Even in the land of Riverdale the main staple of happiness and community like Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe can fall under darkness when something like a murder happens inside its walls. The diner has been completely abandoned by the town because of the shooting that happened to local Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) and it has taken its toll on owner Pop Tate (Alvin Sanders). Without his usual clientele of high school kids and family get-togethers, he doesn't know how much longer he can keep the place open. But that's all about to change in the second episode of Season 2 titled Nighthawks.
Speaking of family, at the Andrews household Archie (K.J. Apa) is attempting to make some breakfast for his father but considering he's on so many energy drinks I don't see how he can focus enough. Archie's new self-imposed responsibility of trying to protect his father from whoever shot him is really taking an effect on him. In his haste to go to the Sheriff's office, he tells his Dad he has to go and runs off. I love how in his attempt to "help" his father he just leaves his breakfast making carnage for Fred to clean up. Teenagers, right Fred?
At the sheriff's station, Archie ambushes Sherriff Keller (Martin Cummins) on his way in and asks him how his Dad's case is going. Keller gives the typical "we're doing all we can" speech but Archie isn't going away that easily. He shows the sheriff how he's made flyers (a drawing of a man in a mask?) and goes on about how he's talking to neighbors, tracking his Dad's credit cards, etc. The sheriff listens but looks back at him like the high school kid that he is. "Let us do our job," he tells Archie. We all know why Archie wants to help so much, but someone needs to tell him that he's not Batman.
In one of the other rooms, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is with his father, FP (Skeet Ulrich) and their lawyer talking over the deal the courts have offered. It's not a great one (20 years), but with all the evidence stacked against him, it seems like the best option for FP.
The next morning Veronica (Camila Mendes) shows up on Archie's doorstep to have a talk with him. As they walk to school, he tells her how he's been guarding the house from the foyer to protect his Dad from the man who shot him coming back. She understands where he is coming from, but suggests he go see the school counselor to deal with these traumatic times he is going through.
Over at City Hall, Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead have gone over to ask Mayor McCoy about helping out Pop's Shoppe. One suggestion they have is making it a landmark but the Mayor dismisses it quickly citing that if something else were to happen at Pop's again it would go against her responsibility of keeping the town safe. Since she turns down their idea, Jughead has no problem in accusing her of being part of making his Dad's case worse for him. He tells her that she should get his Dad a better lawyer to help him out but she just cites how he will get a fair trial regardless. Well, that just blows all of Jughead's pistons as he points his finger of shame at her and says "Remember this moment because this is the moment you turned your back on both Pop Tate and my father!" He glares at her with eyes of disgust and then storms off. I don't know if Sprouse was attempting to play this as a boy TRYING to be a man or what, but it was impossible to take Jughead seriously in this moment.
Back at school, we're briefly introduced to the character of Midge (Emilija Baranac) who is asking Reggie (Charles Melton) for some of that famed "jingle-jangle." I know we're in the land of Archie Comics but couldn't they possibly come up with a term that doesn't make us laugh immediately? Anyway, so now we're clear that is basically "speed" because that's what Reggie suggests for Archie approaches him for something to keep him awake. And now we are aware that Reggie is Riverdale High School's official drug dealer.
As Betty and Veronica go to practice with the Vixens we learn that not only is Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) back to lead the squad but now Josie (Ashleigh Murray) has joined the group. Because I guess with the band and school Josie didn't have enough to keep her busy. Betty asks Cheryl if she could have the Vixens help out with an event to support Pop's diner but Cheryl just looks at her with a half-smile and gives her a firm no. And if that wasn't enough surprises for Veronica's day her father, Hiram (Mark Consuelos) shows up at school because his daughter keeps avoiding him. He tries to reason with her that he wants things to go back to the way they used to be but Veronica says those days are over citing the blindfold is off and she can't just put it back on. You didn't think it would be easy, did you, Hiram?
In his ongoing efforts to help his father, Jughead talks to one of the Serpents and tries to suggest breaking his Dad out of prison. He's told that's a crazy idea and instead it is suggested they need a snake handler to take care of his father's legal affairs. FP needs someone who livelihood depends on the snakes and knows how to deal with them. So Jughead is sent to Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan) a lawyer who has an office stacked with filing boxes high in the back of a tattoo parlor. She tells Jughead that the best thing for FP is if they can get the victim's family to forgive him in front of the judge. Does this woman not realize we're talking about the Blossom family? I'm not feeling the odds on this plan.
After that startling ending to last week's episode with the murder of Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel), we were just waiting for Archie to find out about it. Sure enough, he's in class and they announce of her being murdered which I find hard to believe a high school would even mention that ugly result. Suffice to say Archie takes it very hard and quickly leaves class. Doesn't he need a bathroom pass? He runs home and declares to his Dad that he thinks it's more than a coincidence of her being murdered after Fred has been shot.
Over at the Cooper household, Archie and Betty are talking with Mrs. Cooper (Madchen Amick) about their concerns that the crimes are linked. She doesn't seem to be as keen on the idea as they are, but she says she'll talk to her coroner friend and see if there are any similarities. When Archie leaves, Mrs. Cooper does her usual condescending of her daughter and mentions how she no longer has to worry about saving Pop's Shoppe. She smugly lets Betty know that Pop Tate is selling the property to a-wait for it--an anonymous buyer! Oh, joy, more mystery!
