|“||Let's start with the obvious. I know you're behind the mine explosion. Don't bother denying it. [...] It's ironic, I keep hearing the words my guidance counselor said to me way back in high school. That our sick dance of death could only end with one of us dying. And now, here we are, headed straight for an Oedipal tragedy set in motion when I was... a 14-year-old girl.||”|
REIGN OF TERROR — After learning that a friend has gone missing, Tabitha enlists help from Jughead and Betty to investigate the disappearance. Penelope plants doubt in Kevin's mind, which leads him to confront Cheryl about the ministry. Finally, an explosion at the mines leaves several lives hanging in the balance.
Betty and Tabitha return to Pop's after spending ten unsuccessful nights in a row on the Lonely Highway. Betty is sure they'd have better luck if they were working separately, but Tabitha sees ten nights without it a single murder or abduction as a victory. However, according to Betty, serial killers going quiet is never a good sign. That's when their desire to hunt and kill is building up inside of them. Betty then gets a call from Dr. Curdle Jr., who has been keeping Martin Tucker, the Highway Killer, or at least of the killers, on ice in cold storage, though he's becoming anxious and would like to incinerate the body, but Betty objects, as he's evidence for the Lonely Highway case. To ease his nerves, Betty offers to stop by with payment.
Archie takes a break from the mines to meet with Cheryl and ensure that they will be fairly compensated once they retrieve the palladium from her mines. As a show of good faith, Cheryl deposits a minor finder's fee to Archie in exchange for the palladium he's recovered thus far. In the future, a portion of whatever they recover will be set aside to subsidize Archie's revitalization of Riverdale.
Veronica and Chad meet with their divorce lawyers at the Pembrooke to finalize their divorce, however, Chad refuses to sign the papers unless Veronica is willing to give up the house in Sag Harbor and the Pembrooke, as well as paying him alimony. As reluctant as she may be, Veronica agrees and tells Chad to rot in hell, as Archie is all she needs in life.
Penelope expresses her concern for Kevin. She started the ministry with the purest of intentions, but Cheryl has twisted it into something profane and cult-like. While Kevin doesn't initially seem too worried, Penelope does seem to sow a seed of doubt.
Tabitha gets word from Squeaky's mom that she never returned home.
Toni calls Britta into her office after learning that she got into a fight with another student. Britta admits to punching Tim because he was calling her homophobic names. Britta also admits to being gay, though she's yet to come out to her parents yet. Toni understands that it's a difficult process, as she had to endure it as well, and offers her help in whichever way possible. So, Britta asks Toni if she can come with her when she decides to come out to her parents, to which Toni happily agrees.
Chad retreats to Hiram to report that he and Veronica are proceeding with the divorce. Chad keeps hoping they might reconcile, But Hiram assures him they won't so long as Archie is around, as he's Veronica's greatest weakness. If Chad wants to save his marriage, he's going to have to kill Archie, which Hiram assists with by handing him an untraceable ghost gun.
After practice with the Vixens, Cheryl asks Kevin if he wants a ride back to Thornhill. However, Kevin has a few questions first. He asks who are they praying to. It's not Jason, who Cheryl explains is more of a conduit to the higher power. However, she isn't exactly sure who they pray to and decides to fast in hopes of cleansing her body and refilling it with answers and wisdom.
Tabitha calls Betty and Jughead to Pop's, where she reveals that Squeaky never made it to her friend's house in California, which is why she brought them together, as she's heard the old stories about how Betty and Jughead used to solve the town's mysteries. Instead of paying him to bus tables, Tabitha would like Jughead to help Betty investigate the Lonely Highway.
Archie exits the community center and finds Chad waiting outside with a loaded handgun. He opens fire at Archie, who dodges the gunfire before lodging a steel trash can top at Chad and taking him down in a Captain America-like fashion.
Betty and Jughead begin their investigation at the old FBI field office, where Jughead catches up while reading Betty's case files. Despite catching Martin Tucker, Betty believes the killings are the work of a family of truckers who have been kidnapping and murdering sex workers and hitchhikers. Jughead recalls Lerman Logan, who disappeared on the highway for about a week, but he doesn't fit any of the victim profiles, though he may have encountered the killers, which is why Betty and Jughead would like to talk to him. Betty then gets another call from Dr. Curdle, who reveals that another body was recovered from Swedlow Swamp.
Betty and Jughead meet with Dr. Curdle Jr. at the coroner's office, where he details how the body has been dismembered; the body was mutilated beyond all recognition. Based on decomposition, it could be Polly, and Dr. Curdle Jr. would like to run a DNA test to be sure. Betty then informs him about Squeaky, who is also missing and whose family Betty intends to reach out to for a DNA sample as well.
