‘Riverdale’ Recap: Everyone Comes Back to a Changed Town in Season 5, Episode 4 “Chapter Eighty: Purgatorio”

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Seven years has passed since the gang graduated high school and a lot has changed. As everyone has their new lives, some great and some not-so-great, Riverdale is under new control, of one Hiram Lodge. When Archie, now a sergeant in the army, is sent back to town on assignment, he teams up with Toni to figure out a plan as she shows him a town that is unrecognizable.

Keep reading for a full recap of the first Riverdale episode post-time jump, “Chapter Eighty: Purgatorio.”

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In the Bulldogs locker room, Archie tells his team he’s not going to lie to them. “What awaits out there is like nothing we’ve ever faced before, but we will not be afraid.” Archie, Reggie and the other Bulldogs get hyped up, and an army commander tells them their mission is to penetrate the enemy’s defenses, retrieve their fallen brother and return safely to base. The Bulldogs get out onto the field, Archie now wearing an army uniform rather than his football one. It’s an all out war on the Riverdale High football field, literally. Archie goes down and in the distance, he can hear the River Vixens cheering for him and the Bulldogs. Archie manages to make his way to a fallen comrade, the entire gang now cheering for him on the sidelines. Hiram, however, aims a gun at him and Archie wakes up.

General Taylor tells Archie, who is in an infirmary, to rise and shine. The caption at the bottom lets viewers know he’s at a VA Hospital in Yonkers, NY, seven years post-graduation. General Taylor asks Archie if he’s ready to go home but Archie tells him he’s ready to get back in the fight. General Taylor says he’s given seven good years to the army. Every man in his unit will attest to that. “They’re alive because of you.” Not all of them, Archie points out. General Taylor tells Archie he’s done some digging. Turns out the RROTC program at Riverdale High has been inactive. He can’t think of anyone more qualified to bring it back to life. With all due respect, Archie didn’t join the army to be a desk jockey. General Taylor tells Archie this is not a request.

The bus drops Archie off and the first place he goes is Pop’s. Tabitha Tate is the first one to greet him, telling him if he’s in the mood for something stronger than coffee to head downstairs. La Bonne Nuit has been rebranded as the Whyte Wyrm. Toni, Fangs, and Sweet Pea are on stage performing, Kevin watching from a table. After the performance, Archie and Toni talk, catching up. Archie notices that Toni is pregnant (Fun fact: They wrote in Vanessa Morgan’s real life pregnancy!), and mentions that she’s still a badass. He asks who’s the dad, if he can ask, and Toni tells him he can, but she’s not going to answer him. It’s a secret, just for now. But she’s glad to see him back in one piece. Toni tells Archie that she and the Serpents own the place now, they put all their cash together and bought it from Hiram. “A girl’s gotta be creative to survive in Riverdale these days.” Archie mentions that the bus ride into town, he can’t explain it but everything feels different, weird. To be honest, it doesn’t even feel like Riverdale anymore. Toni tells him that a lot has changed in the world since they graduated high school. Archie wonders where Pop Tate is and Toni’s confused; isn’t that why he’s there? No, Archie tells her he was reassigned.

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In Quantico, Virgina, Betty îs jogging through the woods and doing some training, wearing an FBI sweater. Later, a woman, Dr. Starling, asks her how the nightmares are, if they’re still keeping her up at night. Betty tells her no, she hasn’t had one in weeks. She’s more than ready to get back to work. She is working, Dr. Starling thought. Betty’s been assigned to cold cases, which means she’s filing all day. Dr. Starling says she’s suffered severe trauma, she is and still only a trainee. “I caught serial killers in high school, Dr. Starling.” Not like The Trash Bag Killer (TBK). “You’d be surprised.”

At home by herself, Betty eats dinner and looks through more files. Betty gets a flashback of being trapped in a hole with no way out, but she continues looking through the files, getting more flashbacks. While sleeping, Betty hears a cat whining and she gets up, wondering where it is. She hears it again and opens the door, finding the cat and severed human limbs, the cat licking the fingers. A chainsaw whirs and Betty looks behind her, seeing a guy with a chainsaw. Betty screams and she wakes up, having fallen asleep while looking through files.

The following day, Dr. Starling asks Betty if she’s had any nightmares and she tells her no, she’s sleeping like a baby. Unless Betty is able to open up to her about her feelings, about what she went through, while she was held captive by TBK, Dr. Starling says she won’t be able to help her. Betty admits when she got to his lair, Teresa was already dead. It wouldn’t have mattered if she had gone in there with an entire S.W.A.T. team. He’d already killed her. Dr. Starling tells her that’s true, but if she had waited for backup, she might not have been captured. And the Trash Bag Killer might not have escaped. “That was a mistake.” Betty regrets that. She spent two weeks in captivity, Dr. Starling asks if she thinks about it a lot since she doesn’t talk about it. Betty thinks about where TBK might be right now, she thinks about the people he might hurt because of her. Betty gets a call from Archie, apologizing. She usually has it turned off. She later tells agent and boyfriend Glen she has to go to Riverdale for a few days and he tells her while she’s there, she can pack up the FBI satellite office. “The one where you and your serial killer brother worked.” Betty will pack up the office, no problem.

