It's FINALLY here! The finale of Season three of Riverdale. Hard to imagine how much more bonkers it could get, but here we go...
In this episode, all the strands come together, so I'm going to do my best to go chronologically.
Gabriella: We start with Toni, having escaped to Thistlehouse and straight into the hands of Penelope blossom. Don't these kids know better by now than to drink tea given to them by Penelope Blossom? Apparently not, because as Toni is telling Mrs B to rescue Cheryl, she passes out.
Kelli: Seriously, why does anyone trust Penelope? She doesn’t even pretend to be innocent.
Gabriella: Meanwhile, Jughead and his dad the useless Sheriff are discussing how they're going to solve this whole mystery thing and FP says "it's up to us" but really it's up to Jughead because FP DOESN'T APPEAR AGAIN IN THE SHOW. Did any of you find that weird?
Kelli: Honestly, I didn’t even notice, because it’s not like FP has ever been legitimately crucial to the plot (at least not as a sheriff). It does seem insane that he basically relies on Jughead to do most of his investigative work, though.
Mary: YES! It was hilarious to me. Like, what was he doing for the rest of the episode? I really enjoy FP and this is just another example of his silliness. He’s not a great sheriff, it seems, but then again it’s got to be difficult to be sheriff in a town where everyone keeps dying and murdering.
Gabriella: Back at the Farm, Edgar is preparing to lobotomise (?!?!?!) Betty when he's interrupted by Evelyn who stills calls him dad even though she's his wife? That is all kinds of messed up. It turns out Penelope, armed with the information from Toni, doesn't want to rumble Edgar or even save her daughter. Instead, she 'buys in bulk' -- I assumed she was going to do something creepy and poisonous with a bunch of organs - did you catch what she actually meant?
Kelli: I think Evelyn was calling him dad because she was trying to keep up their act in front of Penelope? But also, she definitely calls him Daddy in bed.
I assumed when Penelope said ‘buy in bulk,’ she meant she wanted to purchase all of Betty’s organs — like, Betty as a whole. But I could be misinterpreting that and she could just be looking for new and interesting ways to spice up her poison collection.
Mary: I have a weird, irrational fear of lobotomies, even though I know they aren’t really practiced anymore. Riverdale just single handedly RESPARKED THAT FEAR. THANKS.
I’m still wondering what the use of their organ selling business is. Organs on ice have time in the single digits to make it to transplant recipients. Are they just selling the organs to a bunch of would-be Hannibal Lecters? They’re certainly not transplanting them to actual people. Also yes, I thought Penelope was about to do something sneaky because you usually don’t refer to a person as a collection of organs. Also, if Betty was going to really screw over Edgar, would he really give her up intact? How much did Penelope pay? I have so many questions about the many plot holes of the show.
Gabriella: Alice questions Edgar about Betty's absence and he and Evelyn lie to her, which is when I started thinking Alice might not be as dumb as we think (or as fully in this as we believed).
Kelli: I should have seen it coming, but I really did believe that Alice was all-in on the farm activities. At this point, I thought she might be starting to come to her senses because of the organ stuff; not for a moment did I consider that she might have never lost her senses to begin with.
Mary: There’s no reason we should have seen it coming, though, so we can’t be too hard on ourselves. Alice gave no indication she didn’t believe wholeheartedly.
Gabriella: Archie is at home, having received news that since Hiram's arrest Veronica is able to gift him the gym - but mommy Ringwald is more interested in her son's love life - which makes perfect sense </sarcasm>. Before he can tell her the bad news re: Reggie and Veronica, something comes through the letter box - an invitation for Archibald. This was where my hunch the Farm and the GK were *not* connected began to feel more accurate. Edgar's hands were too full of body parts to be messin' in all this GK shenanigans.
Kelli: Yeah, I found it really bizarre that Molly Ringwald is so fixated on her son’s relationship with Veronica, especially when there are far more important things going on. Like, your child is now a small business owner and y’all have a lot of financial prep work to take care of.
As for the the farm and GK being unrelated, I am a little annoyed about it, but only for reasons that can’t really be applied to this show anymore — like, what are the chances that these two huge evil things are going on simultaneously in the same tiny town with no crossover happening between them? The answer is that it doesn’t matter because it’s Riverdale.
Mary: I’m still incredibly nervous that they’re not going to give Fred Andrews a proper send off--he’s still supposedly off doing vague business somewhere. Molly Ringwald is not...great? She’s not a good fit for this role. I’m not a huge John Hughes fan, so I’m not familiar with her work at all (Confession: That’s a lie. I loathe John Hughes).
