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The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke said this about aliens, "Two possibilities exist. Either, we are alone in the universe or we're not. Both are equally terrifying."

"Chapter Eight-Five: Destroyer" is the ninth episode of the fifth season of Riverdale and the eighty-fifth episode of the series overall. It premiered on March 24, 2021.

Synopsis

SCHOOL SPIRIT — After the Bulldogs lose several football games, Archie and Veronica come up with a plan to boost school spirit. Jughead turns his attention to a student who he thinks might need his help. Betty seeks guidance from Cheryl after being faced with a difficult decision to make. Finally, Kevin is forced to face a dark moment from his past.[2]

Plot

SPOILERS AHEAD


Jughead investigates potential extraterrestrial activity

Jughead monitors any potential extraterrestrial activity from the garage.

Betty finds her mother sulking on the couch after returning home from finding the phone booth Polly called them from just half an hour before completely destroyed and covered in blood. Betty has sent the blood in for an analysis. Until they get the results back, she suggests that her mother rejoin her support group. Instead, Alice pours herself another glass of wine.

Cheryl and the Vixens leave the game

Cheryl and the Vixens watch from the sideline as Archie and the Bulldogs lose yet another game. Cassandra states that they could’ve been practicing for regionals rather than wasting their time at another pointless game. Cheryl agrees and leads the Vixens away.

Archie gives the Bulldogs a pep talk after yet another embarrassing loss. However, he reminds them that the Baxter High Ravens are number two in the league and that they fought hard. As their de facto team owner, Veronica hopes to incentivize the team by offering $10,000 to whichever Bulldogs scores first this season. Archie then approaches Derek, who expressed that he is tired of losing despite his best efforts. Archie understands and tells Derek that he was the best Bulldog on the field.

Archie and Veronica kiss

Long after the team has left, Archie and Veronica remain behind to discuss the future of the Bulldogs. Archie is concerned with the lack of fan support. The Bulldogs were supposed to inspire the town, and Riverdale was supposed to rally behind the Bulldogs, but no one comes to their games. In that case, Veronica tells Archie that she’ll work on getting the town to back the Bulldogs again. Archie simply needs to keep the team motivated in that time. Archie then playfully asks about him and his need for motivation, to which Veronica replies "chin up, Andrews" and kisses Archie.

Jughead tells Sam about his story

Jughead calls Samm and tells him about the reported alien sightings throughout town. He explains that his next story is more than just about aliens. It’s about a town’s collective trauma.

Veronica asks Tabitha if she can host a pancake breakfast at Pop’s so that the town can mix and mingle with the recently revived Bulldogs. Tabitha agrees in hopes that it’ll bring in more customers. Veronica then proposes that Pop’s become the official sponsor for the Bulldogs.

Archie and Veronica ask Cheryl to supply maple syrup for their breakfast

Veronica and Archie ask Cheryl to supply the syrup for the upcoming Bulldog breakfast, but she refuses to donate her family’s maple syrup to help the Bulldogs, who have yet to even win a game. Moreover, the Vixens can no longer continue to cheer for them. Archie pleads with Cheryl to stick around for another game and get more people into the stands. When she turns him down, Archie takes matters into his own hands. Archie asks Ms. Bell to turn on the intercom and announces that they’ll be hosting a free pancake breakfast at Pop’s tomorrow morning in support of the Bulldogs. Cheryl then reluctantly agrees to allow the Vixens to cheer at one last game. She’ll even come out of retirement for a performance.

Jughead reads Lerman's story

As class comes to an end, Jughead reminds his students to turn in their short story assignments. A story from one of his students, Lerman Logan, titled As Above, So Below catches Jughead’s attention. The cover illustration depicts some type of frightening beast with glowing red eyes.

Betty gets a call from Glen, who has in his possession the blood results from the phonebooth. The recovered blood is AB-negative. The rarest type and a match for Polly, suggesting that she’s dead. Glen is sympathetic, but Betty doubts that he cares. She replies that if he cared at all, he would've help her.

