Chapter One - The River's Edge
- Archie's confession that while he does love Betty, he can never be with her due to feeling unworthy of her. Betty needless to say is crushed.
- The fact that according to Jughead that Archie chose to forgo a chance of reconciliation in their friendship by never talking to him about the event that broke it apart.
- It gets worse when we find out later in the season that the falling out happened because Archie's father fired Jughead's father for stealing from him, which must've been a nasty situation all-around for both boys.
Chapter Two - A Touch of Evil
- Cheryl's genuine breakdown at the pep rally over Jason.Cheryl: (sobbing) He's gone!
Veronica: I know.
Cheryl: No, you don't understand, he was supposed to come back!
- Betty's breakdown near the start of the episode. She genuinely wants to act like the events of the weekend never happened, but she can't.
- We see a bit of it in the pilot, but especially here — the way Betty's mother speaks to her is nothing short of disgusting.
- The fact that Betty apparently believes that Veronica will easily move on and forget about her and doesn't really care for her, when we have the benefit of knowing that Veronica's desperation to get Betty's friendship back is 100% genuine.
Chapter Three- Body Double
- Veronica dealing with Chuck's Slut-Shaming of her, as well as other girls' stories of having dealt with it from the football team, too.
- Cheryl's realization that Jason wasn't the good guy she thought him to be.
- Jason's mother breaking down and crying after calling Alice Cooper out for publishing Jason's autopsy and talking trash about him, talking about the fact that her son was held captive and tortured before being murdered and having his body thrown in the river "Like trash."
- While it's understandable that they're upset, Cheryl's parents coldly scolding her and dragging her out of the school is pretty hard to watch, especially with Cheryl's silent acceptance of it all (implying that she's just used to it).
Chapter Four - The Last Picture Show
- The reveal that Jughead has been homeless for an undetermined amount of time, and living in the old Twilight drive-in until an 'anonymous buyer' actually Hiram Lodge bought the property to tear it down. Compounding the situation is that his father is still alive (and apparently the leader of the Southside Serpents) but he refuses to live with him, and his little sister and mother's whereabouts are unknown.
- Also depressing is Grundy/Jennifer being run out of town. Despite how sketchy her relationship is with Archie, being unceremoniously thrown out by Fred and especially Alice was sad to see, especially when she finally volunteers to do it to save Archie and Betty's reputations.
- Though this is somewhat mitigated by her checking out a pair of teenage boys before she leaves town for good.
Chapter Five - Heart of Darkness
- Cheryl finally breaking down at Jason's funeral about how he always protected her, and how when it was her turn to protect him, she didn't, and he died as a result.Cheryl: [...] Jason insisted we always had the same birthday party... Later I found out it's because nobody wanted to come to mine.
- Cheryl's mental unwellness begins to come forward, what with her arriving in the same dress she wore on July 4th to deliver her brother's eulogy.
- Penelope, who instead of comforting Cheryl like a normal mother, completely tearing her daughter down for embarrassing the Blossoms after Cheryl's understandable breakdown at Jason's funeral.Penelope: If it wasn't for the fact that no one would have you, you'd be shipped of to boarding school right now.
- It soon becomes clear that Cheryl has absolutely nobody in her life that genuinely loved her, apart from Jason. Her mother is completely cruel to her, and her father dismissive and indifferent. Even Alice Cooper has moments that show that she does loves Betty, and she's as emotionally abusive as Penelope is.
- When Archie gives Penelope Jason's old jersey, she touches his face and hair and says that he's so much like Jason (weirding out everyone who watches) and you can see that even for a second, she imagines her son is still alive-before she snaps back to reality and thanks Archie. Given how cruel she is to Cheryl, there's an implication Jason was her favorite and now he's gone-making the entire family's issues even worse.
- The Reveal that Jason and Polly were engaged. Betty's crushed that her parents kept this from her, and Cheryl's grandmother is genuinely heartbroken that the wedding will never happen, and comments to Betty (thinking she's Polly) that she's "lost the love of [her] young life." For that matter, imagine being Polly in this situation for a moment.
