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But you weren't here. I begged you to stay and you left. For seven years you were gone. And when you did finally come back... all of this started with Polly. You drove her away. She died. She's dead because of you.
Alice to Betty

"Chapter Ninety-Four: Next to Normal" is the eighteenth episode of the fifth season of Riverdale and the ninety-fourth episode of the series overall.[1] It premiered on September 29, 2021.

Synopsis

MOTHER'S DAY IN RIVERDALE — Refusing to accept what's going on around her, Alice creates an imaginary musical fantasy world in which the Coopers are one big happy family again. But as her mother continues to spiral, Betty does her best to pull her back to reality. Meanwhile, Tabitha ropes Jughead into a family dinner with her parents, and Veronica and Archie make a big decision about their future.[1]

Plot

SPOILERS AHEAD


Betty seeks comfort from the gang

The gang rallies around Betty at the Wyrm after learning of Polly's death. Fangs brings over a round of drinks on the house. The twins have been with Cheryl, who volunteered to look after them for a few days. She told Juniper and Dagwood that their mother is some place beautiful and close by. They even hung up a hummingbird feeder in the rose garden. While Betty is hanging in there, the same can't be said for her mother, who's been listening to the Next to Normal cast album. It's a Broadway musical that Alice took Polly and Betty to see one year in New York. It's essentially about a family, where the mom wants a normal family but her life is anything but.

Alice's imaginary world

Alice has crafted this imaginary world in her head, in which Polly is alive and Charles is a loving son and brother. She is singing Just Another Day when Charles comes in wearing a Bulldogs jacket and Polly comes down wearing her River Vixens uniform. In this delusion, Betty joins them, and the three Cooper siblings surround Alice around the couch. However, she returns to reality when the real Betty returns home and informs her that her record is skipping.

Archie and Veronica agree to move in together

While getting ready for bed, Veronica expresses her concern for Betty and Alice with Archie, who wonders what they can do to console the Cooper women. Veronica replies that they're simply on standby for whatever they need. In the meantime, Veronica has been thinking about the seven years they lost after graduation and proposes they move in together. Veronica initially presumes that Archie will be moving into the Pembrooke, but he ultimately convinces her to move into his house with the notion of long term plans.

Weatherbee informs Toni that Britta has been sleeping in a closet under the stairwell. Currently, she's in the cafeteria eating, and Weatherbee would like for Toni to speak to her.

Britta explains that she was kicked out of the house

Toni introduces Britta to Ms. Weiss, who is also a social worker. Britta reveals that her parents kicked her out after blaming her "deviant lifestyle" for getting her kidnapped by the Starkweathers. However, Toni assures her that there's nothing deviant about her sexuality and that she has the support of both Toni and Ms. Weiss, who currently has a full house of foster kids and is willing to offer Britta a place to sleep for the next few days, which will give Toni more time to find Britta a more permanent home.

Betty invites Alice to join her for a hike along the river, but Alice is consumed with grief, refusing to leave the house and sitting on the couch day after day, going through old family photo albums. Betty attempts to convince her to find a way to move on, but all Alice can think about is Polly. She also misses all the time they spent together. She and Betty then begin to sing I Miss the Mountains, as Betty desperately attempts to bring her mother back to reality and accept Polly's death.

Tabitha asks Jughead to be her pretend boyfriend

Tabitha's parents have come to Riverdale for Mother's Day. While in town, she shows them her changes to Pop's thus far, though they appear rather unimpressed. For dinner, Tabitha arranged for them to eat at the diner, but they have already made reservations at an Italian restaurant, which appears to bother Tabitha, as her father practically grew up in the diner, though he retorts that he couldn't get away fast enough. Tabitha then reveals that Jughead is her boyfriend and invites him to join them for dinner. After her parents leave, Tabitha apologizes for blindsiding Jughead and asks if he'll play along. Although willing to be her pretend boyfriend, he would prefer that he was her actual boyfriend. Unfortunately, now isn't a good time for Tabitha, though Jughead argues that there will never be a good time in Riverdale. They proceed to sing Perfect for You, ending with a kiss.

Alice playing the piano with Betty and Polly

Willfully trapped in this fairytale world she's created for herself, Alice is playing the piano with Betty and Polly at her side, singing Everything Else. Betty comes home to find her mother sitting at this brand-new piano and questions just where it came from. Alice reveals that she ordered it on Glamazon and then recalls how she used to give Betty and Polly lessons. Looking to change the subject, Betty tells Alice that Archie and Veronica invited them over for dinner, but Alice intends to stay home and cook Polly's favorite, meatloaf, for dinner and asks Betty to join her. Betty agrees but first says that she has to pick something up.

