Mary and Kelli are back one last time to bring you this, their 22nd recap. Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t! (said no one on Riverdale, ever.)
Part I: Kelli
We open in the graveyard. Betty kneels over a grave, flanked by Veronica and Archie while she weeps. Obviously, Jughead is in the grave. Betty tells him to come back, and that their story isn’t finished, and suddenly he jolts awake in the hospital bed. He’s not dead, guys. In fact, once they cleaned all the blood off of him, he doesn’t even look that wounded. I think he looked worse after his Serpent initiation, TBH. More bruising.
FP is in the room to welcome Jughead back to the world of the living, and updates him on what went down while he was out. As usual, we are given no understanding of how much time has passed since the end of the last episode. Has Jughead been in a coma for five hours? Three days? I have LITRALLY no idea. Anyway, FP tells Jughead that the Serpents showed up to fight the Ghoulies in an attempt to avenge Jughead and Fangs, but there were too many Ghoulies and they lost. Some of them defected, joining the Ghoulies, some of them left town, others went into hiding. It’s all incredibly dramatic. Oh, and Fangs is still alive. Sheriff Minetta lied about his death on the phone. Is that even, like, legal?
As far as FP is concerned, the Serpents are over. Now there’s nothing left for Jughead to do but concentrate on getting better and being there for Betty. Jughead’s like, wait, what? What happened to Betty? Somehow, despite being boyfriend and girlfriend, these two have no fucking idea what’s going on in each other’s lives.
At some point, Betty shows up, and she and Jug fill each other in while cuddling tenderly in his hospital bed. Jughead apologizes for not being there to help her with her dad. Betty never wants to see Hal again, and feels she must atone for his sins, because of course she does. She’s Betty. She and Jughead will no longer be running for student council, on account of, you know, everything.
Meanwhile, Veronica and Archie are helping Fred with his campaign. Like Betty and Jughead, Veronica will no longer be running with Archie for student council, because she needs the extra time to focus on conspiring against her parents. It’s almost like the show forgot it had student election drama to deal with and just wanted the foursome to be on good terms again so they quickly found a way to explain away the tension. But no, I’m sure they planned this out super well.
Once they find out Jughead’s awake, Archie and Veronica book it to the hospital. He’ll be out by tomorrow, which Archie says is good, because “we still need your brain.” Wow, what a tender friendship they have. Jughead’s brain is needed to find out who the second BH is. They all figure since his specific attacks were politically motivated, Hiram must have hired him. It’s either a hired Serpent or the new Sheriff. Archie says he’ll investigate further; he has to go to the Sheriff’s office anyway to identify Betty’s dad. Way to rub salt in the wound, Archie.
Over at Thistlehouse, Attorney McCoy is helping Cheryl finalize the documents to transfer her guardianship over to Nana Rose. Cheryl cheerfully agrees to carry the letter to Penelope and Claudius herself, since they are literally living in the barn, just like she threatened they would during the musical episode. I have to wonder how this works. Do they keep their clothing in the barn? Do they sleep on piles of hay? When Cheryl gets to the barn, the door is cracked, and she realizes that Penelope and Claudius are having a secret meeting with — who else — HIRAM LODGE! Cheryl quickly hides in a maple syrup barrel outside before any of them notice her standing there. I really wish they would have showed her hopping into the barrel, but I guess you can’t have it all.
Betty comes home from the hospital to find Alice throwing a rather Shakesperean fit on the front stoop while a crowd records her on their cellphones. Betty yells at them and ushers her mother inside. In the morning, on the phone with Jughead, she tells him she’s worried about her mom, and that she’s not coming back to school for a bit because of all the people surrounding their house. Besides, she has more important things to do — like atone for her father’s sins. She pays a visit to Fred Andrews and apologizes to him for what happened. Fred, of course, doesn’t want her to blame herself, but Betty cries and says she’s a bad detective for not figuring it out sooner. Is it just me, or does Betty put a little too much pressure on herself?
