Riverdale Season 4, Episode 12 Recap: Kids, Don’t Try This At Home

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Too much is going on. When we last saw our “young” heroes, Jughead had just challenged the breathing MAGA hat also known as Brett to a duel, Betty’s mom got her suspended from school for cheating, and Archie was still trying to make Uncle Frank happen. Stop trying to make Uncle Frank happen — it’s not going to happen! And Jughead’s death is probably imminent or something. TBH, they’ve stretched that particular storyline out long enough that I’ve completely lost interest. Give us more of Kevin’s tickle fetish videos and Cheryl’s weird not-a-brothel! Riverdale episode 12 is really just more of Uncle Frank (boo!), Betty investigating wealthy/white/male privilege and being surprised by it somehow, and some guerrilla marketing for Katy Keene. Oh, and the Punisher is here. I told you too much sh*t was going on!


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The CW

Uncle Frank (yawn) gets bad news from an old Army buddy — the Army, again (yawn) — that one of their platoon-mates has died. They commiserate over dinner, and all seems right in the Andrews household. Or, as right as it can be. When Frank gets a call the next morning that another of his former comrades has suspiciously passed away, Frank’s old buddy Ted attacks him with a kitchen knife. He’s the Punisher, it’s a comics crossover that doubles as a cute Easter Egg for the #RealFans and a nice reminder that veterans really need access to mental health services. Frank served with Ted in the Army, yes, but he also joined him as a mercenary for a while after being discharged. Isn’t that the plot of Barry? Ted is tying up loose ends for their murderous former employers, and Archie asks FP for help taking Ted down. Their genius plan is to trap the Ultra-Marine in the community center gym using Frank as bait and just sick the Serpents on him. FP locks Ted in Riverdale’s minimum-security police cell, which will definitely hold the pissed off assassin who just vowed revenge on the entire town. Frank heads for the hills, which is fair. Ted kills a guard and breaks out of his cell by morning. Ted attacks Archie in the high school bathroom, and Archie manages to defeat him with an assist from Kevin. Kevin immediately bails, but Frank shows up in the nick of time to give The Punisher his ultimate punishment. The Feds pick up an unconscious Ted, but they’re looking for Frank, too. He agrees to turn himself in (yeah, right). Then he skips town. That sounds more like it.

Veronica is going up to New York for an interview at Barnard. Seems like a step down from Harvard, no? Unfortunately, her parents also have business in the city, so they all make the ride up together. Ronnie ditches them the minute they ride in to shop for a perfect interview outfit with her BFF shameless cross-promotion Katy Keene. They have a post-shop heart-to-heart at Katy’s regular hang, Molly’s Crisis, which explains Katy’s relationship with her boxer boyfriend, reveals her mother’s illness, and randomly drops the bomb that Veronica had a quinceanera at The Plaza where the Jonas Brothers played. I would much rather be watching that show, but there are only so many times one can rewatch Gossip Girl. Back home, Hemione reveals to Veronica that she didn’t go to New York with Hiram on business. Riverdale‘s Bad Dad is like, really sick. He has a muscular disorder that will cause him to slowly deteriorate over time, probably. Honestly, Hermione was being super vague about the details, and I’d bet Jughead’s Stonewally honor that Hiram’s perfectly fine and this is some type of scheme. Veronica believes her, though, and changes her last name back to Lodge then formally invites her family to help her move into Barnard in the fall.

Betty’s cheating scandal is just getting worse and worse, with a ban from prom, revocation of her Blue and Gold duties, and a restraining order from Brett based on that time she beat him with a golf club. Since Betty’s professional life is basically in the sh*tter and Alice is suspended from work, the best mother-daughter duo since Big and Little Edie team up to investigate the shady goings-on surrounding Mr. Chipping’s death. Hey, I forgot about him! They ask his widow about his mental health, and she reveals that he hated writing the Baxter Brothers novels. Not that this explains his spontaneous swan dive — his contract was about to end, and Mr. Chipping was going to get his life back. Moose, who’s home on leave, reveals that Mr. Chipping gave him Army brochures and encouraged him to get out of Stonewall after Moose got outed, an abrupt 180 from Chipping’s original decision to recruit Moose for Stonewall in the first place. After learning that Brett had filmed Moose having sex for his extensive revenge porn collection, Betty and Alice break into Brett’s dorm to look for his blackmail stash. Brett immediately catches them, and Betty puts two-and-two together and realizes that he deffo has a video of her hooking up with Jug.

