Riverdale season 5, episode 16 recap: Trauma, takedowns, and sainthood

Riverdale -- “Chapter Ninety-Two: Band of Brothers” -- Image Number: RVD516fg_0041r -- Pictured (L-R): Casey Cott as Kevin Keller and Madelaine Patsch as Cheryl Blossom -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Riverdale -- “Chapter Ninety-Two: Band of Brothers” -- Image Number: RVD516fg_0041r -- Pictured (L-R): Casey Cott as Kevin Keller and Madelaine Patsch as Cheryl Blossom -- Photo: The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

Riverdale season 5 returned to its usual brand of weirdness with “Chapter Ninety-Two: Band of Brothers” after a more subdued but still fabulous episode in “Chapter Ninety-One: The Return of the Pussycats.”

We opened with Archie still struggling with his guilt over the loss of his men in The War. It’s a plot that’s been more times than not incongruous with the rest of the season but no less intriguing. While it does feel like we’re watching an entirely different show when we revisit Archie’s wartime trauma, KJ Apa has been doing wonderful work in this arc.

That’s continued in episode 16 with the sergeant taking up yet another mission for justice. This time, he’s going up against General Taylor. His former superior was the one who’d ordered Archie and his men on the mission that left families without their loved ones and both him and Eric dealing with PTSD.

When Archie reads that the general is being honored as he prepares for retirement, he decides to request a military tribunal to ensure the man his held accountable for his actions. Eric and Uncle Frank aren’t sure it’ll work but at the behest of Eric, Archie reaches out to the families of his fallen soldiers to get their support before he moves forward.

As he does this, the ghosts of these men haunt the moment. It’s both stirring and unsettling. It’s also a visual reminder to the audience that Archie carries the weight of their loss everywhere he goes which made its first appearance in “Chapter Ninety: The Night Gallery.” Instead of a montage of the families all agreeing with our hero’s mission, the show dips into the reality of such requests.

A mother blames him for the loss of her son. She expected Archie to make sure her son made it home safely and he failed. As such she won’t support him. A brother speaks of the admiration his loved one had for Archie, and how he knows he’s a good man. He lends his support. And, lastly, a widow tells him that she’s focused on her son, that she has been moving on and she wants to continue to do so.

Despite what Archie told Eric, he plans to move forward with the tribunal. He respects the families who don’t want to participate and will leave them out of it as they asked. However, he plans to represent himself and the families who do support his efforts to hold General Taylor accountable.

It’s in this moment that Eric reveals a secret. Yes, Archie left his men to carry out a dangerous side mission to make the call for reinforcements which resulted in him coming back to find all of them but Eric dead. But Eric had also been issued an order by the general to make their mission to apprehend the war lord happen.

He’d be seduced by tales of glory, by what the victory could mean. Eric wasn’t thinking about his unit, he had his eye on honor, and he believes that the loss of his leg could be his punishment for helping to lead them to their demise.

It’s a heavy secret, but one Archie bats aside in favor of placing responsibility at the general’s doorstep. Eric was a grunt; Taylor was their CO, and he knew the mission could go FUBAR but he didn’t care about the soldiers’ lives. He only cared that he had an opportunity to be seen as a legend before retirement if the mission succeeded.

For that reason, despite Taylor’s threats to pin this all on Archie and his reckless streak, the tribunal ruled against the general and dishonorably discharged him. They also cleared Eric of any wrongdoing.

We’ve likely seen the last of Archie’s soldiers dogging his steps as his arc in the episode ends with all of them in civvies looking on as he toasts to their memory with Eric and Uncle Frank at the Whyte Wyrm.

The She-Wolf of Wall Street checks her mate

Veronica’s storyline with Chad finally made some progress, it also butted right against Hiram’s plot for a delicious take down that’s likely to blow up in her face. The savvy businesswoman has been referring to herself as an alpha for sometime now, and in “Band of Brothers” she taught Chad an embarrassing lesson he’s not likely to forget.

His ploy to call the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on her was basically child’s play to a woman raised at Hiram Lodge’s table. Sure, it nearly set her back, but it led to a plan that involved stealing her father’s palladium right from under his nose.

With Reggie’s help, and a revealing call he made to Hermosa where V unexpectedly became privy to their previous sexual exploits, she found a way out of the trap Chad set for her.

Of course, this being Riverdale, it involved her fashioning palladium into Spanish doubloons to be sold at auction. Her father was also in attendance and tried to buy them, but she snubbed his efforts with the man who was unaware that the palladium she was selling was his.

