|“||What exactly is the American Dream? For my dad, on the eve of his 50th birthday, the American Dream was this. A father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a loyal hound, food on the table. The only thing missing was...||”|
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FP — As Gladys prepares for FP's 50th birthday party, Jughead questions his mom's motives for returning to Riverdale. When an unexpected encounter brings Archie back into the world of G&G, Jughead and Betty devise a plan to help him face his past head-on. Finally, Cheryl and Toni find themselves at a crossroads, and Veronica reveals a damaging secret to Betty.
At Sunnyside Trailer Park, in the Jones’ trailer, Jughead types on his laptop as his mother, father, and sister enjoy breakfast in the kitchen. Gladys tells Jellybean and FP to eat up because afterward they’re taking a ride to a surprise location. Gladys then proceeds to groom FP as Jughead watches contentedly.
The aforementioned surprise is that Gladys bought a house. Unbeknownst to her, she purchased the Cooper house, which she doesn’t realize until her, Jellybean, FP, and Jughead watch as Alice and Betty exit the house with boxes. They head inside, where FP inquires about the scorch marks, which Alice claims to be the result of a minor mishap with a candle. Betty questions how her mother could sell the house to the Jones, but it was solely Gladys who made the purchase. She made an all-cash offer online. Both Jughead and FP are hesitant with moving in given that it is the Cooper house. FP wants to walk away from this, but Alice doesn’t think it’s necessary. The house is her past and she wants to be done with it.
Betty and Jughead take a seat on the front steps, where they further discuss their current dilemma. Jughead doesn’t think that they’ll actually move in, but Betty believes otherwise. Her mom wants to sell it and his wants to buy it. If that is the case, Jughead tells Betty that the one good thing that comes from this is that she gets to stay in her room and live with them. However, Betty is unsure about living with Jughead’s family as she barely knows his mother. So instead, she’ll crash at the Pembrooke with Veronica.
Betty and Jughead then meet with Archie at Pop’s. Jughead checked with his dad, he pulled up all the files on Warden Norton after he committed suicide, and Jughead cleared out his office and found a "Kill the Red Paladin" Quest Card. This card from Warden Norton’s office is identical to the one Ricky had. This indicates that someone printed out multiple cards and put them out into the world. And now it’s their job to find out who.
At Thistlehouse, Cheryl surprises Toni with a trip to Quebec. She thought since Toni’s been working so hard with the Pretty Poisons, it might be good for the two of them to get away. So, Cheryl booked them a spring break ski trip. Unfortunately, Toni and the girls had already planned to road trip to Sugar Lake. Cheryl throws a fit, but before Toni can fully explain, she gets called into work.
Archie visits Hiram and reveals to him that he was recently attacked at his house by a homeless kid who stabbed him. Archie then shows Hiram the Red Paladin card and asks if he recognizes it. Hiram does. He started that quest with Warden Norton. Also, Tall Boy, when he was working for Hiram, referred to Archie by that name. Even if he did, Hiram wants to leave that in the past as they have a truce. However, Hiram does admit to giving a Quest Card to Warden Norton. He also printed out an even dozen. He gave three to Norton and nine to Tall Boy to distribute amongst the more fanatical players. Regardless of their truce, Archie is still a marked man. There’s other players out there, biding their time to kill Archie, that he now has to track down. Hiram offers to help with this. While he briefly distributed Fizzle Rocks, his soldiers like Tall Boy would make drop-offs and pickups to various hot spots around town, where like-minded individuals would gather to do Fizzle Rocks and play G&G. Hiram gives Archie a list of locations as the players he’s looking for may be there.
Cheryl arrives at La Bonne Nuit. She is greeted at the door by Reggie. Cheryl claims to have baked goods for Toni. A gesture of goodwill after a disagreement they had earlier. Cheryl heads down, where she finds Toni and the Pretty Poisons singing on stage with Veronica.
FP returns to the Sheriff Station, accompanied by Alice. He swears to her that he didn’t even know Gladys was looking into real estate. Alice explains that the house means nothing to her, but she can’t say the same about FP and Gladys. FP informs Alice that he and Gladys are still married even though she may have left FP and Jughead, which Alice is quick to remind him of. However, FP takes full responsibility for breaking up his family and chasing her away as he was a no-good husband and rotten father. Alice asks if FP loves Gladys, to which he replies that she’s the mother of his children. As for Alice, if he loves her, FP says that it doesn’t matter as they are over, which brings tears to her eyes.
