Better the sweet hereafter than this awful limbo.
Giving this episode a high grade because yes it was good but it wasn’t as good as last week. In a similar way to Game of Thrones, the penultimate episode is the most dramatic and the finale serves more to tie up loose ends and set up new storylines.
So what are the storylines being set up for Riverdale Season Two? Well mama, read to find out!
In the aftermath of Clifford Blossom’s suicide, Chief Keller (who is…hot. Have we talked about what a DILF he is?) discovered parcels of heroin packed inside the maple syrup barrels. It seems that the Blossom family business smuggled heroin from Canada into the U.S. Are we not even making our own heroin anymore? What has happened to American manufacturing?!
FP Jones is still in jail for being an accomplice in Jason’s murder and is being pressured into giving any information on Blossom’s heroin distribution. Because, obviously, in the town of Riverdale, only one group can be responsible for drugs—and that’s the Serpents. FP maintains that the Serpents don’t deal in harder drugs, and he refuses to be a snitch even when Keller offers him a plea deal. Damn, son.
To recover and save face from the fact that a pillar of the community murdered his own son and smuggled heroin into the town, Mayor McCoy is throwing all her efforts into the 75th anniversary of Riverdale, the Jubilee, and using it to highlight some of Riverdale’s best and (pardon the irony) brightest—Archie and Betty. Betty, who has psychotic breaks, and Archie, who fucked a teacher. Apparently that ranks higher on the list of Do’s than wearing a beanie, or being Latina. Betty is frustrated. How can Riverdale move forward, she wants to know, if they refuse to acknowledge the past?
Some people in town can’t imagine moving forward. Penelope Blossom is distraught and broken over the loss of her son and husband, and utters, “Maybe your father had the right idea. Better the sweet hereafter than this awful limbo.” The notion of the future, and coming to terms with it, plays heavily into this finale. It makes sense—when all energy is focused on solving something from the past, you are forced to live in the past. And when that’s over, all that energy might cause you to tumble over from the sheer momentum.
Archie and Veronica move forward into their future. Jughead has to switch schools and leans into his Serpent legacy. But Betty refuses to move forward without acknowledge the past—the mayor and the town won’t even talk about how Clifford Blossom did anything; it’s all about the Serpents. So she takes to the true hero of this season—journalism—to write about Riverdale’s need to forgo convenient amnesia. It ends with someone scrawling “Serpent Slut” and hanging a Betty voodoo doll from her locker—but the truth is rarely without cost.
This episode serves to end the awful limbo that this season has been trapped in, by going back to the beginning. Archie and Veronica solidify the passion they felt at first sight. Betty leans into the mantle of journalism her parents had laid out. Alice reveals that she, like Polly, had gone through the cycle of teenage pregnancy—one that ended with a baby boy given up for adoption. Veronica says what we’re all thinking, that that kid must be a 20-something “blonde Adonis” by now. And Cheryl—Cheryl ends this season where she first began.
On Sweetwater River.
After a farewell text to the girls, Cheryl made the journey to the frozen surface of the river. As the gang raced through snow to her, she flung her fists against the ice over and over and over. Her red hair was the only color on the bleached-white landscape. And as she heard the voices of the Sleuthsters, she rose and turned to them just as the ice gave way beneath her feet.
Underwater, she saw a vision of Jason—the bullet-piereced corpse of her brother—and it all became clear. She could go into his embrace and die, or she could finally let him go. And above her, another Hot Redhead shatters bones and sprayed blood as he slammed against the ice. Archie broke it open and dragged the languid body of Cheryl Blossom out. And when she coughed up water, she was halfway towards rebirth.
The other half came later, as she dredged her house in gasoline and set it ablaze. The last chill left her body as she watches Thorn Hill engulf itself in flames.
That entire sequence was probably the best of the entire season, and I still get chills thinking about it.
To move forward, you have to do two things. One, you have to decide to move forward, like Cheryl did. You have to choose life. And two, you have to accept the past.
Betty—after another one of Archie’s “songs”—said as much. “Veronica Lodge is Riverdale. Archie Andrews is Riverdale. But FP Jones is also Riverdale. We banish the truth when it’s too ugly. The truth that Clifford Blossom was also Riverdale. If we don’t face the reality of who and what we are…then what happened to Jason could happen again, or, God forbid, something even worse.”
And as the flames consume Thorn Hill, and Veronica and Archie, and Betty and Jughead “consummate” their relationships, everything seems, for once in Riverdale, seared clean. But when an armed robbery in Pop’s ends in Archie cradling his bleeding father, that cleansing has not scoured every evil from Riverdale.
Riverdale’s Gilded Age of Innocence has been shattered, marked by an “act of violence that was anything but random.”
So that’s it for my recaps. I can’t say I’m not glad that it’s over. Mama’s tired. But hopefully we’ll meet again—when we meet Betty’s hot brother, and Veronica probably DILFy father, and the probably sexy possible-murderer of Fred Andrews, and every other slutty villain in the greater Riverdale-Southside area!