The following day, Veronica and Chad return with their lawyers to finish the divorcing process. After Chad's attempt on Archie's life, Veronica has decided to take everything, and if Chad doesn't agree to those terms, she'll have him arrested for attempted murder, as he left behind the gun as evidence.
Kevin joins the Blossom women at the breakfast table. Penelope offers Cheryl a croissant, though she declines, reminding her mother that she's fasting for enlightenment. Feeling rather inspired, Cheryl leaves the table to paint, but stumbles on her way out.
Chad reconvenes with Hiram after failing to kill Archie, claiming that the gun misfired, though Hiram isn't concerned with his excuses. In fact, he blames himself for sending Chad in to do a job he should've done himself. Angry at his failed attempt, Hiram tells Chad to get out of Riverdale.
Veronica shows up at Archie's with the divorce papers. This leads to the estranged lovers having sex in Archie's bedroom.
Alice prepares to head down to the station after getting word from Tom that there was another body found. Betty informs her mother that she went down to the morgue, but the body was too dismembered for her to determine if it's Polly or not.
Cheryl expresses her inspiration in the form of a painting of a flaming ship at sea. She explains that water, fire, earth and wind are the fabric of the natural world. The higher power they should be worshiping is nature itself, specifically the elements. For more than a century, the Blossoms have made their livelihood from maple trees, but their roots go much deeper than she ever considered. So now when they pray, they pray to Mother Earth, which concerns Kevin. He no longer wants to be a part of the ministry and exits. That said, Cheryl tells him that he will always have a place at the ministry should he return. Unbeknownst to either of them, Penelope is watching from the hall.
As Betty, Jughead, and Tabitha await the arrival of Lerman, they notice Alice on the news, pleading with the killers to stop their atrocities. She inadvertently reveals that another victim was found and that their body is at the morgue. A part of Alice wishes it was Polly, so that she can finally awaken from her nightmare. Lerman then arrives.
As Fangs gives her a foot rub, Toni reveals to him that one of her students is gay and that she asked Toni to be there with her when she came out to her parents. Unfortunately, their response wasn't the most receptive, saying things like "Are you sure?" And "Do you have to be?" This is a struggle that both Toni and Fangs have personally experienced. Toni describes it as a lottery; who your parents are and the type of environment one grows up in. For instance, it was very difficult for Toni when she came out to her Nana. Fangs went through a similar ordeal with his dad when he came out as bisexual. His father responded by saying "Great. You can choose, so choose being with a woman." While Toni may have talked Britta's parents off the ledge, there's still a ways to go. And for the record, no matter what baby Anthony is, Toni remarks that she'll be ecstatic, a sentiment that Fangs shares.
Hiram sits in his office and watches as a timer counts down after planting several bombs in the Blossom mines in an attempt to kill Archie and get back at Veronica.
Archie, Frank, and Kevin are in the mines when Hiram's explosives detonate, causing the mines to collapse. Frank and Kevin see everyone out as Archie heads further inside to find Eric.
Cheryl gets a call from Kevin that the mines have exploded. Cheryl then calls Veronica and tells her.
Lerman takes a seat in a booth with Betty, Jughead, and Tabitha, who questions him about that week he disappeared and was found on the Lonely Highway. While most of it's fuzzy, Lerman is able to piece together that he was sleep walking along the highway, then the next time he woke up, he was in a small, windowless metal shed, similar to a spaceship. Lerman could hear voices outside of the shed sometimes. He was in there alone until the Mothman helped him escape. He had red eyes and said that Lerman was a mistake, which is why he's releasing him. He let Lerman go and warned him against telling anyone. Unfortunately, Lerman doesn't know the location of the shed, though it was close to the highway. Betty then gets a text from Dr. Curdle, who has the DNA results.
Veronica arrives at the site of the mine collapse, where she convenes with Cheryl and Kevin. It'll be a while before they can get Archie and Eric out, as they need more hands and heavy-duty equipment. When Frank revels the mine was blown up intentionally, Veronica deduces that her father is the culprit in an attempt to get back at her for stealing his palladium.
Archie finds Eric buried under a pile of rubble. He warns Eric to take shallow breaths and conserve as much oxygen as possible.
