The town of Riverdale is a war zone! One gunshot lit the spark that turned everything, and everyone, into pure chaos.
Riverdale Season 2 Episode 21 showed all of our favorite characters coming face-to-face with the evil that's been building up around them. We witnessed deception, destruction, and even worse ... death. Riverdale will never be the same again.
"Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Night" was the moment where every main plot reached their breaking points. All of the tension and anticipation that built up during Riverdale Season 2 came to a head after one cataclysmic trigger.
And it's shocking to realize that this is only the penultimate episode of the season!
Fangs getting shot by Mrs. Klump pushed everyone over the edge. His injury and his subsequent death started a domino effect from which no one could back away. The townsfolk, and every villain we encountered before, were out for blood.
In fact, the hour was being driven solely by momentum. After weeks of drama, everything ramped up, and it didn't stop.
There wasn't a single moment to take a breath. Even when we lost characters, the plot had to keep pushing.
Poor Fangs. We hardly knew you!
The quiet Southside Serpent was a minor character who never stood out from his group. He was always the ally to the storylines with Jughead, Sweetpea, and Toni that tagged along for added Serpent force. However, he was merely there, never the standout.
When Midge died on Riverdale Season 2 Episode 18, and he got caught in the dressing room with her, the spotlight went squarely on him. And that one moment led to all of the town drama we just witnessed.
It's unfortunate to see Fangs go. However, his death would've had a more significant impact if we had gotten to know more of his character. For the most part, he'll be the Southside Serpent who was wrongly accused and murdered for something he didn't do, and that his shooting triggered the town riot.
From the scenes we did have of him, he seemed like a good guy and a nice character.
Fangs certainly left a mark on his fellow friends because from the look of Sweetpea, he was out for blood.
Sweetpea and Fangs' friendship was naturally assumed. They both knew each other from the Southside High days and they, as well as Toni, seemed pretty close. As morbid as it sounds, it was nice to see his friends mourn for him and react emotionally.
Though, Sweetpea probably should've taken a breather.
His vendetta against Reggie and Riverdale High had crossed a line. He would've done something reckless if he wasn't stopped. Taking fire into anything would be dangerous regardless!
Luckily, Principal Weatherbee broke up any potential fights and kicked them all out.
Let's take that visual in for a moment: stoic Principal Weatherbee and the fellow teachers with weapons standing up to football players and Southside Serpents. There's so much humor in that. Kudos to him for standing his ground.
The Ghoulies returning to Riverdale was an unfortunate development. But, when you add Penny Peabody into the mix, things became so much worse.
We've mentioned in the past how manipulative Penny can be and that she was someone who could not be trusted. Regardless of whatever alliance or deal she made, her number one goal was to help herself. Her motivation has to be one of the reasons she keeps returning to town.
Kidnapping Toni was an underhanded move that almost worked. Luckily we had Jughead, and Speedy (I mean Cheryl!) come in with a bow and arrow to stop more bloodshed from happening. If only that were the last we heard of Penny and her deadly alliance.
(We'll get to Cheryl and her Hunger Games bow later.)
Jughead: Fangs getting arrested. The riot. The Ghoulies showing up the night of the riot, Penny in tow. None of this just happened.
Hiram: Jughead, I generally have no idea what you’re talking about.
Jughead: You’ve been buying up everything you could, but you couldn’t buy us. So, you paid the Ghoulies and Penny to go to war with the Serpents to finally get rid of us once and for all. How much is this costing you?
Hiram: I’m hanging up now.
Jughead: Because I have a counter offer. Mr. Lodge?
Hiram: I’m listening.
Of course, Hiram had to be involved in this drama! The corrupted businessman has his hands in everything, so paying Penny and the Ghoulies to cause chaos didn't seem out of the question.
When Jughead dissected his plan and offered Hiram a better deal, there was some doubt about what he'd give. The Ghoulies were ready to fight the Serpents to the death, so they'd need something powerful. A good trade would be required to change course.
Sacrificing himself to the Ghoulies/Penny was a heartbreaking move by Jughead. That visual of FP carrying a bloodied Jughead out of the forest could bring anyone to tears. It was a powerfully beautiful scene with the music and the reactions of his closest friends watching nearby.
Do you think Jughead is dead?
He looked pretty beaten, cut, and lost a lot of blood. He's one of the main and iconic characters from the Archie Comics, so the odds of him dying are low. Though, the extent of his injuries will determine how he'll be in Riverdale Season 3.
Cheryl's survival against The Black Hood was up in the air.
No one wanted Cheryl to go, but the latest promo had the serial killer ready to slice and dice. She was channeling all the vibes from The Shining. Cheryl did a great job thinking on her feet and saving herself.
How she survived, on the other hand, was a strange plot device.
Riverdale isn't the most grounded show. This series loves its soapy plots and dramatic teen twists! The decision to go with a bow and arrow stood too out of place for the setting.
