphorical and very macabre curtin — they’re seeing Jason.
Reggie’s family trauma is finally dealt with
On the subject of Reggie, the Bulldogs captain gets one of the most emotional storylines of the episode. As we first learned in Riverdale season 3, Reggie is physically abused by his father Marty (Matthew Yang King). The toxicity of Marty comes to the forefront in “Fast Times.”
The first time we see Marty, he is yelling at Bulldogs practice to humiliate his son. When Reggie goes into the locker rooms, he turns his dad’s hostility onto Monroe Moore (Eli Goree), whom we met as Archie’s juvie roommate “Mad Dog” last year. With a fresh start at Riverdale high, Monroe is trying to evolve past his forced prison fight club days by using his government name and enjoying extracurriculars. Monroe is pure, and we all have to support him. Reggie resents the promises of Monroe and tries to goad him into a fight.
It doesn’t work, since Archie can see what’s going on beyond Reggie’s bravado. When Marty shows up to the next practice, Archie confronts Mr. Mantle in a show of solidarity with Reggie. Reggie, clearly terrified of how his dad will react, attempts to defend Marty. Still, he shows up to a shift at the Bonne Nuit with a black eye. Then, at Cheryl’s party, he attempts to drown his sorrows with booze.
In a sweet turn of events, a heart-to-heart with Archie raises Reggie’s spirits. During some post-party alone time, Reggie admits how jealous he was of Archie’s relationship with the late Fred (Luke Perry) — and how he questioned why Fred died instead of Marty. It’s another touching performance that proves the Riverdale crew’s acting chops have really grown.
Reggie closes his emotional journey by bashing his dad’s beloved red sports car in with a baseball bat. He is a drunk high school football player. This makes sense. Reggie seems hopeful the next time we see him at school, where he tells Archie his late-night property damage forced a much-needed father-son conversation. It’s official: Marty isn’t coming to practice anymore.
Jughead joins a spooky rich person school
There is a new sexy and suspicious adult on Riverdale, and his name is Mr. Chipping (Sam Witwer, an expert in creepy-handsome acting). Mr. Chipping is a teacher at Stonewall Prep, a rich kid boarding school. Chipping really wants to recruit Juggie to Stonewall after reading a short story he submitted to a writing contest. The teacher is so doggedly interested in Jughead that he shows up to his school and later to his home in an effort to convert him.
Chipping’s persistence works, because Jughead eventually agrees (this will be Jughead’s fourth high school tenure). But Jughead’s big decision only comes after a visit to Stonewall’s bougie literary salon, where he shows up the prep school’s supposed intelligentsia. Oh, and after Riverdale reminds you roughly 30 times just how dumb and lazy the students of Riverdale High are. Jughead, apparently, deserves better.
Riverdale signals a Waco-like crisis may be ahead
Betty and her FBI brother Charles (Wyatt Nash) have been trying to track down the Farm all summer. Now that inside informant Alice’s (Mädchen Amick) reports have gone cold, Betty is starting to worry. So she leverages her former friendship with Kevin (Casey Cott) into getting a lead. After the kind of backstabbing one would expect from a teen boy traumatized by a cult, Kevin seemingly comes to Betty and Charles with answers. He swears the Farm is holed up in an abandoned motel that they’ve stockpiled with guns. “Edgar’s preparing for war,” Charles surmises. The connection to the massively fatal Waco siege, where David Koresh’s heavily armed cult and the ATF bureau battled it out in1993 Texas for 51 days, is obvious.
Is Kevin setting up Alice’s kids for a deadly betrayal? Is he finally coming back to his senses? Come back next week to find out.