|“||There's a town that exists at the borderlands. A place of nightmares and dreamscapes. A place where folklore and myth carry the weight of fact and truth. A place where superstition and their laws overshadow the laws of science, and a place where old traditions die hard, if they die at all. The name of this place is Rivervale. And though it might seem familiar to you, like a town you visited before, I can assure you, it is not that same town. Don't worry, I'll show you around.||”|
WELCOME TO RIVERVALE – Following the explosion that ended Season Five, a new day dawns in the town of RiverVALE, where everything is as it should be. Veronica and Reggie are now the town's power couple, while Jughead and Tabitha move in together. But with Cheryl demanding a return to the "old ways," this serenity will surely not last. And how could Archie and Betty possibly have survived?
Jughead gives a tour of Rivervale, a town that while might seem familiar, it is entirely different in many ways from Riverdale. He starts a Toni and Fangs' apartment, where they've finally managed to put baby Anthony to sleep, as he's been crying nonstop. Something is clearly wrong, so Fangs arranges an appointment with Dr. Curdle Jr.
Jughead then heads to Pop's, where Tabitha is finalizing the deal with the real estate agent for her and Jughead's new place. This is Tabitha's first time living with a boyfriend. She's always been too guarded and nervous in the past.
Next stop is the Cooper house, where Alice is doing a lot better since Polly's death. She calls Frank over to check on her clogged sink. Inside the drain, he finds a dish rag. With him already over, Alice invites him to stay for breakfast.
Jughead makes his way next door, where Archie is sleeping in the bed with Betty. However, he jumps awake from a nightmare, in which he and Betty were hooking up until they found a bomb under the bed. Archie remarks that the weirdest part is that they were living in a town called "Riverdale." Betty then gets a call from Kevin, who informs her that he found something in the woods.
Archie and Betty meet up with Kevin, who came across a sliced open deer on a sacrificial altar, and its blood was used to draw runic symbols all over the stone. Whoever is responsible also took the deer's heart. Cheryl arrives, accompanied by the girls she's taken guardianship over and warns Archie, Betty, and Kevin that they're trespassing on Thornhill territory and that it would be in their best interests to leave unless they want to be shot with arrows by her pupils, led by Britta. Betty informs Cheryl that they're standing in the middle of a crime scene and that she needs to collect all the evidence, including the deer, but Cheryl objects and commands her girls to draw their bows. When Betty attempts to claim the deer as evidence, Cheryl explains that she and her girls will make a stew of its meat, a pelt of its hide, and paste from its hooves.
Dr. Curdle Jr. informs Toni and Fangs that baby Anthony has colic. It's quite common and can last indefinitely. Dr. Curdle knows of an old remedy, in which he could put a toad in baby Anthony's mouth to simply suck the colic out, but Toni and Fangs object.
Archie and Betty help Jughead and Tabitha move in together. As Archie and Jughead grab more comics from the truck, Betty and Tabitha unpack and discuss their respective relationships. Back in high school, one of the biggest questions in Betty's life was if she was going to end up with Archie or Jughead. And now she has a definitive answer.
Veronica begins looking into investors for her boutique-casino with Reggie and reaches out to an old New York colleague. However, Cameron isn't interested, suspecting that this casino is only a distraction until she return to New York. Veronica insists this isn't true and ends the call. Reggie then approaches and asks for a straight answer in regard to the casino, which Veronica assures Reggie that she's all in for. She did want to go back to Wall Street initially, but now she's happy in Rivervale with Reggie.
Tabitha spots a spider on the counter and alerts Jughead. He kills it with a newspaper, but she wanted him to take it outside, as killing a spider is bad luck, but Jughead isn't concerned with such trivial superstition.
Toni, Tabitha, Frank, and Alice lead the town hall meeting at the community center, where Archie gives an update on the town's reforestation plan. Since Cheryl declared Thornhill a sovereign state, they've lost their local supply of maple syrup as well as the revenue it was bringing in, which is why Archie proposes they buy and distribute maple saplings — one per family, to be planted in each family's yard. Archie and his crew will take point in seeding a grove of maple trees that the town will own.
Cheryl and Nana Rose have dinner with the girls and discuss how dry and lifeless the maple trees have become. Cheryl believes this is because they have forgotten the old ways. Before they built their first settlement in Rivervale, it all belonged to the Maple Maiden. They worshiped her and gave offerings. In return, she provided maple sap and life. Over time, they left the old ways behind and took the Maple Maiden for granted, and she, in turn, punished them. So, they must again pay tribute to the Maple Maiden and the old, bloody pagan ways.
