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Portrait of a town in flames, thanks to a fire extinguisher Mr. Andrews kept stored in the hall closet, and another one under the kitchen sink. What could have been a suburban inferno was instead nearly the latest indication of how far the now non-existent town of Riverdale had fallen. An arsonist on the loose and no firemen to battle the fires.

"Chapter Eighty-Three: Fire in the Sky" is the seventh episode of the fifth season of Riverdale and the eighty-third episode of the series overall.[2] It premiered on March 10, 2021.

Synopsis

A FEW GOOD MEN — Following in his Grandpa Artie’s footsteps, Archie begins to recruit Riverdale’s new volunteer fire department. Toni’s attempt to lure Cheryl out of Thornhill and back into daily life in Riverdale leads to more tension between the two. Elsewhere, Betty, Alice and Kevin’s latest investigation leads them into conflict with Hiram. Finally, as Veronica comes up with a risky plan to support Riverdale’s local businesses, Jughead and Tabitha begin to unravel an old mystery surrounding some strange sightings in the town.[3]

Plot

SPOILERS AHEAD


Archie tells Jughead about his plan to restart the fire department

Archie and Jughead have managed to extinguish the flames engulfing the house. This provokes Archie to revive the fire department. He goes looking through old family boxes, where he finds a photo of his Grandpa Artie, who was a fireman back in the day. The rookie in the picture with his grandpa ended up becoming the fire chief within 20 years. He’s now retired but still lives in Riverdale. Archie's hoping to recruit him.

Dr. Curdle Jr informs Betty, Alice, and Kevin that the victim has been dead for three years

Betty, Alice, and Kevin head down to the coroner’s office, where Dr. Curdle Jr. informs them that the remains they discovered in Swedlow Swamp are at least three years old and have been preserved. Blunt force trauma to the head appears to be the cause of death. Without identification, the woman’s body will be sent to the crematorium for disposal, but Betty asks him to hold off until she can identify the victim.

Hiram denies setting fire to Archie's house

Veronica confronts her father for setting fire to Archie’s house. The rash of arson cases around town is meant to drive any remaining residents away. Hiram denies setting the blaze and tells Veronica that Riverdale can’t be saved, however, she would beg to differ.

Archie meets with Chief Russell at Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe to resurrect the fire department. Unfortunately, Chief Russell isn’t up to the task, explaining to Archie that Hiram fire-bombed the fire house. While it was an honor working with Archie’s grandpa, Chief Russell has nothing else to offer.

Cheryl battles a River Vixen

Cheryl interrupts Toni’s practice with the River Vixens. She has come to reclaim the Vixens, but Toni refuses to give them up without a fight, as she’s financing them and rebuilding the team. To settle the dispute, Cheryl challenges a pregnant Toni to a dance off. One of the Vixens volunteers to dance in Toni’s place. Cheryl and the young Vixen battle back and forth, though the battle ends with a draw, resulting in Cheryl and Toni sharing control of the Vixens.

Veronica offers to bring Bernardo to Riverdale

Veronica meets with Archie to tell him that her father is denying having any involvement with his house being set ablaze. Archie figured as much and then reveals to Veronica that the fire chief refused to help him, leaving him without a fire engine, volunteers, and trainer. Fortunately, Veronica’s best friend, Katy Keene, her roommate, Jorge's ex-boyfriend is an actual New York firefighter, and Veronica offers to bring him to Riverdale to train the volunteers.

Veronica enacts her latest plan to bolster Riverdale’s struggling economy. She intends to do this in various steps. Step 1: create jobs. She asks her students if they would be willing to renovate Blue Velvet Video and turn it into a jewelry store.

Jughead reveals to Tabitha that Pop Tate is an eye witness to the lights in the sky

Jughead approaches Tabitha with an article he discovered regarding the Mothmen and Old Man Dreyfus. Four of the five miners detailed their encounters. Tabitha isn’t so quick to believe the story until Jughead reveals that he found another article from two months later detailing how a group of residents saw unexplainable lights materialize and hover in the dark skies. Pop Tate is quoted among the witnesses.

Corporal Eric Jackson shows up at Archie’s doorstep unexpectedly. He reveals that he signed up for therapeutic housing to transition back into civilian life. He figured he’d take Archie up on his previous offer before leaving.

Dr. Curdle Jr reveals that their victim isn't Margaret Harper

After looking through all the archives at the sheriff station, Betty brings Dr. Curdle Jr. the missing personnel file of Margaret Harper — the only missing person within the last seven years. However, Dr. Curdle Jr. reveals that Margaret has braces while their Jane Doe doesn’t, making her the third missing girl, along with Polly and Margaret.

Archie brings Jackson to the Wyrm and introduces him to Kevin, Fangs, and the Serpents. Archie’s hoping to assemble a volunteer fire department to replace the one Hiram disbanded, however, Jackson, Kevin, and Fangs turn him down, as they know little to nothing about being a firefighting.

