“No more darkness. No more evil. It’s over.”
After they knocked it out of the park last week, this week’s Riverdale finale is a little more low-key, but there’s still plenty of drama to sink your teeth into, as the writers set up what’s to come in Season 3.
Let’s get it out of the way now – Jughead (Cole Sprouse) has survived his monumental beat-down at the hands of the Ghoulies, and when he wakes, it appears that we’ve all missed an epic battle. Off-screen of course, Riverdale’s got to save the pennies now that they’ve got a third season on the way. Sitting by his son’s bedside, is a worn-down and beat-up FP (Skeet Ulrich) who thankfully details the fight between the Ghoulies and the Serpents, effectively telling his son that he was beaten half to death over nothing, as the violence between the rival gangs has not only run many Serpents out of town, it has also led to Sunnyside trailer park being burnt to the ground – apart from the Jones trailer, which is still standing, for plot reasons.
Unfortunately, the destruction of the trailer park isn’t the last of the trials that the Serpents face in this finale. Homeless and camping out at the Whyte Wyrm, the remaining Serpents are at the mercy of Riverdale’s own Monopoly man, Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelous) who is continuing his mission to buy up the whole of the Southside, and the only place standing between him and complete Southside domination is the Wyrm. Striking the gang at their heart, there’s more strain on FP than ever, and when Hiram exercises his hold over Pop’s and removes the Jones patriarch from the payroll, that combined with the stress of finding his son bruised and bloody, FP falls into old habits. Kudos has to go to Sprouse and Ulrich for their work this season, as the Jones boys have faced a great deal of struggle, and these two actors have managed to portray their complicated relationship with an appropriate amount of emotional depth – especially over these final episodes.
Also, incredibly impressive in her performance this week is Lili Reinhart, who portrays an uncharacteristically vulnerable Betty, as the Coopers deal with the fallout of the revelation that Hal (Lochlyn Munro) was the Black Hood all along. Well, one of them, anyway. ‘Brave New World’ also exposes the identity of the other Black Hood, who was fixated on the Andrews family – however, when Hiram’s Sheriff Minetta (Henderson Wade) claims this assailant has been killed in a shoot-out with police, it seems more than a little suspicious that this storyline has been disposed of so quickly. Although the identity of the second Hood and the manner in which he has disappeared makes sense, it just seems too quick of an ending for this season-long storyline. While the police are keeping Hal in a Hannibal Lecter cell, Alice (Mädchen Amick) is understandably not dealing well with the new scrutiny on their family, and so Betty and Polly (Tiera Skovbye) stay at home to keep an eye on her – however, in her vulnerable state, Alice falls prey to an offer that is likely to have huge ramifications in the next season of the show.
In the wake of the riots, rivalry between the North and South threatens to tear apart Riverdale High, as the Southside students are told that the will no longer be attending the school, in light of their role in trashing the place. Which is kind of fair, but given this is a TV show, we kind of need all the characters in the same place, so that’s fairly swiftly dealt with. However, there’s still the matter of the student body elections, and after Betty’s dad has been revealed as the Black Hood, and Reggie (Charles Melton) was accused of shooting a kid, there isn’t much of a decision to make, as Archie (KJ Apa) is the only one that no one considers to be involved in any kind of crime.
If only it was such an easy choice for the town’s mayoral elections, as Fred (Luke Perry) and Hermione (Marisol Nichols) go head-to-head in a race to see who will have to deal with whatever crazy stuff happens to the town in Season 3. More than ever this week, we see how Hiram has damaged his relationships with his wife and daughter, when Veronica (Camila Mendes) is able extract her ill-gotten gains from her father’s “trust” and then undercut him in a business deal, all with her mother’s help. Saving one of the town’s beloved hang-outs and preparing to open another, it seems that Veronica has managed to return the teens to a place of safety, however, when Archie vents his frustration to Hiram, he puts himself in more danger than he could have ever imagined, and with the Lodge patriarch putting together Riverdale’s answer to the Legion of Doom, it seems that the town’s trouble is far from over.
A fitting end to the season, ‘Brave New World’ introduces the themes that will be present in Season 3. A potential cult leader coming to town, a hefty prison sentence hanging over one teen’s head, and a new business opening up in Riverdale, it seems that next season has a lot of drama to come.