The chess pieces were placed, the votes were in, and the life of our burger-loving writer was up in the air. Riverdale Season 2 Episode 22 was the closing chapter for the season-long drama that sparked with a gunshot in Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe.
Penny Peabody and the Ghoulies left Jughead's life in limbo with an attack that left us speechless. We didn't want Jughead to die, but with the way Hiram had been getting everything he wanted, this could've been his victory.
Luckily for us, that cliffhanger never came to be.
For all you naysayers predicting that he would die, you were only half right. We did get a dead Jughead and his closest friends mourning his gravestone. However, this scene was only a dream, so you only get half the points.
At the end of Riverdale Season 2 Episode 21, he made a selfless sacrifice to help his community and protect his friends. Unfortunately, it's a shame, now seeing him in the hospital with his bruises, that his sacrifice was all for naught.
Due to the lies from the sheriff, the Serpents went on a vengeance quest that nearly wiped them out. Fangs didn't die, but the Southside Serpents did! From the group, most either jumped ship to the Ghoulies, left town, went into hiding or died in battle.
Hiram's masterful plan worked: The Southside Serpents were no more. The biker gang would never get in his way ever again. And, the properties that made up the Southside, like the trailer park and the Whyte Wyrm were now up for grabs.
The decimation was a complex plan with moving pieces that didn't make a lot of sense. Seriously, take a moment to dissect every piece of his plan. Either he's a lucky organizer who kept getting his way ... or he's a sociopath.
I'm leaning toward the latter at this point.
Jughead: What did I miss?
FP: What you did brought ever Seprent I’ve ever known out of the woodwork. You would’ve been proud of them, boy. It looked like we were gonna win the day, but in the end, there were just too many Ghoulies. It ewas like shooting snakes in a barrel.
Jughead: Why? Why did you go?
FP: I wanted to avenge you.
Jughead: I had an agreement with Hiram Lodge.
FP: There was no stopping the others. They were churned up about you and Fangs, even though Fangs is ... alive.
Jughead: Fangs is alive?!
To make his plan work, Hiram had to have seized every opportunity that came his way and orchestrated each and every bad thing that happened in town. Like, for instance, the gang fights, the riots, the break-ins, and the affairs to name a few.
Setting up the town hall shooting wasn't a surprise to find out that Hiram did it.
The current Riverdale crime lord had been one of the top suspects when it was revealed that Hal wasn't the shooter. The shooting turned the town into a frenzy, so it fit his plan.
What was surprising was his secret agenda for all of his more significant moves. Hiram was being extra greedy in his pursuit of controlling all of Southside, not just the school. All of the properties he sought to take over must have been needed for a bigger purpose.
Luckily we still have Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe thanks to Veronica winning it back; we can't lose our favorite dinner or the famous milkshakes.
He would've gotten away with his plan entirely had it not been for Penelope's moment of concern.
Let's talk about Penelope's character shift for a moment. Her protecting Cheryl's life went against everything we learned of the cold matriarch these last few episodes.
We saw her working with Claudius to hurt Cheryl and Nana Rose, so this moment of stopping her daughter from going to an upcoming violent police raid went against that tone.
Even though she has been hot and cold with Cheryl, she has some type of love for her daughter. It might not be a conventional love, but it there's somewhere. Deep, deep, DEEP DOWN somewhere.
I can't believe I'm saying this but ... Penelope Blossom saved the day.
Her protecting Cheryl inadvertently helped the group save the Southside Serpents who were hiding out at the Whyte Wyrm. No one got hurt, and they made it to a safe location in time for pancakes.
Penelope will never get a jacket from the Serpents as a thank you. But, at least her daughter was recognized for the good that she did for that group.
So, thank you, Penelope.
We can't ignore Penelope's strange involvement in Hiram's new Council of Evil. (Official organization name pending.)
He confirmed our suspicions that all of the villains we came across were connected. Penny Peabody, Claudius, Penelope, the sheriff, and the Ghoulies were working together to take control of the town. And, it also proved Veronica's initial warning that Hiram would un-loop Hermione the first chance he got.
What evil do you think this group will cause in town?
