I thought the day would never come after COVID-19 shut down Riverdale production and life as we know it in the spring, but we are finally at the season finale of Riverdale season 4, a mere three episodes into Riverdale season 5!
Jughead narrates a recap of the villains who plagued the town of Riverdale over recent years: Clifford Blossom, The Black Hood, The Gargoyle King, the Stonies and now Jelly Bean Jones. I feel like the Stonies and Jelly Bean are kind of bush league compared to the previous three. Charles Cooper didn’t even make the list, and he’s an actual serial killer!
Skeet’s exit from both Riverdale the town and Riverdale the show comes from him announcing to Alice that he’s taking JB to Toledo to live with her mother…and her father. Say what?
After JB rats out her accomplices to her dad, Hiram Lodge gets the motley crew of Archie, Skeet, Jughead and Tom Keller at his door late at night, with Skeet demanding Lodge reinstate Keller as town sheriff right now. Even Mr. Keller looks surprised by this.
Skeet, Archie, Tom and Jughead then raid the Gryffindor House to catch the Lost Boys from Hook extras that Jelly Bean worked with, literally catching them asleep. Yes, yes, I know that’s not a Gryffindor flag, but rather a Griffin King flag. Let me make my Harry Potter joke. Wouldn’t it make more sense to newly appointed Sheriff Keller to bring real cops along? I guess Skeet counts as the former Sheriff, but Archie and Jughead? I know Skeet played fast and loose with who he deputized during his time as Sheriff, but still.
Later, while catching Betty up in bed on the night’s events, Jughead wonders aloud if they’re all doomed to be haunted by Riverdale‘s events for the rest of the their lives. Well, if the next episode time jump is any indication, they will be for at least the next five years!
Archie wakes from a dream of his dad taking his friends’ photo at graduation, and we get one last farewell to Luke Perry, who passed away suddenly in season 3. It’s amazing that they had this footage of Mr. Andrews talking about graduation. Was this from some previously filmed flash forward? Remember when Riverdale was all about the flash forwards?
Veronica gets a pearl necklace from her parents as a graduation gift. What is the one thing Veronica does not need? That’s right, a pearl necklace, which she has been sporting since her first appearance. To prove my point, we flash back to an early Veronica appearance on Riverdale, and what’s she wearing? That’s right, pearls! She seems grateful for the gift though.
Alice is breaking down a bit, what with her recently reunited son turning out to be yet another serial killer in the family, and her boyfriend announcing that he’s skipping town for Toledo. Empty nest syndrome is hitting her hard, but Betty promises she’ll be back for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Not to mention that college doesn’t start for another few months.
Oh boy, Archie looks a little too interested in the Army recruitment table. Fear for our country’s other people in uniform if Mr. Bad Decisions decides to enlist. I can see the multi-year flash forward now explaining how Archie unwittingly caused World War III during the jumped over years.
Mister Wetherbee announces to an assembly that they will be opening up a time capsule buried by Riverdale’s first graduating class, the class of 1945. Fun Easter Egg: Archie first debuted in Pep Comics #22 in 1941. If they were freshmen in that first appearance and aged in real time, they’d be seniors in 1945.
The time capsule contains copies of the town and student newspapers from that year, a Pop’s menu, a baseball card and comic book that might be worth some serious bucks, though the comic isn’t in great condition. Don’t expect a high slabbed grade on Red Circle Comics #87. Cheryl holds the comic up with serious disdain. The final thing in the capsule is a photo of four senior boys in uniform, taken days before they left to fight in World War II. Cut to Archie taking this as a sign that he should enlist.
Kevin points out that this is the last time the gang will be hanging out in the lounge, and Jughead counters with “exception for reunions” and Toni joins in with “and homecomings,” and I’m seriously left wondering how often the writers of Riverdale hang out in their high schools as adults, and why?
Veronica and Betty arrive with yearbooks, hot of the press. There’s a nice memorial to Jason Blossom. What about the other would-be graduates killed off by the parade of murderers to whom Riverdale has called home over the last four years? I feel like they could have their own section. And what’s with the Serpents and Poisons getting their own double page spreads? Sure, Jughead was once Serpent King and Betty the Serpent Queen, but they’re still a street gang. It would be like a local high school listing the Crips or Bloods in the Clubs section of the yearbook.
Yearbook time is cut short when Jughead and Archie are both called to the principal’s office. Good news for Jughead – he’s graduating. I’d hope so, since he was already accepted into college, and I could see not graduating high school getting in the way of that. Bad news for Archie – he’s not graduating, and Mr. Wetherbee tells him he’s so far behind that summer school won’t be enough. He’ll have to repeat his senior year. To her honest, I’m left wondering how Archie even made it into the senior class with this kind of academic record? Wetherbee will let Archie walk with his class, and even asks Archie to record the senior song. Archie downplays his failing status to Jughead, saying he’ll need to go to summer school, but will get to walk with his class and have his diploma by the end of June. This should have tipped Jughead off that Archie is lying, since summer school wouldn’t even start until the end of June. Or maybe Archie isn’t lying, and he just means June of next year. “Yeah, Jughead I only have to do summer school, mumble mumble repeat senior year mumble mumble and then maybe another summer school mumble mumble and then I’ll have my diploma at the end of June!”
