Just when you thought Riverdale couldn’t get any weirder, it proves you wrong.
Over the years, shows have largely benefitted from a time-jump that moves characters out of high school and into the college years and beyond, but Riverdale’s attempt was more bizarre than everything that transpired during their teen years. After this episode, it doesn’t seem as though the show is going to make the best of their “reset,” but I’m giving it a chance to see where it goes.
It wasn’t all bad, however. It was nice to see these familiar characters tackle new and unexpected material. Prior to Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica’s return to the small-town, it almost felt like a brand new series, so that has to count for something, right?
The past seven years have been rough on everyone, so let’s break it down individually by character!
After the trailer for the time-jump was posted, many fans pointed out that the “war scenes” were filmed on a high school football field. Strange? Yes, until you realize that they aren’t war scenes but nightmares from Archie’s post-war PTSD.
The nightmare gives audiences a glimpse into the trauma of fighting in a war for seven years and leading his men, some of who didn’t come out unscathed. We briefly meet Jackson, a man who arrives at the hospital with both his legs amputated but remains thankful to Srgt. Andrews for ensuring his survival. Archie always was a leader.
To his dismay, the army has decided to send him back to Riverdale to lead the ROTC program at his old high school, which is where we realize that the Riverdale he and his friends left behind seven years ago no longer exists thanks to Hiram Lodge.
It’s unclear why the footage of Archie returning home from war looks like he’s been fighting in the 1940s, but I guess that’s always been a part of Riverdale’s esthetic. For seasons, the show has kept the time period purposefully ambiguous so that the series remains “dreamlike” and “timeless,” but this is the first episode where Veronica confirms that it’s “2021.” And those three-camera iPhones prove it!
Upon arriving back home, Archie gets a tour of the town from Toni Topaz, who is getting a lot more screentime this season! More on this later.
Betty is living in Quantico training to be an FBI agent. After hunting down several serial killers in Riverdale, she’s pretty much destined to be a sort of serial killer hunter. Though, when we catch up with our Elizabeth, we see that she’s been benched after enduring severe trauma at the hands of the latest serial killer with a cheesy name — the Trashbag Killer also known as TBK.
From what we gather through Betty’s therapy session and the disturbing nightmares plaguing her, she hunted down TBK and found her friend and/or co-worker, Teresa, already dead in his lair. She didn’t wait for SWAT or backup before infiltrating, which ultimately led to her two-week captivity and TBK’s escape. So, there’s a serial killer on the loose that has it out for our not-so-sweet Betty.
Betty is also dating a co-worker named Glenn, and yeah, I don’t see that lasting too long.
Ronnie is a married woman living on the Upper East Side. When we catch up with her, she’s celebrating her one-year wedding anniversary with her husband, Chadwick, who keeps talking about having little “Veronica’s or Chadwick’s” in the near future and telling her she needs to cut back her hours at Lacy’s. (Ah, I love the Katy Keene callbacks… such a shame the show was canceled!)
But while Hermione Lodge is a TV housewife, Veronica has no interest in being domesticated.
She’s ambitious and wants to be the “She-Wolf” of Wall Street, and apparently, she’s good on the trading floor, which is where she met Chadwick in the first place.
We also find out that she’s been lying to Chadwick about working at Lacy’s and instead, works at some high-end jewelry store.
Her mother informs her that maybe it’s time to start thinking about having a family since the “accident” that they all keep referring to is proof that they don’t have all the time in the world. We later learn that Chadwick and Veronica were in a helicopter crash on their way to Martha’s vineyard, which put things in perspective for Chadwick about wanting to start a family.
It seems like the perfect marriage until he gifts her a Glamerge Egg, a sign that Veronica has found herself in a marriage just like Hermione and Hiram’s. There seems to be more love here, but this isn’t the life we envisioned for our girl Ronnie at all.
She pawns the Glamerge Egg off to a customer at work… could this be the first sign of her marriage ending?
Sadly, Jughead’s story is the most cliche of them all. He’s a published writer living in Alphabet City, New York who is on the verge of becoming a “one-hit wonder” due to his writer’s block. Everyone knows the block is because the true inspiration for his novels always came from the messed up town of Riverdale, but I digress.
