Riverdale concluded its second season, and what a ride it has been. Spoilers follow! If you haven’t read last week’s review already, check it out here before we get into this weeks.
So first off, screw you, Riverdale, for that fake-out opening scene. That’s emotional manipulation and I didn’t buy it for a second. Shame. So yes, Jughead didn’t die. He awoke in the hospital, much more alive than Penny Peabody or Hiram Lodge had planned. There, his father broke the news that Hal Cooper was the Black Hood, and that the Serpents had disbanded in the wake of their war with the Ghoulies. That last part, as it turns out, wasn’t entirely true. While many Serpents wanted to skip town, they simply didn’t have the resources, and ended up at the White Worm bar instead.
F.P. was going through some stuff this episode. He got fired from his job at Pop’s by Hiram Lodge and starting drinking again. Thinking Riverdale not safe for him or Jughead, he decided they would be moving out west with Jughead’s mother and sister. But Jughead wasn’t having none of that. He told Veronica about how Hiram had fired F.P. so that no remnant of the Serpents would remain in his Riverdale. Veronica then leaked that Hiram was planning on buying the White Worm, solidifying his takeover of the Southside. Jughead and Archie rebelled against Hiram by getting the remaining Serpents out of the White Worm and giving them temporary refuge at Archie’s house, also securing Fred the Southside vote in the mayoral election at the same time.
Moved by his son’s selfless leadership, F.P. decided it was time for him to step down, but for reals this time. He crowned his son the new official Serpent King. Jughead’s first order of business was officially inaugurating Cheryl as their newest member, and later he asked Betty to officially join as well. But honestly, they got in way too easily. Jughead had to let a rattlesnake bite his hand and all Cheryl had to do is put on a jacket.
Jughead and Archie weren’t the only ones rebelling against Hiram, however. Veronica was sure that her father was behind the copycat Black Hood attacks against Fred Andrews and accused him of such. She wanted to put an end to his kinda evil, definitely mean, at least, plans. So teaming up with Former Mayor McCoy as her lawyer, she got back all of her ransom money and used it to buy the White Worm before Hiram could. Then, inspired by how he fired F.P., she used it as a bartering point and traded him the White Worm for ownership of Pop’s. But in the process, he also forced her to give up all of her Lodge Industries power and cut her off financially completely. Veronica then decided to open a new classy bar joint in the basement of Pop’s and hire F.P. as manager.
And then there’s that messy matter of the Black Hood. Betty and her mother were taking it pretty hard, understandably so. But you know who was pretty okay with it, was Polly. She had, after all, joined that cult earlier that year and had nothing but forgiveness on her mind. In fact, she had a person she thought could help her mother deal with her grief. So look out for Alice becoming a cultist next season, everyone. She’s gotta stay crazy somehow. Betty herself was pretty set on never seeing her father again initially. But she kept grappling with the idea that the darkness she felt inside her would lead her down an evil, murderous path like it had her father and ancestors. Determined to be different and not let it her consume her, she went to visit her father in jail, but only to tell him that she would be stronger than he was. Betty’s struggle with the Dark Side has been ongoing since season one, and I can’t say I think it won’t ever come up again. But the scene of her walking away from Hal with a peaceful expression, not hearing what he was saying, seemingly boded well for her future.
But Hal wasn’t the only Black Hood in town. All of the Riverdale gang thought that Hiram was behind that copycat attacks, likely having hired someone to carry them out for him. Archie was set on this theory when he received news from the Sheriff that the supposed perpetrator had been caught. It was none other than exiled former-Serpent Tallboy. While being approached by police, he started a firefight and was killed in the ensuing barrage. But they found guns on him matching the two attacks he was suspected of, and the case was closed. We weren’t given any reason to doubt that Tallboy really wasn’t the second Black Hood, so any plotline involving black hoods is done for now. But that didn’t discount him from being affiliated with Hiram Lodge. Archie was sure that Hiram had hired Tallboy to kill his father. And even though the law might not be able to prove it at that moment, he would not stop until the truth was uncovered. When it was, Archie promised, he wouldn’t hesitate to take Hiram down.
While all that crazy stuff was going down, the average local voting day still had to happen. Archie was elected student president after almost everyone else dropped out. His father, however, was not so lucky. Hermione Lodge won the mayoral race, although it was close. But she was really nice about it, and it was clear that Hiram was the one doing any shady dealings. Hermione was just part of his plans. Plans that involved finally having control of the Southside, and using that power to control not just his for-profit prison, but the drug and sex trades as well. All that was left to take care of was those meddling kids. So much for going legit, I guess.
So as Archie was about to be sworn in as student president, the sheriff walked into the school gym and arrested him for the murder of Tallboy. And… end of season. There’s your season 3 hook. That last scene was very tense and I just kept waiting for something awful to happen. Although, thankfully, Archie getting arrested wasn’t the darkest option they could’ve taken. Another murder would’ve been boring and this is a fresher direction. I wasn’t sure if Hiram would stay on to be the Big Bad of next season, but that’s looking to be the case.
This episode was fairly chill, actually, as the climax was really last week’s episode. But that’s okay. It wrapped things up satisfactorily and set up next season well. Not much really needed to happen this episode. It really could stand to lose that self-indulgent opening scene, though. But it gets extra points for a good soundtrack. The opera singing over the scene of the Serpents escaping was an excellent choice. By all means a serviceable finale, I rate “Brave New World” 8.5 red leather jackets out of 10.
Before we sign out for the season, I want to thank everyone who’s read along with these reviews every week. We share a love for this show and your support here really does mean the world. Did you like the finale? What do you want to see from season 3? Let us know in the comments below or @SuperBroMovies.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 on The CW.