All of these power players are well connected. They could do a lot of damage in Riverdale Season 3, so we should be afraid for our favorite characters. Especially because of what Hiram did to Tall Boy, and the cliffhanger with Hiram in the Riverdale High gym.
Hiram is a dangerous man who won't resist sending his villains out to destroy Gotham City. (Wait, I meant Riverdale. Sorry, it's hard to tell the difference anymore.)
Veronica was the only person with any leeway to stand up to her father. He was never going to hurt her, and for as much as she was becoming a thorn in his side, he would always love and protect her.
Though, she finally reached her limit of throwing accusations and shade at Hiram. He called her bluff and made the biggest ultimatum she would ever have to debate.
Did she make the right call with sacrificing her entire future for the Chock'lit Shoppe? I don't believe it was a good move.
Eventually, Hiram still got what he wanted by securing the Whyte Wyrm. And now he has a 50% stake in the Lodge family business. Veronica gave up everything to get a diner in a part of town that would soon be home to a prison, a brothel and other dangerous crimes.
Veronica: Daddykins, care to comment on the rumors that you’ve been having meetings with Claudius and Penelope Blossom in their barn?
Hiram: Certainly. I’m looking to diversity Lodge Industries holdings by possibly getting into the maple trade.
Veronica: So, it’s not that you enlisted Claudius to impersonate The Black Hood and take pot shots at Mom during the town hall debate?
Hermione: Veronica, have you lost your mind?!
Hiram: Your imagination is getting the better of you.
Veronica: Maybe, maybe not. But, I don’t think any of us in this room can deny that it’s at least possible that you’d put Mom in the crosshairs to pursue some personal political agenda
If she had turned him down, she would have all the power, money and access to fight another day. Plus, if she convinced Hermione to join her side, they would have the majority share to oust Hiram. Do the math, Veronica!
Hermione was already almost on her side. She had an epiphany when Veronica confronted Hiram the first time about his shady dealings. If she pushed again, her mother could've been turned.
The speakeasy under the Chock'lit Shoppe might become a new focal point for Riverdale Season 3 as the group will need a place to do business. However, trouble will no doubt find its way there. An illegal secret bar screams danger.
Archie also made several faulty moves in his pursuit to capture the fake Black Hood who attacked him and his dad. The first being him reaching out to the sheriff about his suspicions.
Why would he even seek help from the sheriff? He already knew that he couldn't trust the cop and that he had a business relationship with Hiram. Spilling his concerns to an untrustworthy individual would only cause more trouble.
When the sheriff revealed that Tall Boy was the attacker/shooter and that he got killed, the alarms immediately sounded.
How was it so easy for the sheriff to find the real attacker? (Oh, that's right, he was involved too!)
Previously, the sheriff chalked up Archie's concerns to be mindless worries. Obviously, the death of Tall Boy was a cover-up job orchestrated by Hiram, and it shouldn't be trusted.
Archie's second big mistake was confronting Hiram. What was he thinking?!
You don't stand up to a dangerous criminal leader and threaten him with murder. Archie has done a lot of stupid things during his time on Riverdale, but this quest may be his Waterloo.
Archie will be lucky if he ever sees daylight again now that Hiram is taking care of the 'Archie problem' personally.
Do you think Jughead will be a good leader for the Southside Serpents?
The tortured-writer-turned-gang member had been unofficially leading the group for a while now, and he was doing an above-average job. The younger members were listening to him, and he was serving as the voice of voice. However, his personal biases nearly got a lot of people hurt a couple of times.
FP should probably not stray too far away. Jughead might need a little bit of guidance in the first few weeks/months to get the hang of things, especially if the Penny and Ghoulies war is still a problem.
Hal: I never doubted for a moment you’d come. You’re the only one who understands me. Just like me.
Betty: You did ... unspeakable, horrible things. I’m not like that. I am not like you.
Hal: Aren’t you?
Hal: Then why are you here?
Betty: To say goodbye, Dad. And also to say, no more darkness. No more evil. It’s over.
The fear of 'Dark Betty' has hung over Betty's head since its first emergence on Riverdale Season 1 Episode 3.
The malevolent and evil persona, which had plagued her mind, convinced her to lose her inhibitions and explore her dark side. It's been her biggest fear these last two seasons. And, she's been afraid that she'd lose control to the monster within.