Weatherbee reads Lerman's story

Jughead shares Lerman’s disturbing short story with Weatherbee. It details how a kid is held captive by mole people only to escape and be abducted by a family of Mothmen, who operate on him. However, in the story, the child survives and is found on the side of the highway. Jughead asks how much they know of Lerman. According to Weatherbee, he’s a good student with average grades, but he has sustained a substantial amount of at-home injuries, such as a broken arm and black eye. He was even on crutches for a while. Jughead suspects that his parents may be abusing him, but Weatherbee has met the Logans and insists that they’re good people.

Tabitha and Veronica host the breakfast for the Bulldogs at Pop’s as planned. Cheryl even assists, having agreed to supply the syrup.

Mrs. Davis asks Archie what the team can do for her son

Archie sits with Derek and his mother, Mrs. Davis. Archie tells Mrs. Davis just how crucial Derek is to their team, which is why Archie wants Derek to be captain. However, Mrs. Davis wonders what the team can offer her son. Derek is a good player and football could be his ticket out of Riverdale. She has to think of his future, not just the Bulldogs. They are interrupted by Veronica, who informs Archie of Reggie’s arrival. Reggie has come on behalf of the greater Rockland county high school football league. They’d like for the Bulldogs to withdraw from the league, but Archie and Veronica refuse despite the fact that the Bulldogs are on a losing streak and have yet to even score a single point.

Tom helps Kevin pack up his belongings and move out of the apartment after breaking up with Fangs. Kevin suspects that he doesn’t deserve a family or happiness. Tom questions if he truly believes that. Rather than answering, Kevin says that he doesn't wish to talk about it.

Veronica makes Hiram a wager

Given his invested interest in seeing Riverdale High fail on all fronts, Veronica suspects that her father is behind the league and their attempt to rid Riverdale of the Bulldogs. Hiram replies that all he knows about the Bulldogs is that they’ve yet to score and that the Stonewall Stallions will annihilate them on the field. So, Veronica decides to make Hiram a wager. If the Stallions can prevent the Bulldogs from scoring a single point, then they’ll withdraw from the league. However, should the Bulldogs score, Hiram will have to convince the commissioner to stop trying to muscle out the Bulldogs.

After class, Jughead asks Lerman about his short story. Lerman claims it was inspired by a series of recurring dreams. Jughead explains how some experts believe that stories about aliens are actually about traumas that people have experienced and that these stories are cries for help. Jughead wonders if any part of his stories are true, but Lerman insists that he made it up.

Betty asks Cheryl about her mourning process when Jason died

Betty visits Cheryl at Thornhill in regards to Polly. She recalls how when Jason first disappeared, no one knew where he was or what had happened to him. Betty wonders if it was helpful to learn the truth of Jason’s demise. Cheryl explains that it was soul crushing. However, learning also allowed her to grieve. It is better to know the truth and make your peace with it, Cheryl states. She suspects that Betty’s line of questioning means that Polly is dead, which Betty confirms to be the case. Cheryl embraces Betty and holds her close.

Archie learns that Derek transferred to Stonewall

Archie enters the locker room and learns from Britta that Derek transferred to Stonewall Prep. He slams a locker shut in a fit of rage and meets up with Veronica to inform her that Derek transferred to Stonewall, which he doesn’t blame Derek for, as it’s his best shot at college. Unfortunately, they’re now down a player and unable to compete in the league. Veronica then comes up with a plan to rally the Bulldogs and hopefully recruit some new ones.

Betty returns home to find her mother sitting motionless on the couch. Hoping to spare her mother any further heartache, Betty lies and says that the blood work came back and that it didn’t match Polly’s. Alice is relieved and hugs Betty.

Betty comes downstairs the following morning to find her mother in a much better mood; she’s cooking and energetic. She’s rejoined her support group and asks Betty to run down to Pop’s to pick up a platter of cold cuts.

Jughead is confronted by the Logans

Jughead is called into Weatherbee’s office, where he is confronted by Lerman’s parents. Mr. and Mrs. Logan accuse him of encouraging Lerman’s wild alien fantasies. Jughead apologizes and explains that he suspected that Lerman was having trouble at home. Weatherbee also apologizes on Jughead’s behalf and assures them that it will never happen again, especially since he’ll be moving Lerman to another English class. After the Logans leave, Weatherbee scolds Jughead for breaking protocol and warns him that he’ll be fired should he have another misstep.