The kids clock-watch their way to the final 3 PM bell. Everyone cheers, Kevin and Fangs kiss, followed by Jughead and Betty. It looks like Archie and Veronica might kiss, but Reggie gets in the way of that, giving Archie, of all people, a big hug.
Archie sees the photo from the time capsule sitting on a hallway table and picks it up while doing some serious soul searching involving sticking around Murdertown, I mean Riverdale, for another year as a super senior, or enlisting. Question: why are these very delicate artifacts from 75 years ago just hanging out on top of a folding table out in the open? No glass, nobody standing guard. On the last day of school no less. Riverdale is a high school that courts murder regularly. Vandalism or theft on the consequence-free final day of school shouldn’t be invited like this. Also, Cheryl and Toni had to wear white gloves while handling these items, while any bozo, like king bozo Archie, walking by can pick them up here. Get that teenage oily finger sweat off that photo, sir!
That night, Veronica drops off a box of Archie’s stuff. She tells Archie she wants to be with him one more night. Ah, the old, hey, you left this box of stuff at my place, let’s make out ploy. Well played, Ms. Lodge. It’s like the Reverse-Costanza! Ver-on-i-ca.
Jughead wants to head to Toledo with Skeet and Jelly Bean after graduation, but Skeet won’t have any of it. Jughead is the first Jones on his way to college, and I get the feeling that Skeet is worried that if Jughead heads to Toledo, things could happen to put that in jeopardy. Considering what Jughead’s mom was up to during her brief stint in Riverdale, I can understand Skeet’s wariness.
We get a nice montage of all the kids and their parents at school before graduation. The one that stands out is Veronica and her parents, only because they’re laughing over something in the yearbook. Considering that the yearbook dedicated pages to both the Serpents and the Poisons, I can only imagine what they’re looking at. “Hey, remember the Gargoyle King trying to kill us? We gave G&G two pages too. Good times.”
During her valedictory speech, Betty notes the heartache, drama and death that they dealt with over the past few years. It’s a downer of a speech, that’s for sure. She’s hoping Riverdale calms down after they graduate.
“But my music” Archie from season 1 makes his triumphant return when he picks up his guitar to record a nasally version of Green Day’s Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). The graduates walk across the stage and I can’t help but notice that Mr. Wetherbee, aka Principal Nine Fingers, is sporting a Luke Skywalker-like glove on one hand. I spend way too much time rewinding and rewatching him shake Jughead’s hand while trying to figure out if the glove has four or five fingers. In case anyone is wondering, it’s five.
Archie opens up his diploma on stage, sees it’s empty and looks bummed. Archie, you dummy, no one gets their actual diploma at graduation. Pay attention in assembly for once during your next senior year.
Archie has a vision of the four graduating servicemen from 1945 and I think that maybe our boy has taken too many punches to the cranium over the past year. Hey Archie, know what separates them from you, besides the decades? They all graduated before heading off to the military.
Everyone throws their hats in the air, and I’m like not so fast, Andrews. Cap throws are for graduates only.
Cheryl is staring intently at her diploma on her way out of the graduation. Apparently, at Riverdale High, you do get your real diploma on the spot. This seems like an administrative nightmare. How many people end up with the wrong diploma? Penelope Blossom emerges from a hedge like a Homer Simpson gif in reverse. She wasn’t about to miss her daughter’s graduation, except she kind of did. She snuck in the back to catch the end, and then snuck into this hedge. Now that Cheryl is off to college, Penelope plans to turn herself in. With good behavior, she might be out in time for Cheryl’s college graduation aka next week on time hop Riverdale! I hope Penelope Blossom transforms into a new villain called the Hedge Queen.
Skeet and JB leave for Toledo right after graduation. Skeet knows Jughead would give up college for JB, which is why Skeet won’t let Jughead join them. I’m going to miss Skeet on this show. Alice asks him if this is the end of their story. He says, “God, I hope not.” Me too, Skeet. Come back!
It’s not until they’re getting on Skeet’s bike that I notice that JB’s Serpents jacket says Toledo instead of South Side. I keep forgetting that the Serpents aren’t just a local gang. A bunch of other Serpents ride off with them like an honor guard.
Archie rushes over to the military recruitment table and asks, “It’s not too late?” Further proof that Archie is the dumbest. “Uh, yes, sir, sorry but we’re closed to applications for the Army. Try again in a year or two. We’re full up.”