Betty meets with Ms. Harper

Betty calls in Deanna Harper, the mother of Margaret Harper, to discuss her daughter’s disappearance. Ms. Harper claims that Margaret was a bright girl who simply fell in with the wrong crowd. Ms. Harper wasn’t as close with her daughter as she wished they were. And then at some point, she started hanging out with the truckers. And her not knowing if her daughter is dead or alive makes it so much worse. Sheriff Keller did what he could, but he was one man and the town was falling apart, though Ms. Harper does recall Toni, who worked as her social worker and was a "godsend."

Veronica approaches Cheryl in the lounge and asks for her help with a specific design.

Eric reveals that he lost his leg at war

Archie brings Jackson in to speak with his class. Corporal Jackson was a cavalry scout before being selected for sniper school. They ask what Archie was like in the army. Jackson shows them his fake leg, which he got from a grenade in the battle field. If not for Archie, he’d be dead. Archie is a man who never stops giving back. When Jackson mentions that Archie is attempting to revive the fire department, several of the cadets volunteer to help.

Veronica wants to put money into Riverdale

Veronica passes out a prototype of their very own currency to come. She explains how there was a town in Oregon on the verge of economic collapse until they started printing their own money, which they used as actual currency throughout town. She would pay them for labor with River dollars, which they would put back into Riverdale’s economy by spending it at Pop’s or the Bijou. She’s already sold one of her Glamerge eggs for $50,000, which will serve as collateral for the currency.

Betty returns home to find her mother covered in mud. Alice managed to find Polly’s phone on the swamp.

Betty asks Toni about the Harpers

Betty heads over to the Wyrm and asks Toni about Margaret Harper. Toni recalls that she went missing a few years ago. She tried to help Deanna Harper the best she could, but there’s a lot of young women like Margaret in Riverdale. Toni tries to set them up with jobs or support groups, but it doesn’t always work out. Betty then reveals to Toni that she found a body in the swamp, but it was neither Polly nor Margaret. Something bad is in the swamps, and Betty wants Toni’s help with the search. Toni agrees to help and offers up the Serpents to assist.

Pop Tate's encounter with the lights

Jughead and Tabitha interview Pop Tate at the diner and ask about his eye witness account of the frightening flashing lights from above. Pop Tate recalls the evening clear as day. It was one night about 50 years ago with very few people in the diner. All of the sudden, he could feel a type of electricity in the air before all the lights suspiciously shut off. The diner was nearly pitch black but far from silent as a jukebox played, gumballs poured out of the machine, and a toy monkey frantically clapped cymbals. A strange yellow tinted light shined into the diner from outside. Pop Tate walked out to the parking lot to take a look, but the lights were gone. Some said aliens, but the most credible explanation Pop heard was that it was military testing from an army base outside Riverdale. A part of Pop Tate wishes the lights would come back. Lastly, Pop Tate reveals that Nana Rose Blossom was among the patrons who witnessed the lights that night and tells them to interview her.

Bernardo teaches the volunteers

Day one of Riverdale’s volunteer fire academy has begun, led by Archie and Jackson, who has brought in Bernardo to train the volunteers. He reveals that the most important lesson they will ever learn is to always work as a team and to never run into a burning building alone. He then proceeds to train the volunteers through various exercises.

Veronica put her plan into action and began printing her red River dollars, featuring her likeness on the currency. Meanwhile at Pop’s, Jughead asks Tabitha why they’re being paid with Veronica’s Monopoly money. Tabitha assures him that he’ll still be paid as he normally would. Jughead then takes Veronica’s River dollars to buy a drink in the Wyrm.

Toni calls off practice

Toni arrives at Vixen practice to find Cheryl running the Vixens ragged. She reminds Cheryl that they’re supposed to be coaching the Vixens together and cancels practice when one of the girls get hurt, to which Cheryl replies that Vixens, much like Blossoms, are forged in fire. Toni retorts that Cheryl sounds like her mother.

The Kellers and Coopers in the swamp

Betty, Alice, Kevin, and Sheriff Keller make their way through Swedlow Swamp searching for Polly. They are confronted by Hiram, Reggie, and two more of his men, armed with shotguns. They warn the Coopers and Kellers that they’re trespassing on private property. While Hiram claims to sympathize with Alice, he can’t allow her to prod through the swamp. Betty flashes her badge and claims that the swamp is a crime scene, but Hiram isn’t convinced or intimidated and tells them to leave.