Chapter Six - Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!
- Betty having to tell Polly that Jason is dead.
- The reveal that contrary to what the Coopers have been saying, Polly never had a breakdown. She became pregnant with Jason's baby and had planned to run away with him, but Alice found out and had her forcibly put in a 'home for troubled youths' to hide her pregnancy. It's clear that months of being locked away have done a number on her mental state, and it only gets worse when she finds out Jason is dead. Even worse, her parents never told her about it.
- And after she's been dragged home and confronted her parents over Polly, Betty lies back on her bed in tears as she comes to grips with how monstrously abusive her parents are, and the very real possibility that they may have killed a teenage boy.
- A lot of Josie's perfectionist streak is revealed to come from a place of deep insecurity that her music is too 'commercial' for her famous jazz musician father. Everything she does to promote the Pussycats is so she can finally have her father's approval in her choice of musical expression. When he gets up and leaves in disgust during their performance at the annual talent show, Josie is completely heartbroken and barely makes it off stage before breaking down.
Chapter Seven - In A Lonely Place
- The entire of Jughead's plot in this episode. Even as he and Archie try their best to get his dad's life back on track, it's clear that he and Fred can't easily reconcile and Jughead isn't even sure that FP will stick with it, despite it possibly being their only chance to bring their family back together again. Then Sheriff Keller interrogates him as a suspect in Jason's murder and brings up his history in a juvenile detention centre and that he's constantly been bullied throughout his life. Perhaps the greatest tearjerker of all is that, in the end, it's Fred Andrews who comes to his aid - FP arrives late and even tries to pick a fight with Fred over it. The whole episode just shows that no matter how hard Jughead tries, his dream of reuniting his family is impossible so long as FP continues to be self-destructive.
- The episode opens with Jughead dreaming in the style of classic 1950's Archie comics with everyone in their comic costumes and hairstyles. He's narrating about how much he wants to belong somewhere, how much he wants to have a home and a family and he sees himself as a happily accepted part of the full Cooper family with Polly and Jason together and him and Betty seemingly engaged but then he catches a glimpse of his dad drinking and Archie accuses Jughead of stabbing him in the back. All Jughead wants is a happy family together but he can't have that
- Polly's situation. Her parents want her to give her baby up for adoption when it's born, the Blossoms want to take the baby from her, and she has nobody on her side apart from Betty. Thankfully Hermione Lodge - no great friend to Alice Cooper or Penelope Blossom - agrees to let her live with her and Veronica.
Chapter Eight - The Outsiders
- It's a quiet moment, but Polly comments at the start of the episode that her and Jason's escape car going up in flames had robbed her of nearly everything of Jason's that she had - the situation has left her even more reliant on the charity of the people around her, many of whom have ulterior motives.
- Fred Andrews' subdued breakdown when he has to reveal to Archie that the construction company he'd built from the ground up might go out of business, and unbeknownst to him he's a pawn in the battle between Hiram Lodge and Clifford Blossom. It's also shown that while he and Mary are still amicable, the failure of his marriage still stings and he regrets not being able to have the happy family life he'd envisioned.
- As horrible as Alice has been up to now, it's impossible not to feel for her as she suffers a HeelFace Door-Slam, her realization of how horrible she'd been to Polly coming too late to repair their relationship, so that even Hal being kicked out upon the reveal that he'd tried to make Polly get an abortion and a heartfelt plea from Betty isn't enough to sway her from moving in with the Blossoms rather than going back home.
- Jughead's reaction when Archie and Betty find out his Dad his serpent. He's clearly terrified that they'll abandon him and admits to Betty he didn't tell her because he was ashamed.
- The moment it's revealed to the audience that Joaquin is only with Kevin so that the Serpant's have a connection to the sheriff. Worse is that fact that Joaquin is clearly falling for Kevin for real.
