It’s midseason finale time for Riverdale, which means dead brothers, hypnosis, and family reunions. We are also one step closer to finding out what exactly happened during that fateful spring break where Jughead supposedly dies.
Find out everything that went down in the midseason finale of Riverdale, “Chapter Sixty-Six: Tangerine.”
— Riverdale (@CW_Riverdale) December 12, 2019
Jughead is reading his chapters for the Baxter Brothers contest, and DuPont tells him he thinks the Baxter Brothers found their newest ghostwriter. Jughead won. Mr. DuPont gives Jughead the contract.
Later, Jughead asks Charles if he can use FBI resources to track down their grandfather. Jughead says it’s probably something he should’ve done months ago, but he has an important decision to make and can’t until he knows his grandfather’s truth.
That night, Alice wakes Betty, telling her something happened with Polly. She mutilated a nurse at Shady Grove and almost clawed her face off. Betty, Charles, FP, and Alice are in the kitchen, and Betty says Polly’s messed up, but she’s not a literal monster. Charles shows her security footage from Shady Grove, and Betty watches what happens. Polly attacked a nurse for no reason; what happened? Charles tells her Polly will only talk to her and alone. Betty says she’ll talk to her, but Charles mentions there’s one more thing she should know — the nurse Polly disfigured, her name is Betty.
At Shady Grove, Betty comes into Polly’s room, and Polly is strapped down to her bed. She is freaking out, telling Betty she’s the only one she can trust and wants to know what’s going on. Betty asks if she can tell her what’s happening, she attacked a nurse named Betty. Polly tells her that’s impossible; she can’t remember any of what they’re saying. She was in the rec room, and the next thing she remembered, she was in her room and chained to the bed. “Please believe me. I didn’t do it, Betty. It wasn’t me.”
Jughead gets a call from Charles, who tells him he found him. Or, more specifically, the U.S. Postal Service did. Charles tells Jughead that evidently, Forsythe has a P.O. box in Seaside that he checks once a month when he comes in from the forest. “Wait, did you just say forest?”
Betty is talking to Alice, saying she actually believes Polly. Obviously, she did it, but not consciously. Betty says it’s like she was fuguing or something. She realizes that doctors at Shady Grove said Polly received a phone call about an hour or so before the incident. Just then, the phone rings and Alice picks it up, and it doesn’t take long for Alice to go into some trance, and she grabs a knife from the drawer. Alice walks towards Betty, and Betty walks backward, trying to get her mother’s attention, saying she’s acting just like Polly. She says she’s acting hypnotized. Just as Alice is about to take a swing with the knife, Betty snaps her fingers, and Alice is back to normal, wondering what’s going on and why she’s holding a knife. Alice asks if the phone rang or did she imagine it. Betty tells her it rang, and she answered, but whoever called must have said something that triggered her into attacking. Betty says they need Charles to trace that phone call.
Betty meets with Charles at his office, and Charles tells her their hunch was right. The calls received by Polly and Alice came from the same place: Shankshaw Prison. Betty says something must have been said on those calls that made Alice and Polly enter a trance-like state, turning them into deranged killers as if they were hypnotized. Betty wonders who they know that uses auditory cues and hypnotism to control its members. The Farm. Edgar may be dead, but Evelyn is not. Any chance the prison she’s in is Shankshaw?
Jughead finds a converted bus in the middle of the woods at night, and a man comes out with a gun, telling Jughead he’s trespassing on private property. “If you’re Forsythe Jones the First, then I’m your grandson.” Forsythe holds up a light, saying he guesses he’d better come in then.
At Thistlehouse, Cheryl sits on the couch, Jason’s corpse on one side and the Julian doll on the other. Cheryl says the day has finally come; she’s ending their collective misery. Cheryl set up Chornobyl-grade roach bombs throughout Thisltehouse, which are discharging a toxin strong enough to kill anything that crawls within the walls. “I was born in poison, and I shall die in poison.” Penelope comes through the door, coughing, Cheryl is wearing a gas mask, and Penelope passes out.
Forsythe tells Jughead whatever FP said about him is probably true. Jughead says he’s actually not there to talk about that … yet, he’s there to talk about one of Forsythe’s old classmates, Francis DuPont. Jughead says he thinks Forsythe wrote the original Baxter Brothers book, not DuPont. He thinks he stole his idea and then published it under his name to which Forsythe says his facts are a little mixed up.
Penelope wakes up tied to a chair, Cheryl, Toni, Nana Rose, Jason, and Julian sitting in front of her. Cheryl tells Penelope that gassing herself to an early grave was just a ruse. She asks Penelope if she remembers when she was a little girl, and she used to read her Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Penelope would ask Cheryl if she thought she was Alice, and Cheryl would say, “No, Mother, I’m the Red Queen.” Cheryl says she’s going to do to Penelope what the Red Queen did to Alice; she is putting her on trial. The charges are as follows: “Prolonged gaslighting in hopes of driving me cuckoo-bananas, attempted murder of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, and actual murder of my father, Clifford Blossom, Claudius Blossom, and Hal Cooper, among others.” Cheryl asks Penelope how she pleads.
