Riverdale is finally back after a two week break and things start to get strange. The previous episode ended with Archie’s back and front porch being set on fire (which is now more or less okay thanks to fire extinguishers), and Betty, Kevin, and Alice finding a body in Swedlow Swamp. This week, Betty, Kevin, and Alice are still trying to find Polly but come across other dead bodies in the swamp, and Jughead and Tabitha look more into the Mothmen.
Keep reading for a recap of this week’s Riverdale, “Chapter Eighty-Three: Fire in the Sky.”
Betty, Kevin and Alice are at the morgue and Betty asks Dr. Curdle Jr. if this is her sister’s body. Dr. Curdle Jr. tells her that her sister has been missing for a week and the remains found in Swedlow Swamp indicates it’s been there for at least three years. Alice and Kevin are relieved, and Betty asks Dr. Curdle Jr. if he has a cause of death. At first look, he says it’s blunt force trauma to the head. Without identification, she’ll be taken to the crematorium. Betty asks if he can wait so she can do some digging to find the identity and Dr. Curdle says yes. Meanwhile, Alice is going to sweep the swamp some more to see if she can find Polly, or at least her phone.
Jughead comes out of the backroom at Pop’s and gives Tabitha some old newspapers, telling her he spent the afternoon at the library. There’s an article in there about Old Man Dreyfus. It’s a Riverdale Register issue, with “Mothman Mystery!” as the headline and the article is all about the terrifying retelling of the Mothman. Jughead was looking for more articles and he found another one written two months later. “Bright Lights In Sky Appear Over Sleeping Town.” Unexplained lights materializing in the dark sky. Jughead tells Tabitha to read the last paragraph and look at who is quoted as a witness. She can’t believe it and Jughead asks if she thinks she can get him an interview.
At the morgue, Betty tells Dr. Curdle Jr. that she went through the archives in the sheriff’s office and there was only one missing person filed in the last seven years: Margaret Harper. Dr. Curdle Jr. is sorry, but Margaret Harper isn’t a match, either. According to the police report, Margaret had braces at the time of her disappearance, and there’s no evidence of braces on their Jane Doe. She’s not Polly or Margaret, she’s a third missing girl. “And three’s a pattern.”
Betty gets in contact with Mrs. Harper and sits down with her at the satellite office. She doesn’t want to reopen old wounds, but Betty tells her she was working on a missing persons case when she came across her daughter’s file. Mrs. Harper tells Betty that Margaret was a bright girl but she fell into the wrong crowd. She felt like Margaret couldn’t talk to her once she started going to the truckers. Betty asks what she believes happened to her daughter and Mrs. Harper says she has no idea. “Which, in a way, makes it so much worse.” Sheriff Keller did what he could, but he was one man and the whole town was falling apart. Mrs. Harper mentions there was a social worker named Toni, she was a Godsend.
Betty gets home to find the house a mess and footprints on the ground. She finds Alice in the dining room, all dirty. Alice tells her she found Polly’s phone in the swamp. That means Swedlow Swamp is exactly where they keep looking. Later, Betty asks Toni at the Whyte Wyrm if the name Margaret Harper means anything to her. Toni says yes, she went missing a few years ago. Betty mentions she’s been looking for Polly and she came across Margaret’s file. She talked to her mom, who said Toni really helped her. Toni tried to. She says there are a lot of Margarets in Riverdale. She’s just one of the few that went missing and got reported. Betty admits to Toni that she found a body in Swedlow Swamp. It wasn’t Polly, it wasn’t Margaret, but her mom found Polly’s phone there. “Something really bad is happening in that swamp.” And they need Toni’s help to search it. Toni says the Serpents are at her disposal and Betty thanks her.
Jughead and Tabitha start to interview Pop and Jughead brings up the article, wondering if he remembers anything about that night. Pop remembers it clear as day, 50 years ago. It was late, and all of a sudden there was electricity in the air and the power goes out. The jukebox turns back on, various other contraptions go haywire, and then there’s a whirring and a bright light outside. Pop says they all walked out to the parking lot to take a look and a few minutes later, the lights are gone and it’s a beautiful night out. Jughead asks him what he thinks it was and Pop says they all had theories. Some said aliens, but the craziest one was that it was military testing for an army base outside Riverdale. The lights never happened again, but Pop admits part of him wishes the lights would come back. Pop mentions someone else that was there that night they could talk to: Cheryl’s grandmother.
Betty, Alice, Kevin, and Sheriff Keller are searching Swedlow Swamp for any sign of Polly, until Hiram, Reggie and some of Hiram’s guys drive up and stop them. Hiram tells them they are trespassing on private property, but Alice tells him her daughter is missing. She might be somewhere in his swamp. As a father, Hiram feels Alice’s pain, but he can’t have people wandering through there as all of this will be his new turnpike. Sheriff Keller mentions that it’s also a crime scene and Hiram tells him if it is, it’s not his jurisdiction. Betty brings out her badge, telling Hiram she’s with the FBI, so the FBI’s declaring this a crime scene. Hiram thinks Betty’s going to need better than that badge she got out of a cereal box. In the meantime, Hiram tells them to get off his property, as Reggie and two other guys cock shotguns. Betty, Alice, Kevin, Sheriff Keller, and the rest of the search party leave.
