Last week, Riverdale left us breathless and worried about Jughead even making it to the last episode of season 2.
The season finale begins, with Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and Archie (KJ Apa) standing above Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) grave, but since Riverdale isn’t Game of Thrones, we quickly see Jughead wake up in the hospital, badly bruised.
In the hospital, FP (Skeet Ulrich) gives Jughead a laundry list of updates on what's happened since he’s been unconscious: the Serpents fought the Ghoulies anyway, despite Jughead’s sacrifice, and lost. Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner) is alive. Apparently a crooked deputy lied to FP to goad the Serpents into destructive behavior, clearly orchestrated by Hiram (Mark Consuelos). FP also tells Jughead that the trailer park burned down and the Serpents are dismantled.
Still in the hospital, Betty tells Jughead about her father being the Black Hood. To lighten the mood, Jughead observes that they are clearly not running for Student Government anymore.
Veronica and Archie arrive and they discuss the second Black Hood, who they believe Hiram is behind since the attacks appear political in nature. Jughead suggests it was Sheriff Minetta (Henderson Wade).
At Thistle House, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) finalizes her emancipation and is excited to deliver the papers to her mother, but accidentally sees her mother (Nathalie Boltt) and Claudius (Barclay Hope) plotting with Hiram.
At school, Kevin (Casey Cott) finds Moose (Cody Kearsley) crying in the bathroom over Midge (Emilija Baranac) and they begin making out! Crossing all fingers for #Moosvin or #Koose.
Toni (Vanessa Morgan), Sweet Pea (Jordan Connor), and Jughead discuss a new school memo that says all former Southside High students will be bussed to a different school two hours away. They say it's a form of payback for the Serpents trashing the high school during the riots. Toni surprises Jughead by telling him the remaining Serpents are taking refuge at the Whyte Wyrm.
Veronica, knowing about the secret meeting between the Blossoms and Hiram, confronts her father; he denies it but Veronica asks Hiram if he had Claudius impersonate the Black Hood. Veronica says she knows Hiram would put Hermione (Marisol Nichols) in danger to pursue his own political agenda and Hermione is visibly shaken.
Jughead sees all the Serpents taking shelter at the Whyte Wyrm and goes home to find FP drinking again because Hiram fired him from Pop’s. FP says that he and Jughead are moving to Toledo to be with his mom and infamous sister Jellybean, who I hope will finally make an appearance in season 3, but Jughead refuses to leave Betty and the Serpents.
Archie and Veronica tell Betty she should come back to school, but she won’t because her father shot Midge and Moose. Betty says she hates her father, for obvious reasons. Polly (Tiera Skovbye) makes an appearance with the babies and says she wants to forgive Hal, in an effort to avoid becoming full of hate. Alice wants to give Hal a piece of her mind, and Betty refuses to visit her father in jail.
Sheriff Minetta tells Archie, because he had already inquired, that they found and killed the mysterious second Black Hood. Turns out, it was Gerald Petite a.k.a. Tall Boy, known Hiram colluder, so his death is convenient for Hiram since there won’t be any loose ends.
Hermione concedes to Veronica that Hiram could have planned the Debate Night attack, and tells Veronica Hiram’s plans for the Southside go way beyond the prison but he needs one last place: The Whyte Wyrm. Veronica brings on Attorney McCoy to help her get back her $1 million from her father so she can buy the Whyte Wyrm out from under Hiram.
Penelope confronts Cheryl about the emancipation, and in an act of surprise mothering, Penelope tips Cheryl off to a police raid of the Whyte Wyrm. Way to grow a heart.
Cheryl runs to tell Jughead, who gets the remaining Serpents at the Wyrm to sneak out and go with him to an asylum of sorts they've been offered on the Northside, which we find out is Fred’s house.
Jughead tells FP that Toledo has to wait and thanks Archie for the taking in the Serpents, but there’s more planned. At school, everyone is wearing Serpent jackets and Archie tells Principal Weatherbee (Peter Bryant) the school is ready to walk out to keep the Southsiders from being transferred. Weatherbee backs down.
Veronica tells Jughead about her father's plans for the Whyte Wyrm and her plans to buy the Whyte Wyrm to throw her dad off. Hiram walks into the Whyte Wyrm looking for Hawkeye and Veronica greats him at the bar.