After closing at the speakeasy, Reggie asks Veronica to talk business. He’s invested a lot of time there. Being a bartender, a bouncer, a delivery man, and Pit boss, amongst other things. He’s also made sacrifices, like giving his car to Gladys. So, Reggie would like to become business partners with Veronica. While he has been helpful and dedicated, Veronica still owes a hefty debt to Gladys and her father. It wouldn’t be wise for her to begin another partnership. Reggie, however, doesn’t accept that. He knows his worth and wants Veronica to know it too. Veronica knows his worth, but to quote her abuelita, "no one walks on water in my place, except me."
Jughead questions his mother in regards to her recent purchase of the Cooper house. He comments that it seems very convenient and permanent. Gladys had been looking at real estate in Riverdale for a while. As for where she got the money, she sold the shop in Toledo. While this is fine, since she’s been back, Jughead points out the shady moves she’s made, like foisting the Gargoyles on him. Gladys can tell that Jughead’s growing suspicions of her and wonders why. He tells her that it’s because they haven’t had a single conversation since her return. He doesn’t know what her plan even is. Gladys explains that it did her good to see Jughead and FP again in Toledo. It reminded her of what she’s been missing, that being the family. And now that she’s back, she’s going to get Jellybean back in school and find herself a job. Maybe at a garage. Gladys insists that her intentions are pure. She’s looking at their situation as a do-over to become a family again. With FP's 50th birthday approaching, Gladys is throwing him a party at the speakeasy and wants Jughead to give a speech. He agrees.
A Serpent meeting is held at Riverdale High. Jughead, Sweet Pea and Fangs attend. Today, the Serpents start a new chapter, FP announces. They’re all now officially law-keepers, which is why he pulled Tom in to help as he’s the best Sheriff Riverdale’s ever had. Tom explains that a lot of what they’ll be doing over the next couple of months will be basic training. Each junior deputy will be paired with an officer who will mentor them. Jughead is paired with his father.
Jughead and FP hit the streets. Jughead asks if his father ever saw himself sitting in the driver’s seat of a sheriff’s cruiser. FP never imagined he’d even make it to 50. He figured that he’d get himself killed or drink himself to death like his father did. Jughead asks what he’s most proud of. FP replies that he’s most proud of Jughead and Jellybean. Jughead then questions if they’re really going through with it, moving into the Cooper house. FP believes that they deserve it. For the first time ever, he’s in a place where he can provide for them. Dispatcher then radios in a 10-23 at Pop’s. FP turns on his siren and hits the gas.
Before long, they arrive at the scene of the crime. Veronica explains that a Fizzle Rocks junkie spazzed out and threw hot coffee all over a waitress before running out. Jughead had presumed that Fizzle Rocks were gone and that the candy epidemic was over. However, FP has heard rumblings of someone looking to reopen the candy business. As his father takes Pop Tate and Delores’ statement, Jughead looks at Veronica, suspecting that it may be her father trying to reignite the candy crisis.
Cheryl heads outside in search of Toni, though she finds Nana Rose trimming the flowers. Rose hadn’t seen Toni since she gave her an envelope of money for rent.
After thinking over their previous conversation of making Reggie a business partner, Veronica hands him an envelope of money. She gives him what she believes to be a good and fair starting salary. Reggie feels insulted, as if he’s nothing more than a helping hand to Veronica. He accuses her of just trying to clear her own conscious. Before the situation escalates, Veronica suggests that Reggie take the rest of the night off to clear his head and recalibrate his attitude. He agrees, sitting the money back down on the bar before leaving.
Archie, Jughead, and Betty meet up in the bunker, where Archie reveals that Hiram made 12 of the Red Paladin Quest Cards. That means there could be as many as 10 cards in play. So, they have to figure out how to track them and whoever’s holding them. Hiram, fortunately, gave Archie a list of where G&G players like to congregate, such as Sudd Laundromat, Innuendo, and the comic book shop, where Betty would like to start at to see if they can tap into Riverdale’s gaming network.
