Let's all save Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe, right?
No, let's all save ourselves from Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe, because Pop Tate (Alvin Sanders) is a criminal mastermind, the puppetmaster holding the strings for the Serpents, the Lodges and Riverdale's booming new Jingle-Jangle industry, as well as any and all other illicit activity within the municipal limits of the town with pep.
In episode 2 of the second season of Riverdale, "Nighthawks," now that we've gotten over the trauma of Dad Perry (Luke Perry) almost but not quite dying and the shock of Ms. Grundy's (Sarah Habel) reappearance and swift dispatch (by way of the Cello Bow of Sexy Sex that Archie gifted her before removing his underage self from the sex equation, you monster), it's time to get down to brass tacks and ask the important questions: What of the burgers?
Let's put aside the fact that only-in-Riverdale drug jingle-jangle is absolutely and definitely a sign of the coming zombie apocalypse (not kidding, I truly believe this) and talk about the real hidden meaning to this week's episode. Pop Tate, beloved stoic dinerteur, is and always has been Up To Something. Yes, I know that this episode also featured Archie (KJ Apa) buying a gun to defend his family against the mysterious man whose portrait he has so lovingly created in charcoal (such discerning taste) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) getting Cheryl to commit some light perjury, among other things, but we have more important things to talk about here.
A friendly reminder at this point that last season's Big Mystery — who killed Jason Blossom — is only marginally solved, and also went off and hatched all kinds of mini-mysteries (why did Cliff do it? Did Cliff kill himself, or did his wife and daughter do the deed? How much of a witch is Cheryl, on a scale from one to weighs the same as a duck?). My stylish tinfoil cap and I believe that Pop Tate is at the root of this whole thing somehow.
Think about it: the diner has been in every episode of Riverdale except for one so far (Chapter Nine, look it up), and all kinds of terrible stuff has happened there. Like, possibly more bad stuff than at the Whyt Wyrm, where we only saw a friendly game of pool and some light shoving. Pop is not the nice fry-slinging dude he seems. Take a look:
1. Dad Perry got shot there. Notable. Pretty bad! If someone was out to get Dad Perry specifically, all Evil Pop had to do was shoot them a quick text to let them know that he and his bonehead son were hanging out, high-fiving over munchies. What's his motivation? Pop's reasons may be his own, but it seems pretty fishy to me that the police left him to mop up his own crime scene, as he was doing when Betty and Jughead came back to look for Dad Perry's wallet. Note also: he said that the hooded man didn't take a penny from the cash register after the shooting, probably because a. He doesn't dare mess with overlord Pop and 2. He doesn't want Pop's money, because they're in cahoots.
2. Pop's is a Noted Serpent Hang. If you'll remember when we first saw the unnamed Serpent who turned out to be FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich) arguing with Veronica's mom, you may recall that it was in the parking lot of Pop's, the only food store in town. (Come to think of it, have we ever seen any of these characters go to the grocery store? Are we sure they have one?) Pop Tate always has to wear that diner hat all the time because he just has so many things to keep under it.
3. And drug deal central! You want some jingle-jangle (ugh), all you have to do is wait long enough in the parking lot at Pop's.
4. Jughead lurked there basically always in season one. OK, this is less a "Pop is evil" point than a fond recollection of my early season one theory that Jughead was a ghost that only Archie and Pop could see (code name Jugdead). Those were more innocent times, before we knew Pop was a bad guy.
5. The dude hears everything. Truly everyone goes to eat there, basically every night. (Arteries of steel.) They're always there, always talking about their drama and murder and stuff. Guess who's also always there, listening. (Pop.)
6. Pop probably arranged the weird snake thing. Remember the 20 minutes in season one when Hermione worked at Pop's and someone mysteriously delivered a snake in a box as if that's a normal threat? We, the wide-eyed viewers, didn't see how the box got there, but you know who definitely could have left an ominous snekk in the middle of his own diner? Big Bad Pop, that's who.
7. He probably alerted Cliff and Penelope that Polly was at the diner so they could try and kidnap her. Remember Polly? I do, even if Riverdale doesn't anymore (#PollyStrong). There was that close-call kidnapping thing when Cliff and Penelope Blossom wanted to snatch Polly, the vessel for precious Blossom fetii, from Pop's, but Polly only narrowly escaped after a warning from Cheryl. Who do you think called the Blossoms in the first place to let them know she was there? I think you know who. (It was Pop.)
8. But he got his claws in Polly anyway. Speaking of Polly, her drugged prenatal "daily milkshakes" also came from Pop's. He says he remembers the order of every one of his customers — especially the pregnant ones being doped unknowingly.
9. The Lodges now own the Chock'lit Shoppe — secretly. This confirms 5,000 percent that Pop has some shady dealings with the Lodges, but that doesn't mean this is the first time. Just the first time that we've seen on-screen. They likely were the diner's original "mystery buyers" too, but have pulled a double-sneaky real estate switcharoo, as one does. Now they have a location to carry out their crimes (though white-collar and greasy spoon don't naturally mix terribly well), and a business through which to launder their dirty bux. Plus, the most gourmet don in all the land: Pop Tate.
It all adds up to way, way more than "wrong place, wrong time." More shady-ass nonsense to come, I'm sure.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)