Veronica tells Hiram she bought the bar and is willing to exchange it for Pop’s. In return, he promises to cut her off and out of Lodge Industries and Veronica agrees to giving up her shares.
At home with the babies, Betty asks Jughead if evil can be passed on. She’s worried that she’s a monster like her father. Betty seems to be spiraling. Jughead promises her she’s not evil and it feels like he’s trying to reach her but Betty may slip away from him as she battles with her dark side.
Betty goes to visit Hal in jail to say goodbye and put an end to the darkness. And in a scene that feels ripped from The Labyrinth, Betty tells her father the magic words: “you have no power over me.” She walks out. Maybe Betty really will be able to get past this.
Alice visits Hal but can’t move on and Polly offers to bring her friend from The Farm to help Alice like he helped Polly move on after Jason, but Polly’s grin looks suspicious at best. I’m very intrigued to see what this storyline has to offer in season 3.
At school, Archie wins Student Government President by default since everyone else dropped out. It’s officially announced that Southside students get to stay, and it feels like a big moment for the town after the riots.
At the river, FP holds a Serpent meeting to officially retire and pass the torch to Jughead, who in his first act as King of the Serpents, gives Cheryl “Cherry” Bombshell a red leather Serpent jacket. Hopefully now we’ll see more #Choni.
At the Andrews', we learn Hermione won the Mayoral race and actually shows up to Fred's to say he ran a great campaign. Perhaps her break from Hiram could mean a future for Fred?
Archie goes to the Pembrooke to see Hiram and finally says what we’ve all known: he was lost after his father was shot and Hiram took advantage of that and manipulated him. Archie threatens to make his bones with Hiram, essentially threatening to kill Hiram.
At Pop’s, Veronica tells the Core Four that Pop’s basement used to be a speakeasy and she wants to reopen it for North and Southsiders alike.
Across town, Hiram holds a meeting of his own, finally revealing his plans for Riverdale with his new diabolical friends: Penelope and Claudius Blossom, Sheriff Minetta, Malachai, and Penny Peabody.
The Prison will open soon and have Claudius’ drugs running through it, Malachai and the Ghoulies will be the soldiers and dealers, and Penny will help troubleshoot. He hopes she’ll do a better job than when she was supposed to kill Jughead. Penelope Blossom pipes up, asking Hiram about the brothel she was promised. "All in good time,” Hiram says. And finally, knowing his daughter and friends have caused problems for him every step of the way, he reveals that steps have been taken to dismantle the glue that holds his daughters’ friends together.
At the Five Seasons, sharing some much needed alone time, Jughead asks Betty to be his Serpent Queen and it's a sweet moment between two kids in love. But knowing Riverdale, that’s not how season 2 will end.
The next day at school, Archie is about to be sworn in as Student Government President and everyone is there and it seems like Riverdale and its inhabitants might finally find a way back to being happy. But then Archie sees Hiram, smiling, and in walks Sherif Minetta handcuffing Archie and accusing him of murdering the kid from shadow lake.
As Archie is walked out from his own inauguration in handcuffs, Hiram slithers off in the background as everyone in the stands of the gymnasium watches in shock. Archie barked up the wrong tree threatening Hiram but perhaps, with Archie going to jail and being on the inside of Hiram’s prison scheme, this will finally be the thing to free our favorite foursome of Hiram's evil doings. Let’s just hope Archie doesn’t bump into Hal in prison.
Predictions for season 3:
1. Archie will be in jail and maybe because of or despite this, Veronica is at his house since she renounced her family name.
2. Archie, going to jail, might be able to finally expose Hiram’s prison plans and the sordid deals he has with Penny, the Ghoulies, the Blossoms, and Sheriff Minetta. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get bunked up with Hal.
3. Something interesting will go down with Veronica’s attempt to open a speakeasy beneath Pop’s.
4. Betty is 100% a Serpent.
5. Alice maybe loses her mind a little post-Hal-is-The-Black-Hood reveal.
6. Polly is going to introduce her to someone from “the farm” that will do a number on the Cooper family again.
7. Fred Andrews and Hermione Lodge work together a.k.a. get together now that she seems to have defects from Lodge Industries.