Cheryl had provided her blessing for Veronica to cover-up that fact by stating the precious metal had come from her mines. It’s a truth that V doesn’t reveal to her father until she arrives at the party celebrating Chad’s achievement with CopterCab, a luxury helicopter transport service that the rich and powerful use.

The celebration is short-lived when Veronica arrives with a group of women clad in pink air hostess uniforms carrying bubbly and suitcases full of Jingle Jangle. Once she lets the men get comfortable, all she has to do is wait before alerts start funneling in about how Chad had once purposefully crashed a helicopter.

It’s not a good look for an investor in a copter company even if he is a silent partner. Smugly, Hiram believes himself to be sufficiently insulated from her revenge until she tells him to take another look at the SoDale model in his office.

If you thought the Lodges were at war before, now that V’s crossed this particularly line, things are about to get infinitely worse!

Jughead spirals and then recovers

While the storytelling around Jughead this season, especially the steady work done to explore his depression and dependency issues, has been interesting, it’s also riddled with cliches. Thankfully, the writers have been subverting them as “Band of Brothers” showcased.

Jughead backslid this episode after reaching seven days sober. His achievement, however, should be applauded as should the effort being made to be realistic about his recovery. He’s an alcoholic surrounded by potential triggers. It’s something Tabitha cautions him about when he apologizes to her about his behavior.

His book deadline? A trigger. Betty? A trigger. Jessica? A trigger. Unfortunately, given his agent Sam is hassling him about pages, Jughead initially crosses a moral line. He submits the book the grad school student gave him after Tabitha informs him that Jessica has his manuscript. Jughead does so after taking a drink and then he contacts Betty.

The two share a weirdly maudlin and darkly sexy talk in the bunker as Jughead apologizes to Betty for the voicemail he left and admits that he’s in recovery while drinking. Betty confesses that she believes she’s an addict, too. Her drug of choice is serial killers, hunting them down, and bringing them to justice.

She obsesses over them to the point of choosing case work over the people she cares for. Betty admits the reason why she missed Jughead’s book release party was because she’d chosen to prioritize a case.

Though the two are being open with one another, there’s something not right about this Bughead scene. Instead of honesty making things lighter between them, it feels like it’s getting heavier. Their moment, however, is cut short when Jughead gets a call from Sam praising his new book.

Jughead does the right thing and tells him the truth which gets him dropped as Sam’s client, but Jug does say he’ll provide the agent with the grad school student’s information so he can get in touch. While he’s on the phone, Betty leaves.

When he relays everything that happened to Tabitha, she being Team Jug, tells him he needs to stop worrying about Betty and start prioritizing his recovery. She’ll take up the mantle of keeping the sleuth out of trouble while he works on getting back on track.

Betty the undercover streetwalker

Besides her confession to Jughead about her addiction to hunting serial killers not much happens with Betty in “Band of Brothers.”

Though it’s quite clear that she’s becoming more and more depressed the longer she stays on this mission to find Polly. The scene in her bedroom where she’s removing her make-up and looks disturbingly vacant in the eyes makes this incredibly apparent.

True to her word, however, Tabitha joins Betty in her mission like she did previously but instead of setting a honey trap, the two women work the Lonely Highway hoping to land on the trail of the killers nabbing women on their routes.

The Queen of the Bees ascends

There is absolutely nothing weirder in Riverdale season 5 than the Church of Jason Blossom. This storyline takes the cake and the crown for bonkers. But Madelaine Petsch’s commitment to the plot has been fun to watch.

Episode 16 upped the ante with Cheryl making a play for absolute authority in the church and Kevin backing her. Together the two planned three miracles to show the congregation that it’s Cheryl not Penelope that’s the most touched by Jason’s divine light.

With the use of Kevin’s knowledge of magic tricks, Cheryl turns water into maple syrup, produces the stigmata, and holds bees while being swarmed by them and isn’t harmed. The last, however, wasn’t a trick. Cheryl willed her way into remaining unharmed as she pushed her mother out of power.

When she reveals this to Kevin, she does it with an air of awe. As she explains, there’s something changing in her. Something that could mean she actually is a saint, actually is divine. It’s a discovery that has us wondering what this could mean for Cheryl’s future as we move closer to the five episode special event planned for season 6 of the show.

Could Cheryl's S5 plot be setting up a CAOS crossover?. dark. Next

New episodes of Riverdale season 5 air Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.