The penultimate episode of Riverdale is upon us and every storyline, good or bad this season, came to a head. The true identity of the Black Hood is revealed, Hiram’s machinations may have finally lost him the support of his wife and daughter, and the Northside/Southside tension simmers to a boil ending in a Serpents/Ghoulies gang war.
Riverdale Recap: “Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgement Night”
Airdate: May 9, 2018
Cherie Nowlan directed the episode written by Shepard Boucher (#221)
This episode reminded me of peak Season 1 in terms of bringing together all of the plot threads before the finale. So much of this season has felt like our characters have been disconnected from one another and this episode brings all of it steaming forward into an illustrious trainwreck. Hiram’s entire goal this season has been to create and control chaos within Riverdale so that he could come in and “restore law and order” while secretly buying every important property in the city limits. His final play was securing the Mayoral power with his wife, Hermione as Mayor. Ever the dutiful wife, Hermione has been playing the game even though she’s been in danger at every turn. Veronica has finally reached her limit with her father and continues to try and convince Hermione to be done with him after discovering he intends to out her affair with Fred in an effort to tarnish his family values campaign. Small Fry, the son of Papa Poutine comes to town avenging his father intent on taking out Hermione and Veronica. He attacks them in their home and Hermione puts him down. It is this final straw that leaves the world’s worst mobster alone in his quest by the end of the episode.
Jughead is putting out fires figuratively and literally left and right, trying to quell the tension between the Serpents and the Northside after it seems Reggie has shot Fangs (he didn’t it was Midge’s mom). After cooling off Sweat Pea and the other teen Serpents (because who knows what happened to the adult Serpents), Penny Peabody, the character that won’t go away, kidnaps Toni and wants to meet with Jughead. She’s aligned with the Ghoulies, the rival gang that shows up like something straight out of an episode of Gotham, and they want control of the Southside. Luckily Jughead brought backup in the form of Katniss Everdeen, I mean the CW’s superior archer, Cheryl Blossom. After securing Toni, Penny throws down the gauntlet. The Serpents surrender the Southside to them or they meet at Dawn for a Showdown at the OK Corral, or Picken’s Park, whichever.
FP returns to the Whyte Worm with news that Fangs didn’t make it and Jughead tells of Penny’s proposal. They put it to a vote, which Cheryl participates in (is she a Serpent now?), and agree to take on the Ghoulies at dawn. Back at the trailer front, FP and Jug have a heated conversation about how this isn’t going to go down well, but “it was put to a vote” so oh well. Once FP leaves, Jughead has an aha moment, realizing that Hiram has orchestrated this entire thing and calls him. Jug knows Penny and the Ghoulies are working for Hiram; he knew he couldn’t buy the Serpents, so he had to create this discourse to get rid of them. Jughead produces a counteroffer as Hiram is walking up to Penny. We don’t hear the counteroffer, nor do we witness the meeting between Penny and her boss.
Don’t worry I didn’t forget about where the episode left off last week, the Black Hood at Cheryl’s front door. She gets away from him, suits up in her archer outfit, and puts an arrow in him. Betty, waiting for her father at the town hall, gets a call from Cheryl and heads back to the house. It is then she receives a call from FP who is at the hospital with Fangs, telling her that Hal is there and bleeding. Once Betty arrives, she finds the doctor dead in the hospital bed and gets a call from the Black Hood to come home or he will slit her mother’s throat. For those of you, myself included, who were under the impression that Hal was way too big of a Red Herring to actually be the Black Hood were severely disappointed when there was no clever twist and Hal was in fact the Black Hood. All season long, every reveal has been plainly stated and obvious, so this should come as no surprise, but… Do better.
Apparently, Great Grandpappy Cooper was the murderer, there’s a darkness in these Cooper/Blossom folks and he passed his crazy down to Hal’s father who was actually the Riverdale Reaper all those years ago. Hal shows Alice and Betty a home video of his mother berating him into convincing the Conway boy (Mr Svenson, the first Black Hood this season) to finger someone else as the killer, not his father. Sinners must be punished and all that. Really odd that Hal’s mom would videotape this as it could be used as evidence to convict Hal’s dad but yeah… Hal has Alice record his confession because he’s planning to murder/suicide them all. I suppose we should be grateful that they gave us a reason, insane as it is, that Hal is the Black Hood. Even though, he mentions Fred is an adulterer which he also is… but ok. I can’t be wholly invested in this as it’s felt like a big plot device to get Hal out of the way to make room for FP and Alice, but whatever. Betty clocks him over the head with a fireplace shovel while Alice is emasculating him and he gets arrested.
Meanwhile over at the Andrews house, Archie and Fred return home and get attacked by the Black Hood, who makes a run for it before they can catch him. Wait. If Hal is confessing at the Copper house, then who the F is this guy? A copycat? My money is on Hiram, but it’ll probably turn out to be Claudius, Clifford’s twin, a character that was introduced for seemingly no reason and has only been seen I think twice all season.
While Hal’s being arrested and the Andrews boys come out to see what’s happening, Jughead calls Betty to tell her loves her, sounding like a goodbye. She promptly calls FP who rushes off to find Penny and the Ghoulies. Jughead meets with Penny, a sacrifice to stop the morning bloodshed at Pickens Park. The Ghoulies beat him to near death (he’s not dead guys, no one is buying this), with a promise from Penny that it was all for naught, the fight will still commence. I mean DUH! Jughead, why on earth would you trust Penny???????????????????????????????????? The episode ends with FP carrying Jughead’s limp body from the woods Batman/Jason Todd’s Robin style to everyone’s shock and horror.
Moving in to next week, it’s hard to imagine all of this wrapping up but they did it last year so hopefully the mob, the Black Hood, and the gang wars will be neat and tidy at the end of the season and go away in season 3. Here’s to hoping we get more fun stuff like Cheryl running around with archery gear, the Hot Dads of Riverdale, Keller, FP, and Fred strutting across parking lots, and all of our characters back together doing more age appropriate things. Oh and it would be nice for Josie, Reggie, and Kevin to be more than talk-to’s or plot devices.