Cheryl attempts to fix Kevin and Fangs' relationship

Cheryl seeks to right her wrongs by bringing Kevin and Fangs back together after instigating their breakup with her key party. However, her party only brought up deeper issues within their relationship. Fangs states that Kevin has never been all in and suspects that Kevin is ashamed of being gay. For years, Kevin would go in the woods and hookup with anonymous strangers, leaving Fangs to believe that Kevin fears being in an actual relationship with another man. Kevin replies that Fangs doesn’t know his experience and excuses himself but not before telling Cheryl to mind her business.

Betty heads over to Pop’s and tells Jughead about the developments in Polly’s case, mainly the blood that they recovered at the phonebooth being a direct match to Polly’s. She’s been missing for four weeks now somewhere along the Lonely Highway. Jughead reveals that he knows someone who lives along the Lonely Highway who sees a lot of what goes on down on that end. He offers to take Betty to see him.

Veronica brings T Dub to motivate the team

Archie and the Bulldogs continue to practice despite not even having enough players to play, as pointed out by Britta. They are joined by Veronica and a friend of hers, T Dub, who plays for the New York Goliaths. Veronica explains that they’ve known each other for years and that T Dub was one of her most loyal clients when she was selling jewelry in New York. T Dub proceeds to give a speech to the team about how he also grew up in a small town and used his passion for football to succeed. He then approaches Britta after hearing about her arm hoping to see her in action. A large crowd then begins to assemble not far behind them. Archie approaches and asks who wants to play football.

Hiram discovers that the Bulldogs are growing in size and popularity, which worries him. He wants Reggie to target the Bulldogs’ weakest link and crush some heads, however, Reggie refuses to hurt innocent kids. So, Hiram benches Reggie, intent on leading the Stallions into battle with Riverdale High himself. Reggie doesn’t seem too fazed and even reveals that he’ll be standing with the Bulldogs.

Jughead and Betty ask Old Man Dreyfus about the Lonely Highway

Jughead takes Betty to meet Old Man Dreyfus. Betty reveals how her sister made a call from the pay phone on the Lonely Highway, but it was destroyed by the time they arrived. Dreyfus correctly deduces that the phonebooth was shredded like a tin can. He’s seen it before, first during the summer of 1977, and again in 1982. He believes that Polly was abducted by Mothmen. He goes on to explain how the ships use anti-matter fusion reactors that create a gravity field that allow them to levitate like a balloon, but anything that gets caught in the stasis gets crushed. Dreyfus has known for some time that they were back in town, as he’s been picking up their chatter on his radio. Betty writes off her encounter with Old Man Dreyfus as a colossal waste of time. Her sister was abducted by someone, not something. However, Jughead argues that strange things happen in Riverdale all the time. Betty replies that there’s nothing paranormal about someone kidnapping, torturing, and murdering women. And she refuses to allow it to happen to anyone else.

Betty comes up with a plan

Betty returns home. She looks at a photo of herself and Polly and recalls the last conversation they had, which ended in Polly storming off after Betty confronted her for tricking for the Ghoulies. After sitting at her desk for a while, Betty loads her gun and exits the house.

Kevin enters the steam room at the community center, where he meets a man named Shane, who is visiting from LA. Kevin briefly flirts with Shane and places his hand on Shane’s leg. He rejects Kevin’s advances, insisting that he’s not gay before attacking Kevin and beating him senseless.

Betty steaks out the truck stop along the Lonely Highway. She waits for a working girl to enter one of the trucks before instructing the girl to leave and assaulting the trucker. She slams the man’s face into the steering wheels and tells him to warn his friends.

Kevin admits that he's ashamed of being gay

Tom gives Kevin ice wrapped in a rag to hold to his wounds. He’s terrified for Kevin and asks what’s been going on with him. Kevin reveals that he’s ashamed of being gay. Tom questions if it is because of something he did or said. Kevin assures his father that he's done nothing wrong and has always been accepting of him. However, Kevin recalls this one time he went back-to-school shopping with his mom, who made an off hand comment about needing to buy Kevin husky clothes. He felt so ashamed that he went to Fox Forest to be alone. He didn’t even know that it was a cruising spot at the time. There, he met a guy who told him that he was cute. It was as if all the things Kevin’s mom had said had washed away, and ever since, Kevin’s been cruising.