As Veronica just gets home, Betty calls her to give her the news about Pop's and she immediately thinks her father is behind it. She accuses him of trying to win her affection by buying the Shoppe but Hiram denies it. Since she's already on a roll she decides to also suggest that he was behind the shooting of Fred Andrews. He properly denies that as well. She tells him that she had believed he was a good man until he sent her that letter from last season, the one threatening Hermione (Marisol Nichols) if Veronica didn't testify on his behalf. But as her mother pauses to look over the letter we can tell something is amiss and it turns out Hermione wrote the letter herself. She needed Veronica to testify so she used it to sway her daughter's actions. Not cool, Mom!
We shift over to Thistle House where Jughead and Betty have come over to plead with Cheryl and her mother to forgive FP. The Blossoms have gone from a giant manor to living in a posh greenhouse that looks like Poison Ivy herself was their interior designer (and expectedly there is a Poison Ivy reference). As I'm sure it surprises no one Cheryl and her mother brutally strike down Jughead's request. Even though Betty reminds Cheryl that FP didn't kill Jason they aren't having any of this and her mother, in particular, says she can't wait to see "FP fry in the electric chair." After they have left Jughead says to Betty if it wasn't for the fact that her dad was dead he would resort to blackmail. Well everyone might not have your conscience Jug.
When Mrs. Cooper reports back to Archie she tells him that Ms. Grundy was strangled with a cello bow and that there were no signs of forced entry so she probably knew her killer. While Archie immediately flashes back to giving Grundy the cello bow, Mrs. Copper tries to convince him that the two crimes are obviously not related because of the different methods used. Still sure of his theories, Archie goes over to see the Sheriff AGAIN and conveys his thoughts that it must be Grundy's ex-husband that is doing all of this. While Keller politely listens, he tells Archie that they've already done their homework and Ms. Grundy's ex, has an airtight alibi. Archie is now seriously doubting his sanity in all this.
Betty taking it upon herself to help her boyfriend out finds Cheryl in the girl's locker room (in some spectacular lingerie as only Cheryl would do) and confronts her with a plan. She tells Cheryl that if she doesn't speak on FP's behalf that she will put the video of her Dad shooting Jason out on the internet. After that, she'll give Cheryl all copies that exist of the video. Plus, she needs the Vixens for Retro Night in helping out Pop's Shoppe. Cheryl agrees and seemingly is actually pleased with Betty being so crafty.
The next day in court, Cheryl does her part and lies on the stand saying she and her mother have forgiven FP and ask for leniency. When the judge isn't totally sold, she makes up a story on how she overheard her father threaten FP with harming Jughead if he didn't comply with the cover-up. That convinces the judge enough to want to reexamine the case before they deliver a sentencing. Jughead and FP hug in this win for the moment.
Later on, that evening at Pop's, Betty's Retro Night is looking like it might fall flat until she convinces the Pussycat Dolls (with Cheryl filling in for one sick cat)to give a live performance and that brings in the crowd. After a successful night of the town, rallying to show Pop how much he is loved he makes the announcement that he'll be able to continue to be open for business. And he credits the Lodge family with giving him a donation that he can use in case a dark time comes upon him again. What he doesn't mention, but is revealed to us is that Hiram is the anonymous buyer behind buying Pop's Shoppe. Hiram made an agreement with Pop that he could stay on as manager as long as he stayed silent about his involvement. Ah, so his daughter was correct!
On that note, when Veronica's parents show up to "support" their daughter, she tells them she is open to try and start over again and be a family. After previously having a talk with Jughead, he convinced her that maybe her Dad deserves a second chance. If she only knew! We are also shown that Hiram DID, in fact, write the infamous letter and Hermione was just covering for her husband. This Hiram guy is slimier than any of the monsters in Ghostbusters. And to top it off, when they return home, our favorite doorman Smithers (Tom McBeath) is gone. Supposedly sent back home to care for his sick mother. What a piece of work you are, Hiram.
In closing this episode out, FP calls Jughead and is very upset that he went to Penny Peabody for help. While Jughead tells his Dad he did it out of desperation, FP warns his son to never contact her again saying that you "don't want to be in bed with the Snake-Charmer." Cheryl shows her mother the video she got from Betty in hoping to give her closure, Mrs. Cooper does her best to make Betty feel like shit saying that by keeping Pop's open it has now become a place of drug dealings and.....Archie buys a gun! We know the old saying in storytelling is that if you're going to introduce a gun it has to be used at some point. Sounds like bad news for whoever finds the end of the barrel.
Now they couldn't leave us without at least one appearance of the "Green-Eyed Hood," could they? Remember the girl Midge we got introduced earlier when she was buying some of that jingle-jangle from Reggie? While she is partaking in the joys of it with her boyfriend in their car, the infamous gunman approaches the car and shoots both of them in a splattery mess. This character is on a road of vengeance and is by no means stopping anytime soon. Who do you think will be his next victim when the show returns next week on The CW? Any ideas on who he is?!