Veronica sings

Veronica prepares dinner for Archie, Jughead, and Frank. However, Archie and Frank are forced to head out early after reports of a fire, leaving Jughead and Veronica at the table alone until Jughead decides to take his plate to the garage and eat by himself. Alone at the dinning room table, Veronica sings Superboy and the Invisible Girl.

Betty's concern for her mother grows as she seemingly dances with fictitious versions of Polly and Charles while singing It's Gonna Be Good and preparing the table. Hoping to bring her to reality, Betty gives Alice Polly's ashes, reminding her that Polly is dead and that Charles is in prison. Betty sings She's Not Here, in reference to Polly, which cause Alice to cry until Betty suggests they head into the city to see a Broadway show.

Veronica awakens in bed alone but hears the shower running and assumes that Archie is in the restroom. She enters to find Jughead brushing his teeth and Frank taking a shower. They reveal that Archie slept at the station so that some of the guys could go home.

Cherly splashes water in Penelope's face

Penelope interrupts Cheryl's prayer to antagonize her after she lost all of her congregants, though Cheryl isn't in the mood for her mother's games. Penelope accuses Cheryl of only attempting to prop herself up with the ministry rather than seeking true insight. Cheryl insists that her ministry is real, as is her god, thus making Penelope her devil. Cheryl then starts to sing Didn't I See This Movie? before grabbing the chalice and throwing a cup full of water in Penelope's face.

Veronica helps Reggie prepare for his exam to become a legitimate stockbroker. She is more than happy to help, explaining that there's little that brings her more thrill than Wall Street. In five years, Reggie sees himself in a Penthouse in New York with an amazing job on the stock exchange, which leaves Veronica questioning her own future.

Alice blames Betty for Polly's death

As Betty and Alice prepare to celebrate Mother's Day with a Broadway show, Polly appears to Alice, who is at the complete mercy of her grief and tries to explain to Polly that she's not leaving her behind. Charles joins Polly, and they sing I'm Alive while attempting to prevent Alice from leaving the house. Betty pleads with mother to come to her senses and realize that what she's seeing isn't real, singing I Am the One. However, with Charles and Polly in both her ears, Alice doesn't believe that Betty truly needs her, or at least not as much as the two of them. Betty promises that she will always be there for Alice, but she recalls how Betty left her for seven years, and when she did finally come back, she chased Polly off, which ultimately resulted in her death. "She's dead because of you," Alice exclaims. Heartbroken by her mother's words, Betty simply heads out without so much as a word.

Jughead exits Pop's to find Mr. Tate waiting for him outside the diner. He informs Jughead that Tabitha is going through a phase and that their relationship is nothing more than a "passing fancy." Mr. Tate, in a moment of transparency, tells Jughead that Tabitha is out of his league and advises Jughead to do all them a favor by not showing up to the Mother's Day dinner. However, Jughead isn't threatened in the least, telling Mr. Tate that he reminds him of Hiram Lodge.

Veronica asks Archie where he sees them in the next five years

Archie apologizes for having missed another dinner. With that in mind, as well as her previous conversation with Reggie, Veronica wants to discuss their relationship and where they're headed, specifically where Archie sees them in the next five years. Archie hopes to still be in Riverdale. He asks if this is a deal-breaker. Veronica insists that it's not, claiming that it's just important to have these kinds of conversations.

Toni is struggling to find Britta a good home. She's tried group homes, shelters, and even other social workers, but has come up with nothing; no one will take her. Fangs suggests that she ask Cheryl, who he insists genuinely has changed. Although initially reluctant, Toni realizes that she doesn't have many options.

Kevin tells Betty to make amends

Betty meets with Kevin at the high school and expresses her concerns about her mother, who has built this fake world for herself, in which the Cooper family is firmly intact. Betty and Kevin then begin to sing I've Been. Betty wonders if Polly's death was in fact because of her chasing Polly away, but Kevin insists that she's not at fault. He advises Betty to go back to her mother and make amends.

Jughead and Tabitha kiss

Tabitha has dinner with her family as planned, though Jughead is late and has yet to show. When her parents make a snide remark about Jughead, Tabitha encourages them to just say what they're really thinking: that they're still upset about how she left Chicago to run Pop's in Riverdale. They admit that this is the reason for their animosity, as Tabitha could've been so much more. Jughead arrives with a Rose in hand soon thereafter, and Tabitha rushes over to him, singing Hey 3 / Perfect for You as they exit the restaurant, heading back to Jughead's room in the garage of Archie's house, where they share another kiss.

Toni asks Cherly to take in Britta

Toni goes to Cheryl and asks for her help with looking after Britta. She asks Cheryl if she can take in the young girl, who is left without a home after being thrown out. While Cheryl is more than willing, she's surprised that Toni trusts her enough to look after her. Toni explains that she loved Cheryl and also felt her loving, giving Toni a certain insight to the capacity for love Cheryl's heart has.