Jughead and Tabitha are interviewing Nana Rose, who says she remembers the bright light well. Her suspicion is it came from the Mothmen ship. A few weeks after the incident, Nana Rose found a hideously misshapen body in Maple Forest. She says an autopsy was performed and Jughead wonders if it’s an alien autopsy. Why has no one heard about this before? Nana Rose says the Mothmen didn’t want them talking about it. They came to Thornhill looking for their missing friend. Nana Rose tells Jughead and Tabitha the Mothmen don’t like to be known and they didn’t like her keeping their deceased, either. She told them he had been cremated. She admits the body wasn’t cremated, and instead, she kept it perfectly preserved in a barrel of maple syrup. She could try to find it for them, if they’d like.
Betty’s on the phone with Glen, telling him there has to be someone he can send her way. Glen says she has a Jane Doe and two missing girls with problematic histories. She has to let the local police handle it. It’s one sheriff up against a rich psychopath who won’t let them search his land. Betty continues but Glen interrupts her and tells her he’s back — The Trash Bag Killer has re-emerged, in Tulsa, they think. Glen says there are two victims so far and Betty tells him to focus on TBK and to “catch that bastard.” She’s going to handle everything there herself and she’ll check in with him.
After Betty gets more flashbacks of when she was held captive by the Trash Bag Killer, she goes out to the swamp to continue searching. Reggie comes up behind her and tells her they warned her, she’s trespassing on private property. Betty’s not going anywhere. Her sister is missing, other girls too, and her mom is suffering because of his boss. She is the only person out there that can do anything about it. “So if you want to stop me, you’re gonna have to shoot me.” Betty starts walking away and Reggie stops her, telling her he found something while patrolling the swamp. Code of silence, Hiram can never know he told her. Reggie has Betty’s word. He found another body.
The body Reggie found is now at the morgue and Betty tells Dr. Curdle Jr. she knows it’s not Polly. He confirms that it’s Margaret Harper, the tell-tale braces are present on her teeth. The likely cause of death is trauma, and the side of her body was pulverized as if with a wrecking ball. Later, Betty, Alice, and Toni break the news about Margaret to her mother. All these years, at least she knows where her daughter is and she can say goodbye. Mrs. Harper wonders who hurt her and Betty says they don’t know yet. Her sister is also missing, other girls too. “And so I swear to you, we will find out who did this.”
Jughead gets to Pop’s and Tabitha is standing next to a big barrel of Blossom Maple Syrup. It’s a special delivery, courtesy of Nana Rose Blossom. “Straight from the Twilight Zone.” The two get the barrel to the back room and the smell is a mix of maple syrup and decay. It could be anything, Tabitha says. Human bones mixed with fake synthetic bones, or a Mothman, Jughead suggests. They’re not experts, but someone is. Jughead’s been doing research and found an anthropology professor at a university who specializes in ancient cultures and urban legends, extraterrestrial phenomenon. He says they call her and see if she’ll come and examine it so they know what they’re dealing with. Jughead will take the night shift to make sure no one stumbles upon their little friend, who is now out of the barrel and a full, creepy skeleton, drenched in maple syrup.
It’s a slow night at Pop’s that night, until the jukebox starts playing and Jughead’s coffee cup starts moving. Soon, everything starts moving and flickering, with the power going out. A bright light is shown and Jughead goes outside. The lights at Pop’s turn back on and a light shines down onto Jughead, almost like from a spaceship.
The next day, Jughead is retelling what happened to Tabitha. It’s 2 a.m., he goes outside, and there’s this bright white light. And then he woke up in a booth four hours later. He lost time. Tabitha, however, tells him it was a dream, prompted by her grandfather’s story. She suggests if it was possible he was sleepwalking or possibly drinking. Jughead hasn’t even gotten to the craziest part yet. He takes Tabitha to the back and tells her the first thing he did when he woke up was go in there. Their skeletal, maple syrup-drenched friend is no longer there. Neither of them get it. “But something very strange happened in Riverdale last night.”
Betty sits down with Toni and Sheriff Keller and tells them two young women went missing along the Lonely Highway: Margaret Harper and Polly. They found Margaret’s remains in Swedlow Swamp, where Alice found Polly’s phone. Alice sits down with them as Betty continues. She says she found another set of remains in the swamp that belong to an unidentified young woman. Sheriff Keller mentions he spoke to multiple sheriff departments around the county and asked if they had any missing persons reports, specifically young women. They came back with 13 names. Toni, meanwhile, has been in contact with a network of social workers in towns the Lonely Highway runs through and she got 11 names back, five that overlap with Sheriff Keller’s list for a total of 21 missing girls. “How many of them are we going to find in Swedlow Swamp?” At least Hiram has agreed to let them search it now. Betty says that not all 21 girls could be runaways. Toni suggests human trafficking, but Betty brings up serial killer.
Catch Riverdale on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on The CW, streaming free the next day on The CW app!