Hiram's plan for the South Side is realized (and it's not good for Archie)
Let us all take a moment at the start of this hour to pretend that, for even a second, we believed that Jughead Jones might die.
Aaaaaand we’re moving on.
The season 2 finale kicks off with Jug opening his eyes at the hospital, where FP updates him on the Ghoulies-Serpents showdown. Long story short, the Ghoulies won. “It was like shooting snakes in a barrel,” FP says with a straight face (perhaps Skeet Ulrich’s greatest test thus far on the show). Now, most Serpents either joined the Ghoulies, were arrested, are in hiding, or left town. And thanks to Hiram Lodge’s expertly orchestrated plan, Sunnyside Trailer Park fell. “The Serpents don’t exist anymore,” FP tells his son. Also, Fangs is alive! So in other words, you fake-died for nothing, Jug!
But the update doesn’t end there! FP still has to tell his son that while all of this was going on, Betty learned that her father was a serial killer. In other words, forget your crap, Jug! Betty’s dealing with way bigger things. With that, Betty comes to see Jug and get a quick cuddle sesh in before she decides that she can no longer run for student council. Turns out, having a murderer for a father isn’t great for your political career. Who knew?!
Speaking of political careers, Veronica is now fully on Team Andrews as she plans out the final days of Fred’s mayoral campaign. She wants Fred on Hermione’s heels, literally. And with her focus on Fred, she too decides to pull out of the student body race. Conspiring against her parents is a full-time job, it seems.
While Archie heads to the sheriff’s station to identify Hal — DOES HE HAVE THE RIGHT EYES? — Cheryl is across town making her dreams a reality: With Nana Blossom as her legal guardian, she heads to the barn where Penelope and Claudius are staying to deliver the emancipation news in person. That’s when she sees them meeting with Hiram Lodge. That’s also when she hides INSIDE A BARREL so that her mother doesn’t see her snooping.
At the police station, Archie identifies Hal, a man he’s seen many times in his life, as the man who shot his dad, though only after the cops put on that super helpful ski mask to really take Arch back to that moment. Archie then tells Sheriff Minetta that there’s a second Black Hood out there, and if the cops aren’t going to look into it, he will. Because you know what’s smart? Admitting to a cop that you’re probably going to break the law while also insulting him!
After Betty checks in on her mother, who’s screaming at everyone on the front lawn about how she lives in the Black Hood’s “lair,” she apologizes to Fred. “I’m supposed to be this great detective,” the teen says. So how didn’t she see what was right in front of her?! Why didn’t Betty take a break from learning about American History to stop a serial killer?! Honestly, she should be embarrassed.
In all of Riverdale, there are two teens who are just being teens, and that’s Moose and Kevin. After Midge’s locker was trashed in the riot, Moose breaks down, and Kevin’s there to comfort him, a moment that ends with them kissing in the bathroom at school. THIS is the type of stuff teens should be doing. Not playing detective, Betty!
Also at school, Reggie and Josie withdraw from the student body race, which pretty much makes the race Archie versus Ethel, and at this point I’m starting to think the title of Riverdale should actually be “Sorry Ethel.”
While Jughead tries to deal with the fact that Principal Weatherby wants to kick all of the former Southside students out of the school, Veronica confronts her father about his secret meetings with the Blossoms. And by confronts him, I mean she straight-up accuses him of paying Claudius to act as the second Black Hood, thereby putting Hermione in danger at the debate. There’s no proof to her claims, but they do make Hermione think…and when Hermione FINALLY realizes that it’s plausible that her husband would put her in harm’s way, she gives her daughter a tip: Hiram’s plan to own the South Side only has one piece left, and that’s the Whyte Wyrm. If Veronica can buy it before her daddy does, she can stop him.
So, with attorney McCoy at her side, Veronica requests that Hiram return the $1 million she made ransoming Nick St. Clair, and if he agrees, she won’t run around town spilling his secrets right before the election. Hiram agrees. (Next: The Second Black Hood is revealed)
But before anyone can buy the Wyrm, Jughead needs to get all of the homeless Serpents out of it. He heads to his father to make a plan, but it seems FP is done with this town. After Hiram fired him from Pop’s, FP decided it’s time for he and Jug to move to Toledo. But that was before they learned the truth about Tall Boy.
According to Sheriff Minetta, the police got an anonymous tip identifying the second Black Hood, and when the cops found him, he engaged them in a fire fight that resulted in his death. The “he” in question was Tall Boy, a man who’d done Hiram Lodge’s bidding in the past. And his death is the perfect ending for Hiram seeing as how Tall Boy can no longer implicate Hiram in any of this.