Jughead, with a little facial hair and swooping hair, has been pouring himself into these pages and neglecting his girlfriend, Jess, so it’s not really a shocker when she ups and leaves him. Because he hasn’t written anything, there’s also eviction notices piling up and debt collectors pounding on his door.
One evening, Jughead goes to his favorite bar where a fan named Cora approaches him to get an autograph. Again, in the most cliche of ways, Jughead hooks up with Cora only to realize that she stalked him so that she could give him her novel in hopes that he’d pass it along to his agent. Shoot your shot, Cora.
After seeing Riverdale crumble, Archie reaches out to his friends to call them back home. Based on their surprised expressions, they haven’t kept in touch over the years.
Prior to their return to Riverdale and their booth at Pops (some things never change no matter how much time has passed), we learn more about the demise of the town at the hands of its constant villain.
Archie goes downstairs to what is now the Whyte Worm, a Serpent bar owned by Sweet Pea and Toni, the new Serpent Queen. Live music is still alive as a pregnant-Toni serves as the band’s lead singer. It’s definitely a different vibe from La Bonne Nuit but in a way, more fitting.
Everyone catches up over drinks and if you thought Betty, Veronica, and Jughead’s lives were strange, just wait till you hear what’s been happening on the home front.
As I mentioned, Toni is pregnant but she doesn’t reveal who the father is when Archie asks. My guess is that the series hasn’t exactly figured it out just yet and/or doesn’t want to further upset #Choni fans.
I say further because things between #Choni are, well, strange. Cheryl has been fully consumed by rehabilitating the Blossom image, but though she initially wanted to do so in order to prove to Toni’s family that she was worthy of her love, it’s since evolved into some weird “damsel in distress” situation where she hides out at Thornhill because she’s avoiding the Blossom curse.
I really hoped Cheryl would pull it together during these seven years, but alas, it seems like her character is headed down a path of continued self-destruction. She’s also into painting, but it seems as though her interest in the arts wields a greater plan as she’s “replicating” famous works of art possibly to sell dupes and make money?
The Blossom family continues to be shady. I’m not keen on the storyline already, and I don’t even know what’s fully happening.
During the tour, Toni mentions that everyone who had the money to get out did so a long time ago, which begs the question of why Toni, Kevin, and Fangs (who are the only couple still together) decided to return to Riverdale after attending prestigious colleges.
Why would Kevin choose to come back to a town with absolutely no promise to teach drama at Riverdale High? Why would Toni return if being a “woman in Riverdale” is hard these days?
None of it really makes sense.
As for Riverdale, well, it’s a town that needs saving. Everything that Hiram Lodge has touched has turned to crap, and he’s investing all his time and money into a rich neighborhood, SoDale, next door. This means Riverdale is neglected, sans job opportunities, and full of things that go bump in the night.
The most heartbreaking is that Archie’s house has now become Ghoulie’s headquarters. I can’t believe Mary allowed this to happen!
Archie is hoping that his friends can come back and restore Riverdale to all of its glory (if that was ever even a thing), but considering Jughead, Betty, and Veronica all seem uncomfortable around each other, will his plan work?
We also meet the new characters in town including Tabitha Tate, Pop Tate’s granddaughter who is taking over Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe as Pop retires!
There’s also Lynette Fields, known as “Squeaky” to her friends, who arrived in Riverdale and was leaving for California for a “fresh start.”
Jughead’s voiceover explains that she “never makes it to California,” which sounds like a new mystery for the Pop’s squad and quite possibly, the next inspiration for Jughead’s brand-new novel! As I said, he always did get his best material in the murder capital of the U.S.!
What did you think of the “new” Riverdale? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
‘Riverdale’ Season 7 Hits Netflix—Stream It Now
Riverdale’s seventh and final season is now available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.!
Merely a week after the long-running CW series aired its final episode ever, the streaming giant has added the series in its entirety.
All the episodes are available for fans all over the world to binge-watch on September 1, and going into a long weekend, that gives you plenty of time to catch up on all the shenanigans happening in the Town with Pep.
Many fans weren’t interested in the weekly release model as it wasn’t ideal having to wait for new episodes to drop every week, but having them available all at once on Netflix allows you to catch up with ease.