At the Sheriff’s station, Archie identifies Hal, but makes a point to identify him as “ONE” of the black hoods. Minetta says that there were a lot of looters running around in hoods during the riots, but Archie points out that this hood wasn’t at his house to steal things — he was there to kill Fred. For the entirety of the conversation, Minetta eats an apple in a manner that is simultaneously sinister and incredibly disinterested.
Back at Riverdale High (yes, there is still a high school), Kevin walks in on Moose crying in the bathroom because he’s upset about Midge’s death. I was actually glad for this scene, because it always really makes me angry when a character gets killed off on a TV show and it seems to have no effect on anyone. Of course, Kevin hugs Moose to comfort him and they immediately start making out. I wonder if this means a coming-out arc for Moose next season.
In the still-confusing “student lounge,” Reggie and Josie tell Archie and Veronica that they’re pulling out of the student council race as well. Reggie is not ready to be a “leader of men,” and Josie wants to focus on her music career. At this point, Archie is definitely going to win, because the only person going up against him is Ethel (who’s running as a third party candidate, which, is that a thing in high school elections?). Also, Reggie’s arm is around Josie during this conversation. Did they start dating at some point without any of us noticing? Fuck, I have a lot of questions.
Jughead meets with Toni and Sweet Pea in their favorite empty classroom to discuss Principle Weatherby’s newest mandate: Riverdale is getting “overcrowded” and all former Southside students will be bussed to Seaside High, which is two hours away. My question is: who the fuck is gonna pay for that? Hiram Lodge? Jughead says he doesn’t know what they’re going to do about it, because they can’t fight for a gang that doesn’t exist, and Toni’s like, ‘but what about those of us who are still here, and the Serpents at the Wyrm?’ To this, Jughead replies, ‘What Serpents at the Wyrm?’
It turns out there are a bunch of Serpents living at the Wyrm, because the trailer park was destroyed and none of them can afford to leave Riverdale. Basically, the bar has turned into a homeless shelter, and it’s pretty depressing. Jughead goes home to yell at FP for lying to him about the Serpents being gone, and he finds his dad drinking in the trailer, having just been fired from his job at Pop’s. Apparently Hiram has the power to let go of employees willy nilly. Jughead wants to know why FP lied, and FP says it’s because the Serpents *should* skip town, the Jones family included. He tells Jughead they’re going to move to Toledo with mom and Jellybean. Jughead, of course, doesn’t want to go. Luckily, he probably doesn’t have to, since he basically lived in that trailer alone for months anyway.
Cheryl approaches Veronica to tell her about the secret meeting between Penelope and Hiram. Veronica asks her parents about it, and Hiram says he’s looking to “diversify” by getting into the maple trade. Veronica accuses Hiram of hiring Claudius to be the BH at town hall, putting Hermione in the crossfire for his own political agenda. Both Hiram and Hermione tell Veronica she’s being nuts, and she’s like, ‘maybe I am, or maybe not tho,’ which is a good point. How are any of us supposed to know anymore?
At some point, Veronica meets up with Archie, and the two of them head over to Betty’s house to try to convince her to come back to school. She says she can’t show her face there again after what her father did, and I can’t really blame her for that. It’s pretty fucking embarrassing. She says she hates Hal, and Veronica and Archie try to comfort her. I feel like this would have been a good opportunity for Veronica to be like, ‘yeah, my dad’s also murdered people, so I get it,’ but she doesn’t bring it up.
Later, Polly comes over with her badly-named children, and she asks why Alice and Betty haven’t gone to visit Hal in jail. Betty gives another priceless reaction face, which I hope and pray I will find a gif of. Polly starts talking about some culty farm bullshit re: forgiveness, and while Alice doesn’t want to forgive Hal, she agrees that it might be nice to visit him so that she can get some things off of her chest. Betty is horrified by the mere prospect of seeing him, and says they can count her out. Honestly, it seems like Polly’s a lot closer to sharing Hal’s inner darkness than Betty is. Why is she so eager to forgive a serial killer???
