“Something wicked this way comes,” Betty spends most of the episode trying to wake everyone up to the importance of truth and warning of the dangers that exist in ignoring it. She senses the shift in Riverdale, as everyone else is desperate to cover it up. To shed a brighter light on FP and the Serpents, she writes a compelling piece for The Register that Alice calls, “your best work yet”. Due to safety concerns, Alice and Hal don’t want her to publish it, but our determined Betty just posts it in the Blue & Gold. We learn this in a quick but welcome scene of Beronica bonding in Betty’s room and convincing Polly to return to school. Betty’s article drops and as predicted by Mama Cooper, she becomes a target. Some jerk faced morons tape copies of her article to her locker with the words “go to hell Serpent slut” written in pig’s blood. This incident coupled with Jughead’s foster family move lead him to somberly tell Betty “as long as you’re with me, troubles going to keep coming for you. The entire multiverse is telling me I don’t belong here”. Betty reassures him that he does belong there and she isn’t giving up.
Alice takes Betty to task for publishing the article and putting herself in danger. The two have a glare match ending with Betty saying, “Dad was keeping a secret that almost destroyed us. How many secrets are you keeping?”. This altercation prompts Alice to fess up about the High School pregnancy teased earlier in the season. Most of us assumed Hal had pushed her into an abortion, because that was what he wanted Polly to do. Alice confesses that she herself took a trip to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy where “your brother was born. The sisters arranged for a quiet adoption”. In the comics, Betty has an older brother named Chick Cooper, many fans theorized this plot twist when we learned of the teen pregnancy Alice had earlier in the season. She never outwardly states abortion, though many assumed from context. Surprise! There’s a “blonde adonis”, as Veronica would say, out there somewhere.
Jughead, accepting his fate, shows up for classes at Southside High, calls Betty from a payphone and lets her know he’s ok and not to worry. The scene from the promo of Betty, Archie, and Veronica running for their lives through the school hallway turns out to be them rushing off to convince Jug to come back to Riverdale High. They find him oddly comfortable at a lunch table full of Serpent kids; he reassures Betty nothing will change between them while Varchie look on. “They’re each other’s soulmates. Good for them. Don’t ya think?” Veronica, clearly not missing Archie longingly staring at Betty, asks him. Before he can answer, Veronica gets that perfectly timed text from Cheryl which sends our core four to Sweetwater River to rescue Cheryl. Veronica isn’t a stupid girl and will later confront Archie about his wistful looks towards Betty. He covers it with saying he was seeing how good they (Bughead) are together and he wants to be that for Veronica. We don’t believe him.
Back to Sweetwater River, Cheryl’s standing on the ice, they’re screaming for her to come back, and she falls in. This was the most intense moment in the episode as the gang tear ass across the ice to save her. Archie breaks his hand freeing her from impending death, as Jughead holds B & V back. I was never worried about Cheryl dying, but between the music and camera work, coupled with compelling performances from the kids, I was holding my breath waiting for Archie to pull her out.
Then, in what was perhaps the most jarring and bizarre moment of the entire episode, Veronica, who has brought a wet and distraught Cheryl to her house, hands her a hot chocolate and leaves. LEAVES TO GO TO THE JUBILEE. There is zero discussion or follow up to Cheryl’s suicide attempt or accident as Veronica tells her mother. Not only do we not spend a single solitary second on this, but after frantically pulling her from the water, Archie, Betty, and Jughead were just like “you good? K. Catch ya in homeroom” and left Veronica to tend to her. I just… what???? This was so weird. I understand things get cut for time, but to have no follow up whatsoever to this pivotal moment where Cheryl attempts to drown herself in freezing cold water felt super bizarre.
After V informs Josie of Archie’s heroic efforts to save Cheryl, she decides they will sing the song he wrote at the Jubilee. Earlier in the episode she told him no. While Archie and the Pussycats are singing, 10 minutes after Josie decided to do so, with zero prep time; Jughead is paying another visit to FP. “I’m more innocent than I am guilty. I’ve done stupid things, bad things, come what may, I have to answer for my part. You need to be there for your mom, Jellybean,” says FP in another nice speech to Jug, who promises to do his best. I’m biased on these scenes because Jughead and FP are my favorite, but acting wise and emotion wise, it was one of the best scenes in the episode. Of course, I also give zero f**** about Jughead’s mom and I must give so much credit to FP and Jughead for caring so much about this woman that abandoned them and can’t manage to take care of her kid so he’s going to foster care. I mean, they called her right? And she’s aware her son is going into foster care, right?
