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“I barely acknowledge my own birthday.”
Poor Juggie. All he wants is to watch a John Landis double feature at the Bijou for his birthday, because he's not "wired to be normal." But Betty's determined to distract herself - and perhaps her boyfriend - from the fact that Chuck has returned, and he knows Betty's darkest secret: that she's not the perfect girl next door. It's a secret she's terrified will get out, but when Chuck announces it to Jughead's entire (and entirely unwanted) surprise party, he's actually freeing Betty. She no longer has to pretend to be something she's not, and the realization that his girlfriend might be just as dark, weird and twisty as he is keeps Jughead from spiraling after he's forced to spend an evening with his classmates.
We also have F.P. Jones to thank for keeping Jughead together, surprisingly, as he gives Juggie a piece of advice the kid needs to hear: "You have something good here, with her, with your friends. Something we could never give you. Also, man up. After what I just saw in there, she needs you." Jughead does "man up," and his reconciliation with Betty at Pop's is really lovely to see, but I can't help but wonder if Juggie's language - "I'm not normal. I'm not wired to be normal." - is indicative of the comic character's asexual roots. Either way, these two do need each other - as friends or more - and Jughead's surprise party, while traumatic, brought to the surface a lot of stuff they both need to acknowledge and discuss.
In what's likely a less healthy emotional coupling, Archie and Veronica are both dealing with parental fallout by making out with each other. While this seems ill-advised, it also makes Archie interesting for the first time in months, so I applaud the effort. Archie's upset because his dad tells him he's going to finalize his divorce with his mom, but the episode ends with Fred walking in with Molly Ringwald as Mary Andrews, so it seems like she talked her way out of some paperwork for now. It's great to see Ringwald, if even for a second, and I look forward to more of her arc in future episodes.
As always on Riverdale, Veronica's problems run a little deeper than Archie's. Her dad's trial is looming, and his attorney has asked her to testify in support of his character - a character she does not, in fact, support. She refuses, until Hiram, via his attorney, threatens Veronica and Hermione. Poor Veronica, though she does take the opportunity to appreciate the fact that her mom is a good person, even if her father's specter seems to cast a bigger shadow over Riverdale than any of its maple syrup blood feuds.
Finally, many of Riverdale High's secrets come out at Juggie's party, thanks to a battle between Cheryl and Veronica that also results in a cheer-off for the ages. Although we don't learn anything new, everyone else does, and we're reminded of some clues that are likely going to be relevant in the mystery's resolution. There has to be a reason we're reminded of Miss Grundy just as we were all beginning to forget about her, right?
Next week's a break before the final three episodes of Riverdale's first season!
A few more tidbits:
Please give Kevin Keller more to do.
Archie calls Jughead a "lone wolf" and the two Landis movies Juggie wants to see at the Bijou are American Werewolf and Animal House, so Riverdale isn't done nodding to the werewolf Jughead comics storyline anytime soon.
"Last time you brought me baked goods it's because you kissed Archie." Oh, how I hope this new development doesn't cause problems for Riverdale's best relationship: B&V.