Archie, Betty, and Jughead head down to MLJ comics, where they interrupt a game of G&G. They ask if the players recognize the Quest Card. Not only do they recognize the card, they recognize Archie as the Red Paladin. Betty asks who gave them the card, to which the Game Master reveals that it was given to them by one of the King's disciples i.e. the Gargoyles. They delivered the card for him. As for what the disciple were actually delivering, Jughead presumes Fizzle Rocks. Archie asks who has the card now, but none of them in the room have it. Jughead wonders why the card handlers haven’t made a play against Archie yet. The Game Master reveals that the Red Paladin is an advanced quest. It takes time to adequately prepare for it. But they’ll act on it sooner or later.
As planned, Betty stays over at Veronica’s. Veronica asks how Betty’s relationship with Jughead been since his mother has returned. Betty reveals that all is good, but he told her that she could stay in the house with them, in her old room, which is too weird for Betty, though it would give her the chance to get to know Jellybean and Gladys better. Veronica only asks because there’s something she has to tell Betty about Jughead’s mom. Veronica can’t risk Betty getting caught up in this and so she reveals that Gladys is taking over the drug trade in Riverdale. Fizzle Rocks is getting ready for a comeback with Gladys leading the charge. Betty wants to know everything so that she can in return share this with Jughead.
Betty, Archie, and Jughead regroup in the bunker. Spread across the table are photos of both victims and symbols related to the game. Archie is still taking in the fact that there are strangers out there who want to kill him. Betty explains that the game makes people crazy. Jughead adds on, stating that the hardcore gamers are so obsessive that they take any message they receive from the Gargoyle King as gospel. He wants to harness that. They know the only way to complete Hiram’s quest is to kill the Red Paladin. But, no one said that the Gargoyle King can’t add on to his own quest and offer a different outcome. Jughead asks if they remember when the three of them were in elementary school and it was snowing, and they played the game "King of the Mountain". Archie remembers, but Betty does not. Archie won every time, so Jughead wants to play to his strengths. He’ll write an addendum to the quest that says the Red Paladin will defend his mountaintop for 12 hours, dusk til dawn. Anyone that has the "Kill the Red Paladin" card can try and take Archie down, but if they don’t by the time the challenge ends, the mark of the sacrifice is lifted. Archie agrees to do it. He also agrees to Betty’s terms of no weapons, hand-to-hand combat only, and one challenger at a time. With that being said, they’re going to need a space. A mountaintop that’ll increase Archie’s chances of winning. Archie knows of someone who can help provide that. He tells Jughead to get to writing and that he’ll call him when everything’s in place. Once Archie is gone, Betty reveals to Jughead, without giving up her source, that Fizzle Rocks may be coming back to Riverdale. Jughead bets its Hiram, but Betty’s source says that it’s Jughead’s mom stepping in. While Betty can’t give up her source, she insists that they’re trustworthy. Jughead takes this in and decides that he’ll look into it alone.
Archie goes to Hiram with a request. He needs somewhere to host and end his Red Paladin challenge. Archie’s calling in everyone who has one of the Quest Cards, and since Hiram’s the reason for all this, Archie figured he could help him find an appropriate spot. Hiram recently acquired a city block near Sweetwater Docks, where there are various shuttered businesses, including a hole-in-the-wall boxing gym. Right now, it’s just sitting there. Hiram gives Archie the keys and allows him to use it.
Archie enters the gym. He turns on the lights to find that it is a complete mess. He then calls Jughead, who is typing up the addendum and tells him that he’s found a place for the mountain top. An old boxing gym by the docks. Jughead will add it to the quest and have the guys distribute it the same way Hiram did. After finishing up the quest, Jughead calls the Serpents to the bunker. He tells Sweet Pea and Fangs to go to the old comic shop while Old Deuteronomy and Weasel are going to hit Innuendo, and Termite and Jinx cover All About the Glaze. On top of that, they need to canvas all of Hiram’s hot spots if they’re going to get the word out fast enough. Sweet Pea asks about the Gargoyle masks that Jughead passed out. They’re expected to wear them to convince the players that this quest came directly from the Gargoyle King. There’s one more thing. They aren’t just gaming hot spots. They were hubs for Hiram’s Fizzle Rocks trade, and Jughead’s heard rumor that a new player is moving to restart it. He wants them to discreetly suss any information they can. And if they find anything, he wants them to only come to him.
Gladys brings Reggie back to La Bonne Nuit after catching him trying to steal his car back before Gladys and Veronica settled their account. Veronica hopes to make it up. She offers to cover the expenses for FP’s birthday at the speakeasy. Gladys agrees and tells Veronica to keep Reggie under control. Veronica questions how he could’ve done something so reckless when they’re so close to paying off their debt to Gladys and her father. Reggie apologizes. But, he’s still upset about his disagreement with Veronica. He gave her everything. He at least wanted to get his car back.
