Welcome to the latest episode of “Riverdale” (2017–) that for some reason also functioned as a 42-minute-long promotion for coming of age/coming out movie “Love, Simon” (2018)? This Riverdale gang-led infomercial felt mostly like filler, but that didn’t stop “Chapter 27: The Hills Have Eyes” from solidifying itself as one of the best episodes of the season. Who needs plot development when you have steamy hot tub make-outs, completely unnecessary homicide and FINALLY a love interest for Cheryl?
The episode kicks off with Hiram offering up the Lodge family cabin (the “Lodge” lodge) to the core four for a fun weekend couples getaway. At first it seems like Hiram is just choosing to be a very sex positive parent to his high school daughter, but he quickly reveals in private to Archie that it is all a scheme to get Veronica out of town. He apparently has a very important meeting with some of the other mob families in the area, so he wants Veronica to be out of harm’s way. He also tells Archie that Andre the driver will be secretly chaperoning them, and not to tell Veronica. Yay for lying to your girlfriend and for being her dad’s personal lackey!
It’s time to head out for the cabin, but not before Jughead has a creepy run-in with Chic, not that there’s any other kind with this kid. Chic basically threatens the lives of Alice and Betty, and he also does his creepy evil smile again in case there was any confusion about the tone of this conversation.
The gang arrives at the lodge, and as Andre unloads the bags from the trunk, Archie notices that Andre has a gun. Gee, wonder if that’s going to be relevant later or something! And in other news, Jughead is looking particularly sleep-deprived and worse for wear. It’s unclear if that is purposeful for the character or if that’s just Cole’s natural state. Probably the latter.
Before they even get a chance to unpack, Jughead gets a call from Cheryl. Before they had left, Cheryl had tried to come along on the trip, but Veronica had shut her down by telling her it was couples only. Never cross Cheryl, kids. This vicious queen has called to inform Jughead that Archie and Betty kissed — with tongue — and hangs up. She really is leaning into her @CherylBombshell identity.
Back at school (why are there people at school if the gang is supposedly on a “weekend” trip? Betty is not cool enough to skip school), Toni Topaz comes into the bathroom after overhearing Cheryl and tries to comfort her because she knows Cheryl is really in pain. Cheryl storms off, but for a second it was a moment.
The other point of excitement in Riverdale is the release of the movie “Love, Simon.” (Coming to a theater near you!) Kevin wants to see it with Moose, the only other gay kid we know of — albeit closeted — at Riverdale High. Unfortunately, Moose is already seeing it with his girlfriend Midge, but claims Kevin can come along since Midge knows everything about them (and supposedly their previous relationship) and “is cool with it.” Kevin isn’t buying it, however, and declines the invitation. And later, it’s made clear that Midge does not know, and Kevin has to cover for Moose by telling her that he and Moose are former lab partners. Kevin deserves so much more than this provincial life.
Over at the “Lodge” lodge, Jughead is only mad about the Barchie kiss for about five minutes, but he and Betty end up arguing again only moments later when Jughead keeps trying to indiscreetly ask Veronica about Hiram’s business dealings. However, Veronica misinterprets their arguments as continued tension over the kiss, and orders them and their neon green margaritas out to the hot tub.
Veronica’s big plan? That she and Jughead should kiss to level the playing field, duh. Archie is definitely pissed, but Jughead looks low-key into it. Jughead definitely has an inferiority complex when it comes to Archie, but honestly it makes sense, considering Betty was head-over-heels in love with Archie for a while there. Ah, remember those simple days of season one when Betty was in love with Archie and Archie was in love with his teacher? What’s a Black Hood?
So Veronica and Jughead kiss, and it lasts kind of a long time — seriously, probably a solid 10 seconds — and Betty and Archie just have to sit there and watch. But then it’s over, and everyone seems fine. They might all just be wasted off three sips of those radioactive margs.
Back in their respective rooms, Archie does fragile-masculinity-induced push-ups, while Jughead gets a little too excited when Betty informs him that she and Veronica have kissed before. Boys will be boys?
Then, oh no, help our souls, Betty emerges in her official cam girl/Dark Betty™ uniform. Someone please burn that wig! But Jughead seems into it, so okay kids, you do you. Let the awkward bed-creaking commence.
The next morning, Veronica catches Archie secretly talking to Andre in the woods, and tells him to try not to choke on his own testosterone, which is actually a pretty sick burn. Then she goes to town and flirts with a random cashier in a store and tells him where she lives. Hm, is THIS going to be relevant later???
That night, the gang gets into a huge fight upon finding out that Hiram bought both Sunnyside trailer park and the Riverdale Register, with Betty and Jughead attacking Veronica for being in on this scheme with her dad. Jughead also basically calls Archie stupid and Veronica calls out Betty and Jughead for being tragic and constantly watching serial killer documentaries, so all in all, it is a pretty hilarious (and spot-on) fight.
But before it can escalate anymore, three guys (one of whom is the cashier, duh) break into the cabin to rob them. And so there’d be something juicy to include in this week’s episode teaser, the boys are conveniently wearing black hoods. Before they can do too much damage, Veronica pushes a secret security button, and the boys flee to the sound of alarms, but not before the cashier grabs Veronica’s locket — the ugly one Archie gave her for Christmas — off her neck. This prompts Archie to chase him outside and tackle him but before he can do anything else, Andre appears and says he’ll take care of it. And what do you know, as Archie runs back toward the house, a gunshot rings out.
Real talk, why was it at all necessary for Andre to shoot this kid for trying to steal some cash from the house? Archie had already restrained him, so it would have been a lot less trouble to just have the security that’s already on its way arrest him. Instead, there is yet another murder for one of these poor kids to cover up. And yet another secret for Archie to keep from Veronica. Boyfriend of the year.
Back in Riverdale, there is a whole other thing with Josie, who is mad at her mom about the affair with Sheriff Keller. In retaliation, she spills about the relationship to Kevin, who is pretty upset considering his mom is overseas and knows nothing. But Josie apologizes to Kevin at — where else — “Love, Simon,” and they watch the movie together and decide to work things out with their parents. Cheryl and Toni also end up enjoying the film together, since Cheryl had to get out of her house-turned-sex den.
And now, the moment we’ve been waiting for. After a tear-filled speech about how much the movie emotionally affected her (we can ignore that part), Cheryl admits to Toni that she isn’t loveless — as her mother had yelled at her earlier — but rather had loved a girl named Heather until her mother called her a deviant and drove Heather away. In response, Toni takes Cheryl’s hand, and wow, it’s so on. This is the relationship this show needs. Finally love for Cheryl, and it doesn’t hurt that they are both absolutely stunning.
The only other important takeaway from this episode is that Jughead and Archie are the only ones in the core four who haven’t kissed. Your move, “Riverdale.”
“Riverdale” airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Full episodes available on cwtv.com and Netflix.