Chapter Nine - La Grande Illusion
- This episode could be appropriately named "The Four Woobies"
- Ethel's father had business with Hiram Lodge, which led to her father losing thousands of dollars and, thus, her parents arguing all the time. Despite Veronica's attempts to cheer her up throughout the episode, all she manages are sad smiles. It reaches a peak when her father attempts suicide by pills. By the end, she's far from okay, but she is still Veronica's friend.
- Veronica tries to help Ethel out because Ethel reminds her of a girl Veronica once bullied. Veronica gives her clothes, jewelry, a place at her dinner table—because Ethel is suffering because of Hiram. When she finds out that Ethel's dad attempted suicide, she collapses into tears. And just to top it off, Ethel's mother shuts her down hard, as if Veronica should be held accountable just for being related to Hiram.
- Cheryl. While still snarky and cool, this episode really shows how everyone loved Jason, not her, so now she's the punching bag of both her family and its partners. Archie is one of, if not the, only people to show her legitimate kindness without having an ulterior motive—which leads to her developing a crush on him, which he shuts down. After so much abuse and heartbreak, the last scene of the episode is Cheryl angrily scribbling Archie's face out of the picture they took.
- Betty finally breaks down because of her family. Her father has left them, her mother is slowly going mad, and Polly has broken off all ties with them. Betty worries that her family is going to fall apart forever. She has Jughead, thankfully, but that doesn't make her situation any better.
- Oh, and as for Archie? Even after Archie realizes the Blossoms are manipulating him, it's too little too late for Valerie, who coldly breaks up with Archie anyway.
Chapter Ten - The Lost Weekend
- Betty and Jughead argue about his birthday party-Jughead takes all of his own insecurities out on Betty, accusing her of seeing him as a project that she might drop for Archie. It's sad for both of them because Jughead clearly is afraid what he's saying is right because he doesn't think he's good enough for Betty and Betty is nearly driven to tears.
Chapter Eleven - To Riverdale and Back Again
- Jughead feeling betrayed by Archie, Betty, and Veronica after finding out they tried to find any potential evidence that FP is guilty of murdering Jason. It certainly didn't help that Jughead found out that his dad got arrested during the Homecoming dance.
- Jughead having a meltdown when he sees how the police trashed his dad's home, and sitting in the debris while bawling his eyes out.
- Related to the above, Betty trying to convince Jughead that she didn't know about Archie and Veronica's plan. It's clear that she feels just as betrayed by them but, unfortunately, in Jughead's eyes they're all the same.
Chapter Twelve - Anatomy of a Murder
- FP falsely confessing to the murder and pretending to be remorseless to try and get Jughead to hate him and make it easier for him to walk away from the whole mess. It's clear that it tears him apart inside to do it, but he does it anyway to keep his son alive. As soon as Jughead leaves, FP breaks down sobbing.
- Their entire conversation at the police station is One Big Tear Jerker from start to finish.
- Jughead having nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to but his mom, only to find out she doesn't want him, either.
- It's quiet due to the revelations of the episode, but there is Kevin finally discovering that Joaquin was working with F.P and was possibly involved with Jason's murder. The fact that he only started going out with Kevin to keep tabs on the sheriff isn't brought up, but Kevin is definitely thinking it.
- Joaquin leaving Riverdale and sharing one last kiss with Kevin before he goes.
- A tearjerker for both Cheryl and Jughead fans, the way Cheryl reacts after FP is arrested. When Jughead attempts to apologize, she proceeds to have an immense reaction, beating on his chest while simultaneously breaking down.
- Cheryl learning her father was the person who killed Jason.
Chapter Thirteen - The Sweet Hereafter
- Mrs. Blossom is completely broken after the death of Clifford and the revelation that he killed their son. She briefly comments something implying she is contemplating suicide because of it, and does nothing to comfort a sobbing Cheryl.
