Riverdale finale recap: Archie and Betty reunite only to… go up in flames?
This is the kind of Riverdale episode I've been waiting for! Everyone is coming together to solve an issue, there are crazy twists, and there's at least one serial killer wearing a trash bag over his head. I mean, what more could you want?!
The season 5 finale kicks off with Reggie informing Veronica that he didn't quite pass the test he needed to become a stockbroker. However, he has another idea: He'd like to open a casino with Veronica here in Riverdale. The problem? She's all set to return to New York and resume her role as the She-Wolf of Wall Street. But there's a problem with that plan, too.
When Veronica calls her old New York contact, he informs her that after a little something called "that time she murdered Chad," she's now seen as the Black Widow of Wall Street and perhaps should stay away for a little while.
Across town, Archie and Betty enjoy some day drinking together. Archie tells Betty about his breakup with Veronica, and she tells him that she's going to be staying in town to reopen Riverdale's FBI office now that she's officially Special Agent Betty Cooper. She might've missed her graduation, but Archie's able to pull together an incredibly last-minute surprise party to celebrate her achievement, and Betty is SUPER grateful. Like, wants to jump his bones grateful. Honestly, it's like someone flipped a switch, and suddenly these two are head-over-heels for each other and I'm here for it!
Everyone is in attendance at the party, including Tabitha and Jughead, who kind of decide to move in together? Long story short, Jug's now overseeing the student newspaper at the high school, and if that goes well, he could be teaching again in the fall. And seeing as how Tabitha's lease is up in the fall... you get it. But their sweet moment is interrupted by the small fact that a Ghoulie set fire to Pop's.
It's painfully obvious that the Ghoulie was acting on behalf of Hiram, but Toni and Fangs go all old-school Serpents to confirm that. (Meaning they torture the guy. You know, a fun couple activity!) Betty and Sheriff Keller then arrest Hiram, and here's a question I have: Did Archie bring the smoke with him from the fire? Because he's surrounded by smoke when he kicks down Hiram's office door.
Betty and Archie then enlist Veronica to help them search Hiram's office and find something on him, but ultimately, it's Reggie who shows up in the rain holding "irrefutable proof." Sure, he's holding said proof on a jump drive that is, again, in the pouring rain, but I'm sure everything will be fine. And this way, Veronica and Archie don't have to kill Hiram as their last act together, which was Veronica's plan! Because nothing says "our romance is over" like killing your father together.
After Jug gets back from teaching kids the Five W's of journalism, Tabitha lets him know that insurance isn't going to help pay for Pop's. Why? Well, because recently she hasn't been paying for insurance. She had to choose between paying her staff and paying her insurance, and now she's screwed. But Jughead has an idea for how she can deal with her anger.
While Jughead and Tabitha set fire to the Lodge Ledger, Veronica and Archie kidnap Hiram from his jail cell. They then invite everyone in town to witness Hiram's exile. Veronica shows him what was on Reggie's somehow undamaged thumb drive, and it's the video of Hiram killing Vito in the hospital. Veronica then pulls a Scar and tells her father to run away and never return, which seems to work. (It helps that she and literally everyone else in attendance is holding a gun.)
Before we get to the final big decision of the episode — the town voting on whether they should reincorporate — I need to mention a phone call. Betty, it seems, is still being watched by TBK. Remember the Trash Bag Killer? He's been on the back burner for a while, but now he's calling Betty to congratulate her on her graduation while shirtless, covered in blood, and wearing a trash bag over his head despite seemingly being alone in his home? If this is somehow her dad, I swear...
Okay, on to Riverdale's future! After Toni names Fangs the king of the Serpents, she makes a vow to get them back on track. That Ghoulie calling them soft really got to her, so she's ready to re-focus on the Serpents. As for Kevin, he's ready to give New York and Broadway another try.
And then there's Cheryl, who finds a bunch of skeletons in the mines. So naturally, that leads us to a Nana Rose story, in which she explains that Cheryl's ancestor, Abigail Blossom, ran a school for girls in 1819. And when she refused to let the townspeople buy her maple groves to look for palladium, they called her a witch and burned her at the stake. "They" being the ancestors of Archie, Betty, and Jughead.
But as she burned, Abigail cursed them, and suddenly, Cheryl's witch vibes this season are starting to make sense! It seems that, after Abigail's death, many of the townspeople died during a collapse in the mines. Nana Rose then hands over Abigail's journal to Cheryl, and she shows up at a Core Four meeting, where they're trying to determine Riverdale's governing body, demanding an apology for something their ancestors did.
Cheryl wants a public apology, and when she doesn't get one at the town meeting, she decrees that Thornhill is no longer part of Riverdale. She then returns home and reads the very curse that Abigail said all those years ago. You know, because Riverdale wasn't already cursed.
At the town meeting, there's a vote to reincorporate Riverdale with Tabitha, Toni, Alice, and Frank serving as the town council. Veronica and Reggie then waste no time in pitching the council their casino, which they agree to think about once they've fixed all the potholes in town.
Cut to: Riverdale has a new town sign, Pop Tate is back and going to help Tabitha with the diner, the casino is up and running with Veronica and Reggie making out in the back room, and Betty and Archie agree to give a real relationship a try. They're not doing friends-with-benefits this time. They want to be together!
But when they get up to his bedroom, they both hear a ticking... and suddenly, Hiram is back, and he's setting off a Wile E. Coyote-looking bomb at Archie's! (If only Betty had more time, she could've defused it with a bobby pin!)
As bonkers as all of this was with bombs and curses, THIS is the Riverdale I've been missing lately. Everyone's stories are finally intertwining again, ridiculous stuff is happening, and yes, I'm here for Betty and Archie finally getting together! (Although them blowing up is... not ideal.) But I have full faith they won't be dead when the show returns in just over a month.