Toni confronts Cheryl who enters La Bonne Nuit, claiming she’s there to gamble. Toni questions if Cheryl has any ulterior motives, but Cheryl claims to have none outside of winning. She then appears to be casing the place, which doesn’t go unnoticed by Toni.
Jughead, Betty, and Archie wait at the gym for Archie’s challengers to arrive. Just as they start to question if maybe they didn’t give it enough time for word to get around, Archie’s opponents arrive. Jughead welcomes all challengers to the Iron Mountain. He instructs them to approach the hallowed battleground, submit their Quest Card, and bring the Red Paladin to his knees in three minutes to win the quest. However, should they run out of time or fall to the Paladin’s hand, then their quest is over. The first fighter enters the ring after passing Betty his Quest Card. Archie ends the first fight with a single punch. Dropping his the challenger. However, the fights that follow are not so easily won. Jughead and Betty watch as Archie goes blow for blow with each challenger.
After closing, Cheryl sneaks into La Bonne Nuit and attempts to break into the safe, but she is caught in the act by Toni. Toni saw Cheryl casing the speakeasy earlier, but she also knows that Cheryl wanted her to know it. Cheryl asks what Toni is going to do about it. Toni slowly approaches Cheryl, unzips her jacket and kisses her. The two then proceed to remove their clothes and have sex. Cheryl sits in a chair blindfolded as Toni gives her a lap dance.
Archie has somehow miraculously survived 9 fights. In total, including Ricky’s card and Warden Norton’s card, Betty has a count of 11, meaning one is missing. The final fighter arrives. Captain Golightly. A guard at Leopold and Loeb Juvenile Detention Center. Beaten, cut, and bruised, Archie accepts the final fight as he wants the sacrifice mark off him. Golightly enters the ring and he and Archie immediately go at it. However, in his weakened state, Archie is barely able to defend himself. He gets Archie on the ropes and as he goes in for the final blow, Archie hits him with a surprise uppercut, knocking Golightly unconscious. Betty and Jughead cheer Archie on, joining him in the ring after having ended the quest.
After sex, the girls get dressed and decide to talk about the tension building in their relationship. Toni thinks that Cheryl has a problem with the Poisons because for once she’s in charge of something. Cheryl denies this. She’s upset because Toni seems to spend all her time with them instead of her. While Toni loves Cheryl, she can’t spend all her time cooped up in Thistlehouse, in Cheryl’s bedroom. Cheryl states that it’s their bedroom, but as Toni points out, it doesn’t feel like that at all. It’s entirely Cheryl’s space. Toni regrets moving in with Cheryl, reasoning that it was too soon. In that case, Cheryl tells Toni to move out and then she herself leaves La Bonne Nuit.
Archie thanks Hiram for allowing him to borrow the gym. Time will tell if it was a successful night, but the quest Hiram put into play is finished. As he hands Hiram back the keys, Hiram surprisingly tells Archie to keep them and the gym. While Archie appreciates the offer and Hiram’s help, he doesn’t want to be in his debt. However, it’s actually compensation. A way for Hiram to make amends since he was responsible for launching the quest.
After a night off, Veronica and Reggie meet back up at La Bonne Nuit. Veronica asks if he is self-destructing because she won’t make him her business partner. Reggie admits this is part of the reason. He also has an issue with how he’s being treated by Veronica. He wants to be more than just her errand boy, Pit boss, and casual hook up. Veronica assures Reggie that he matters, but lest they forget that she just went through a wrenching breakup with Archie just a few months ago. Reggie questions if they would even be dating if not for the speakeasy, which Veronica admits that they probably wouldn’t be, but she’s glad they are. Reggie feels as if Veronica owes him for all he’s given up for her, but he’s not given an ounce in return. Having heard enough, Veronica returns Reggie’s car keys to him after buying it back from Gladys. Now they don’t owe each other anything. With his keys in hand, Reggie leaves the speakeasy.
Fangs and Sweet Pea return to the bunker, where Jughead inquires about their night. Sweet Pea reveals that they have some bad news in regards to his mom, who is taking over the drug trade.