And if you’ve never seen Riverdale and are curious about all the nutty twists and turns that eventually get all of our characters to—spoiler—the 1950s, well, all seven seasons are on the streamer for your viewing pleasure.
You can rewatch those previous seasons and relive the series in all its glory (including anything you may have missed/forgotten about), or you can just tune in for the final season—it’s up to you!
As mentioned before, the final season hit the reset button of sorts as Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), and Veronica (Camilla Mendes), along with many of their loved ones and friends, went back in time to 1955 and found themselves reliving their high school days all over again.
Of course, as you rewatch any and all episodes, you can read all our reviews of the series that we’ve covered since its inception in 2017!
Enjoy your Labor Day travels to Riverdale—just remember that before it was redubbed the “Town With Pep” it was known as “Murder Town of the World.” You’ve been warned.
Riverdale Series Finale Review – Goodbye to the Town With Pep (720)
Riverdale was never the show that played it safe, always surprising us with its kooky, outlandish storylines. There was no telling where the plot would go, but it was always the journey and not the destination that kept fans hooked. And that journey ended tonight, so despite the ending—whether it was what you wanted or not—let’s raise a milkshake to those characters and the memories that we’ve created with them.
One major takeaway from the finale is that it was always about the core four and their friendship that drove the series, right down to the very end as they met in the “sweet hereafter,” a time frozen in place where they were all 17, young, beautiful, and full of hope, just like we’ve always known them and will always remember them.
The foursome, sitting at a booth in Pop’s, eating burgers and sipping on milkshakes while sharing a laugh is how Riverdale started—and through every timeline and wacky storyline—it’s where they ended up. It’s a full-circle moment, right down to Jughead Jones, the narrator, delivering the first and final lines of the series. Also, was Riverdale just a fictional story written by him all along? He’s wearing his modern-day clothes (the Serpent shirt), addressing the camera, and you can hear his typewriter going off in the background as if he’d finally concluded his story… possibly the story he was writing when the Comet went off?
It’s truly been one heck of a run, and my condolences to those fans who didn’t get the endgame they were hoping for, but let’s take comfort in the fact that this is just one universe, one timeline, and the beauty of Riverdale, as they’ve shown us, is that it exists throughout multiverses. I’m willing to bet there’s a timeline where Archie and Betty do end up together with a family as they have existed as endgame in at least 2 timelines.
It seemed as though for once, the creator/writers took no chances, appeasing all of the ships at once (and letting them all down simultaneously by not committing to any) by giving us a quad/foursome with Betty, Jughead, Archie, and Veronica all in a romantic relationship together throughout their senior year of high school. After getting their memories back from Tabitha Tate, they couldn’t just shake the feelings that they had previously or the new ones that developed now, so they simply chose to love without boundaries. Why choose when you don’t have to seems like a pretty free approach for the ’50s, but they were living within the constraints of the time period with modern values, so it’s fitting and shocking all in the same breath.
There were, however, plenty of special moments to honor the ships that formed, including Betty and Archie’s final romantic kiss where he suggested that he thought it was going to be them in the end (because it started with them, a boy and girl living next door to each other), which has to count for something, right? The love was always there up until the end. Betty told Angel Jughead/Narrator Jughead that she never regretted not getting married, but I would say the photo on her nightstand of Archie so many years later, along with the excitement of seeing him through her bedroom window once again was proof that things would’ve been different had Archie returned from his trip out West. She even hinted that they were endgame as she didn’t need Jughead to remind her of how Archie’s story played out as she fully remembered it because she loved him her whole life.
In some way, this is one of Riverdale’s most realistic and normal storylines (and also quite grim and dark, even by their standards, when you factor in that the whole episode was just about getting old and dying)—saying goodbye to the life you once had, a life that slips away so quickly and in the blink of an eye that you barely notice. It dug into human emotions that everyone understands. The people who watched Riverdale from the moment it landed on The CW in 2017 were likely in high school/starting college at the time, but now, they are young adults with families who are starting to realize just how quickly things change and memories fade. Before you know it, the good moments have passed you by, and you’ll never get them back. We’re the adults now who are harboring so much nostalgia, and this realization hits very close to home.