So, I guess that duel isn’t to the *death*, just to the pain. Brett and Jughead will be competing in a fencing match, a bare-knuckle brawl, and a chess match to decide which of them has the most honor or something. The actual point of this battle seems moot since Brett will still be a rich *sshole and Jughead will still be an Ivy League-bound gang leader, but maybe I’m just confused because there weren’t many teacher-approved fights going on at *my* stuffy private school. Brett wins fencing (shocker), and Jug K.O.’s Brett with one punch boxing (an actual shocker). It all comes down to a battle of wits, but the student body is backing Brett in the fight because Jughead’s still an outsider. They all know Brett suuuuucks, but if one of their own doesn’t have honor, it doesn’t reflect super well on them. Brett tries to raise the stakes, but Jughead isn’t an idiot so he doesn’t put anything on the line except his pride. While the boys duke it out in chess, Betty and Alice break into the Quill and Skull room to find Brett’s stash. Brett leaves the match when the Coopers trip his silent alarm, and when Betty confronts him with hidden VHS tapes, he explains they’re just Quill and Skull initiation confessions. They finish their chess match, and Jughead purposefully throws the match because he doesn’t want to be the most Stonewally of the Stonewall men. Unfortunately, Betty swipes Donna’s tape, which reveals that Donna had lied about having an affair with Mr. Chipping, using the exact same story with different names.

Speaking of revenge porn, Toni notices that Fang is throwing around some extra dough, so she asks to get in on his side hustle. Nick St. Clair shows up at the Maple Club inquiring about renting the space for a “Yay, Me and My Rapey Friends Got Into Harvard!” party, majorly triggering Cheryl. Does the actor playing Nick have something on the Riverdale writer’s team? Why does he show up every season? Toni wasn’t around during Cheryl’s terrible assault ordeal, and our fave couple talks about their experiences with attempted sexual assault in a really touching scene that reminds me why I wish Toni had more lines. Toni decides to get revenge on her girlfriend’s would-be rapist, and she enlists Fang and Kevin to drug him and film a tickle fetish video with him. If he so much as breathes in the same state as Cheryl, Toni will release the video. Yep, the theme of tonight’s episode was Underage Revenge Porn. At least Toni’s was for a good cause?


Kevin barely reacting to a mercenary trying to kill Archie in the bathroom. Seriously, he just said, “This school is insane,” beamed the guy, and walked away. This is why we love him!


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The CW

The second-string characters get their own storyline, and it’s just drudging up the same villain from three seasons ago that we’ve already defeated over and over and over again. I’ve been sick of Nick St. Clair since the first time he showed up on this show. He’s a rapist and the literal worst person to buy drugs from — Like, he sold these kids jingle-jangle and then hung out afterward for hours… What is this, a John Mulaney bit? — and every single character on this show has beat the living crap out of him for *years.* Nick should get chased across the country by an angry mob (or maybe, IDK, thrown in jail?!), but these sidekicks do deserve a better C Plot. I’m just sick of seeing Toni be relegated to the role of loving girlfriend now that Riverdale has decided gang warfare is passé. Hey, maybe Nick St. Clair’s the one who’s really going to die at the end of this season while Jughead goes on the lam for bribing a Yale rowing coach to get him into college.

Riverdale is just Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa doing whatever the f*ck he wants now, which has its ups and downs. Ups include completely batsh*t episodes like last week’s parade of crazy. Downs include storylines where revenge porn is how the good guys decide to win, wasting twenty minutes of my life on a Punisher crossover centered around Uncle Frank, and deciding to make a character’s Big Suspicious Moment revolve around her possibly lying about a statutory rape/domestic violence/extramarital affair trifecta. Doesn’t he know we Believe Women now? Get with the times, RAS! Anyway, that also explains why Katy Keene randomly showed up on Riverdale a day before her premiere — it’s another RAS Original. Whatever, stream Katy Keene tomorrow because it’ll be great or terribly entertaining, but either way it’s a W. I won’t be recapping it because a b*tch doesn’t have time for that (and also because no one asked me to).

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