Jughead returns to the trailer to confront his mother. He’d been hearing rumors that she didn’t return to town to get the family back together, but to take over Hiram’s drug trade. Gladys admits this is true. She claims to be doing it for all of them, so that they can live the America Dream for once. Jughead calls it criminal and selfish. While it may be illegal, Gladys insists that it’s far from selfish. Where she and FP comes from, no one ever handed them anything. They had to hustle and scam just to make sure there was food on the table and that Jughead and Jellybean had a roof over their heads. While Gladys isn’t proud of all she’s done, which Jughead doesn’t even know the half of, she and FP did their best to ensure that the family survived. And now, they’re moving to a nice house on Elm Street, which is all FP has ever wanted. However, he would not be okay knowing how Gladys paid for the house, which is why she tells Jughead not to say a word to him about it. It would break him again. Maybe for the last time, which is the last thing Jughead wants.
As planned, FP’s 50th birthday party is held at La Bonne Nuit. Betty and Jughead, respectively, wishes him a happy birthday and gives him a hug. He then recalls that not too long ago, she threw a party for Jughead. Fred then arrives to the party to wish FP a happy 50th, even if FP may think it’s a bit too much. Fred reminds him that he won’t get too many nights like this one, so he best soak it up. However, FP feels as if he stumbled into the party where he doesn’t belong. Fred explains that everyone takes their own path and that FP’s brought him here. In addition to that, they’re going to be neighbors, which Fred is happy about.
Cheryl messages Kevin and tells him to meet her at Thistlehouse. He’s sorry to hear of her breakup with Toni, though Cheryl isn’t too concerned, quoting the phrase "Que sera, sera", which means "whatever will be, will be." This phrase is also heavily featured in the iconic high school black comedy Heathers. Cheryl then informs Kevin that there’s a musical version of it. However, Kevin knows where she is going with this, explaining that The Farm is co-sponsoring the musical this year, and it’s going to be Godspell. Cheryl needs to focus her rage, therefore this year’s musical is Heathers as far as she’s concerned. Kevin’s directing and she’s playing HBIC Heather Chandler.
Gladys gets on stage to thank everyone for coming out as Betty, Jughead, FP and Jellybean sit at a table together, with Archie, Veronica, Fred, and Tom just behind them. Once, FP was a great king. But by Gladys’ account, the greatest role that he’s ever held is that of a father. She then invites Jughead to say a few words. Before he goes up, Betty asks if he even has an idea of what he’s going to say, to which he replies that he doesn’t. Jughead starts off his speech with a joke about how he and his father don’t like birthday parties. Jughead remembers when FP made him promise not to stop writing. Not for anything. And Jughead hasn’t. He’s written every day. But he could punch keys every night in a booth at Pop’s and never come up with a story as unique as his father’s. He’s gone from being a Serpent King to Sheriff. Someone that most people had written off. He’s a man whose righted his wrongs and reunited the family. That’s who he is to Jughead. Someone who would do anything for his family. Jughead ends his speech with how proud he is to not only be FP’s son but to share his name and be part of his amazing story. A teary-eyed FP hugs Jughead as he leaves the stage.
Afterward, Betty and Jughead discuss his speech, only most of which was true. They then look over to Jughead’s mother, father, and sister, and wonder what his next move will be. Jughead’s plan is to save Jellybean, protect his dad, and run his mom out of town. And he enlists in Betty’s help.
- The Tads - She Is My Dream
- Scene: Jughead writes about the American Dream and has a perfect breakfast with his family.
- Riverdale Cast feat Camila Mendes and Vanessa Morgan - Call Your Girlfriend
- BEGINNERS, Night Panda - Young And On Fire
- Scene: Cheryl arrives at La Bonne Nuit to case the place, during which time she is confronted by Toni.
- K.Flay - Giver
- Scene: Cheryl and Toni have sex at La Bonne Nuit / Archie fights Captain Golightly.
- Kid Dean - Can't Stop Me Now
- Scene: FP has his birthday at La Bonne Nuit, where Fred gives him a hug and says that he's happy they're going to be neighbors.
- The episode title comes from Jonathan Prince's 2002-2005 American television drama of the same name.
- Jughead references American author, painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell.
- Veronica references American actress and producer Gloria Swanson.
- Skeet Ulrich, who portrays FP, was 49 when this episode aired. He turned 50 on January 20, 2020.
- Notably, during the first season, it was revealed that FP was born on January 20, 1970. However, that's inconsistent with the timing of his birthday party.