In addition to that one final scene with Archie and Betty, there was plenty for Bughead fans to work with. The hero of the series was always Archie, and yet, he had one of the smallest roles this season and in this finale, with Betty and Jughead obviously taking center stage for one last walk through the Town with Pep. And I have to admit that when Jughead grabbed Betty’s hand after saying he “sometimes” regrets not getting married, I got chills. She may have always loved Archie, but I think his love for her never withered away.
There was always such a deep connection between them, and in a way, I was seeing Lily Reinhart and Cole Sprouse appreciate all that’s transpired between them up until this moment—the good times and the heartbreak.
In a perfect world, you stay friends with all of the people you went to high school with, but more often than not, that isn’t the case. People embark on different paths and go their separate ways. It’s unfortunate that it happened in the case of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead as they were all soulmates, but they all pursued different interests in search of their legacy.
The episode took a huge time-jump, bringing the series into the present day, with sweet old Betty as an 86-year-old reading the Jughead’s obituary with her granddaughter Alice next to her. She’s reminiscing on her life—the good old days, as the adults would often say—when Jughead’s ghost appears and gives her one last day in high school, which allows her to get some closure as to what happened to all her classmates indicating that she didn’t keep in touch with any of them. The unique approach to the storytelling also allowed the series to give fans an update on how everyone’s life played out in a quick and succinct way, while also sending each one of them off with a proper goodbye.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Betty became a magazine publisher of She Says Magazine, which women are still reading in the present, before adopting her daughter, Carla, and becoming a grandmother to Alice, which she says was her true legacy.
- Archie moved to Modesto, California where he settled down with a sweet, strong girl who makes him laugh. He has a beautiful family and works as as professional construction worker and amateur writer who requests to be buried in Riverdale next to his late father upon his death.
- Jughead becomes the Editor-in-Chief of Jughead’s Madhouse Magazine which produces juvenile satire comics. He never gets married.
- Veronica makes it big in Hollywood. She’s the top dog, producing the most iconic movies of their time and winning two Oscars.
- Cheryl and Toni stay together, making their way out west at a Craftsman house where they work alongside artists and activists. Cheryl becomes an incredible painter whose work is shown in galleries and museums across the country and Europe. They also have a sweet boy named Dale, named after Riverdale, and played by Vanessa Morgan’s real-life son, River. Congrats on your acting debut, little one.
- Kevin and Clay also get the ending they deserve, living a spirited life in Harlen together. Clay is a tenured professor at Columbia, while Kevin runs an off-Broadway theater company. Kevin died at 82 in his sleep, while Clay passed a few weeks later peacefully on a park bench. Soulmate stuff.
- Reggie made it to the pros, drafted by the Lakers, working off-seasons at his family farm. When his folks passed away, he sold the land and began coaching at Riverdale High. He was buried in Duck Creek next to his wife and parents. His two sons took up the torch on Mantle Motors.
- Alice ended up not only being a flight attendant but also stepping in during a time of crisis and landing a plane before marrying a grateful passenger who showed her the world. As for Polly, she welcomed two twins, Juniper and Dagwood, and lived a fulfilled and happy life, though she never returned to performing. The mother-daughter duo also made amends, which was nice to see. No mention of what happened to Hal, but we also don’t care.
- Fangs and Midge unfortunately didn’t get their happily ever after. Fangs did make it big, but his stardom was shortlived following an accident on the Rocky Mountains that left no survivors. His fame and fortune did, however, provide a good life for Midge and their daughter. It’s an unfortunate outcome, but it’s also a realistic one—not everyone is lucky enough to grow old.
- Mrs. Andrews bought the dress shop and connected with Brooke, who moved into the Andrews household shortly after and stayed till the end. If any of the parents in town deserved a happy ending, it was Archie’s mother.
- Pop Tate passed away in 1956 as their senior year began, though he was still serving burgers and milkshakes in eternity… it was a nice touch for Betty to make it a point to visit his grave since he was so crucial to the series and the town of Riverdale.