Forsythe is telling Jughead about what really happened, saying he always loved detective stories, so he came up with this notion to write a book about teenage detectives. Forsythe says he was burning out at Stonewall, so he quit, and the only thing he had to show for it all is one Baxter Brothers story. He didn’t know what to do with it, but Francis said he did — Francis offered to buy it from him for $5000. Forsythe admits when he saw how popular Baxter Brothers became over the years, he grew bitter, started drinking, and took his anger out on the world and his son. Eventually, he figured it’d be best for all concerned if he just … Jughead tells Forsythe Mr. DuPont asked him to be the next ghostwriter, and all this time, he thought that Mr. DuPont was killing people in order to keep the secret that he stole the book from him. Forsythe says that’s quite the theory, and if that was the case, he could have killed him too, right? Forsythe tells Jughead a word of advice; he messed up his life, he messed up his father’s life, and to seize the opportunities he’s being given.
Betty visits Evelyn at Shawshank. She tells Evelyn she weaponized her family against her by calling them and triggering some post-hypnotic suggestion. What’s the directive? Evelyn admits when she delivers the activation; the receiver turns into her — they become Betty, as in Betty Cooper. Betty asks why Polly attacked a nurse named Betty and why her mom came after her, and Evelyn says that when triggered, they become Betty and try to kill Dark Betty, Evil Betty, and Other Betty. Betty says they are trying to murder her. Evelyn tells Betty it was Edgar’s idea. The trigger word? Tangerine, repeated three times in a row.
Betty is with Charles and tells him she left before Evelyn could say “tangerine” a third time, but what would happen if she heard the trigger word three times? Would she be activated and want to kill herself? Charles says there’s only one way to find out; he says the word three times. Nothing happens. Charles wonders if it’s because she’s already Betty. The good news is, she’s officially not a ticking time bomb.
Penelope is still tied to the chair. She says it’s clear no matter what she says, Cheryl is just looking for a good reason to kill her. Cheryl tells her she’s looking for a reason to spare her life. “You’re my mother. And yet, you’ve always been so cruel to me. You brutalized me my entire life. You tried to kill my friends, and then you hid in Thistlehouse to keep torturing me.” Penelope says she wanted to destroy her happiness with Jason; how could she live knowing that she is happy with her dead son? Cheryl tells her in that case; she is guilty of the worst crime of all: being hateful to her rotten core. She’s going to a place so vile, so revolting; she’ll wish she was bricked up in Thistlehouse’s walls.
Jughead visits FP in the hospital, who had gotten shot while at Pop’s. Jughead tells him he found Grandpa; he’s living in Seaside in a converted bus. FP asks what he did that for, and Jughead says Mr. DuPont offered him the Baxter Brothers contract. He wanted to talk to Forsythe before he signed or not, and now that he has, Jughead says he was wrong. DuPont did steal the idea, but he did it legally. And for what it’s worth, Forsythe feels bad about the way he treated FP. He knows what he did to him and Grandma, and he knows that he was a bad father.
Penelope wakes up in the bunker. Cheryl says she assumes she’d approve of the bunker since it’s bigger than the cell she would’ve gotten at Shawshank, with food, electricity, and plumbing. Cheryl tells Penelope she needs time in solitude to seek penance for her crimes and cruelty.
Betty tells Charles it was horrible; when she saw the red door, she fugues. She slipped into a trance. Why? Charles says it may be a combination of hearing the trigger earlier and then returning to a familiar setting. What she saw, her about to kill Caramel; she thinks that’s when the dark part of her was born. Charles tells her if that’s true, if she can go back to the moment of Dark Betty’s birth and stop it from happening, she’ll essentially be killing her shadow self before she was even born. Charles says “tangerine” three times. Betty gets up and is transported to when Caramel died, and she sees her younger self. Betty stops her younger self from using the rock on Caramel and tells her to go play. Betty returns and says she’s not sure but thinks she did it.
Cheryl tells Toni that it may be time to bury Jason. Toni asks Cheryl if she’s sure, and Cheryl says yes. There’s been so much pain and poison in the house, and Jason, more than any of them, deserves the peace her mother spent years denying her.
After signing the Baxter Brothers contract, Jughead gets a letter saying to meet at the North Woods ASAP. When Jughead gets there, he notices torches in a circle, Donna and Bret greeting him, as well as two other kids. Bret hands him a rock, saying it’s an initiation. Donna puts a skull down, and Jughead breaks it with the rock. In it is a pin. Bret welcomes Jughead to the Quill and Skull Society.
Archie, Veronica, Jughead, Betty, Cheryl, and Toni are at Sweetwater River. Cheryl says they were all there the last time she was at the river when she tried to take her own life. It’s only fitting that they’re there now as she gives Jason, at long last, the funeral he deserves. Cheryl takes a stick from a burning fire and lights Jason’s corpse, which is lying in a boat. Archie and Jughead shove it out to the river.
In a flash forward to four weeks later, Archie is checking an unconscious and bloodied Jughead, telling Betty and Veronica that he’s dead. Archie asks Betty what she did. Betty’s hands are covered in blood, and she’s holding a rock.
Riverdale is officially on hiatus but will be back on Wednesday, January 22 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on The CW.