Veronica and Archie have another conversation. She's starting to feel like she's losing herself, similar to when she was with Chad. Archie apologizes, as he wasn't aware. Veronica wants to take a break until they figure out what they're doing, whereas Archie just wants to go back to dating and having fun like when they were kids. While Veronica likes the idea, they're not in high school anymore, she remarks.

Betty and Alice make amends

Alice comes downstairs to find Betty in the living room after having thrown the record player away, Betty admits. Years ago, she made a promise years ago to come back to Riverdale, which she broke, but now she's making Alice a new promise — that she won't ever leave her again. As Betty sings Why Stay?/A Promise, she grabs her mother's hand and tells Alice that she loves her. Moved by Betty's heartfelt gesture, Alice apologizes for saying that Polly's death was Betty's fault. She then begins to sing herself while holding Polly's urn. Alice has seemingly finally come to terms with reality, as Polly and Charles come down the steps and leave the house. With tears running down her face, Alice says that all she's ever wanted was for them to be a normal family, however, Betty explains that she never needed an entirely normal life.

Tabitha and Kevin at Pop's

Jughead, Tabitha, and Kevin head back to Pop's for drinks after Polly's memorial, in which Alice and Betty buried her ashes.

Fangs applauds Toni for a job well done with getting Britta settled with Cheryl. Toni then reveals to Fangs that she loves him, which he reciprocates.

At the Cooper house, Betty and Alice sing Light and reminisce over an old family photo with Polly. Meanwhile, at the Andrews house, Archie sits on the couch miserable as Veronica packs her bags upstairs.

Toni and Fangs kiss

At Toni's apartment, she and Fangs take care of baby Anthony, even sharing a kiss. Back at the Andrews, Archie watches as Veronica leaves with her belongings. Elsewhere, Kevin sits in a booth at Pop's while Tabitha serves him, and Cheryl and Britta play a game of chess at Thornhill.

Surrounded by close friends and family, the Coopers say goodbye to Polly and bury her ashes, all the while singing Light.

Cast

Starring

Guest Starring

Co-Starring

Soundtrack

  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart, Mädchen Amick, Jacquie Lee & Tyson Ritter - Just Another Day
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart & Mädchen Amick - I Miss the Mountains
    • Scene: Betty tries to convince Alice to come on a hike with her.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Cole Sprouse & Erinn Westbrook - Perfect for You
    • Scene: Jughead asks Tabitha to be his girlfriend and kisses her.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart, Mädchen Amick & Jacquie Lee - Everything Else
    • Scene: Alice, Betty, and Polly sing at the piano.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Camila Mendes - Superboy and the Invisible Girl
    • Scene: Veronica sings around house after being left alone.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Mädchen Amick, Jacquie Lee & Tyson Ritter - It's Gonna Be Good
    • Scene: Alice, Charles, and Polly sing while preparing the dinner table.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart - She's Not Here
    • Scene: Betty gives Alice Polly's urn.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Madelaine Petsch - Didn't I See This Movie?
  • Riverdale cast feat. Jacquie Lee & Tyson Ritter - I'm Alive
    • Scene: Charles and Polly attempt to prevent Alice from leaving the house.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart, Jacquie Lee & Tyson Ritter - I Am the One
    • Scene: Betty pleads with her mother to join her as Polly and Charles sing to Alice.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart & Casey Cott - I've Been
    • Scene: Kevin tells Betty to make amends with Alice.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Vanessa Morgan & Casey Cott - Make Up Your Mind / Catch Me I'm Falling
    • Scene: Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Toni, and Kevin sing.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Cole Sprouse & Erinn Westbrook - Hey 3 / Perfect for You
    • Scene: Jughead arrives for Mother's Day dinner with Tabitha and takes her back to his place.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart - Why Stay?/A Promise
    • Scene: Betty makes Alice a promise to never leave her again.
  • Riverdale cast feat. Lili Reinhart & Mädchen Amick - Maybe
    • Scene: Alice and Betty sing, as Alice explains that she just wanted a normal life.
  • Selectracks - Woman In Love
    • Scene: Jughead, Tabitha, and Kevin head to Pop's after Polly's memorial.
  • Riverdale cast feat. KJ Apa, Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Mädchen Amick, Casey Cott, Vanessa Morgan, Madelaine Petsch, Drew Ray Tanner, Erinn Westbrook, Ryan Robbins & Kyra Leroux - Light
    • Scene: Alice and Betty are surrounded by friends and family for Polly's memorial.

Trivia

  • The episode title comes from the 2008 off-Broadway musical Next to Normal.

Gallery

Promotional Images

Screencaps

Videos

References

Episode Guide

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