Back at the Jubilee, Betty delivers a wonderful speech about what Rivedale is. “What is Riverdale,” she asks the crowd. “Archie Andrews is Riverdale. Kevin Keller is Riverdale. Veronica Lodge is Riverdale. You know who else is Riverdale? FP Jones, who we were so quick to condemn. Riverdale is at a crossroads.” She implores the town to accept the changes that have come and to face them instead of bury them. She pleads with them to embrace everything, the good and the bad and move forward together. With a little help from Jughead, she gets a standing ovation and inspires Fred to turn down Hermione’s offer to buy him out of the SoCal contract. She reminds him selling would be in his best interest, but he remains steadfast.
The core four head to Pop’s and we are treated to a visually stunning scene of them happy and in love, toasting milkshakes. While our couples are enjoying their youth, Cheryl is torching Thorn Hill with gasoline and a very heavy looking candelabra. I hope Nana Rose got out ok.
Post milkshakes, Veronica and Archie head back to her place, Archie spends the night (one couple goes all the way). Uh-oh Bughead fans, this means our faves are the couple whose future is up in the air. Jughead and Betty go back to his trailer where they profess their love for one another in a totally adorable Bughead way and start getting hot and heavy in the kitchen. They are interrupted by a knock at the door. The Serpent’s show up, with Hot Dog, and a message for Jughead, “no matter what happens to him, no matter how long he’s gone, we got your back”. AWWWWW THEY SHOWED UP! JUST LIKE FP SAID! As a former Sons of Anarchy lover, I have a soft spot for biker gangs, I can’t help it. They gift Jughead a Serpent’s leather jacket, which he happily tosses on. Biker gang Jughead (the comic canon folks are sure to love this). The look on Betty’s face shows she is less than pleased with this turn of events.
Our final sequence takes place in Pops, the place where our core four always feel safe. Archie is meeting Fred for breakfast; he stops to wash his hands in the bathroom before sitting down. A masked assailant show up, assaults Pop, robs the register, and shoots Fred in the gut while Archie is helpless to stop it.
Here we have our character whose life hangs in the balance. Not to worry kids, I highly doubt Fred Andrews or Luke Perry are exiting the show, nor will Molly Ringwald be joining us full time. It’s a flesh wound, he’ll be fine. For those of us wondering when Archie’s life experiences would stop being so rosy compared to those of his friends, I would say watching your father get shot qualifies.
“This was the moment that Riverdale’s innocence finally died and darkness won. Marked by an act of violence that was anything but random.”
- Archie doesn’t know what wistfully means. Why is he so dumb?
- “Kevin relax, this isn’t The Wire” favorite line of the episode.
- Josie’s look this week was fire!
- Loved Beronica gossiping and bonding in Betty’s bedroom
- Jubilee, Homecoming Dance, House party, Pep rally, is this officially a CW show or what? Does that make Betty the new Caroline Forbes?
- Jughead finally ate a hamburger and we finally got a Veronica/Jughead scene, no matter how short.
- Why does Polly always look like a deer in headlights?
- Thank you for addressing the whole Polly’s not in school thing, it was really bothering me.
- Cheryl seeing zombie Jason underwater was excellent.
- No Sabrina sighting, but Russ Burlingame from comicbook.com thinks the Spellmans are the nice family fostering Jughead.
- I wonder what important thing Fred wanted to talk with Archie about…
- Is Hermione our Lady MacBeth? Did she or Hiram send the attacker in to Pop’s?
- I’m interested in further exploring Mayor McCoy in Season 2 and just how many demons are in that closet.
- A little disappointed I didn’t get to see Hiram stepping out of a limo at the end.
- For those unaware of behind the scenes goings on, KJ Apa actually broke his hand in real life while they were filming the finale, hence the cast.
- The 75th Jubilee was a nod to this being Archie Comics 75th year in publication.
- Who do I have to call to get Robin Tunney to play Jughead’s mom next season?
This episode felt a little rushed at times and I bet you’ll have to watch twice to fully take in everything that went on, I did. To steal from Camila Mendes Instagram post, “It’s the strength and endurance of these beautifully crafted friendships that make the episode so special. Murder mysteries are undoubtedly exciting, but the heart of the show lies within a united group of fearless kids that relentlessly support each other through the darkest of times.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
What did you think? Did the finale live up to your expectations? Are you happy with the ground work laid out for Season 2?