In the ‘Riverdale’ recap for the season finale, Jughead is torn away from his friends, Betty finds out a family secret and a shooting leaves us all on a cliffhanger…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
From the first time we heard Jughead Jones’ voice on ‘Riverdale’ this season, he warned how the idyllic town that was supposed to be a modern-day Mayberry actually had a much darker side simmering underneath.
The death of Jason Blossom, who was viewed as town royalty, was the most shocking introduction to the fact that Riverdale wasn’t quite the place that people like the mayor or the school principal wanted it to be.
In reality, Riverdale was a town painted in bright, cheerful colors but once you began to chip away and peel back the many layers, there was a grimmer picture underneath.
One filled with the most famous family in town profiting from a lucrative drug ring and a patriarch who killed his own son to keep him quiet when he found out that the last name Blossom was synonymous for dealing heroin rather than maple syrup.
It’s a town that would soon see the return of another son of Riverdale, fresh out of prison, as he looks to reunite with his family and stake his claim as the new power broker in town.
And it’s the place where a father sits down to have breakfast with his son to share some important news only to see it all interrupted by a gunman, who fires a single shot with a specific target in mind, that will change their lives forever.
This is ‘Riverdale’ and this is our recap for the season one finale titled ‘Sweet Hereafter’…
The Other Side of Darkness
In the aftermath of Clifford Blossom’s suicide following the revelation that he murdered his own son when Jason threatened to expose his father’s heroin trafficking business, the town has been thrown into upheaval while the mayor is trying to shove all of it under the rug in anticipation of Riverdale’s 75th anniversary.
F.P. Jones remains in jail due to his involvement in covering up Jason’s death but Sheriff Keller is trying to get him to turn informant because despite shutting down the Blossom pipeline from Montreal into Riverdale, the drugs he sold are still flooding the streets. The police believe the Southside Serpents were his dealers, but F.P. insists otherwise while also refusing to say much else because he’s no snitch.
Despite the fact that there’s no proof the Serpents were the drug merchants, the town has turned against them with an uprising against all those who live on the Southside as if they somehow infected the good parts of town leading to murder and mayhem in Riverdale.
With F.P. behind bars and Fred Andrews having a prior DUI conviction on his record, social services have decided to place Jughead with a foster family. Sadly, the family lives on the Southside of town, which means Jughead will not only have to move back to the wrong side of the tracks, but he’ll actually be forced to switch high schools as well.
While everybody else seems concerned about Jughead’s well being, he’s handling it all rather well as if he’s just accepting the cards he’s been dealt. Jughead visits his dad in jail quite often but seems to understand why he’s not turning on his friends in the Serpents to exact his own exit from prison. He even voluntarily relocates to the Southside where he moves in with his new “family” and starts school on the other side away from Riverdale.
In the midst of all of this, Veronica and Archie decide it’s now or never to tell Betty about their budding relationship, which she handles rather well all things considered. Of course, Archie is now looking at Betty with that longing in his eyes as if he just listened to the Joni Mitchell song — you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
And finally, Mayor McCoy calls on Betty and Archie to sing and speak at the town’s big jubilee to celebrate the town’s 75th anniversary because there’s no way that could ever backfire.
The revelation regarding the truth in Jason’s death has broken the Blossom family apart, but it’s brought the Coopers back together. Polly is at home just a few months away from giving birth while Hal has moved back into the house as Alice is back working at the newspaper. This all looks far too familiar for Betty, who lived through this hushed set of lies for most of her life until it all imploded on them over these past few months.
With all the quiet whispers that tore them apart, Betty confronts her mother about another secret that is still lingering overhead from the dinner they shared with the Jones family a few weeks back. F.P. exposed a massive fallout between Hal and Alice during their homecoming dance back in high school.
Alice refuses to answer at first but then finally comes clean to her daughter. She reveals that the fight was over her pregnancy and the ensuing argument about what they would do about the baby. In the end, Alice moved in with the Sisters of Quiet Mercy — the same place they sent Polly — where she gave birth to a baby boy who was then given up for adoption.