I don’t think gifting a business is that easy. There are definitely tax laws and things. The entire season has operated on the assumption that there were unrelated plots, but I thought the writers would bring it all together in the end. I guess I expected too much. As The Farm was revealed to be an organ harvesting plot, I started thinking the same thing, Gabriella--Edgar is just too busy to be the GK! Plus he showed us his ripped back and we know he doesn’t have his special tattoos to ascend or whatever.
Gabriella: Turns out Penelope's 'buying in bulk' was buying Betty, who wakes up in some mysterious house and has to put on a legit princess dress. She goes to dinner where finally the whole gang is back together! For one night only! This is the point where Penelope does her classic villain thing and explains her motives and methods, complete with a reveal of Hal as the Black Hood (which, duh), and finally who is the GK.
Kelli: It’s also the part where Jughead does the Boy Detective thing and fills in the blanks of her plan so that the two of them are basically explaining back and forth what she’s been up to. Like, great job Jughead, if only you could have figured this shit out yesterday.
Here’s a question: if Penelope’s goal was to gather the children of the original Midnight Club, why weren’t Cheryl and Kevin also present? Are they somehow protected by the farm?
Mary: At first I thought, how nice! The GK wants Betty to be pretty for dinner! This is just like Beauty and the Beast! Then, no. It wasn’t at all. This entire scene was frustrating to me. It seemed over explanatory and awkward. I didn’t need the characters to put together all these puzzle pieces for me, because we were working with, like, a three piece puzzle.
Gabriella: I was convinced the GK was a triplet, so I was pleasantly surprised to see CHIC! Did you all guess him? I did not, but I also felt the explanation was a bit lame - that Hal 'saw something in him' as he pled for his life? Soz, the BH woulda just killed you.
Kelli: I definitely thought of Chic when the tattoo artist said the person getting inked had sandy blonde hair and blue eyes. It wasn’t a bad reveal, but it also wasn’t particularly interesting since Chic is basically a placeholder evil character. At that point, it hardly mattered that Chic was the GK anyway, because as Jughead says, Penelope was really the GK all along. Chic was just a prop.
Mary: I didn’t think it would have been Chic! I mean, Kelli, you have a good point that Chic is sandy haired and might have been who the tattoo artist saw, but Chic doesn’t strike me as charismatic. Mostly during this scene, I kept thinking, is this really what Chic looks like or did they recast him? But no, it was good old Chic and we just haven’t seen him in a while! The explanation made no sense, but at this point nothing was making sense, so I just went with it.
I did enjoy that Penelope has essentially remolded Chic in Jason’s image. I think grief makes people do wild things, and Penelope is an explanation of what someone with tons of money might do when grieving. She is powerful enough, in a sense, to control a lot of things. That was the one interesting takeaway for me.
Gabriella: Penelope sets out a hunt/quest for them to complete, and despite the FULLY ROASTED PIG ON THE TABLE they go out into the forest without having eaten ANYTHING. What a waste.
Kelli: Okay, but can you blame them for not wanting to eat anything when all she does is poison people?
Gabriella: Back at The Farm, Cheryl is wandering around trying to find Betty / proof of Edgar's organ farming when she finds something and screams. I had no idea what it was and was kind of annoyed that they made us wait for an intercut quest scene to find out what it was. It turns out Edgar is 'frankensteining' Jason's body, and Cheryl is legitimately upset about this.
Kelli: Yeah, by the time we got back to her I had forgotten that she was even in any kind of peril. This is another place where I’m confused about how the farm and G&G aren’t connected - like, we’re just supposed to take it as a coincidence that while Penelope was convincing people that Chic was Jason, Edgar just happened to dig up Jason’s body to use for parts? Also, wouldn’t it make logical sense that Chic was the one posing as Jason in Cheryl’s hallucinations? Did I miss something???
Mary: I’m not sure what this means, honestly, and never got a decent explanation for it. What does it mean to be frankensteining a body? I wasn’t sure if he was trying to make a new person out of Jason’s corpse or just wanted the corpse to trick Cheryl while she was hallucinating.
Gabriella: In the forest, Archie has to fight a giant man in a weird bear costume, and Archie says what we are all thinking: not again. He fights, wins (barely) and they move on to the next quest which is glorified Russian Roulette where Veronica proves she's not a selfish bitch, but Penelope surprises everyone by poisoning all the cups. I didn't see that coming, and I don't know why because it was very obvious. With the clock ticking on her life, Archie decides to tell Veronica how he feels - they say they love each other, she calls him Archiekins, and I vomited. Jk, but almost. It's the stupidest nickname ever, and I call my boyfriend 'butt'.