Dr. Curdle Jr. ran Betty's DNA with the most recent victim, and it wasn't a match, though he was able to confirm that the victim is Squeaky, much to Tabitha's dismay. However, Betty's DNA did come back as a match to Martin Tucker. It seems he's a very distant cousin, meaning that he's more likely a Blossom. Lastly, Dr. Curdle reveals that the morgue was broken into and the body of Martin Tucker and the severed limbs of Squeaky were stolen. The killers heard Alice on the news and stole the evidence. Tabitha relates this to when their Mothman corpse was taken from Pop's. Jughead recalls that they were given the body by Nana Rose. Add that to the fact that the trucker was a Blossom, and now Jughead believes that they have a connection. Tabitha tells them to go without her, as she has to contact Squeaky's family, but when the time comes to take down the family of killers, she wants to be there.
Hiram listens from a radio in his office as reports come in that Archie and Eric are trapped in the mines. Veronica sneaks up from behind and knocks him unconscious with a single blow to the back of the head with a blunt object. Hiram awakens strapped to a chair with Veronica sitting in front of him. She recalls the words her guidance counselor said to her during her Senior year of high school — that their sick dance of death could only end with one of them dying. And now here they sit, headed straight for an Oedipal tragedy that was set in motion when Veronica was a just 14-year-old girl. She remembers the day of her quinceañera, where she overheard her father telling his friends that she was a disappointment and that he wished he had a son to follow in his footsteps. The thought of this traumatic moment brings Veronica to tears as she tells Hiram about how she's spent an entire lifetime chasing his approval only for him to continue to hurt her. She proceeds to wipe away her tears before warning him that if Archie dies, so will he. "Can you feel it, Daddy? Our dance of death is finally coming to an end."
Betty and Jughead confront Nana Rose about the Mothmen, reminding her that Polly is among the abducted when Nana Rose claims to have told them everything she knows. Jughead demands to know the truth about the alleged Mothman corpse she previously gave him and Tabitha. Nana Rose is ashamed to admit that it was actually cousin Timothy. She came across his corpse in the woods and put him in a barrel. She pitied him, as he was born with so many defects. Nana Rose reveals that her late husband was a compulsive philanderer. He had sex with every woman that worked on their estate, and then when they became pregnant, he forced Rose to pawn them off to avoid a scandal. Fortunately, she knew a barren couple that lived in a cavern in the woods — the Starkweathers. Rose gave them a total of six children. Betty concludes that Martin Tucker must've been one of the Startkweathers, though he was also a Blossom, meaning that there's a secret illegitimate clan of Blossoms that have lived in the woods for two generations. They kept to themselves and didn't like prying eyes, so they created the tale of the Mothmen, one which the Blossoms were eager to embrace. Nana Rose reveals that they no longer live in the woods. They migrated to the mines until it's closing and then found their way towards the highway. Jughead then remembers Old Man Dreyfus, who has been pushing the Mothmen fable from the highway. When they mention his name, Nana Rose confirms that he is in fact a Starkweather. Betty then gets a text from Toni.
While Veronica works with the crew to clear the mines from the outside, Archie works from the inside, though the rocks are heavy, and he is low on oxygen, not to mention that Eric is wounded from the collapse. When Archie says that he has no idea how they're going to get out, Bingo and his platoon appear, offering Archie a helping hand. Bingo recalls how during their first PT Test, Archie did double the number of push-ups and pull-ups, reminding Archie that he doesn't have an ounce of quit in him.
Toni reveals to Betty and Jughead that Britta ran away from home last night after getting into a fight with her mom. All she left behind was a note that said "Now you don't have to deal with me." Fangs called all her friends, but no one knows anything. Betty and Jughead are worried that she may have tried to leave Riverdale via the Lonely Highway and was abducted in the process. When Betty and Jughead reveal that they've tracked down the killers, Toni is more than willing to volunteer, but Fangs is a bit more reluctant, reminding Toni that she's a mother now and can't go out on raids anymore, but Toni feels as though she has to, as Britta came to her for help. As for baby Anthony, Toni doesn't want him to grow up thinking his mom's a coward. Taking this into consideration, Fangs decides to join Toni, Betty, and Jughead, leaving the baby with his mother.
Veronica joins Cheryl in the trailer, where she has recovers the first aid kit. Veronica has sustained minor injuries, and Cheryl advises her to take a break and go home, but Veronica is reluctant. However, Cheryl manages to convince her to step back.