As a graduation gift to Pop, Veronica signs over full ownership of Pop’s to him. Does that include the speakeasy in the basement?
The gang puts together a new time capsule. The graduating class of 2075 has the following to look forward to: copies of the town and student newspapers, a Pops menu, a football signed by the Bulldogs, a bobby pin (nice, Betty), a La Bon Nui matchbook, the programs from the students musicals, Josie’s cat ears (the only reference Riverdale made to her this season), Cheryl’s HBIC shirt, Toni’s Pretty Poisons jacket, and Jughead tosses in his beanie. I feel like they should have played It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday as Jughead tossed that one in. Archie tosses in a guitar pic and a hammer from his dad’s toolbox. Nothing says “this is what 2020 was like” like an old hammer.
Later that night, while drinking on the bleachers, Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty vow to meet up one year from now at Pops, and every year thereafter. Archie then tells them that he’s joining the Army. He’s headed to basic training in the morning. He tells them it’s basically the same thing as his plan to join the naval academy, and Veronica immediately points out that it’s really not. The look on Veronica’s face says that she finally realizes he’s dumb. She storms off, with Betty in pursuit.
Cheryl breaks the news to Toni that she’s not joining her at Highsmith College, but is staying behind in Riverdale to takeover the family business. A business degree might help with that, Cheryl. Just saying.
Jughead points out to Betty that Veronica and Archie have been acting weird since prom. This leads to Betty admitting to Jughead that she and Archie kissed during Hedwig. Like I said to Archie a couple of weeks ago, Betty, this is not never telling anyone about this. Betty does seem more contrite than Archie was, and Jughead is surprisingly cool with it. Betty’s shirt coming off as she straddled him seems to have made him completely forget about that kiss. Or maybe he’s just into that. I’m here to recap, not judge Jughead’s kinks.
Jughead accompanies Archie to the bus stop. Nothing says not ready for the real world like heading off to basic training in your high school letterman jacket.
Betty knocks on Veronica’s door. She’s there to apologize. Veronica is too upset about Archie heading off to the army to be mad at Betty. Veronica complains to Betty that she’s upset that things are ending so sudden and unresolved. Me too, Veronica! Oh wait, she’s not talking about the Charles Cooper serial killer subplot’s sudden conclusion. She means herself and Archie. My bad.
At the bus stop, Archie wants to tell Jughead about the kiss, but Jughead says he knows and he’s okay with it, since neither of them set out to hurt him with it.
Betty and Veronica show up to the bus stop in Betty’s car that looks like Betty pulled it out of that 1945 time capsule. They’re there to see Archie, but his bus left with him on it a minute ago. Jughead hops in and the trio goes off in hot pursuit of that bus.
On the bus, Archie recaps the good times of the past four years, his times with his friends, with his girlfriend, with his family. He’s taken out of this reverie to the honking horn of Betty’s car and Veronica yelling that she loves him. Archie asks the army driver to pull the bus over, and amazingly, he does. Archie and Veronica tell each other they love each other, but Jughead gets a “Later, bro.” You’re better off without him, Jughead. Enjoy this, Archie. This unscheduled stop is going to cost you like 2,000 pushups when you get to basic, Andrews. Archie looks out the back window at them like “I’ve made a terrible mistake.” I full expect Archie to come back from army Buster Bluth style with only one hand.
After Archie leaves town, things change quickly for the gang. Veronica is the first to leave town, choosing to spend the summer in the Hamptons with her mother. Despite things seeming okay before a rift forms between Jughead and Betty, she decides to head to New Haven early. Their goodbye has all the emotion of a tax return, with both of them barely acknowledging each other on the couch.
Despite having the entire Cooper house to himself, Jughead decides to move into Archie’s room, which is completely empty. Where’s all his stuff? His bed, desk, dresser, and everything except an amp are gone. Jughead unrolls a pack to sleep on. Seriously, Mary, you were in that big a rush to redecorate? We all know Archie’s track record with follow through. Leave his bed, he might be dishonorably discharged by Labor Day! Oh, never mind, the house is empty because they’re selling it. Wait, then why did you leave the amp? Okay, so Jughead left a fully furnished empty house to live in an actual empty house. When the power, gas and hot water get cut off, Jughead heads to Dilton’s subterranean hideaway. At summer’s end, Jughead has one final burgher before heading off to college, wondering if the four friends would keep their vow to meet up at Pop’s one year later. Spoiler alert: they don’t. Only Jughead shows up. Cold blooded, guys. We get a hint of what college Jughead is like. Gone is the S shirt sticking out from under an unbuttoned flannel, replaced by a buttoned up, short sleeved light blue shirt.
Jughead ends the episode saying it would be six years before he would see his friends again. Damn, seriously cold blooded, y’all.