At Fred’s election Headquarters (which is… somewhere? Fred’s office?), McCoy advises Fred that he needs to get the Southside vote if he wants to win this election. Mid-planning session, Archie gets a call from Sheriff Minetta, and the two of them go into the station so that he can tell them they caught the man who looted their house. It was TALL BOI! Apparently when they tried to arrest him, he engaged them in fire, and thus they had to kill him. A likely story. Archie meets up with Jughead to tell him what he found out, and Jughead feels like an idiot because Tall Boy has worked for Hiram before, so *of course* it was him, and *of course* he died in a firefight because now he can’t implicate Hiram and all of the loose ends have been tied up. Jughead fears that Hiram will get away with all of it. Which, yeah, he probably will.
Hermione, in a plot twist, decides to be nice to Veronica and go against Hiram’s plans for once in her life. She tells Veronica that Hiram is trying to consolidate the entire Southside into “something,” but there’s one critical piece he doesn’t own yet: The Wyrm. If Veronica can block him from buying it, she’ll have leverage over him. Veronica gets McCoy’s help to get the money back from her father, which results in an incredible scene which begins something like this:
Veronica: Hi Daddy. I’m here to talk to you about the money you stole from me.
McCoy: My client would like it back.
Hiram says the money is in a trust, but Veronica tells him that if he doesn’t release it, she’ll release his secrets — of which there are many. Hermione listens in from the hall, and I’m not sure if she’s proud or scheming.
At Thistlehouse, Penelope approaches Cheryl to complain about the guardianship transfer. Cheryl gives no fucks, and is off to deliver treats to Toni and the crew at the Wyrm (treats in a basket, while she’s wearing her red riding cape, mind you). Penelope gets all weird then and tells Cheryl that she can’t go to the Wyrm — not tonight. Smooth, Penelope.
Cheryl hightails it over to Jughead’s and bursts into the trailer while Archie and Jug are eating sundaes and bro-ing it up. Penelope revealed to her that Hiram’s “cyborg cheriff” is going to be raiding the Wyrm and that things are probably going to get violent. The three of them rush to the Wyrm, and Jughead quickly formulates a plan — they’re going to sneak out undetected and cross over to the Northside, where they have been offered “asylum.” The refugee/illegal immigrant metaphor is very real.
The pack of them head out into the night. There is a montage of them sneaking through the dark streets set, a little bizarrely, to an opera song. Jughead takes one last look back at the Southside, and Archie offers sage advice that he’s completely unqualified to give: “Don’t look back.” They cross over the bridge.
Part II: Mary
The Serpents take asylum in the Andrews’s home, where Fred happily serves up food and tells FP, “We’re all neighbors here.” Archie tells Jug he wants to borrow a bunch of Serpent jackets. What are you up to, Archie?
All the students show up to school in Serpent jackets, and they say that everyone is ready to walk out in order to support their fellow students. Archie volunteers to be expelled and all I can think is PLEASE. Please tell him to go, Principal Weatherby. Of course he doesn’t.
We also get a cute moment of Toni telling Cheryl that the Serpent jacket looks good on her, to which she responds, “Everything looks good on me.”
Veronica and Jughead talk about Hiram’s evil plans and what they want to do to combat it.
Hiram shows up at the Snake Hole, only to meet Veronica there. Veronica has just bought the bar with all her new trust fund money! She makes a major power play on Hiram, trying to trade him the bar for Pop’s, which is the only place to eat in Riverdale.
Hiram tells Ronnie that this deal is it. She’s essentially going to be disowned afterwards. She agrees because he’s evil and she doesn’t want anything to do with him. Let’s just see how long that lasts.
Betty asks some philosophical questions about Polly’s babies and if they’ll grow up to be murderers. Nature versus Nurture is not a new argument, Betty.
I’m really confused about this next scene, because it seems like the town election and the school election is taking place IN THE SAME ROOM. That seems wrong and stupid.
Meanwhile, Betty visits Hal in prison, where apparently he is holed up Hannibal Lecter style. I don’t know why they think he needs to be behind plexiglass. Can he escape from bars or something? Is a traditional jail not good enough for Hal?