- Fred getting shot by a robber at Pop's in the final scene. Right after he and Archie were about to have a meaningful conversation, no less.
- Now possibly facing up to 20 years of jailtime, FP tells Jughead to be strong for his mother and sister. A near-tears Jughead reassures his father that he will be okay.
- Cheryl's gradual breakdown and descent into despair throughout the entire episode, culminating in her suicide attempt at Sweetwater River.
- Notable is her final desperate attempt to reach out to her mother for comfort, only to be swiftly shut down with a "I don't care". This proves to be the last straw that sets her over the edge.
Chapter Fourteen - A Kiss Before Dying
- Archie's break down in response to his father being shot. He manages to hold it together until they get to the hospital, but as he's practically dragging his father through the doors he goes into panic. By the time the others get their he has completely broken down.
- Archie description of what happened after the Black Hood shot Fred. Whilst its clearly their was nothing he could do, he's now completely convinced he's a coward for not trying to take on an armed psychopath.
- Archie suddenly lashing out at Veronica for unpacking his father's things from the hospital. It's sad for Ronnie's whose only been trying to help him, but its equally sad for Archie, as it's clear he's not really angry with her, but his trauma and pain at what happened is causing him to almost damage one of his best relationships.
- Fred nearly dying this episode, complete with Dying Dream as he hovers on the brink in the hospital, is a lot harder to watch after Luke Perrys death just a year and a half later, surrounded by his family and friends in the hospital.
Chapter Fifteen - Nighthawks
- Jughead and FP's tearful hug when the court declares that FP's sentencing is temporarily put on hold for now.
- Cheryl brings Penelope the footage of Jason's murder and they watch together, hoping that they can gain at least some form of closure and put their pain behind them.
- Even though Ms. Grundy was by all means a child predator who took advantage of Archie, the fact that Archie blames himself even further when it is revealed that she was killed with a cello bow (which he suspects was the same one he had given to her as a gift in season 1) makes it all the more heartbreaking.
Chapter Sixteen - The Watcher In The Woods
- Kevin tearfully explains to Betty his reasons for risking his safety cruising the woods for hookups: that as a gay person in a small town, he doesn't have the same romantic options as she does.Kevin: [gesturing to the woods around them] This is what I've got, Betty! Me, these woods.
- Betty and Polly's goodbye before Polly leaves Riverdale. Even though they don't want to be separated again so soon after reuniting, they mutually decide to put the safety of Polly and her unborn children first.
- Kevin and Moose's conversation about their struggles with homosexuality in the hospital.Moose: Guys like us? Like you? In a town like Riverdale? We don't have a lot of options. So even if something bad could happen, we go for it. Cause what if for ten minutes, or maybe even just for two minutes... we're not alone?
Chapter Seventeen - The Town That Dreaded Sundown
- Betty confessing to Jughead, the reason she's keeping the Black Hood's letter secret is cause she's afraid that Archie will blame her for inspiring him, and she can't live with that. The Black Hood's a psychopath, and Archie has been her best friend since they were children, yet she's still afraid of him turning on her.
Chapter Eighteen - When A Stranger Calls
- The entire episode is one long collection of heart break in some form or another, with fans calling it the most painful episode of the show so far.
- Betty's calls from the Black Hood. She carries on playing his game in the hope of finding out his identity and because she believes it's distracting him from killing more people. But the further it goes, the more it becomes clear he's corrupting her. Receiving constant threats that he'll kill Polly, her friends and her family if she does comply, Betty ends up alienating herself, seriously damaging her relationship with her parents, Veronica and finally Jughead. Throughout the episode her will is slowly eroded by the Black Hood's mind games, until she finally ends up having to choose to sentence someone to death. There is not a moment throughout the episode that she's not on the brink of tears.
- That and the fact in the end everything she did was utterly pointless. The Black Hood is still at large, the clues she managed to gain from him are so open they barely help, and it's confirmed he's going to carry on murdering people. Betty lost so much, and severely damaged herself for nothing.