Sure, Cheryl has used a bow in the past, and it's one of her strengths. However, when she paired it with the Little Red Riding Hood outfit, it was like watching the Hunger Games on The CW or Arrow. Katniss Everdeen is a great character and all, but seeing Cheryl take on all her traits didn't make sense from a character development standpoint.
Come on, Cheryl knew complex hunting and tracking in the woods? And Olympic-level archery?! You know what, we're talking about Cheryl here, she probably does have the training.
Archie's hero mode was a nice change of pace from the destructive character we saw these last few weeks. Even though Reggie caused more trouble with the gun, Archie did a good thing helping to protect his frenemy.
Without him, Sweetpea would've killed Reggie. (And that's a fact.)
The same also applied to the people at the Chock'lit Shoppe. Archie protected them long enough until the 'Hot Dads of Riverdale' arrived in time to break up the Ghoulies' fight.
The bigger question now for Archie: Who was that mysterious man with the black hood who attacked him and Fred in their home?
Hal is The Black Hood mastermind, but this third figure is someone we've yet to unmask. This new killer successfully got a few shots into Fred's bulletproof vest before making his grand escape. However, now he's spurned on all the revenge from Archie.
Archie still wants to get his bones by killing The Black Hood. And with Hal in jail, the musically-inclined football player is going to go after the next possible person.
The 'bones' storyline still makes no sense, and Archie should drop it completely. He doesn't need to impress Hiram! On the other hand, if killing The Black Hood 3.0 helps to end this plot, let's get this side-storyline moving.
Veronica: Mom. Sheriff Pinada.
Hermione: Veronica, what are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at home with Andre.
Veronica: Andre’s in the car. We had to make a detour.
[Veronica looks at the Black Hood bounty sign]
Veronica: Good lord, Mom. Are you and Daddy trying to turn Riverdale into Gotham City?
Speaking of another character who should know better: Hermione, what are you doing?!
The mayoral candidate was playing into Hiram's hand smoothly and allowing herself to be manipulated and used by her husband. That article exposing her affair with Fred Andrews should've been the last straw. Hiram does not care about her or Veronica!
Hermione placing the bounty on The Black Hood only riled people up more. Hiram wanted the chaos, but that type of tension was only hurting everyone. And, it nearly got his wife and daughter murdered by a vengeful mobster.
(Side-note: Since The Black Hood got captured, does that mean Alice and Betty get the one million dollar prize? Betty is going to go to an amazing university!)
It's no wonder that Veronica finally stood up to her father. There's only so much poor attitude someone can take before it becomes too much to handle. Veronica is the only Lodge who's fighting to protect her family.
[Hiram walks in worried. Hermione and Veronica sitting quietly at a table]
Hermione: There’s another dead body in the study.
Veronica: It’s your mess, Daddy. You clean it up.
Hopefully, Riverdale Season 2 Episode 21 is the moment when Hermione steps away from Hiram's control.
Killing Small Fries shook Hermione and Veronica to their core. Just look at Hermione's demeanor throughout the aftermath when Hiram arrived after seeing Andre dead. Hermione could barely move or speak.
She has done a lot for the sake of her business deal with Hiram, but murder was never on the table. This killing quite literally put blood on her hands.
We'll have to see if she takes Veronica's advice. (And she should!)
As mentioned above, The Black Hood was finally revealed! Was Hal Cooper your top choice? (Congrats, Nancy Drew! You're a star.)
There were a lot of pros and cons about Hal being the killer. Like for instance, his character's motive for murdering people made sense and tied into his family history. On the other hand, Hal Cooper being The Black Hood was too easy.
During the last Riverdale Round Table, we all figured that Hal being the killer was too obvious of a solution. I even ruled it out because he seemed like the expected suspect. In hindsight, sometimes the most straightforward possibility is the correct answer.
Betty got her 'darkness' from Hal and that evil spread throughout the generations, even within the Blossoms as well. This chain of murders started all the way back to Grandpapi Cooper and the deaths of the Conways. Hal tied up the story in a nice little bow.
There's still a part that wishes he wasn't the main killer. But, if it had to be anyone, at least Hal provided a satisfying end.
Betty got to checkmark another solved case on her list, and Alice got a few hits on Hal for all the frustration he's caused in her life. The mystery was solved, and we can put The Black Hood plot to rest.
Except, of course, for the shooter at the town hall/the person who broke into Archie's home. If those crimes even are the same person at all; it could be two more Black Hood killers! (Imagine that twist, Riverdale fans.)
Hal: Who am I, Betty? Say it. Say who I am!
Betty: You’re The Black Hood.
Hal: That’s right. Now say what I did.
Betty: You shot Mr. Andrews, you killed Ms. Grundy, Sugar Man, Midge, Dr. Masters. But the debate...
Hal: Was not me. I can’t take credit for that.
What did you think of "Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Night"? Will Hermione leave Hiram? Will Jughead survive his injuries? Who is behind the last black mask?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.