Riverdale‘s third season has finally come to its close. It’s been another mess of a season. But I think the direction was a bit better (and less meandering) than what we were given last season. A…slight return to form. Though I still don’t think these storylines lend themselves to the 22-episode format. When will networks ever learn?
“Chapter Fifty-Seven: Survive the Night” jumps straight into things. Penelope buys Betty from Edgar before she can get her skull opened. When Betty wakes up, she sees a note telling her to don a pink ballgown. When she goes downstairs, she sees Penelope at a dinner table with the Archie, Veronica and Jughead seated with her.
Penelope goes into a long explanatory speech about all the evil deeds she has done. She alone has orchestrated the mayhem the four have faced. She controls Hal (the Black Hood) and Chic (the Gargoyle King) all by herself.
I have to admit that I didn’t think Penelope was behind it all, despite all the heavy-handed clues throughout the season. But it’s a reveal that actually makes sense. Believe it or not, Riverdale has actually managed to make things come full circle.
Penelope has clearly lost her marbles, even dying Chic’s hair read and calling him “Jason”. But he seems totally ok with that, so that’s fine. She informs the four kids that she will be playing one last round of G&G with them.
She sends them off into the woods to each complete one-last quest. If they survive the night, they will have proved themselves worthy people and better than the stinking bog that is Riverdale.
The four run off into the woods, quickly spotting signs that point them in the right direction. The Red Paladin is the first to receive his quest: fight a juiced-up bear man. It goes well. Mostly because Archie is (slightly) resourceful with a bone. Any excuse to get KJ Apa flexing his muscle.
Now, before this even got started, I, semi-jokingly, wanted to see Veronica get a Vizzini-style puzzle. And lo-and-behold my prayers were answered! The Enchantress must choose her closest friend. Together they play spin-the-bottle and take turns drinking from a chalice. One of the chalices contains fast-acting poison.
In the end, Betty ends up with the supposedly poisoned chalice. But Veronica snatches it away and drinks it first, saving her friend. Penelope arrives and announces that Veronica passed, proving her loyalty. Then she also reveals that ALL the chalices were poisoned. The only way to get the antidote? SURVIVE THE NIGHT!
The Hellcaster basically just needs to take out the Gargoyle King. He does it pretty swiftly, it’s all pretty anti-climactic.
And that just leaves Betty. She’s given a gun with one bullet: she must shoot her own father. But Betty being Betty, doesn’t shoot to kill. She instead shoots off his fingers, proving that she’s not just like her father.
Penelope shoots Hal instead. She doesn’t let the gang off that easily. Archie manages to get the poison antidote quickly before the crew have to flee the Gargoyle gang.
They’re saved by Cheryl, Toni, the Pretty Poisons and the Serpents. And while they get out of the woods (literally), Betty learns that her mother hasn’t escaped the Farm.
The friends quickly make their way to the Farm. When they arrive, though, they only find a moping Kevin. He tells them that the Farm members have ascended. He was left behind in order to tell the story. But what ascension actually means, who knows? Moving on to the next town? Actually dying?
It’s unclear, but presumably that’s part of next season’s mystery.
As the season’s fantasy-theme madness winds down, Betty gets a visitor. The young man (with blond hair and blue eyes) informs her that Alice has been an informant for the FBI the entire time. And the FBI agent is her real bother: Charles. Oh and it’s also Jughead’s real brother. So that’s fun. And weird?
And what’s also fun? Cheryl hanging out with Jason’s corpse.
Each season thus far has had a distinct feeling: high school, serial killer drama, a vast RPG game. The finales always proved us with one last punch to set up the next plot: Fred being shot, Archie being arrested for murder. This time, we get a flash forward. Betty, Veronica and Archie call stand together in their underwear as they set fire to their clothes…and Jughead’s signature hat. Now it can be taken to imply that Jughead is dead, but I seriously doubt that. The core three certainly have more heart than that.
But it begs the question: if Jughead isn’t with them, where is it? The flash forward also takes place during spring break of their Senior year. Does that mean this is the set up for the show’s final season? High school shows going into a college season never works out fell. So maybe this is the grand ending approaching.
I suppose we’ll find out in a few months time. But that’s it for me and Riverdale recaps. In the autumn, I’ll be switching over to watching the CW’s new Nancy Drew show. If there’s one thing I love more than Archie Comics, it’s the Drew Crew.
But I will still be watching next season. Bring on the insanity of Senior year!