- How quickly Betty actually ends up choosing a name. Whilst Nick is certainly an Asshole Victim a best, it's clear that the Black Hood's tactics are working. He's getting inside her head and grooming her, and the worst part is by the end she's starting to realise this.
- The moment at Nick's party, when Betty suddenly starts insulting Veronica, hitting every one of her insecurities: telling her that she's not changed in the slightest, is only friends with them due to her circumstances and would drop them in a second if she got a chance to go back to her old life, that her father is a criminal, and that at heart she's a bad person. Whilst the audience knows Betty is only doing it because the Black Hood is forcing her, it's painful to watch Veronica see her best friend suddenly turn on her with such vitriol so seemingly out of the blue.
- The next scene shows Betty sitting alone at the bus stop bawling her eyes out, proving it was also just as painful for her to have say it.
- Things don't get any better for Veronica from there. Right after her best friend just launched a tirade at her out of nowhere, Nick very aggressively tries to come onto her. Not long after that, he tries to rape Cheryl, forcing Veronica to realize that a seemingly good friend of hers is actually a date rapist. She even speculates that he's been doing this throughout their friendship, right under her very nose.
- Cheryl's complete break down following Nick almost date raping her. We haven't seen her cry like this since Jason's funeral and it's horrible to watch, especially as for once she's a completely innocent victim. Almost getting raped has clearly scarred her, to the point she outright states she wants Nick to "burn in hell".
- When the Black Hood forces Betty to break up with Jughead. Betty can't bring herself to do it in person, and has Archie go do it for her, despite the fact he's clearly against it and knows it will hurt Jughead. This in itself is awful, but due to some very bad timing, Archie arrives right before Jughead is about to perform the final initiation ceremony. Seeing his friend with the same Serpents from the fight, and discovering he's joining them, causes Archie to tell Jughead that Betty no longer wants to see him, claiming she has been thinking about breaking up with him for ages now and it's because she knows (and he knows) that he's going down a dark path with a bad ending. You can literally see the point when Jughead's heart breaks hearing his best friend say this, and learning he's lost his girlfriend. As the next scene proves he no longer cares, and feels utterly betrayed.
- It's especially bad cause of the circumstances of Jughead joining the Serpents. He only associated with them so that he wouldn't get beaten senseless by the rival gangs. And he only wanted to join, to try and stop tensions escalating and them from seriously hurting people. Just like Betty, all his good intentions are rewarded with him losing everything he cared about and is projected further down a dark path.
- And to make it still worse, there is the fact that the scene is clearly also so bad for Archie. Whilst he went overboard in his grief and anger, it's clear he also feels betrayed and that he's lost his best friend to a dangerous gang. After everything he has been through with the Black Hood and his PTSD, that's clearly also very painful. When we next see him he's sitting alone in Pop's dinner, clearly broken about what happened.
- More lowkey than the other examples but still painful, following Sheriff Keller revealing that analysis confirms the handwriting on the two letters from the Black Hood doesn't match. Alice's first response is to accuse Betty of writing it herself for attention. Not only is this an example of Alice seriously slipping back into her bad habits, but seeing how much it hurts Betty to hear her own mother accusing her of this is quite uncomfortable.
Chapter Twenty - Tales From The Darkside
- Jughead realising that Penny played him, and he's now trapped doing illegal transports for her. He only took the deal to help his father, and it now could cost him everything. The look on his face as it sinks in is actually painful.
- Betty's horror at the fact that what she did in the last episode was pointless and that the Black Hood managed to kill the Sugar Man after all.
- Whilst he was a jerk last season, its clear Chuck seen the error of his ways and is making a serious effort to become a better episode. Despite this, he ends up getting the blame for stalking Josie, and presumably in more trouble, and all because he tried to be friendly to her.