Betty confronts John

Betty clears the entire truck stop, going from truck to truck, saving every working girl in her path. Finally, she comes across John, the last known trucker to have seen Polly alive. He remembers Betty from the time she brought him in for questioning and says that she has nothing on him. Betty punches John in the face and proceeds to drag him out the truck.

Jughead gets a call from Weatherbee, who is searching for Lerman, as he has gone missing. They fear that Lerman has ran away. Jughead offers to look for him and tells Weatherbee that he’ll be calling in some help.

Betty holds John at gunpoint

Betty has beaten John and tied him to a tree along the Lonely Highway. He insists that he doesn’t know where Polly is and asks why she is doing this to him. Betty explains that he’s still preying on girls like Polly. She blames herself for not protecting any of the missing girls and points her gun at John. Before she can pull the trigger, she gets a call from Jughead, who informs her that one of his students is missing and likely somewhere along the Lonely Highway. Betty reveals that she’s on the highway and agrees to meet Jughead. After hanging up, she lowers her gun and tells John that she’ll send someone to untie him tomorrow.

The Riverdale Bulldogs, led by Archie, face off with the Stonewall Stallions, led by Hiram.

Jughead meets with Betty on the Lonely Highway to discover that she’s already recovered Lerman. He was walking on the shoulder in a daze. Lerman looks to Jughead and asks if it happened again.

Betty and Jughead learn that Lerman is a chronic sleepwalker

Jughead and Betty return Lerman to his parents, who are grateful. They had hoped that he wouldn’t have to go through this again. Lerman is a chronic sleepwalker. They thought he grew out of it, but then he started hurting himself. He’s walked into a door, burned his hand on a stove, and even fallen out of a window, braking his arm. Leaving his parents with no other option but to lock his bedroom door at night. They gave him the basement, where they hoped he would be safe. Jughead surmises that Mr. and Mrs. Logan are the mole people from the story that we’re keeping Lerman locked up. The worst incident came one morning when the Logans awakened to find the front door open. Lerman was missing for an entire week. He was found wandering the Lonely Highway with no memory of the prior week. This is why they were so upset with Jughead. They feared his questioning would trigger Lerman’s sleep walking.

Betty and Jughead reconvene at Pop’s, where they discuss the similarities between Lerman and Polly’s disappearances. When Polly escaped and made that phone call, she described being in what sounded like an alien spaceship. They could’ve been abducted by the same person. Betty suspects that Lerman may have escaped, which is why they need to find out what Lerman knows about that missing week.

Cheryl leads the River Vixen’s performance at the game between the Bulldogs and Stallions. Veronica, Tabitha, and Reggie cheer her on from the crowd.

The Bulldog celebrate after a touchdown

As the game is in its final minute, the scoreboard reads 52-0 in favor of the Stallions. Archie calls the team in and gives them one last pep talk. He says that he’s proud of them and that they've worked hard. Veronica, Tabitha, and Reggie watch from the stands as the Bulldogs make one last play in an attempt to score. Britta fakes a hand-off and takes off down the field, scoring the first and only point for her team, much to Hiram’s disappointment.

Derek congratulates Archie and Veronica on a good game

Veronica congratulates Archie after the game. While they may not have won, they did score, and they’re also starting to win over the hearts and minds of the town. And thanks to Veronica's side wager with her father, the league will no longer try to pressure them to withdraw. Derek then approaches and congratulates Archie on a good game. Archie tells Derek to keep working and keep getting better.

Weatherbee calls Jughead into his office and reveals that Lerman’s parents have pulled him out of school and left Riverdale. They left no forwarding address or contact information. He supposes they wanted a fresh start.

Betty returns home to find Glen standing in the living room and her mother in tears. Glen has told Alice the truth about the blood they recovered on the phonebooth. Alice is upset with Betty for lying to her. Glen then informs Alice that he will personally be taking over Polly’s case. He’ll make sure that the investigation is handled thoroughly and by the book.

Cast

Starring

Guest Starring

Co-Starring

Soundtrack

  • Riverdale Cast feat. Madelaine Petsch - Stupid Love
  • Unions - You Better Run

Trivia

Gallery

Promotional Images

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References

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