(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t watched Thursday’s episode of “Riverdale”)
The story of The CW’s “Riverdale” begins, as narrated by Jughead, with a mysterious disappearance on a foggy July morning.
Three months before Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) arrived in town, Jason Blossom and his twin sister Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) took a dawn canoe ride, only for Jason to end up missing, probably dead, and Cheryl shivering on the river’s edge.
By the last night of summer vacation, the disappearance of the Riverdale football player still hangs heavy over the town, but teenagers have more pressing matters to worry over. For Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), that’s being nervous and excited over being reunited with her best friend Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa), who she’s been harboring feelings for and who she hasn’t seen for the entire summer.
After peering at his new six-pack bod in his bedroom window, Betty is excitedly recounting her summer to Archie at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe, but before she can segue the conversation into discussing the status of their relationship, Archie’s eye is caught by, inevitably, Veronica.
Has an iconic love triangle just been born?
Maybe not, as Archie seems a bit more interested in Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel), who, as it turns out, not only slept with Archie over the summer but was also with him on the morning Jason disappeared — perhaps not coincidentally when a gunshot went off near their secret hookup spot by the river.
Archie has been feeling guilty that they never told anyone what they heard, but Ms. Grundy points out, how would they explain what they were doing there together at 6 a.m.?
Girls aren’t the only thing on Archie’s mind, as he’s just discovered his passion for composing music, and he’s already dedicated enough that he’s lying to his dad (Luke Perry) and his football coach to get out of his after-school obligations in order to pursue it.
Just don’t expect Josie (Ashleigh Murray) and the Pussycats to let him use their growing fame to gain more exposure for his songwriting. They’re building a brand here, Archie.
Meanwhile, the most significant bonding on the show appears to be happening between Betty and Veronica, who is determined to change her ways and be a better person, and proves it when she pushes back on Cheryl’s bullying and talks herself and Betty onto the cheerleading squad.
The two begin to confide to each other about all their personal struggles and it’s beautiful, but inevitably, Archie gets in the way.
The three friends go to Homecoming together, but it’s Archie and Veronica who end up in a closet together for Seven Minutes in Heaven at the after-party, thanks to a little manipulation from Cheryl. Despite their loyalties to Betty, they succumb to their attraction and end up kissing.
Archie’s worried he’s lost Betty, but a tearful confrontation on her porch, during which she asks him if he loves her or even likes her, and he emotionally replies that he can’t be with her because he’s never going to be good enough for her, clearly reveal there are some strong feelings between them, romantic or not.
Before anything in the jam-packed series premiere can start to have ramifications for this group of characters though, and before Kevin (Casey Cott) and Moose (Cody Kearsley) can get it on in the woods, Jason’s dead body finally washes ashore, with a bullet hole between his eyes.
And teenage hormones are gonna have to wait, again.
“Riverdale” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.