- Josie's story throughout. First she has to deal with having a stalker, then she discovers her mother has been receiving death threats, then Melody and Valarie find out she's been approached individually as a singer and angrily leave her, despite her protests of it not being like that. Finally said stalker turns to outright harassment and Josie's left believing that Chuck's attempts to make her feel better were all lies. The worst part is its Cheryl, the one person who was there for her throughout the whole episode, who is responsible for everything in an attempt to gaslight her.
Chapter Twenty-One - The House Of The Devil
- After months of going strong, Archie and Veronica finally have dating issues. Then, Bughead realize that they will always end up splitting because of their backgrounds. The end of the episode has all four of our mains either sad or crying at the loss of their significant other.
- Archie randomly tells Veronica that he loves her, but she can tell it to him back. Throughout the episode she tries to avoid the issue, whilst he tries to get past it, but in the end it becomes clear they aren't going to get past this so Veronica breaks it off with him.
- Afraid of Penny using Betty to get to him, and realising she is getting to deep into the Serpents, Jughead breaks it off. Betty tries to get him to talk to her, but he just shuts her down.
- Veronica realizes that Hiram and Hermione have never actually said that they loved each other either.
- As she realises this we focus on Hermione, who can do nothing but silently admit it is true. For just a moment you can see her reflecting on how empty her marriage really is.
- Everything Jughead did for the Serpents in season two has now gone down the drain as Peabody's charm has forced FP to return to the Serpents.
- How it goes down is especially bad. FP takes Jughead aside and reveals he knows that Penny is blackmailing him, he's back in so Jughead can leave. He then kisses his son on the forehead and tells him how disappointed in him he is that he ignored his warnings. Stepping backwards he takes a shot with the other Serpents. Leaving Jughead to helplessly watch.
- Its also painful for FP, considering how happy he was at finally getting his life on track and conquering his demons. He's forced back in to save his son, and ends up accepting he's lost his final chance.
- In an attempt to ensure Jughead is safe within the Serpents, Betty agrees to do the snake dance (a pole dance) so that she can hang out with the Serpents and keep an eye on him. She proceeds to do the dance, only for everyone in the room to clearly be shocked and disgusted. Meanwhile Jughead just watches in horror, realising he's dragged her into this life.
- Its also painful for Alice. When she see's her daughter pole dancing up on stage, her response isn't to get angry or try stop it. She just breaks down, afterwards she can barely bring herself to argue with Betty when she tries to take her home. Not only did this clearly bring back painful memories of when she herself had to do the snake dance, but she clearly feels like she's lost her daughter to repeat her own mistakes. Seeing Alice so passive in regards to her daughter is in itself heart-breaking.
Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle
- Alice and Betty go to find the former's son. He coldly rebuffs them for Betty being able to grow up in a nice home with a family, and especially blasts Alice for how she gave him up (which is true, although she emphatically did not want to). All they can do is leave, and it takes all of Alice's energy to make it to the car, where she breaks down and cries.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Hills have Eyes
- Coming back from seeing "Love, Simon", Cheryl completely breaks down at Pop's dinner, telling Toni that she is emotionally exhausted that everybody thinks she's a complete bitch incapable of love. Then proceeds to tell Toni that she DID love someone in the past. Someone who loved her back. Her name was Heather, she was her best friend in middle school and she would sleep over at her house every single weekend. But then Penelope caught them in the same bed and freaked out and started calling her a deviant, and according to Cheryl, utterly destroyed what she had with Heather.
Chapter Thirty-Two: Prisoners
- The episode opens with Midge's funeral. Every main cast member from the Riverdale High students to the Southside Serpents are present, all solemn and saddened by her death. Cheryl even sings a beautiful rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone". But the scenes really hitting home are those of Midge's mother, who is absolutely devastated at losing her daughter.
- After being released from the police station, Fangs, clearly terrified of the homicidally angry crowd surrounding it, says that he doesn't want to die. It's a harsh reminder that for all posturing and his being in the Serpents, he's still a teenager. It's even worse after Fangs is shot, possibly fatally. Thankfully, he survives.