Jughead and Tabitha interview Nana Rose about the Mothmen

Jughead and Tabitha interview Nana Rose about the lights in the sky 50 years ago. Nana Rose remembers it well. Her suspicion is that the light came from the Mothmen’s ship. A few weeks after the incident, she found a hideously misshapen body in the maple forest — a Mothman corpse. Nana Rose claims that an alien autopsy was performed. However, the Mothmen didn’t want people talking about them, which is why there aren't many articles. They revealed this to her when they came to Thornhill one night looking for their comrade. They don’t like to be known and didn’t like Nana Rose having their deceased. She told them that it had been cremated. In reality, it has been perfectly preserved in a barrel of maple syrup, which she offers to find for them as proof.

Veronica shoos her father away

Veronica reveals to her class that they’ve successfully introduced $50,000 into their town’s economy. If they flood the market with new bills then they risk inflation or triggering a run on the bank, i.e. Veronica. She suggests they build their economy slow and steady. Hiram shows up unexpectedly to congratulate her. Even at his most audacious, he never thought to make his own money. Hiram warns Veronica that she and Archie are stirring up trouble by trying to save Riverdale, but Veronica isn't interested in what her father has to say and shoos him away.

Jackson tells Bernardo and the other volunteers about the time Archie tried to feed a stray dog outside one of their outposts. A homeless man enters the community center searching for refuge. Archie reveals that the community center has been resurrected as a volunteer fire department. Earl, the homeless man, says that they haven’t had a fire department in a long time and a lot of businesses have burned down because of it. Archie explains that he intends to change that.

Betty calls Glen for help

Betty calls in a favor to Glen in hopes that she’ll be able to freely investigate Swedlow Swamp without interference from Hiram, but Glen warns Betty to allow the locals to handle it. He then reveals that the Trash Bag Killer has re-emerged in Tulsa. They have two victims so far. Betty tells Glen to focus on TBK and that she’ll handle everything else herself.

Betty heads out into Swedlow Swamp, where she runs into Reggie, who while armed with a shotgun, reminds her that she’s trespassing on private property. Betty refuses to leave, telling Reggie that he’ll have to shoot her if he wants her to leave. Reggie reluctantly reveals that he found another body while patrolling the area, but forces Betty to promise that Hiram will never learn that he told her.

Archie runs into a burning building

While training the volunteers, Archie, Jackson, and Bernardo get word that the pool hall is burning down. They learn that Earl is trapped inside, and Archie goes rushing into the burning building after him.

Veronica calls her father under the suspicion that he is printing fake River dollars to sabotage her. Someone is flooding the economy with money she didn’t print, which devalues the money she did. Hiram claims that he had no involvement, but Veronica doesn’t believe him.

After learning the location of the body of Reggie, Betty takes the latest victim to Dr. Curdle Jr., who reveals that Betty has in fact uncovered the remains of Margaret Harper. Likely cause of death was trauma. The left side of her body was pulverized, as if with a wrecking ball.

Toni tells Cheryl to get her act together

Cheryl enters the gym to find Toni standing alone in the dark, awaiting her arrival. Toni has canceled practice, as she wishes to speak to Cheryl alone. First, she reminds Cheryl that the Vixens belong to the both of them. She goes on to say that Cheryl has gotten away with murder because her money and privilege. She understands that Cheryl has been through a lot, but that doesn’t give her the right to be a holy terror in Riverdale without reason. Cheryl retorts that Toni will never understand what it’s been like for her holding up in Thornhill for the last seven years. Toni replies that Cheryl cursed herself. Isolating herself wasn’t as great of a sacrifice as she thought. In fact, it was selfish. Toni refuses to allow Cheryl to take over the Vixens for vanity of revenge. Though she wants Cheryl on the field with them, Cheryl first needs to get herself together. Cheryl simply replies that Toni’s cruelty is beyond words.

Cheryl returns home to find Nana Rose sitting with Minerva Marble, who when preparing to sell Jason’s portrait, discovered that it was a very skillful forgery. Before calling the police, she thought they should have a chat.

Archie recovers in the hospital

Archie lies in a hospital bed with minor burns after rushing into the pool hall to save Earl. Jackson and Sheriff Keller sit at his bedside. Jackson reminds Archie that rule number one was to never go into a burning building alone. Archie inquires about the source of the fire. Tom suspects that the building was intentionally burned by Hiram. Jackson is upset to learn that Hiram is just another wealthy businessman looking to pad his pocket by bleeding the town dry. Jackson reveals to Archie that Earl is also a vet and that he was discarded like nothing after serving. Jackson questions what they were fighting for if they come home to madness.

Hiram agrees to allow them to search the swamp

Hiram discovers in the morning paper that a second body was found in the swamp and asks Reggie how that’s possible. Reggie claims to have no clue. Hiram reminds Reggie that much like SoDale, the turnpike is a necessary smokescreen for a bigger plan. Rather than being the villain, Reggie advises Hiram to play the hero and allow for them to search the swamp properly. And since the turnpike isn’t the real endgame, it’s delay wouldn’t be that big of a deal. After hearing Reggie out, Hiram agrees to allow the swamp to be searched.

