Wow! Now that is how you do a season finale! Good thing The CW gave Riverdale an early vote of confidence and renewed the series for a full 22-episode second season. Let’s hope the writers and producers can keep up this pace.
After last week’s real “Cliff hanger” — thank you writers for giving Jughead that hilarious line — and the revelation that the Blossom family’s “dark, sticky” secret wasn’t maple syrup but heroin went a long way toward explaining why Jason had no stomach for the family business. But really, would Cheryl have been willing to pick up the mantle to become Riverdale’s drug kingpin at some point? From how things went down after all of these shocking revelations, I think not.
After Clifford’s “pauper’s funeral,” the relationship between Cheryl and Penelope couldn’t have gotten any worse with Penelope telling her daughter that perhaps Cliff had the right idea by committing suicide. Not the best thing to say to a very emotionally unstable young woman. Unfortunately, that power of suggestion led Cheryl to do some out of character things like give Jughead her signature spider brooch. And no one felt these were warning signs until it was almost too late??? Yes, when Cheryl turned over her cheerleading leadership to Veronica and said she was going to be with Jason, the gang rushed down to the frozen Sweet Water River to find Cheryl in the middle of the ice, smashing it. When she heard everyone calling her name … it was too late as she plunged through the ice.
Putting their concerns about the stability of the ice aside, Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica rushed out to save Cheryl but she was already caught in the current. In a state of hallucination, the drowning Cheryl once again witnessed her zombie-like dead brother under the ice with her while Archie had located her from the top. Punching through the ice with his bare fist — and let me tell you, that was visually painful to watch — Archie broke through and pulled Cheryl out, using CPR to revive her. It may not have been the best idea to bring Cheryl back to her apartment, but Veronica continued to be a friend despite her mother’s obvious disdain for the girl … not that it was her fault that her father tried to set up Hiram for Jason’s murder.
Speaking of the murder, Sheriff Keller refuses to release FP from jail unless he cooperates and names names involved with the Blossom affair, certain that the Serpents were involved in running Clifford’s heroin across the Canadian border (with the mention of Montreal, I’m pretty certain now that Riverdale is located in Vermont). But FP says they don’t deal in the hard stuff and he’s not a rat. Unfortunately, this means Juggie is being forced into a foster home since Fred Andrews has (1) a prior DUI and (2) isn’t financially able to care for another child. And he also has to transfer to South Side High, which causes concern among his friends. But surprise, Jughead seems to have fit right in for reasons that become apparent later.
With everything else going on, Betty is concerned about her own family life. With Jason’s death solved, Hal and Alice have reconciled, Polly is home and everyone is acting like nothing ever happened. But Betty can’t let go of the heated conversation that took place when Alice invited FP and Jughead to dinner. What was the argument about that FP witnessed at their senior prom? Alice refuses to answer at first, but after some soul searching she confesses to Betty that she had told Hal that night that she was pregnant, and they both had different reactions to how to proceed. As we’ve come to expect from Hal, he wanted her to have an abortion, but she checked herself into the same home for girls where Polly was carted of to. And she gave birth to … a baby boy! There is a Cooper (or Blossom) boy out there somewhere, and how much do you want to bet we’ll meet him sometime in season two?
But with all of this news, her relationship with Jughead potentially in danger with his relocation to the South Side, and the sheriff’s treatment of FP, Betty is on a quest to expose and exonerate. She writes a scathing article for the town’s paper (yes, Alice has her old job back, so apparently she’s not the advisor for the Blue & Gold anymore?) about the “witch hunt” that got FP locked up (and this was only the most obvious witch reference in the episode, so it’s safe to say we can expect to meet Sabrina sometime soon). Except Alice refused to run it for fear of Betty’s safety. So Betty ran it herself in the Blue & Gold and was promptly harassed at school with copies of the article pasted all over her locker with “Go to Hell Serpent Slut” scrawled in pig’s blood. A scare tactic or a real threat?
