Well, a lot of our favourite Riverdale characters are dead when this week’s episode opens… but luckily, people don’t stay dead in Riverdale for long.
We pick up with Cheryl mourning at the grave of Nana Rose, who was struck down by Percival’s plague that also took the lives of first-born kids Archie, Jughead, Toni, Fangs and Dagwood. (But Baby Anthony is still alive. Hmmm.) “We weren’t quite worm food yet,” though, Jughead assures us in narration from beyond the grave. Their bodies are being kept in a deep freeze by Dr. Curdle while Cheryl and the survivors figure out how to bring them back. Who do we know who can cheat death? Why, Sabrina Spellman, of course! But she’ll have to hurry: They only have 12 hours left before the victims are dead for good.
While they wait, the dead are enjoying their time in “the Sweet Hereafter”: Archie is married to Betty with a son named Fred and a daughter named Polly (aw!); Jughead is happily writing comic books in a booth at a ’50s-style Pop’s; and Toni is signing a peace treaty with the Ghoulies. (Plus, Baby Anthony is all grown up… and jacked!) Sabrina arrives at Thorn Hill and explains she specializes in death magic since she died herself once. Her boyfriend Nick Scratch sacrificed himself to bring her back, and now he’s in the sweet hereafter, too. (Let’s put a pin in that little tidbit, shall we?)
They’ll need a coven of six witches to resurrect everyone — and luckily, a quick witchification of Betty, Veronica and Tabitha gives them a perfect six-pack. They have to start with a single resurrection, and Sabrina chooses Jughead, passing through a portal to join Jughead in his booth. She tells him he needs to come back for the final battle with Percival, but Jughead doesn’t want to leave a world with endless hamburgers and comics. Besides, they’ll probably lose to Percival anyway, so what’s the point? “The point is hope,” Sabrina tells him, but he’s not convinced. So she gives up and lets him stay… but she does ask him for a favor. She returns to the living world with Jughead on her arm, but it’s not Jughead. It’s her boyfriend Nick inhabiting Jughead’s body! (Hey, he wasn’t using it anyway.)
Sabrina isn’t ready to give up on the resurrections, but she thinks it’ll work better if their loved ones go through the portal instead. (They’ll have to die first, though. Just temporarily.) Cheryl volunteers for Toni, Tabitha volunteers for Jughead and Betty volunteers for Archie… which leaves Veronica with no one. Sabrina notices and makes up an excuse why Betty can’t go so she can ask Ronnie to go in and retrieve Archie. Her response is perfect: “Sure. Kill me temporarily so I can go visit my ex-boyfriend in heaven. Why not?” The three girls all pass through the portal — while Sabrina and “Nick” (in Jughead’s body) sneak off for a quick reunion.
Tabitha finds Jughead at Pop’s with fans lining up for him to sign his comic books. She doesn’t want to interrupt his fantasy… but she’s joined by the angel Raphael, who has some news for her. Meanwhile, Veronica tries to bring Archie back, but he’s happy with Betty and the kids, and Cheryl goes back to get Toni and Fangs — and learns that her beloved Jason and Polly are still alive here! She returns to Thorn Hill, where Jason and Polly happily play with the twins… and Polly is pregnant again with triplets! The vision is so beautiful, it tears to Cheryl’s eyes. And on their date, Sabrina and Nick talk about running away together, but he reminds her that death will find them anyway. She hates that he had to sacrifice his life for hers, but he was happy to do it, and she has to say goodbye to him again as he passes back into the sweet hereafter.
So no one wants to come back. What now? Sabrina says it’s up to Cheryl to harness “the power of the phoenix” by burning their bodies so they can rise from the ashes. Cheryl chants a spell as the bodies burn, and in the Sweet Hereafter, the dead friends all start to feel the heat as they decide to return after all. A phoenix forms in the flames and flies off, and just like that, they’re all alive again! In fact, Jughead can hear again, too — and Cheryl brought Jason and Polly back from the dead while she was at it! Plus, Tabitha tells a despondent Veronica that it’s very possible “you and Archie are endgame… Your romantic future is up for grabs.” plus plus, remember how Baby Anthony mysteriously survived the first-born plague? That’s because he’s “immortal,” Tabitha explains. She knows because Raphael told her… and because she’s actually Riverdale’s guardian angel. (Whoa.)
Elsewhere in “The Witches of Riverdale”: Kevin tried to escape Percival’s grasp and meet up with Moose in New York, but Percival grabbed him and tried to get intel about the girls from him. When he refused, Percival enlisted Reggie — who he elevated to the casino’s CEO — to execute Kevin, offering him Kevin’s healthy heart as a replacement for Reggie’s ailing father. Reggie considers it, but is visited by a doll of himself representing his conscience (?!) and changes his mind, planning to skip town with his dad and Kevin. They’re captured by Percival’s goons, though, and Percival schedules them all for execution. But Reggie has “an insurance policy”: one of Percival’s magical daggers.
Got thoughts on tonight’s very eventful Riverdale? Grab a booth in the comments to share your thoughts.