Kelli: I don’t even understand the point of the chalice challenge. Why did it matter whether or not Veronica was a selfish bitch when both of them were going to drink the poison anyway? And who the fuck is Penelope to be testing people on their morality?
As for the Varchie reunion, I didn’t mind, but I was also concerned that they were making out when she just drank a cup of poison. Haven’t they read Romeo and Juliet?
Mary: I SCREAMED when Veronica said Archiekins. I hate it so much. The Russian roulette poison thing was kind of fun, but I guessed immediately that it was all poison.
Gabriella: Meanwhile, Alice helps Cheryl escape seemingly because Betty's absence has made her suspicious - but Alice decides to stay for Polly which seems absurd given we know Polly is in on Edgar's deception (having pretended to be Dark Betty™ in last week's episode).
Kelli: I guess that theoretically Alice doesn’t know that Polly is in on the deception. I mean, she probably does know, considering she’s actually an informant, but I guess she knows that other people don’t know… that she knows?
Mary: I was lost at this point. I think the writers forgot what they were writing about.
Gabriella: Toni wakes up with Nana, who reveals Penelope's plan -- why Nana didn't, I don't know, RING THE POLICE TWO WEEKS AGO is beyond me. Toni leaps into action to rescue Cheryl -- who is already escaped so good job on that one. Cheryl finds Toni before Toni, the Pretty Poisons, and the Serpents are able to storm the farm. Choni share a passionate kiss which I was here for, and then roll out to rescue Jug, Betty, Archie, and V.
Kelli: Nana Rose really fucked this one up. Maybe she didn’t call the cops because she can’t figure out how to use the antique telephone at Thistlehouse.
The Choni kiss was great, and reminded me of why I love them as a couple. It was cool to see them coming together to lead the Serpents and Pretty Poisons when a few episodes back they were fighting about who was in charge. I was glad to see a little development in that part of their relationship.
Mary: Can we take a moment to give a big shout out to Nana Rose?! She’s my favorite, and always comes in in a pinch. Sure, she should’ve called the police earlier, but considering how Penelope keeps her under lock and key (and has tried to kill her before), maybe she couldn’t! Nana Rose is doing her best, OK!
I’m also a huge fan of Chroni and think it’s a good relationship of queerness on the CW (which has historically queerbaited its viewers in its other shows, like Supernatural). It’s nice to have them be a couple, love each other, and just be. It’s not a big deal that they’re both women. Also, I think they have some of the best chemistry of anyone on the show!
Gabriella: On the quest, Jughead has to fight ginger-Chic and what I loved about this is how terrible Jughead is at fighting. He asks Chic why and Chic gives some weird ass explanation and Jughead says what we're all thinking: "Wow, okay." Why they didn't take the axe with them when they left is beyond me. These kids are idiots.
Kelli: I feel like Jug’s “Wow, okay,” line was basically a reaction to this entire series. Like, he’s responding to the fact that Chic is clearly so far past the point of reason — much like the writing on this show.
Gabriella: Betty's quest is to kill her father. Veronica and Betty's 'challenges' actually seemed to make sense for their characters, while Jug and Archie's were more 'brute strength will out' which was sort of disappointing to me. Jug's should have been a puzzle or something. Anyway, Hal and Betty have an emotional(?) standoff and Betty shoots Hal in the hand which was very smart, only for Penelope to turn up and say 'you're a terrible serial killer' before killing Hal herself. Betty cries, it's emotional. The kids say they've won and should get the antidote, but of course Penelope is like 'nah kill 'em'.
Kelli: Yeah, I agree that Jughead’s challenge didn’t really make any sense. I think it was supposed to be some kind of Serpent King vs. Gargoyle King thing, but we haven’t heard Jug referred to as the Serpent King in so long that it didn’t really pay off.
I’m relieved that Hal is finally dead, though I did feel bad for Betty. At least this means that the BH definitely can’t come back after this. (Right?)
Mary: There was no world where Penelope wasn’t going to kill all the teens, or at least try to. Here’s the thing, even though I saw Hal’s corpse, I’m still not convinced he’s dead. Riverdale doesn’t care at all about plotholes, not really. He could come back, for sure.
I agree about the Serpent King thing, Kelli. That’s SO last season.
Gabriella: They run for HOURS?! BECAUSE THE SUN RISES IN A TIME LAPSE VIDEO? that was the dumbest bit of editing - it would have been better if it was just about to be dawn when they got the poison, then it would work, but no.
Kelli: I didn’t even notice that it was a time lapse! When I realized the sun was up I was like ‘oh, I guess they’ve been out for a while.’ Thank you for pointing out the small details that make this show even stupider.
