This post contains spoilers for Riverdale.
Check out our previous review here.
Welcome to the season finale of Riverdale where we kick things off with extremely rude dream sequences to throw you off the scent of the obvious fake-out that the entire fandom had guessed. “Brave New World” starts with Betty staring at the tombstone of her beloved Jughead, which we had all assumed was going to be the grave of the late Fangs Fogerty. Not today, clever detectives! Not only was that all a fever dream of a mostly healed Jughead, but Fangs is alive and well too. Turns out the news of his death was just another tool to get the Southside all riled up. You know, just like you were for that millisecond you wondered if Jughead Jones might actually be gone.
Last week we all wondered how they would fit the battle between the Serpents and the Ghoulies, both elections, and the rest of the Black Hood arc into one episode. The simple answer is that they didn’t. It’s a touch disappointing that we didn’t get to see the battle between the rival gangs, especially now that we know Jughead’s sacrifice acted as a rallying cry, but there just wasn’t the time. Even with the padded numbers, the Ghoulies took out the Serpents with little issue. But the Serpents have their day.
As is customary in stories like this one, that day can’t come until everything seems lost. After the battle, the Serpents scattered. Some defected to the Ghoulies, others left town or were arrested. Most of their trailer park is in ashes, and those who couldn’t flee Riverdale have put up camp in the White Worm or are dutifully going to school. But the Worm is the one piece of the Southside that Hiram doesn’t own (yet), and Principle Weatherby wants the Southside students out of his school due to their involvement in the riots.
Thanks to Penelope Blossom having a single moment of maternal instinct, Cheryl, Jughead, and Archie are able to smuggle the remaining Serpents out of the Worm after being tipped off that Sheriff Minetta would be conducting a raid on the premises. The lazy choice would have been to send all of the Serpents to Thorn Hill. Cheryl’s got the space and income to keep them, but instead they all head to the Andrews household so Fred can make them bacon. They’ve lost it all, but a little bit of kindness from the North side is enough to raise everyone’s spirits, including FP Jones.
That just leaves the pesky school situation, which Archie and company deal with in short order. With all of the defected serpents, there’s plenty of jackets to go around. North and Southsiders alike give Weatherby a choice: let the Southside students remain at Riverdale High, or deal with a walk out. After all the discussions of classism throughout the season, it was nice to see Riverdale show the kids coming together when it really mattered. There will undoubtedly be more strife between the Bulldogs and the Serpents, but the conversation of removing them isn’t an option for even the worst of the Northside kids.
With the hustle and bustle of last week’s episode, both elections almost went forgotten. They’re dragged back into the forefront for “Brave New World”, but are certainly the lesser of the two arcs. Hermione beats Fred, but she’s no longer as on board with her husband’s schemes as she once was. She warns Veronica about Hiram’s intentions to buy the Worm, and tips her off on how to stop him. After getting her money back, Ronnie snaps up to Worm before her father can, but with a different ultimate goal in mind.
Hiram may have the Worm if he gives her Pop Tate’s diner in trade, but he has something else in mind. He offers to take her deal, but with the acknowledgement that she’s officially cut off from her inheritance, her stake in the company, and any current financial support. Taking her father’s offer and trading the last piece of the Southside for Pop Tate’s may seem like a shortsighted and childish move, but Veronica’s motives are sound. Pop Tate’s will remain a neutral ground in the wars that are to come inside the Riverdale city limits.
And then there was Archie. Poor, sweet, dumb, Archie. He’s so hyped up after helping the Serpents and getting elected class president that he forgets he’s an idiot child and Hiram Lodge is a legit mob boss. Let’s all take a moment to applaud Mr. Class President for opening with what was essentially “I got in using the servant’s quarters that I use to sneak in to bang your daughter”, and for having a decent speech, but none of it’s going to do him any good while he’s in jail for the murder of that random kid who stole Veronica’s necklace. Perhaps Ms. McCoy’s looking for clients?
Seeing what Jug was able to do with a little help from his friends inspires FP to step down and leave the Serpents to his boy (who is also a child, but it’s fine?). Which means everything in season three is coming up Jughead! Meanwhile his best friend will be trying to prove his innocence, Betty will be trying to cope with this whole Black Hood mess while dealing with her crazy-ass sister and broken mother, and Veronica will have to find out what it’s really like to get things done on her own.
Not enough time was spent on Veronica Lodge’s arc in these last few episodes of the season, but hopefully they’ll dive more into her sacrifice as things kick off in the fall. She gave up everything to save some sliver of normalcy for her friends, and for the Serpents. The Speakeasy underneath Pop Tate’s will be reopened and managed by FP (a man who clearly needs a job at all times) to ensure that the Serpents still have a place to be. Pop Tate’s will remain a safe haven in a bloody town, just as it was intended. They’ll need it, too, considering the fact that Hiram Lodge has apparently created his very own Legion of Doom with Penelope, Claudius. Penny, and the leader of the Ghoulies.
Oh, and Kevin and Moose finally kissed! See you next season!