Cheryl takes a seat before the collapsed mines and prays to Mother Nature, calling upon the four elements: fire, wind, water, and earth to rescue Archie. Her payer seems to invoke rising flames and sudden gusts of wind. "I call upon fire. Which consumed my brother's body and mighty Thornhill once upon a time. I call upon wind, as I have once before. Blow a cool gust across Archie's brow. I call upon water, where I saw my departed brother in the icy depths of Sweetwater River, and where I, myself, was reborn. And lastly... I call upon the Earth. Dear Gaia, please return Archie and Eric to us. Open a path for them so that they may return to the land of the living." Much to the crew's amazement, Cheryl's prayers are answered when Archie comes walking out of the mines with Eric on his shoulders. Cheryl weeps as Frank and Kevin rush to help.
Chad breaks into the Pembrooke as Veronica runs a bath. Chad follows the sound of running water to Veronica's bathroom, though she is no longer there. Veronica takes advantage of her home voice system and commands for all the lights to be turned off and Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries to be played on full volume. Hidden by darkness and the blaring music, Veronica disarms Chad. A battle for control of the gun ensues, which ultimately ends with Veronica killing Chad as Smithers enters the apartment. Veronica then gets a call from Cheryl as she explains to Smithers that Chad attacked her.
Veronica returns to untie her father after revealing that Archie survived the mine collapse. She mocks his inability to kill Archie or do anything successfully, referring to him as a "silly cartoon" who she no longer admires or fears. She threatens to kill him just like she did Chad should he ever come for her or Archie again.
Betty, Jughead, Tabitha, Toni, and Fangs arrive at the junkyard. Jughead is to distract Dreyfus while they search for Britta. He knocks on Old Man Dreyfus' door and enters his shack, where he begins questioning if Dreyfus has any family, referring to him by his last name of Starkweather. He questions just how much Jughead has figured out. Jughead reveals that he knows the Mothmen corpse that was at Pop's was Dreyfus' half-brother, Timothy, and that Dreyfus stole it while they were out. He also stole the bodies from the morgue, specifically his brother, Martin, as well as the mutilated remains of Squeaky. Jughead has come to the conclusion that Dreyfus and his brother search the Lonely Highway for women to murder and questions why. Initially, it was to survive, by stealing from them, but then it became sport and chasing the thrill of the kill. The Mothmen tale was just a cover-up to keep people from looking into the disappearances.
While searching the yard, Toni comes across a shed. It's locked, but she can hear Britta from the inside. Toni is then startled by one of the Starkweathers. Having heard Toni's scream, Jughead jumps to his feet. This distraction allows Dreyfus to reach for a knife and lunge at Jughead. Elsewhere, Fangs finds himself stuck in a bear trap. Not far off, Tabitha and Betty are attacked by two men wearing armor crafted in the likeness of the Mothmen. Betty opens fire, but the bullets are incapable of piercing the armor. However, unlike Betty, Fangs is armed with a shotgun and scares off his attacker. Meanwhile, Tabitha manages to break free of the Mothman attacking her and uses a stun gun to render him unconscious. Unfortunately, Betty is still at the mercy of her attacker. For a moment, he even appears to her as TBK until Toni intervenes, hitting the Mothman in the back of the head with a golf club. Toni reveals that Britta is fine and that one of the Starkweathers, a young boy, helped her free Britta. Betty then rushes into the cabin to find Jughead holding Dreyfus down. He tried to chew his tongue off and choke on it, but Jughead continues to pry his mouth open until Betty knocks him unconscious with a swift kick to the face.
Toni and Fangs return home and wrap his foot after freeing him from the bear trap. Fangs begins to questions if they can handle parenthood. Toni assures him they can, so long as they continue to watch each other's back.
After another brush with death, Archie and Veronica take a bath together at the Pembrooke and celebrate their union. Veronica jokes that Archie's guardian angle deserves a raise.
Hiram burns a family photo of himself with Hermione and Veronica.
Betty has taken Old Man Dreyfus to the field office and called her colleagues at the FBI. They're on their way, but before that happen, Betty wants to know where her sister is. In a moment of mercy, Dreyfus reveals that Polly is in the junkyard and draws her a map. With Dreyfus' guidance, Betty and Alice make their way to the junkyard, where they find Polly's body in a trunk of an old car.
- Sarah Gayle Meech - The Loneliest Place in Town
- Richard Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries
- Scene: Veronica kills Chad
- Penelope mentions The Wicker Man, a 1973 British horror film. Kevin is later seen reading the novelization in the teacher lounge.
- Veronica refers to the Oedipus complex and the conversation she had with Mrs. Burble in "Chapter Sixty-Five: In Treatment". As a woman, however, she is more likely to suffer from Electra complex, also diagnosed by Mrs. Burble.
- The title of the episode comes from a conversation Mrs. Burble had with Veronica, calling her relationship with Hiram a "dance of death".