Betty, however, is not to be deterred. WIth Riverdale’s 75th anniversary Jubilee on the horizon, the mayor has asked Archie to perform with Josie and the Pussycats, and has invited Betty to give an address. Josie is happy to have Archie join them but they’re not doing his very personal song about friendship since this is supposed to be about the whole town. However, after all of the recent events, Josie allows Archie to take center stage with his song. Betty then uses the opportunity to rail at the town for its treatment of the innocent FP Jones and its treatment of Jughead. And surprisingly, the assembled townspeople respond positively. But will that influence Sheriff Keller in any way?
Throughout the episode, we saw Archie and Veronica ready to go deeper into their relationship but still wanted to tread cautiously with Betty. Both of them, several times, ask Betty if she’s okay with them as a couple, and Betty responds that she’s fine, she’s with Jughead and she’s happy for them. But … it’s obvious Archie still has feelings for Betty and anyone who saw their glances towards each other know that there is something bubbling beneath the surface. No matter how many times Archie says he’ll always care for Betty as a friend, there is sure to be some romantic fireworks to come. But fans of the characters certainly do not want to see this group torn apart.
After the Jubilee, Penelope Blossom returns home to find Cheryl all dressed in white standing before the fireplace holding a candelabra. Asking about the smell, Cheryl tells her it’s gasoline and it’s time to purify the Blossoms, dropping the candelabra, setting the mansion aflame. As the two women stand outside watching their home burn, there is one nagging question: did they get Granny Blossom out of the house, or was she still haunting Jason’s bedroom when the place went up? I’m glad Cheryl did not perish because I’ve grown to love her character over the course of the season, but I am worried about grandma. And this is certain to drive an even deeper wedge between Cheryl and Penelope. Where are they going to live now? The barn?
By the end of the episode, Jughead has taken Betty back to his trailer (and this is not the asexual Jughead of the comics!), and Archie is spending the night with Veronica. Juggie and Betty are interrupted by a knock at the door, which Betty assumes is her mother. It’s not, it’s the Serpents there vowing to have Jughead’s back as thanks for FP not cooperating with the police, bestowing upon him an official Serpents leather jacket. Jughead doesn’t seem to think twice before slipping it on, causing great concern with Betty. Will this affect their relationship or will Betty give in to the South Side blood running through her veins and become the Dark Betty we know lurks within her?
The next morning Archie gets a text from his dad to meet him at Pop’s. Archie tells Ronnie that usually means he has something important to talk about, probably Archie’s staying out all night. When he gets to Pop’s, Fred is the only person besides Pop in the diner. Fred seems to know that Archie was with Veronica and he also doesn’t seem upset. Archie goes to washing his hands (or hand since one is in a cast from the icebreaking incident) and when he comes out a masked man is standing on top of the counter with a gun at Pop’s head. Fred sits still and barely shakes his head no at Archie who wants to jump in and be the hero again. Fred gets up and the masked man sees him and makes a move in his direction. Archie races over and from the outside we see the flash of a gunshot. Inside, Fred lies in a puddle of blood, Archie trying to stop the flow. Was this a random robbery gone wrong, or was Fred the real target? I’m thinking this was all a set-up, that someone wanted Fred at the diner so somehow they lured him and Archie there by spoofing cell phone numbers and sending them the texts.
But who would want Fred dead? We have a prime suspect in Hiram Lodge. Hermione made Fred an offer to completely buy him out of his construction business, but despite her warnings of not messing with Hiram, Fred refused to sell and insisted they were still business partners. Even in spite of Hermione taking it upon herself to let the Serpents go who had been helping Fred after his original crew had been bought off by Clifford. With Hiram due in Riverdale next season (in the form of Mark Consuelos), could he have put a hit on Fred? And will Fred survive? My guess is he will because we can’t have both of our male leads without fathers in the coming season. All I have to say is — is it fall yet? This is too much to contemplate for four or five months!
What did you think of the season finale? Will Fred survive? Will Jughead and/or Betty turn to the dark side? Will Hiram pick up where Clifford left off? What is Cheryl’s next move? Is Grandma Blossom alive? Will Sabrina make an appearance? Will Reggie finally get some screen time? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.