When The Black Hood toyed with her fear, the darkness all but consumed her every thought. The serial killer knew which buttons to press and how to prey on her insecurities. So, when The Black Hood was revealed to be her father, that heartbreak cut deep.
For much of the hour, we witnessed Betty left in limbo figuring out her place in the world. Would she fall victim to the same darkness that ran in her family? Could she break the mold?
There was a scary moment when she nearly hid away like Alice. The fear, and pressure from the public, almost won out. However, her strength survived.
Betty's strongest character development moment had to be when she confronted Hal in jail.
The reunion and resulting farewell was her way to say goodbye to the fear that had controlled her since the series began. The 'darkness' would no longer play a part in potentially corrupting our favorite girl next door. She found the courage to shake it all off and determine her future.
Plus, the scene of her walking away from Hal while he tried to win her over was the perfect GIF-worthy moment. Betty relished in her queen status and had no time for her father's petty words.
No one has more confidence than #PettyBetty.
So long, Hal! Don't let The Silence of the Lambs glass door hit you on the way out.
Moose and Kevin finally had their kiss!
This emerging romance was teased ever since Riverdale Season 1 Episode 1, so it took long enough for them finally to get together. On the other hand, their kiss would've had more of an impact if it had happened at the right time in the right place.
Comforting Moose in the bathroom about the death of his cheating ex-girlfriend didn't have the romantic vibes we were all expecting. Sure, we're not asking for The Notebook-level romance here, but something more special would've been appreciated.
Fred: Was it close at least?
Hermione: Very. Less than 200 hundred votes.
Sierra: So what? You came to gloat?
Hermione: No, Sierra, I came to tell Fred that he ran a great campaign.
[She offers her hand and they shake hands]
The election results were so close! Anyone could've won the race, even though Hermione's victory seemed to be in the bag.
Fred put a lot of effort into his campaigning, and he was pretty close to stopping Hermione. As she mentioned it, only 200 votes were separating them in the election. (Does anyone think this tidbit will play a part in election fraud during Riverdale Season 3?)
Once he had helped the Southside Serpents, there was a slight chance that he could've taken the title. That move is the type of action that turns the tides and wins it out for the heroes. However, we're talking about Riverdale here; evil finds a way to win.
It was honorable of Hermione to visit Fred and shake his hand.
There was plenty of bad blood between them during the election, so this action was a nice side to the new mayor. Hermione has always been the lesser of two evils in the Lodge family.
We don't know how Archie fared in the student council polls. However, based on all the people who dropped out, he most likely did pretty well against Ethel.
Come on; she wasn't even included in the student council debate! Talk about an underdog.
He would've done well leading the school if it had not been for Hiram's interference. When someone evil like Hiram is lurking nearby, you know that he has something hiding up his sleeve. And framing Archie for the murder of the Shadow Lake robber was an excellent move to get his former protegee out of the way.
Hopefully, Archie is acquitted of all charges. The last thing we need is another storyline of someone behind bars. Or worse, a plot focusing on Archie trying to survive in the Southside prison.
Please don't make that happen!
Riverdale Season 2 Episode 22 was a conflicting end to a messy and complicated season.
Don't get me wrong, many of the characters reached their personal goals that were set up in Riverdale Season 2 Episode 1, like Betty with her darkness and Cheryl seeking her independence. However, the abundance of time veered the ship dramatically to make Riverdale Season 2 a completely different series than Riverdale Season 1.
Archie continued his downward spiral right to the end. And Hiram, who started as a caring father, quickly became a Machiavellian puppet master that turned Riverdale (the town with pep!) in Gotham City. And trust me, Archie will never be Batman.
Unfortunately, what held "Chapter Thirty-Five: Brave New World" back from achieving full plot resolution was that it felt unfinished.
Riverdale Season 2 Episode 21 was a much more exciting episode. And from the way it was structured, it felt like a season finale. In this case, "Brave New World" didn't have the same punch when it completed its Hiram storyline.
Something seemed to be missing in the plot when Archie confronted Hiram and when Archie got arrested.
What did you think of "Chapter Thirty-Five: Brave New World"? Will Hermione side with Veronica? Can the group save Archie from jail? How did you like Riverdale Season 2?
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.