Mary: This editing was SO BAD!
Gabriella: Choni and co turn up, and Cheryl had time for a full costume change somehow... anyway, they rescue everyone and then head to the farm to save Alice, Kevin, and Fangs. Turns out everyone has ascended, leaving a pile of clothes and shoes behind... so wherever they are they must be naked. They left Kevin behind to 'tell their story' which isn't much of a story since Kevin doesn't seem to know anything.
Kelli: Can we have Kevin back? Please?
Mary: I LOVED seeing Cheryl, Toni, and their ARMY of archery folks. LOVED IT. And Cheryl looked so bomb I don’t even care that it doesn’t make sense she’d have a costume change. We needed her in her archery gear one more time.
Kevin has had the most heartbreaking arc this season. I said it last week, but I’m sad that he hasn’t gotten more development and that his involvement in The Farm has remained largely unexplained. It doesn’t make sense to me that Tom Keller would just ignore his son and let him leave in a cult, and it doesn’t make sense that they’d leave Kevin behind aside from the fact that he can’t die yet because he’s a main character. Kevin needs more!
Gabriella: So things go back to normal, except Penelope got away and Alice and the Farm folks are gone. But WAIT, THERE'S MORE. Betty, who is now living with Jughead in her old house?, is visited by an FBI agent who confirms Alice has been working with them all along to bring down the farm. He also reveals he is THEIR HALF BROTHER, CHARLES. Once they said it I was like, oh duh, that makes sense? As much as anything makes sense in Riverdale. But it also makes Alice's whole 'I get to see Charles' thing a lot more legit now doesn't it.
Kelli: Yeah, I actually liked this. I always wondered how Alice could be so oblivious to everything going on when she’s otherwise seemed like a pretty savvy (if slightly insane) character. The pieces all fit together on this one, and I actually didn’t see it coming. Good on you, writers. Now I just have to wonder… who is actually buried at Charles’ gravesite?
Mary: Isn’t this the same FBI agent that contacted Archie last season? It looks like him, and if that’s the case, why didn’t he talk to Betty and Alice sooner? Or rather, why didn’t Alice TELL BETTY?! The secrecy boggles my mind. I didn’t see this coming either, and I liked it so much! Alice now seems like the most sane person on the show.
Gabriella: Hiram, meanwhile, is at his own jail?!?!?!? Which you think they would've learned from Escobar/watching Narcos was a bad idea. He plots to take down Hermione by planting evidence about her trying to kill him. Woe is the Lodges.
Kelli: I could not care less about this.
Mary: I agree with Kelli and also am here to say HELLO THERE ARE LAWS YOU CAN’T STAY AT YOUR OWN JAIL.
Gabriella: At Pop's, the foursome sit around drinking milkshakes making promises to have a normal senior year. As they cheers their milkshakes, we flash forward to senior year spring break where B, V, and Archie are standing in their skivvies covered in blood in front of a fire. Betty says 'burn all our clothes, even Jughead's beanie' - and Jughead is of course made obvious by his absence. They chuck it into the fire and then the flash-forward ends.
Kelli: I will admit that this has me curious about the next season, because 1.) Where is Jughead, and 2.) it looks like the major plot is going to involve all four main characters together, which gives me hope that I might actually find a way to be interested in Veronica and Archie.
Mary: I know that they couldn’t have killed Jughead, but I know that’s what they want us to believe. I’m very excited for next season now, but then again, Riverdale is always really great at hooking you and not good at delivering. I’m a big fan of showing something that happened and then going back in time and finding out how you get there, though!
Gabriella: Sappy music plays. The end.
Kelli: Womp womp. Overall, I felt pretty lukewarm about this finale. The way they wrapped things up with G&G felt too simplistic. I feel like there are a lot of things we never got full explanations for, but I really hope they don’t dive back into this plot next season, because it already went on for way longer than it had any right to. I’m interested to see where things go with the farm/the Ascension, and to learn more about Alice’s secret double life.
Mary: I felt lukewarm, too. It was FINE, I guess, but it wasn’t a satisfying end to the GK stuff, and it made big moves like bringing back the BH seem unnecessary. Also, it’s getting frustrating that Hiram continues to be the mysterious, impervious big bad. People don’t get away with bad actions forever!
Thanks for hanging in there with us for this season of Riverdale, please enjoy your break from this trash fire and watch some smart shows!
Gabriella M Geisinger is a Film Reporter at the UK’s Daily Express Online, a freelance arts and culture journalist, and essayist. You can follow her on Twitter and see the rest of her writing at www.gabriellamgeisinger.com.