This post contains spoilers for Riverdale.
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It’s kind of weird that a season so lacking in big four interaction ends with all four of them together on a quest, but that’s not exactly a complaint. “Survive the Night” is exactly what it says on the tin. Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and Betty must survive the Gargoyle King’s final evening so they can finally be free. Of course, Riverdale wouldn’t end on such a simple note.
For those worried that the show was going to stretch a little too far into Sabrina territory by reviving the dead, you may now untwist your beanies. Jason Blossom hasn’t been revived. He was, however, grave robbed and brought to The Farm to serve Edgar Evernever’s purposes. It turns out Hal didn’t kill Chic back in the woods last year. Instead, he saw a bit of himself in him and took him on as a pupil. When Hal was arrested, Chic was lost, but there was a nurturing mother figure to take him in: Penelope Blossom. Crazy poison lady took him in, dyed his hair red, started calling him Jason and slapped a Gargoyle costume on him. Totally normal.
So, the Gargoyle King was having his strings pulled by Penelope the whole time, but why? Pretty solid reasons so far as serial killer puppeteers go. The town of Riverdale watched Penelope be sold to the blossoms and then married into them. They did nothing. They kept living their happy, picket-fence lives while she was abused. Then again, this is also the woman who sent her daughter to conversion therapy, so, maybe it’s time to kill the witch after all.
While the big four have their big night, The Farm’s got itself all up in a tizzy. Penelope coming to buy an unconscious Betty and all of the organ stock makes Edgar realize that it’s time to get out of Dodge. He tells the Farmies that it’s time for them to ascend, but Alice decides to actually be a mom for once and tells him that she’s worried about Betty. Some twists and lies later, Alice is helping Cheryl and Juniper get out to find Betty. I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge Riverdale’s favorite bombshell’s progress over the last couple of episodes. She selflessly saves Toni, and even tries to ensure she gets Kevin and Fangs out before fleeing. The latter doesn’t work, but that’ll come up in a few.
Free of The Farm, Cheryl joins Toni, The Pretty Poisons, and The Southside Serpents on mission Save Friends from Psycho Mom (and Dad, actually). Each of the four is faced with a task. Archie must fight a bear man, his task is, appropriately, the simplest of the four. Veronica has to play Russian Roulette with poison, and her best friend must join. This means that Betty essentially has two tasks, one of which she has to complete while poisoned because Penelope lied and all of the goblets contained it. Jughead must fight Chic and, finally, Betty must choose between shooting her father or Hal killing all of her friends.
If you were waiting for Betty’s “dark side” to win over, this ain’t your episode. Betty does shoot her dad, but not fatally. Penelope handles that moments later, though. Furious that her lover couldn’t get the job done with a bunch of kids, she offs Hal and sends her Gargoyle army to kill the four. She wasn’t quite banking on the kids having an army of their own. The Poisons and Serpents win the day, Betty and Veronica get the antidote, Hal’s dead, Chic’s in custody, and Penelope Blossom escapes. All in all, not too bad a day in Riverdale, but there’s still one more mystery to solve.
Once the battle’s over, the kids rush to The Farm to find Alice and Polly. Instead, they find a distraught Kevin amidst a bunch of empty Farmie clothes. He tells them that they’ve all ascended, and that someone had to stay behind to tell the tale. Look forward to more broken Kevin next season (though at least that means he might get some screen time). Confused and mostly alone, the kids all head back to their respective homes. Looks like Betty will be staying with the Jones family for the foreseeable future, which is extremely convenient for the FBI agent who comes looking for them.
Season three’s final plot twist is that Alice Cooper might not have been the trash mother she seemed to be. The FBI agent who comes to see Betty and Jughead tells them that they sent her undercover to finally bring down Evernever, who they’ve been following for several towns. They need Bughead’s help filling in the blanks of what happened at The Farm with Alice out of contact. Why, you wonder, does this random FBI agent trust two high school students? Well, because he’s their long lost half brother, Charles, of course! Riverdale has finally hit soap-opera bingo.
For now, it appears that the show will be going mostly parentless for a while. Fred Andrews’ fate is still left open ended, presumably to give the show runners more time to sort out what to do. Archie’s got his mom in limited scenes, and Jug’s still got FP, but the finale leaves both of Veronica’s parents incarcerated, and we just went over Betty’s parental issues.
“Survive the Night” closes with a couple of exceptionally weird scenes. The first is in the present, revealing that Cheryl stole JJ’s corpse from The Farm and is continuing to chat with him. The second is of future Archie, Betty, and Veronica. One second the four are swearing that they’ll have a normal year at Pop’s, the next we’re looking at a fire pit in the middle of the woods and hearing Betty instruct the others to burn their clothes and Jughead’s beanie. There’s talk of never seeing each other again after graduation, because that’s the only way that they won’t be caught.
Sounds like the Midnight Club’s legacy lives on after all.