‘Riverdale’ Recap: The Death of the Town Is Approaching in Season 5, Episode 5 “Chapter Eighty-One: Homecoming”

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With the Core Four finally reunited in Riverdale after seven years, the gang have a lot to catch up on. As Betty is trying to be there for Polly, Archie and Toni team up to try to save Riverdale High, along with Kevin and Alice. The end leaves a heartbreaking cliffhanger for one beloved character.

Keep reading for a recap of this week’s Riverdale, “Chapter Eighty-One: Homecoming.”

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At Pop’s, the Core Four and Toni are talking in a booth, but not how accomplished their lives were the last seven years, something else. “So why were we only talking about how the town of Riverdale had fallen and Archie’s pipe dream to somehow save it?” Probably because it’s easier than the conversations that awaited them, Jughead narrates.

Jughead and Betty are taking a walk together and Jughead wonders why she hasn’t reached out. Betty didn’t think he wanted her to after he left her that voicemail on the night of his book launch. After that, she just assumed he didn’t want to hear from her. That wasn’t his intention, he’s sorry if it came off that way. It was nice to see her. “Even if it’s strange to be back here, just deeply uncanny.” Same old Archie, Betty says, trying to save everyone. Jughead has a book to write, and Betty says after Pop’s retirement party, she has to get back to Quantico. She tells Jughead it’s good to see him too, even though it is a bit weird.

Meanwhile, Archie tells Veronica that’s some rock on her finger, he must be a great guy. Chad is, Veronica mentions, underneath the bluster and bravado. She’s sure Archie has had a swarm of lovers, but Archie doesn’t know about that. The last real relationship he was in was with her. Veronica tells Archie he should be having fun at this point in his life. Because once he’s married… That’s why this is just a quick jaunt for her. Veronica has to go back to her life, her husband.

The following day at the FBI satellite office, Kevin asks Betty how the Bughead reunion went and she says as well as it could have. “Considering not all of us could be happily shacked up with our high school sweethearts.” FBI agent, high school drama teacher, but Betty’s not technically an agent yet. Betty finds a tape in a file, courtesy of Charles. She tells Kevin her brother kept files of everyone in her family, including her, and tapes of their phone conversations. Betty puts the tape in and it’s a conversation she had with Polly on Halloween years ago when she was at The Farm.

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Archie meets with Principal Weatherbee, telling him as he wrote in the email that he’s there to relaunch Riverdale High’s RROTC program. Weatherbee meant to reply but it’s been chaotic, to say the least. He breaks the news that it looks like Riverdale High might not be opening up its doors next Monday. Like everything else in town, their budget’s been cut almost to nothing, thanks to Hiram Lodge. Archie asks if there’s anything he can do. Toni, Alice, Kevin, Weatherbee, Archie, and Mrs. Burble get together and Alice says the school board has some serious doubts, they’re a skeleton crew. Kevin’s teaching five classes. But they’re not dead in the water yet. Alice says there are some board members that would like to see the school stay open if they can prove they have the personnel and resources that are required, which is questionable. Toni says the board will hear arguments before the vote so they should all be there. She will speak and in the meantime, they should target the board members who are still waffling and work on them. “If we lose this vote, we lose this school,” another nail in Riverdale’s coffin.

Hiram comes to the Whyte Wyrm and Toni tells him he can save his breath. If he’s there to bribe her or threaten her into giving up the fight to save Riverdale High… Hiram stops her, asking her how many students she has. A hundred or so, Toni answers. What if Hiram offered them all a scholarship to Stonewall? They’d be getting a world-class education at zero cost. Except for the fact he’s on the board at Stonewall Prep, which means on some level, the school must reflect his morals, which Toni is not okay with. What if Hiram told her that there was an open counselor position with a corner office and a big, fat paycheck? Toni says thanks, but no thanks.

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Betty comes down to the kitchen in the morning and Alice asks her how she slept. Betty says she woke up when Polly got home and asks if she usually stays out that late. Alice tells her that Polly is working at that nightclub, The Roving Eye. She waitresses a few nights a week. Polly helps with the mortgage, the twins, everything they need. She’s doing her best, they all are. Betty knows, she just remembers The Roving Eye can be sketchy. Alice tells Betty that’s not fair. “You don’t get to pop in, take a look around and judge your sister. Or me, for that matter.” There’s a knock at the door and Alice asks Betty if she can get it, it might be Toni. Toni brings Alice the morning paper with the headline, “Local school counselor runs seedy bar and snake dances.” Toni says it’s a hit piece, Hiram is trying to ruin her credibility. Alice says she’ll run damage control, and she’ll call each board member if she has to. In the meantime, if Hiram Lodge is trying to drag the Serpent Queen down to his level, Toni says he’s going to get himself bit.