While some ships definitely got their perfect (and much deserved!) endgame, it’s fair for those who wanted a little more for Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica, particularly when it came to the love lives that we’ve been so invested in. I’d say that I’d rather the series adopted the endings that they had back in the 2023 timeline, but alas.
It’s strange that the memories of what came before and the ones they created in this current timeline weren’t enough to keep everyone connected and in each other’s orbit. Trauma usually bonds people, so it would have made sense for them to gravitate toward each other more than ever after realizing that they existed in a different life before this one. The scene at Pop’s once Betty died would’ve made slightly more sense had they all remained friends, but I guess it also stands as a reunion of sorts, when you try to get back to the glory days before life got too busy, things got in the way, and time slipped away.
Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the genuine excitement that teen Betty exhibited upon seeing all of her friends and family members once again. It had been 67 years for her, but for them, not a moment had passed. It serves as a reminder that we take the present for granted all too often, but it doesn’t last very long, and one day, we’ll be dreaming of a time when we can see certain loved ones just one more time. I thought the sentiment was beautifully executed.
And finally, there was Archie’s poem, which addressed the day one fans. It honestly read more like a roast of everything that’s happened over the course of seven seasons and was way funnier than it should have been (who knew Archie had it in him?). It also felt like a brief moment when we were back with the original versions of the characters one last time—with references to the cult, multiple Reggie’s, Jughead’s teacher jumping out of a window, Cheryl locking Jason up in a basement, Veronica’s magical powers, the Serpents, and even Betty’s tangerine serial killer gene. These were the storylines that meant so much to audiences—as crazy as they were— so while these characters may have embraced their destinies in the ’50s (and how were they just so content knowing the internet would eventually exist but not having it? You’d think since they knew about the invention of the internet and modern technology, they’d find a way to keep in touch better than anyone), it was nice to see a glimpse of what once was, knowing that all of those moments weren’t entirely ignored and overlooked.
Some have questioned how Riverdale lost the plot so badly, but I think they just wanted to deliver something more heartfelt and thought-provoking than focusing on relationships, bringing back the focus on friendships that change you for the better and shape your life.
The bottom line is that Riverdale will always be home—as will these characters, whichever iteration of them you connected with, which I think is the main point of the finale. Live in the moment, appreciate your loved ones, and never take anything for granted.
Goodbye, Riverdale—Series Finale Photos + Promo Are a Stroll Down Memory Lane
Riverdale is hoping that you’ll be in your feels watching the series finale next week.
And it’s hard not to considering this show has been on the air since 2017—we’ve practically grown up with these characters, though, considering Angel Tabitha’s recent visit to 1955, they aren’t exactly the ones we’ve come to adore and love.
In the penultimate episode, it was revealed that the 2023 timeline no longer exists, and everyone is now stuck in the ’50s indefinitely, though as a parting gift, Tabitha was able to return the memories of their former life, with Jughead and Betty the only two characters who opted to remember both the good and bad moments for a full picture of who they once were.
And that leads us into the synopsis for the upcoming series finale, Riverdale Season 7 Episode 20:
NOW LEAVING RIVERDALE — Back in present day and longing for her former life in Riverdale, 86-year-old Betty (Lili Reinhart) turns to a special friend to help her relive her last day of senior year with her friends as they were, their memories restored. KJ Apa, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Madchen Amick, Casey Cott, Charles Melton, Vanessa Morgan and Drew Ray Tanner also star. The episode was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (#720).
The present-day, from my understanding, in 2023, though instead of being young adults, they are now in their mid-80s and taking a trip down memory lane, going back to their last day of high school one final time. The trailer and the extended trailer are filled with plenty of heartwarming moments between the cast, including a final milkshake between the core four at Pops, and even a sweet moment between #Barchie that will seemingly finally give fans exactly what they’ve been waiting for all season!
And hopefully, audiences will get to see how things panned out for all of the characters after finding out that, despite growing up in an era where technology existed, they had to start over as teens in the ’50s.
Check out the promo below:
— Riverdale After Dark: A Riverdale Podcast (@RiverdaleDark) August 17, 2023
There are also a handful of pictures from the final episode that will hopefully provide fans with plenty of closure, along with some insight into which ships are going to get a happy ending and which ones will fade away along with a town “once lost in time.”
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