While he’s still reeling from that information, Jug gets a bit more: Little Red Riding Hood shows up at his trailer with the news that the cops are raiding the Whyte Wyrm — again in the name of Hiram – tonight. They need to get the remaining Serpents out of there NOW.
Together, Archie and Jughead lead the Serpents away from the Wyrm, though it’s safe to say Jughead is a bit smarter about actually checking where he’s going before just, I don’t know, marching a large group of people out into the middle of the street and praying they won’t be seen?? Honestly Archie, you should be very thankful that Riverdale doesn’t believe in street lights or else you’d be screwed.
And where do all these Serpents go? To the Andrews house, where Fred is using his one summer spent working at Pop’s to cook up breakfast for everybody. And although I can’t speak to how the food tastes, it clearly has something magical in it because Archie — ARCHIE — gets an idea. And it isn’t terrible! Borrowing as many Serpent jackets as they can get their hands on, the students of Riverdale High march into school and tell Principal Weatherby that he either lets the Southside students stay or they all walk out. And it works!
With everyone else’s plans working, Veronica pulls Jughead aside with a plan of her own…and that leads to her meeting her father at the Whyte Wyrm and informing him that she now owns the bar. BUT she’s willing to sell it to him in exchange for Pop’s. Hiram makes it clear that if they make this deal, that will be the last thing Veronica ever gets from him. There will be no more allowance, no more trust fund, no more credit cards, and she will sign over her third of Lodge Industries.Veronica agrees to all of the above, including relinquishing her seat on the board. As she puts it, “That’s all blood money anyway.” Aww, aren’t father-daughter moments the best?!
Speaking of precious father-daughter bonds, back at Betty’s, she’s worried that evil can be passed on through blood, but Jughead assures her that’s not the case. And so she visits her father at a prison that’s far too fancy for this small town — this full-glass enclosure is probably the nicest thing Hal’s ever had. There, Betty tells her father that all the darkness and all the evil ends with her. And all I have to say is: Is this scene oddly sexual? Why is she whispering like that?!
Betty leaves her father in her past just as the school’s election results are in: Archie Andrews is the new student body president! In other words, students can expect mandatory mid-day workout breaks and 50 percent less reading!
Across town, FP is hosting a Serpent gathering where I swear I heard a mic sound but he doesn’t have one? (Did I just find the REAL mystery of Riverdale?!) There, FP announces his retirement and officially hands the Serpents to Jughead, whose first official duty is handing Cheryl her (red, naturally) Serpent jacket, despite the fact that she didn’t do an awkward striptease in front of a bar full of adults, nor did she almost die in some weird Serpent ritual.
But Jug isn’t the only person in a newly appointed place of power: Hermione wins the election. And yet, Archie is determined that Hiram’s winning streak ends now, so the TEENAGER brings a knife to Hiram’s study to call him out for everything he did — getting Tall Boy to go after his dad, killing Papa Poutine, killing that kid none of us remember from Shadow Lake. And just when I think Archie might be smart enough to wear a wire, NOPE. Instead, it appears that his plan was: confront a literal mobster about all of the murders he’s commissioned in order to scare him. In what world, Arch?! You’re standing there talking about how this guy kills people for a living — you’re listing his victims! — as you threaten him. Surely you can’t be THIS dumb.
Spoiler: He is that dumb. He really, really is. And it backfires. More on that in a moment.
First, Veronica tells her friends that she wants to turn the basement of Pop’s back into the speakeasy it once was while Hiram is holding the first official meeting of the new South Side. The plan is for Claudius, Penny, and the Ghoulies to run drugs through the new prison. As for Penelope, Hiram promises her a brothel “in good time.” (Can you imagine Penelope as a young girl just dreaming of owning her own brothel some day?)
As for the core four, Hiram’s not worried. He says steps have been taken to tear them apart. And step number one takes place at the high school, the day after Jug asks Betty to join the Serpents (because apparently it’s super easy and NBD to join a gang now). Moments before Archie is sworn in as school president, Hiram watches as Sheriff Minetta arrests Archie for the murder of that Shadow Lake resident we all barely remember. And all I have to say is: What else did you expect when you stepped to a mobster, Archie?! Just be glad your pretty dumb self is still breathing.
The only other thing you should know is that Polly is bringing someone to Riverdale “from the farm” so that they can talk to Alice and help her heal. Sounds cult-y if you ask me. And THAT is where we leave this strange, ridiculous rollercoaster of a season: On the not-all-that-exciting cliffhanger of Archie’s arrest. If you ask me, this show put every crazy thing possible (and then some) into last week’s episode to the point that this week’s finale felt like it was lacking some excitement. If only Archie and Hiram had wrestled again…