Archie gets off the phone with his mom, who was wondering if Archie and Betty had put anymore thought into what she asked the late time she saw them. Betty presumes that she's referring to marriage and reminds Archie that they decided marriage wasn't for them because everyone they know who's married, is either divorced or dead. However, Archie explains that she was actually referring to grandchildren. If it were up to Archie, it would happen sooner rather than later. While she has been dreaming about starting a family with Archie since the sixth grade, Betty wants them to take their time.
Jughead pours a bowl of cereal and discovers a small colony of roaches inside the box, which she washes down the sink.
Archie and Frank set up a distribution center outside of Pop's for the maple saplings. Cheryl confronts them and accuses Archie of making a play for her maple birthright and empire, but Archie reminds Cheryl that she doesn't own maple trees or syrup. Every citizen of Rivervale should be able to tap their own tree. In that case, Cheryl orders thirteen saplings to plant in the Thornhill groves, but as Archie recalls, Cheryl succeeded from their town and his maple trees are reserved for tax paying citizens of Rivervale. Archie offers her a chance to rejoin their township, but Cheryl refuses after he tried to erase the sins the town perpetrated against her ancestor, Abigail Blossom.
Dr. Curdle Jr. informs Betty that she's essentially barren. However, strangely enough, she's the fifth young, healthy woman to come see him with the same condition.
Toni and Fangs are struggling to deal with baby Anthony, who has yet to stop crying. Fangs was talking to his grandma, and she revealed that back in the day, Serpent mother's would leave their crying babies on tree stumps in Fox Forest overnight. And when they returned the next morning, the babies were sleeping peacefully after having cried the colic out, which apparently, Fangs' mom did with him.
Veronica has arranged a surprise for Reggie. She lures him into the bedroom, where she has covered the bed with his bonus money and then lies on top of the money herself, inviting Reggie to join her.
Alice has cooked dinner for Frank. When he prepares to leave, Alice explains that she likes him and wants him to stay the night with her. While Alice's offer is enticing, Frank says that he simply cannot go there with her. Alice blames herself for falling for the strong silent type yet again.
Betty has been thinking and suggests that she and Archie adopt a baby. Archie's dad always used to tell him that the most fulfilling things he ever did was become a father, and Archie wants to do that with Betty for every step of the process. Betty assures Archie that there's nothing more she wants than to have his baby.
Toni takes Fangs' advice and takes baby Anthony out into the forest, but before she can leave him on a stump, she is startled by Cheryl, who is simply on a night walk. When Toni explains that she's trying to cure Anthony's colic, Cheryl takes the baby in her hands, and he almost instantly stops crying due to the calming perfume she concocted in her greenhouse, the ingredients of which she can mix into a more permanent solution in exchange for Toni's help in embracing Riverdale's old ways.
Jughead awakens at the sound of Tabitha's scream. She claims that something is biting her, but Jughead doesn't see any bugs in the bed or on himself. Tabitha was having a nightmare about spiders, and then it felt like the spiders were biting her. Jughead assures her it was all a dream.
Tabitha awakens the following morning to find her arms and legs and Jughead's back covered in welts and bites. They're clearly infested, so Tabitha intends to call an exterminator.
Cheryl prepares for arts and crafts with the girls. Today, they are making poppets to honor the Maple Maiden and serve as a warning.
Archie, Frank, Fangs, and Kevin arrive at the field where they intend to plant the saplings, only to discover that Cheryl has impaled the ground with poppet dolls to scare them off.
Betty returns home and asks Archie about the planting of the maple saplings. He tells her how Cheryl impaled her poppets all over the forest to scare Archie's crew. Surprisingly, Betty recognizes the poppet from a cold case involving a similar doll.
Veronica shows Reggie the finalized blueprints for their casino, however, Reggie notices that the blueprints don't have an office for him despite the casino being his idea and them being equal partners. Veronica offers to call the architect and have a new design drawn up, but it's too late as far as Reggie is concerned.
Archie gets a call from Kevin, who reveals that all the saplings were ripped from the ground and destroyed.
Archie interrupts Cheryl's meeting with the council to confront her for destroying the saplings. However, she denies doing any such thing and reveals that she requested this audience with the council to invite the entire town to Thornhill for the maple festival, which Toni, Tabitha, Frank, and Alice have accepted.
Betty begins looking through old cases at the FBI field office, where she comes across a cold case involving the same sacrificial altar in the woods, but this time involving a human sacrifice and a poppet doll with Nana Rose's initials stitched in.
Cheryl returns home to find Betty waiting for her regarding the deer Cheryl killed, which Cheryl denies. Betty then reveals that 50 years ago, a drifter was murdered on their property with his heart ripped out and poppet shoved down their throat. Again, Cheryl denies having any involvement or knowledge of what Betty is referring to.
Frank walks Alice home and explains that years ago, when he was a mercenary, he was married and had a daughter. No one knew. Not even Fred or Archie. Because if anyone found out, it would put them at risk, which it eventually did. Frank wants to open himself up to those feelings again, but he doesn't know if he's ready yet. Alice sympathizes and suggests that they simply go to the maple fest together.