Betty, Alice, and Toni call in Ms. Harper to reveal that they discovered Margaret’s body in the swamps. Betty swears to her that they will find the person responsible.

Mothman

Jughead enters the diner to find Tabitha waiting for him along with a barrel of maple syrup delivered by Nana Rose. They take the barrel into the back and find what Nana Rose claims to be a Mothman. It reeks of maple syrup and decay. Still, Tabitha isn’t convinced. She believes it could be human bones mixed with fake, synthetic bones. However, Jughead is truly starting to believe the Mothman story. So much so that he wants to consult a specialist: Dr. Diana Whitely — an anthropology professor at Centerville University who specializes in urban culture and extraterrestrial phenomenon.

Veronica scolds her students

Veronica reveals to her class that her father has flooded the market with counterfeit bills, so they’ll have to do an in-depth forensic accounting, recall all the River dollars in circulation and figure out how deep of a hole they’re in. For the time being, they’ll have to shut down the operation. Veronica then notices that one of her students has red ink stains on his fingers. He reluctantly reveals that he and the other students printed out $10,000 in River dollars. She sarcastically congratulates them for causing an economic collapse and gives each of them an F. They ask what they can do to make it up. She replies that they’ll have to work it off.

Archie counsels Jackson

Archie returns home to find Jackson heading out with his gun to make Hiram pay for Earl’s death, who succumbed to the wounds he suffered from the fire. Archie orders Jackson to drop the rifle, but he refuses. So, Archie slams him against the wall and explains that killing Hiram is not worth ruining his life. Jackson replies that his life is already ruined. He lost his leg fighting in a war that didn’t matter. To make matters worse, they cancelled his slot at the VA home. Admittedly, Jackson is lost, as is Archie, who is only managing to maintain his sanity by pouring all his efforts into saving Riverdale. Jackson looks to Archie for answers as to what they should do next. For a start, Archie tells Jackson to stay in Riverdale and become the fire commander. They’ll figure out the rest along the way.

Jughead sees the light

Jughead pours himself a drink while working the night shift at the diner. The jukebox suddenly starts playing. The diner then starts to shake, gumballs pour out the machine, and the cash register opens on its own. Moments later, a yellow tinted light shines just outside the diner. Jughead follows it into the parking lot. There, he finds himself directly under a bright white beam of light. The next day, Jughead tells Tabitha how much like Pop Tate’s encounter 50 years ago, the diner started to shake and he saw a light around 2:00 AM. The last thing he remembers is seeing a bright white light before waking up in a booth four hours later. Tabitha suspects that what Jughead recalls was merely a dream or drunk hallucination. However, Jughead then reveals that the Mothman is missing as well.

In order to pay off their debt, Veronica makes her students clean up the town, starting with Skid Row.

Veronica brings Archie a fire truck

Kevin and Fangs meet up with Archie at the community center after hearing that Weatherbee nixed Archie’s RROTC cadets from being volunteer firefighters. Kevin and Fangs have come to join Archie, but he tells them that it’s too late. Bernardo’s back in New York. There’s no one left to train them. Chief Russell then enters after hearing that Archie ran into a burning building to save a man. It inspired him to join them. Just as he remarks that a fire truck would be nice to have, Veronica arrives in a vintage red fire truck. She tells Archie not to worry about paying her back, as they’ll be putting out a Firefighters of Riverdale calendar to defray the costs. In the meantime, she just wanted to help.

Betty suspects that there's a serial killer

Betty, Alice, and Toni recount their findings with Sheriff Keller. Two young women went missing on the Lonely Highway — Margaret Harper and Polly. They found Margaret’s remains in Swedlow Swamp, where Alice found Polly’s phone, and they found another set of remains belonging to an unidentified young woman. Sheriff Keller has reached out to the sheriff offices in the county that touch along the Lonely Highway, asking about any unsolved missing person reports, specifically young women. They came back with 13 names. Meanwhile, Toni’s been in touch with a network of social workers from towns the Lonely Highway runs through and she got 11 names back. Five of which overlap with Sheriff Keller’s list, meaning 21 total missing girls. Betty suspects that they’re dealing with a serial killer.

Cast

Starring

Guest Starring

Co-Starring

Uncredited

  • Aiden Sutcliffe as RROTC Cadet Burns

Soundtrack

  • Headband - Gotta Go Big
  • Jacob Gago - Go H.A.M.
    • Scene: Cheryl challenges a Toni-proxy to a dance battle.
  • Four Piece Suit - Get Up and Go
    • Scene: Pop Tate recounts a night from 50 years ago where he saw lights flashing in the sky.
  • Johnny Mathis - Chances Are
    • Scene: The music on the jukebox changes as lights start to flash.

Trivia

Gallery

Promotional Images

Screencaps

Videos

References

Episode Guide

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