And that is a wrap on Ethel Muggs.
Riverdale Season 7 Episode 18 brought Ethel’s storyline full circle all while closing the case on the Milk Man murders and preventing a Cold War nuclear disaster. Just another day in the town with Pep, am I right?
The mostly black-and-white episode suddenly warned the town’s residents of the dangers of an atomic bomb as if a threat was imminent.
And the little disaster preparation video led them to believe that in the event of such a catastrophic event, they had any chance of survival. Everyone knows that if an atomic bomb goes off, those who somehow managed to survive would look exactly like the melting man that Jughead and Co. saw outside of the Babylonium, which prompted him to start his investigation in the first place.
Jughead is perceptive and doesn’t take anything at face value, so when Ethel suggested that the melting man was wearing the same uniform her dad did when he worked at the Maple Blossom Factory, he started to ask questions, which ultimately led him to some crucial information given to him by Dilton Doiley, who explained that Mr. Muggs came to his house one day to ask his dad, a science teacher, about a rock he discovered at work called palladium. His father knew that the rock, in its purest state, if detonated, would be more destructive than a hydrogen bomb, so he built an underground bunker just in case.
From there, Jughead knew he was onto something, especially as all roads seemingly led back to the maple factory owned by Clifford Blossom, whose had control over the town this whole time. He even recalled a comic written about something very similar by Ray Bradberry, who, much like the Muggs’, was killed by a Milk Man, thus leading him to question whether Cheryl noticed anything awry at home. This also seems to explain why Clifford convinced the principal to shut down Pep Comics for speaking the truth.
And lo and behold, Cheryl did stumble upon her parents secretively speaking Russian, alluding to the fact that they were likely Russian spies. A further investigation—and I’m truly surprised she didn’t get caught and that the takedown went as smoothly as it did—revealed that Blossom hired the Milk Man to kill any loose ends who may have caught onto what he was doing at the factory.
Things moved at a rapid pace from there with Veronica’s connections at the FBI coming in handy and the agency was pounding on the Blossom door during breakfast to take away an American capitalist seduced by a Soviet sleeper agent. Yes, Riverdale’s writers want you to believe that Jughead and Cheryl, who were quite a dynamic team-up, foiled an attack on the U.S.A. by Mother Russia. Truly, the only show that can get away with something so serious and in such a lighthearted manner. But honestly, it’s a sound ending for the Blossoms and Penelope Pavlina Nikolov Blossom, and it means that Cheryl has finally gotten rid of them once and for all.
I’d also like to thank the writers for giving the characters some common sense for once and not taking their findings to Kevin’s dad Sheriff Keller as Cheryl suggested. After the pushback from the authoritative figures in town, Jughead knew better than to trust the local cop who was probably on Clifford’s payroll.
Thwarting an attack on the country and solving the Milk Man murders all in the same breath allowed Ethel Muggs to get some closure, especially after Betty, who innocently went over to the Muggs’ place to get her friend her birth certificate for a driver’s license, discovered the truth bomb that her parents, Alice and Hal, have been harboring for more than a decade—Ethel is her half-sister.
It’s a cheap-ish way to explain all of Alice’s behavior this season against Betty, but I also wasn’t expecting any kind of explanation, so it’ll do. Plus, Hal got a far better ending in this timeline than he did in the first few seasons; one might say he got off easy.
Despite the Coopers’ offer to legally adopt Ethel and become a family (as if they even know how to be a functioning one at this point), she decided to do what’s best for herself—move on, leave the past behind, and find happiness outside of Riverdale in Hollywood. Who would have thought that the person leaving this small town for the bright lights would be Ethel, but it’s fitting and well-deserved! She truly blossomed into her own after finally getting the clarity she deserved for so many years.
With so much happening surrounding the Cold War paranoia, Archie’s storyline of figuring out his future fell a little flat. It’s hard to believe that this naive boy is supposed to be this show’s hero when everyone else is doing much of the heavy lifting this season as he bounces around without as much as an inkling of who he is or what he stands for. I guess the discovery process is what your high school years are all about, but it just pales in comparison to all of his counterparts who are stopping wars, you know? And especially because the “who am I and what does my future” storyline has been one he’s exploring all season long—he needs new and better material.
Though, I will give him credit for finally standing up to his uncle because Frank was a piece of work. Yes, it was Mary who confronted Frank at the dinner table and told him she thinks he should leave because his vision for Archie doesn’t align with what she wants for her boy, but Archie held his ground and didn’t immediately cave into the manipulation and gaslighting, defending poetry as something that doesn’t make you less of a man. And truly, Frank should be ashamed for using Fred’s name to try to get Archie to enlist as if that would somehow “fix” him when the only person who thought he was broken in the first place was Frank himself.
In the final moments of the episode, Jughead teased another cataclysm that will soon befall Riverdale, noting that Ethel was just the first of many to leave the town in her rearview mirror, but we’ll have to wait until the penultimate episode next week to see what he means by that. The promo for the upcoming episode reveals the arrival of Tabitha Tate—finally—who shows Jughead a video of what looks to be the present as he declares that he remembers it all. Will everyone be present with a choice to either return to their timeline or leave the ’50s? Did she find a solution to restore things to the way they were? Or is there nothing to go back to and are they all trapped in this new reality?
And how does her return impact Jughead’s relationship with Veronica? Unless everyone gets their memory back, his sudden change of heart is going to be considered truly strange.
I have a feeling Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa saved the best and meatiest content for the final two episodes (maybe even a possible Betty and Archie moment?!), which will hopefully provide the closure that all of us who have managed to stick out the show for seven seasons truly deserve.
What did you think of the episode? What are you hoping to see in the final two episodes of the series?
‘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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