Tabitha has whipped up a large order of pancakes for Cheryl's pancake eating contest during the festival. Cheryl then asks about the welts on Tabitha's arm. Tabitha reveals that their apartment is riddled with bugs. Cheryl offers her help with an ancient cleansing formula that will take care of any and all bugs, as well as curses, but it will come at a price. Cheryl will need Tabitha and Jughead's participation in all of her maple festival's events.
Cheryl makes pie and explains to the girls that back in the day, the village priestess used to bake a sin pie, which was meant to contain the sins of the entire town and once it was consumed, the sins would be absolved and the town would prosper. However, the pie has to be eaten by someone chosen, whose special and strong enough to take on the sins of an entire town.
Betty shares her findings with Archie regarding the poppet doll, which connects back to the Blossom family. Archie then reveals that Cheryl invited the town to a harvest festival, and everyone is excited to go, which is strange to both Archie and Betty, who both suspect that something evil is happening at Thornhill. This is exactly why they're both going. Because while Cheryl is being a good host, Betty will be doing some good old-fashioned snooping around Thornhill.
Archie and Betty arrive at the festival, where they run into Toni and Fangs with baby Anthony, who's doing a lot better now. Toni then wishes Archie good luck today, but for what, he doesn't know.
Cheryl noticed Veronica and Reggie arrive together, but Veronica tells Cheryl to hold off on any ship names, as it's looking like they may not last, as all of Reggie's old insecurities are manifesting and pretty soon, he'll be comparing himself to Archie again. Cheryl has an idea that'll make it perfectly clear that Veronica no longer wants to be with Archie.
Jughead asks for Archie's help. Tabitha has been flipping flapjacks for hours, and Jughead needs someone to compete against. Betty encourages Archie to join him and keep Cheryl distracted whilst she does some snooping.
Tabitha tallies the pancake eating competition between Jughead and Archie, which Archie wins by three pancakes, a total of 119. Jughead then looks at Archie and says that he's like a brother to him and that he loves him.
Cheryl has propositioned Frank and Alice with a chance to be together, unencumbered by the past, but only if they help her return Rivervale to the old ways.
Archie and Reggie face off in a log-cutting competition, which Archie ultimately wins. Reggie walks off in defeat, but Veronica tells him that he was supposed to lose, as after tonight, he won't have to worry about playing second fiddle to Archie ever again.
The final round has come and it is almost time to crown the Maple King or Queen. Betty volunteers to challenge Archie in an axe throwing contest, which Betty wins. As a consolation prize, Archie is given a pie by Britta.
Archie and Betty return home with the pie. Archie asks Betty what she uncovered while snooping around at Thornhill. She reveals that the poppets are actually fertility dolls, which she wants to use, but only after Archie has some pie. After he licks a piece of pie from her fingers, Betty lies down on the table and the two have sex next to the fertility doll.
Archie awakens to the sound of his phone ringing. It's Kevin, who is calling to tell Archie that Cheryl and some of the others have taken Betty and are performing some kind of ritual.
Archie races to Thornhill, where he finds the entire town waiting his arrival. Cheryl explains that it's a ritual. If they want their maple trees to thrive and for Rivervale to have a bountiful year, then a sacrifice has to be made. Betty then reveals that she's pregnant with Archie's child, and in 25 years, he'll be crowned the Maple King, just like his dad. Cheryl explains that Betty isn't the sacrifice, as women must bear children, whereas men's blood is the seed and nourishes the ground. Archie's blood is what will bring the town back to its glory, as he has the distinction of being the town's one true, pure heart. Archie looks to Jughead and Frank for help, but they're both in on it. Veronica then sneaks up behind Archie and knocks him unconscious. Archie awakens tied to a cross with a thorn crown on his head and ruins drawn in blood on his body. Cheryl approaches, stabs Archie, and rips his heart out as a sacrifice to the Maple Maiden.
- Jesse Roper - Horizons
- El Camino - Lawd Have Mercy
- Scene: Archie and Reggie compete at the maple festival.
- Alt-J - U&ME (Baauer Remix)
- Scene: Archie and Betty have sex next top the poppet doll.
- The episode title references the strange town of Rivervale.
- Chuck Clayton appears on the cover of Archie's Sports Illustrated magazine.
- Narrator Jughead Jones guiding the viewers is a reference to The Twilight Zone and its creator and host, Rod Serling. Betty directly mentions the series in the episode.
- The plot and the Maple Harvest Festival take from to the tie-in novel, Riverdale: The Maple Murders.
- The outfits during the Harvest Sacrifice are a reference to to 2019 horror movie Midsommar, also referenced in "Chapter Twenty-Four: The Hare Moon" of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.