Betty tells Hal goodbye because she never wants to see him again. She also tells him that there’ll be no more evil in their family because she--with Jughead’s encouragement--has come to the conclusion one doesn’t have to kill just because their dad did. She tells Hal, “You have no power over me,” which could be a reference to a Labyrinth line delivered to the Goblin King. But I digress.
Archie wins class president, of course, and all Serpents are allowed to stay at Riverdale High. Archie and Jughead exchange a knowing look. Do they even hang out as friends anymore?
At Serpent shanty-town, FP retires and hands over the mantle of Serpent King to Jughead, you know, a literal minor. I wasn’t aware one could retire from gangs, but here we are. As his first act as Serpent President, Jughead gives Cheryl a Serpent jacket. Did she not have to do the sexy dance like Betty? Also, why does she get a special red jacket? I mean, I guess Cheryl does have a brand to uphold. She’s right. It does look good on her.
Betty decides to go back to school and tells her mom about visiting Hal. On the other side of town, Hermione shows up to tell Fred he ran a great campaign even if he ultimately lost.
Archie shows up uninvited to the Lodge residence to confront Hiram. It’s creepy and kind of unneeded. He is real salty to Hiram. He also HAS KNIFE and proceeds to threaten Hiram with it. I’m not convinced Archie could knowingly kill anyone, tbh. He also brings up the murder of that guy at the sex cabin, which is stupid. You shouldn’t remind Hiram of things he can use against you, dumb-dumb.
Archie threatens to get Hiram by following him around and watching for proof against him. OK.
Veronica tells everyone that Pop Tate’s used to be a speakeasy and Veronica wants to make it a speakeasy again, one where everyone can come listen to cabaret music.
Meanwhile, Hiram meets with a LITERAL BOARD OF VILLAINS to plot his changes to the Southside. He admits that Hermione can’t know about some of the stuff they’re up to, which makes sense. There’s been trouble dealing between them for a while, hasn’t there? Penelope says that she wants a brothel, and the leader of the Ghoulies, the sheriff, and Penny all have things they want out of this, too.
Polly tries to get Alice to come join a cult. Well, she doesn’t say it’s a cult, but we get the impression that it is. Meanwhile, Jughead and Betty are in a nice hotel room presumably post-sex. Jughead asks Betty to be his “queen,” to join the Serpents and reign alongside him! Even though I know he’s asking her to join a gang, it seems really sweet!
The next day there’s a pep rally at school to welcome the new student president, Archie, into his new position. Everyone stands up to listen to the national anthem, which Josie sings because we haven’t had a song in a while. The sheriff and his men walk in and ARREST ARCHIE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. The sheriff says it’s for the murder of that guy at the sex cabin. Hiram evilly looks on from a nearby door, and it’s all very dramatic. BUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT SEASON?! HOW WILL ARCHIE GET OUT OF THIS PICKLE?!
Kelli: I’m pretty underwhelmed by the way this episode ended. If the set-up for season 3 is “Hiram is going to get revenge,” I’m pretty disinterested. I think he’s an efficient enough villain, but I don’t really want the main arc of the next season to be Hiram v. Archie, because I’ve already had more than enough of that to last me through this lifetime and into the next.
Overall, this season was messy, but there were a few things I enjoyed about it. Obviously, I’m going to keep watching it, which means we’ll be back with recaps for you next year (or whenever season 3 hits, but I desperately hope it won’t be until 2019).
Mary: WHEW. This season was really long, and I think the show is best suited to stick with shorter, 13 episode seasons. That being said, the CW knows that it has a money maker on its hands, and much like with Gossip Girl, it can sustain an audience for a full 20-something episode season--even if it’s bonkers for about half that time.
I’m not really sure what to think about this season. Last season was so well developed for a teen drama. It had a tight plot that miiiight have gone off the rails at times, but mostly stayed on track. Season two was a MESS of dropped plots that were only rediscovered much later. Also, it’s not a good thing that we called who the BH was in the first few episodes of the season. That’s just not good writing. I think Riverdale needs to fully adopt being a bananas show and go full soap opera or tighten up and be more serious with its plotting next season.