At Riverdale High, Principal Weatherbee tells the others two more teachers have defected to Stonewall Prep. Toni comes into the classroom, saying they have bigger problems. She had one of her girls break into Hiram’s office to see what dirt they could use against him and she found his secret agenda for the town hall meeting. “I love that it feels like we’re in an episode of Succession right now.” Toni continues, saying besides deciding about Riverdale High, Hiram is also putting fourth a vote to unincorporate the town. Based on the receipts, it seems as though he has bribed or terrorized enough people into passing the motion. Alice says that to unincorporate the town means that all the money the town gets from the state for public services, for maintenance, for education, it goes away. “It means that Riverdale as a town, ceases to exist.”

So Hiram Lodge will finally get what he’s wanted for years, the death of Riverdale, so his precious SoDale can thrive. Kevin wonders if that happens, would they even be able to keep the school open with the board’s support and Alice tells him technically, yes, but it’s going to make it much, much harder. Toni says they need to fight harder, needing Alice to go on RIVW and blow the whistle on Hiram’s plan. He was trying to keep it secret so no one would show up and oppose him, but they need the public there so they could vote against Hiram’s plan. Archie, meanwhile, thinks he can help with their teacher problem. Alice wonders if he knows any qualified teachers with degrees because that’s what it takes to be a public school teacher. Toni suggests Riverdale goes private, that way they could choose who they wanted. Principal Weatherbee says they would lose all public funding. If the town unincorporates, they’d lose the funding anyway. Kevin says they need an investor. Toni might know someone, telling Archie that if he has any favors to call in, now’s the time.

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Alice is trying to convince Polly to come to Pop Tate’s retirement party, telling her they can bring the twins. Polly has to work and Alice wonders if she can take the night off. Polly fires back, telling her to get off her back. Betty tells Polly to give their mom a break and Alice says it’s fine, Polly has to work. Betty’s not so sure she does, telling Polly she knows she doesn’t waitress at The Roving Eye and that she’s been hanging out with the Ghoulies. So how exactly is she making all of this money to help out with the mortgage and support the twins? Betty asks if she’s dealing, tricking, both and Polly says it’s none of her business. Actually it is, Betty cares about her. Polly tells her sister she doesn’t live there, she deserted them. “Being a real sister doesn’t mean coming in for one day and telling me how to live my life, especially when you don’t know anything about it.”

After Pop’s retirement party, the Core Four are talking in Riverdale High’s student lounge, just like old times. Archie tells the three Hiram is trying to shut the place down and he’s pushing to unincorporate the town, which would wipe Riverdale off the map. Archie thinks they can stop him, or at least slow him down. He suggests they become teachers and after seeing their expressions, he says he knows it sounds crazy but it’s also a way to keep the school going, which means if Hiram wins the vote, they still have a defendable position, this school. And if they can save it, they can give people at least one more reason to stay in Riverdale. And in time, they can bring the town back to life. Veronica says she’s married, she has a life back in New York and Jughead has a novel to write. Archie tells Veronica that plenty of people commute to the city and Jughead always said that he does his best writing in a booth at Pop’s. It’s only going to be a month or two, just to give Weatherbee enough time to find permanent replacements. Betty’s in, Quantico can wait a couple months and she needs to be there right now for her mom and Polly. Jughead would have to clear it with his new job, but why not? “I’d like to shape some impressionable young minds.” Veronica’s in too, she’ll make it work with Chad. And considering what’s happening is all her dad’s fault, she needs to give back more than anyone. “Bulldogs forever.”

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At the school board meeting, Toni made the announcement that Riverdale High will be a private school, thanks to a generous donor – a.k.a. Cheryl Blossom – and teaching staff will include several notable Riverdale High alumnus. However, majority voted to unincorporate Riverdale. “The township of Riverdale is hereby dissolved.”

“What had taken decades to build was toppled in the blink of an eye. With the rap of a gavel, Riverdale was no more. And yet, life continues.” Betty tells her mother she checked upstairs. The twins are playing but Polly’s still not home. She’s worried. Alice tells Betty she knows her sister. She gets angry, storms off. God knows when she’ll be back. This is what happens. Later, as Archie is texting Betty to check in on her and see if she’s found Polly, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Jughead, wondering if Archie could use a roommate, now that he’s in this big, empty house all by himself after having gotten it back from the Ghoulies, with a little help. Archie tells Jughead to come in and the two are roomies once again.

Betty tries calling Polly again but all she gets is her voicemail. She leaves a message, apologizing about what she said. As Betty is continuing the message, Polly is running down the road trying to get away from a truck.

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Catch Riverdale every Wednesday 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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