That means Polly and Betty have an older brother roaming around somewhere out there, which means it’s inevitable he will appear at some point in a future season of ‘Riverdale’.
Elsewhere, Betty is enraged that the town has accused the Southside Serpents and F.P. Jones for all the town’s ills despite no proof existing that actually ties them to the crimes committed. She writes a scathing editorial for the school newspaper proclaiming F.P.’s innocence while exonerating the Serpents of any wrong doing.
It’s a well written and well thought out piece, but the reaction in town is anything but well received. In fact, Betty goes to school the next day with copies of her story pasted all over her locker with a message written in pig’s blood — “Go to hell, Southside Slut”.
It’s shocking but it doesn’t rattle Betty one bit because she’s steely in her resolve to clear Jughead’s family from this public persecution.
Still, Jughead feels responsible to distance himself from everybody who may be tainted by the fallout from his father landing in jail. Of course, F.P. sees this coming and he tells Archie to stay close to his son, no matter how much he might attempt to push them away.
As it turns out when the gang finds out that Jughead had started school on the Southside, they organize a party to go rescue him but when they arrive, it’s clear he’s as happy as he’s ever been. Jughead has always felt like an outcast at Riverdale but on the Southside he’s just one of the boys.
It’s good news for once but much like everything else in Riverdale, that can’t last for too long.
Every Night I Burn
The fallout from Clifford Blossom’s suicide and Jason Blossom’s death has touched many people in Riverdale, but none more than the family that bears his name.
Penelope Blossom is nearly numb, barely accepting what has happened to her husband and son while somehow managing to turn even colder towards her daughter. Meanwhile, Cheryl is detached and barely clinging to any semblance of her past life that seemingly ended just a few days ago.
Cheryl ends up handing over control of the River Vixens to Veronica before giving Jughead a scarlet spider broach that’s probably worth more than his father’s trailer as recompense for smacking him in school and blaming his father for murdering her brother.
It’s clear by this point that every move Cheryl is making is towards a final goodbye.
She sends Veronica a text that she’s finally going to go be with Jason, which means Cheryl is about to commit suicide and it sends the gang rushing to save her life.
Archie surmises that Cheryl would go to Sweetwater River to take her own life and sure enough when the group arrives, they find her pounding on the ice just begging to fall in. A moment later as she looks back at them, Cheryl disappears into the abyss underneath the ice.
Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead rush out into the ice to save her before the current pulls her away. In the water, Cheryl sees her dead brother reaching out as the light from above begins to fade. Finally, Archie finds Cheryl underneath as he begins punching the ice, trying to break through to save her.
In a perfect world, Archie would have stomped through the ice but it was a beautifully framed scene as he pounded on that ice with each punch breaking through skin and bone until he finally got to Cheryl. On a side note, actor K.J. Apa actually broke his hand during this scene so clearly he was giving everything he could to make it look as real as possible.
Archie pulls Cheryl up from the brink before giving her CPR to resuscitate her.
The group takes Cheryl back with them to Veronica’s house so she can warm up while also recovering from her own suicide attempt. Of course, the gang ends up leaving her so they can go get ready for the jubilee, which is probably the only wrong move during the entire episode. Perhaps if the finale was 90-minutes rather than an hour, this could have been handled a little better. Cheryl needed her friends in that moment and the jubilee could definitely wait.
Either way, Cheryl eventually returns home where she awaits the return of her mother Penelope, who has buried her husband in a lonely plot without anybody around to give a damn. As Penelope walks back into the house, she smells a strange odor in the air.
It’s gasoline — Cheryl has decided the only way to resurrect the Blossom family is to burn it all down and then rise from the ashes. She sets fire to the house they called Thorn Hill much to the dismay of her mother.
Cheryl Blossom nearly died under the ice but she is reborn in the fire.
