Riverdale season 6, episode 1 recap: Is Archie dead dead or…?

Riverdale -- “Chapter Ninety-Six: Welcome to Rivervale” -- Image Number: RVD601b_0052r -- Pictured: KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: Kailey Schwerman/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.
Riverdale -- “Chapter Ninety-Six: Welcome to Rivervale” -- Image Number: RVD601b_0052r -- Pictured: KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: Kailey Schwerman/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved. /

Riverdale is hard to follow at the best of times and this “Rivervale” event is sure to lose some viewers in the dust with its pace. But don’t worry, we’re here for you!

As we make our way through Riverdale season 6 holding tight to our hearts on this bonkers ride, we’ll be doing recaps of the ridiculousness that unfolded from episode to episode. First up is the season premiere, “Welcome to Rivervale.”

Don’t let the name change fool you, we’re still dealing with the characters we know and love, but somehow they’ve been dropped into an alternate universe. Whether that’s because of the spell Cheryl cast at the end of season 5 is unclear, but it’s obvious something isn’t quite right with the town.

Here’s what went down in the season opener!

What happened on Riverdale season 6, episode 1 “Welcome to Rivervale”?

Jughead, trussed up in a suit and speaking like a 60 minutes host, took us on a morning stroll through the relationships we ended season 5 on for a bit of an update.

Jabitha are moving in together. Tangs are dealing with a colicky Baby Anthony. Veggie are power coupling their way through deal closures and exercise. Alice is trying unsuccessfully to seduce Frank. And last, though certainly not least, Barchie are asleep in bed.

When Archie wakes up we’re immediately let in on the conceit of the “Rivervale” event. The bomb Hiram left under Archie’s bed in the season 5 finale was only part of a nightmare and so was Riverdale.

That’s right. The town with pep has now become a figment of Archie’s subconscious imagination, and Rivervale–the town you’ll never want to leave–is the real deal. However, it’s just as weird as the town we knew.

For instance, Betty gets a call from Kevin letting her know that a deer has been ritually sacrificed on an altar in the woods. True to form, it’s connected back to Cheryl who now has a gaggle of girls following her everywhere thanks to the home and school she established on Thorn Hill’s grounds.

Last season, she seceded from Riverdale and it looks like that remains true in Rivervale as well. She and Archie clash over the town buying saplings to replace the maple syrup revenue they lost due to her secession and her maple groves being barren.

Cheryl promises Archie that’ll it will be over his dead body that she returns to Rivervale, and she makes good on that promise. All it takes is her being the solution to everyone’s problems.

When Tabitha comes to Cheryl about her apartment being infested with bugs and possibly haunted, Cheryl says she’ll fix the problem for Jabitha as long as they do exactly what she tells them to do. She says the same to Toni when she finds her out in the woods about to leave Baby Anthony for the night in a desperate bid to see if the old Serpents trick will cure her son of colic.

For each couple that has a problem Cheryl has the answer. Trouble in paradise for Veggie due to Reggie’s insecurity about Archie? Cheryl has a plan! Need a way to move beyond Frank’s mercenary past that got his family killed, Alice? Cheryl knows what to do!

Even Betty gets dragged into Cheryl’s plotting. Though she and Archie agreed that marriage isn’t for them, they do want to start a family. Betty, however, can’t conceive. She doesn’t have viable eggs which is a curious case for Dr. Curdle, Jr. who says she’s the fifth healthy young women he’s seen recently who has the same problem.

For the majority of the episode, Betty had been investigating the sacrificed deer case. Predictably, it led her back to Thorn Hill thanks to the dolls Cheryl and her girls left behind in the area Archie intended to plant the town’s saplings.

Their dolls looked exactly like the one left behind in a cold case involving a drifter fifty years prior. The initials sown into that doll, ‘RB,’ likely belong to Nana Rose. Typically, however, the episode bounces on past that plot point, so file that information away for later.

At the harvest festival Cheryl puts on, everyone is acting weird. Archie has no idea why but through greeting Tangs, participating in an eating contest with Jughead, and going head-to-head with Reggie in a log sawing competition, there’s something off about everyone.

Betty told Archie she’d use the festival as a cover to snoop around at Thorn Hill but when she returns to Archie’s side, it’s to go against him in an axe throwing event. Betty wins, making her the harvest queen while Archie gets the consolation prize of a pie.

Though he doesn’t know it, the pie Cheryl hands him is special. It’s a sin pie with all of the town’s sins baked inside of it.

When she made the pie with her girls looking on, Cheryl explained that only the strongest Rivervale citizen could eat the pie. That person would shoulder the burden of the town’s sins and by eating the pie, absolve everyone.

Betty made sure Archie ate the pie by laying the pastry and herself out as dessert for him to enjoy on their table at home. Barchie shippers everywhere most likely went wild but the joy was short-lived.

Turns out Cheryl’s ultimate plan was to sacrifice Archie to the Maple Maiden, the goddess who watches over the town’s woods and the Blossom maple groves.

With everyone gathered on Thorn Hill’s grounds looking like Misnomer extras, she told him his sacrifice was necessary. Even Betty, who somehow knows she’s pregnant with Archie’s child when that should be impossible for multiple reasons, isn’t in fear for Archie’s life. She welcomes the sacrifice.

Betty tells Archie that their son will be happy, but it’s also clear that around his 25th birthday, he’ll be sacrificed, too. It’s a very messed up ending scene complete with Cheryl and Betty resplendent in gowns and headdresses.

Archie is tied up. Cheryl cuts his heart out of his body and shows it to the crowd. It’s still beating in her hand and that’s how Archie dies on Riverdale after years of escaping death’s clutches before he can get dragged to his grave.

If you’re expecting him to make an appearance in Riverdale season 6, episode 2 “Ghost Stories,” don’t. Archie is dead…at least until the show’s 100th episode. Sorry, Archie fans, but we’ll be going through the majority of the “Rivervale” event without him now.

How that’ll affect the story going forward is anyone’s guess, but supposedly his sacrifice will bring the sap back to Cheryl’s trees so there is that.

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New episodes of Riverdale season 6 air Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW and are available to stream next day on The CW app.