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Veronica is thriving in the Upper East Side at a jewelry store, married for a year with a guy named Chadwick. Her marriage is not all great, and he’s mad that she’s not telling him where she’s working, Chad wanting kids but Veronica is not ready just yet. Ever since the accident, a helicopter crash on the way to a vineyard, things have changed. Veronica talks to Hermione, getting advice about what she wants to do. She doesn’t want to have kids just yet, she’s not ready to be a mom. She wants to be the she-wolf of Wall Street. They have time to have a family. Every marriage has its ups and downs and Hermione says that the accident shows her that they don’t necessarily always have time. Veronica and Chad have a date night and somewhat make things right between each other. At work, Veronica gets a call from Archie and she wonders if everything’s okay.

Jughead is trying to work on a story in Alphabet City, New York while at the same time trying to avoid debt collectors. After his first published book, he’s lost his edge. He meets a girl at a bar who was a fan of his book and brings her back to his apartment. In the morning, she admits it was a ploy to get him to read her book and give it to his agent. Debt collectors come and when she gets them to leave, Jughead reads her book as part of the deal. But before he can do so, he gets a call from Archie.

At the Whyte Wyrm, Archie sits down with Toni and the Serpents, and Kevin, catching up with them. Toni had a job lined up after graduation with Riverdale Social Services but they shut down, and Riverdale High needed a new guidance counselor, so Toni’s the new Mrs. Burble. Kevin is the drama teacher at the high school. He and Fangs stayed boyfriends, and now they live together in Riverdale, with Toni in an apartment. Sweet Pea mostly held down the fort while the others were gone. And then when Toni got back, they decided to revive the Serpents under her leadership. She was crowned the Serpent Queen. The Serpents drive trucks to make cash. Meanwhile, Toni and Cheryl broke up after graduation (RIP, Choni). After Toni got back from Highsmith, she went to go check on her a couple times. And the last time she went, recently, she wasn’t Thornhill’s only visitor. Hiram was there with his new righthand man, Reggie.

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Soon it’s just Archie and Toni and Archie brings up the fact that earlier she said the town had changed. He’s probably going to regret this but he wonders if she can tell him how. Toni thinks it might be better if she shows him. Archie tells Toni that he’s crashing at the El Royale since his mom’s renting out their house. “The renters.” Toni says she’ll pick him up at the gym. Toni leaves and Archie stays at the table to make a few phone calls.

Later, Toni picks up Archie at the El Royale, which is like a war zone now. “Well, wait till you see the rest of the town.” Getting on her motorcycle, Toni shows Archie around town, the funding being completely stripped by Hiram Lodge. The fire department is gone, the sheriff’s office is down to one man, Kevin’s dad. People are busy fending for themselves, the town’s lawless now. Whoever could afford to leave are gone. Only the people who are too poor, too proud to move on are still there. Toni takes Archie to Sketch Alley, which is now known as Skid Row, rabid dogs, people without homes. She then takes him to a bus stop, the fifth one that’s been trashed, melted. “Nowadays, there’s always a fire burning in Riverdale.” Buses don’t pass by town anymore, sometimes Toni’s trucks do, but only if they have to, and rarely at night. Bad things happen after dark. They call the road “The Lonely Highway.”

Archie wonders what Hiram Lodge has to gain and Toni shows him a construction sight with a SoDale sign. It’s not SoDale proper. This is where Hiram is building a turnpike that leads to SoDale about half a mile due east. He’s catering to the rich folk who can commute into the city. “So he’s strangling Riverdale to boost SoDale.” And their kids will go to SoDale High, Archie assumes. Stonewall Prep, actually. That place is the same, except for the fact that Hiram bought himself a seat on the board. And so the nightmare continues. There’s one more place Toni thinks Archie should see on the tour, but he’s going to have to brace himself. They get to Archie’s house, which has now been taken over by The Ghoulies. Before knocking some heads in, Archie asks Toni if they can go back to Pop’s, see if any of them actually came.

Archie and Toni get to Pop’s, being greeted by Pop Tate who nods his head over to a booth where Jughead, Betty, and Veronica are sitting. The two go over to the booth and Archie tells the others that Toni gave him a tour of Riverdale and it’s a hellscape. He knows he called them there for Pop’s retirement party but they have a much bigger agenda now. Riverdale’s dying. “And we might be the only people who can save it.” Meanwhile, as Tabitha gives a takeout order to a customer, she asks the girl, Squeaky, if she’s sure she can’t convince her to stay. She’ll give her more shifts if it’ll help. Squeaky appreciates it but Riverdale is done with her.  And she is done with Riverdale. Tabitha tells her to take care of herself and Squeaky leaves. Squeaky, whose real name is Lynette Fields, came to Riverdale two years ago for a fresh start that never happened. Now, she’s 21 and it’s time to go. She spots a truck on The Lonely Highway and signals it to stop, hitchhiking, hoping things would be better in San Francisco. “Unfortunately for Lynette, she’ll never make it to California.” 

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Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on The CW, streaming free the next day on The CW app!

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By Megan
Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvels911s if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.
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