The End of Innocence
At the jubilee, Archie shares a moment with Veronica where she asks him about a look he gave Betty just after they arrived at Southside High to “save” Jughead. She wonders if he’s having second thoughts about the two of them getting together and perhaps if he has feelings for Betty instead.
Archie answers by explaining that he’ll always love Betty as a friend but in that moment he just saw how Betty and Jughead were meant for each other and he wants to be that for Veronica as well. They kiss before walking out on stage together to perform one of Archie’s songs alongside Josie and the Pussycats.
When they finish singing, it’s Betty’s turn to take the stage as she presents a speech to celebrate 75 years with Riverdale. But rather than extolling the false virtues of the town, Betty gives everyone a dose of reality.
She says that Riverdale isn’t just a “town with pep” but it’s the place that belongs to families like the Blossoms and the Coopers as much as it belongs to the Jones, the Andrews and the Lodge’s. Betty says all the misplaced anger and aggression is what will tear Riverdale apart rather than allowing a moment of catharsis to bring them all together again.
Jughead appears in the back of the room where he applauds his girlfriend before everyone else cheers her on as well for such an act of bravery in the face of fear mongering sweeping over the town.
When the jubilee is finished, Jughead takes Betty back to his father’s trailer where he tells her he loves her for the first time. Betty returns the favor and says she’s in love with him as well. The sweet moment soon turns passionate as they begin kissing and clothes start to come off before a knock at the door is heard.
Betty is convinced it’s her mother who followed them back and wants to pull her away from Jughead. Instead, Jughead opens the door and finds the entirety of the Southside Serpents awaiting him.
They tell him that F.P. was part of their family and he never turned on them no matter what the cops dangled as bait. That means Jughead is now family to them as well and they invite him to join if that’s what he wants. A moment later, Jughead puts on a the Southside Serpents’ cut with a shocked Betty staring back at him from inside the trailer.
Jughead may have lost one family but he just found another one.
As for Archie and Veronica, they retire back to her condo where Hermoine has been sleeping for hours.
Hermoine has been working overtime to get ready for Hiram’s return as he’s about to be released from prison within the next month. She’s not only trying to repair the damage in their marriage, but also attempting to re-establish their power base after it was revealed that Clifford Blossom was behind Hiram’s imprisonment as he attempted to make him take the fall for the drug business in town.
Hiram’s return also means that Hermoine’s past sins could come back to haunt her, which is why she spends a big part of the finale trying to convince Fred Andrews to sell his half of the stake in the drive-in redevelopment. Fred doesn’t seem all that interested, but promises to look over her offer — in writing — and then give it his due diligence.
So while the two families may be at odds, Archie and Veronica are not and the two of them end up spending the night together and they didn’t seem to do much sleeping!
The next morning, Archie prepares to exit after getting a message from his dad that he wanted to meet for breakfast and discuss something important. Archie says his goodbyes to Veronica before meeting Fred at Pop’s for breakfast.
Sadly he never finds out what his father had to say.
Archie excuses himself to wash his hands, but just as he’s about to walk back out into the restaurant, he hears dishes breaking and loud shouting in the distance. As he opens the door, Archie sees a masked man holding Pop at gunpoint while robbing the register. Fred tries to warn his son away as he stands up from the booth and the gunman turns his attention to him. As the armed assailant raises his weapon, Archie rushes in front of his father before a shot rings out.
A second later, the robber bursts through the door with money scattered in the snow, as he makes his escape. Inside, Archie clutches onto his father, who has been shot in the chest and he’s bleeding out on the floor.
A final voiceover from Jughead tells us that this was no random act of violence but instead a premeditated act with that bullet finding it’s intended target.
Someone wanted Fred Andrews dead and finding out who ordered the hit will lead us into ‘Riverdale’ season two in 2018.
“These Are the Moments” by Archie and Josie & the Pussycats
“Believer” by Imagine Dragons
‘Riverdale’ returns in 2018. Thanks for reading our recaps all season long!