On the Riverdale season one finale, the core four endured the fallout from the truth of Jason’s murder and took some significant steps in each of their personal lives. Other members of the town also had defining moments of their own, and something wicked indeed this way came.
As the episode opened, Jughead’s usual narration tells us that Clifford Blossom had been transporting heroin from Montreal on his trucks – the true Blossom family business. And as the truth started to come out, a narrative emerged: That Jason learned about the drug running and it led to his murder; Clifford killing him to keep him quiet.
At the prison, Sheriff Keller is interested in the local components of the drug trade: Who’s funneling drugs on the south side of Riverdale? He presses FP for names and information about the drug trafficking in town but FP says he’s no snitch. The Sheriff then reminds him that he’s looking at 20 years with no leniency for his part in the cover-up of the murder, especially if he doesn’t share any helpful information now.
As Betty and Archie walk to school, Betty says it’s like her family is ignoring everything that’s happened, saying they’re pretending to be normal and perfect. She says if they don’t start dealing with everything that’s happened, they’re going to fall apart all over again. After they arrive, Mayor McCoy calls them into the principal’s office to say she’d like to feature them at the town’s jubilee, asking Archie to sing with the Pussycats and asking Betty to speak. She claims Betty and Archie are the kind of heroes Riverdale needs right now.
At the lunch table, Betty says she’s writing an article about everything since the mayor and others want to sweep it all under a rug. Before much more can happen, Veronica stands up and tells Betty she and Archie are together but Betty is okay with it – she’s with Jughead now after all. Later, Archie confronts Betty about the news about him and Veronica, wanting to make sure Betty is truly okay with it. As they’re talking, it sounds as if Archie begins to say that a part of him always thought that he and Betty would end up together but Betty cuts him off before he can say it, talking about how lucky they all are right now.
At the Riverdale Register, Betty shares her article with her mother but Alice says she won’t publish it because it’s “one version of the truth.” As Betty, Alice, and Hal talk, Hal reveals that there are attacks in Riverdale on the Serpents, as people in the town are upset with them over all of their alleged dealings.
At the Blossoms, Cheryl and Penelope are visiting the barn where Clifford hung himself and Cheryl’s having a hard time with it, but Penelope says that maybe Clifford had the right idea to get away from it all. Later at school, Cheryl reveals she stepped down from the River Vixens and hands the team over to Veronica. Veronica is shocked by this news but Cheryl claims she’s fine. Shortly thereafter, Betty and Veronica talk about Cheryl’s strange behavior. Betty then reveals that she’s publishing her article in the school’s newspaper, The Blue and Gold.
At Andrews’ Construction, Hermione Lodge drops a surprise offer from her and Hiram to buy Fred’s company out after she fires all of the South Side Serpent workers. When Fred seems noncommittal, Hermione confronts Veronica about her relationship with Archie. Hermione then asks Veronica if she could talk to Archie about convincing Fred to accept Hiram’s offer. Veronica is rightly appalled.
Josie and Archie talk about the song they’re to perform at the jubilee and Josie shoots down the song Archie wants to sing, saying it’s more about his friends than it is about the town as a whole.
That night, at the Andrews’, Jughead is introduced to a caseworker who claims she wants to help take care of him. Because of Jughead’s past DUI and Fred’s financial problems, Jughead can’t stay with the Andrews. The caseworker then reveals that a family on the south side has agreed to foster Jughead, but it means he’ll be in a different school district and will have to transfer by the end of the week. Archie then directly heads to the jail to talk to FP about Jughead’s predicament. FP won’t budge and flip on the Serpents, saying that the Serpents are his family and it’s important not to turn your back on family; that the Serpents will come through when it’s time. He says that Jughead will need Archie as Jughead will try to withdraw and will embrace the darkness within.
At school, Veronica and Jughead share lunch when Cheryl approaches them to apologize to Jughead. She gives Jughead one of her broaches so he can sell it to make some money. Before Veronica can really question Cheryl about her strange actions, Kevin grabs the group and tells them they need to head into the hall. There, Betty’s article is posted with a message smeared over it in pig’s blood: “Go to hell Serpent slut.”
At the Coopers, Alice jumps on Betty about publishing the article. Betty then confronts her mom about her own fears and lies. As Betty presses about the story FP started to bring up during their awkward dinner, Alice tells her that it’s none of her business. Betty then reminds her mother that Hal was keeping a secret that “almost destroyed us” and then asks her mother, “how many are you keeping?” Later on, Alice visits Betty in her room and reveals that the fight FP saw all those years ago was Alice and Hal arguing over the news that Alice was pregnant. Alice then decided to go away to the same place that they later sent Polly and the baby, a boy, was given up for adoption.
As Betty tells Archie and Veronica of the existence of an unknown brother, Jughead calls Betty to tell her he’s where he belongs – he’s now at South Side High. As music plays, Betty, Archie, and Veronica rush over tot he school to find Jughead, who seems to be making new friends. At the Blossoms, Cheryl is clearly preparing for something, laying out the white dress she was found in the day she and Jason took a swim in the river.
As Jughead and Betty talk outside the school, Veronica gets a text from Cheryl saying that she’s “going to be with Jason now.” The group then immediately rushes to the river, knowing what Cheryl is about to do. They get there in time to see Cheryl walking out on the frozen river and she turns to face them a moment before she plunges through the ice into the water. The group sprints out onto the river and find her floating below the ice. Archie immediately starts punching his way through the ice and reaches Cheryl, pulling her out of the frigid water. Archie then has to give Cheryl CPR until she starts breathing again.
After her suicide attempt, Cheryl recovers at the Lodge’s and Veronica brings her a hot drink. Hermione walks in and immediately disapproves, but Cheryl says she’ll go after she’s warmed up. Hermione then offers to take Veronica to the jubilee but Veronica calls her “Lady Macbeth” and says she has a ride with Archie.
At the Jubilee, Archie practices with his busted-up hand and Veronica confronts him about their relationship. Archie says he just wants to have the kind of relationship with Veronica that Jughead and Betty do. As the two kiss, the Pussycats arrive and Josie reveals she’s changed her mind about singing Archie’s song after hearing about what happened to Cheryl from Veronica. They then go on stage and start to perform Archie’s song, accompanied by Veronica.
While this is happening, Jughead visits FP at the prison to tell his dad he’ll be okay. He says he’ll survive. FP then tells Jughead he’s done some stupid and bad things and knows he has to answer for his part of it. He tells Jughead to be there for his mom and Jellybean. Jughead says he’ll do his best and FP says there’s no a doubt in his mind that that’s true.
After the Pussycats, Veronica, and Archie finish up to applause, Betty steps on stage to give her speech. Jughead walks in just in time to hear her speak. Betty then launches into her speech and says that they’re all Riverdale, calling out people by name. She then confronts the fact that, when things get tough and lies flourish, things will continue to be worse and horrible things will continue to happen. She then challenges everyone, saying “Riverdale must do better. We must do better.” An awkward silence follows but Jughead starts clapping, which inspires the rest of the audience to rise and applaud Betty’s words.
In the hall after Betty’s speech, Hermione confronts Fred about the offer and Fred says he’s not settling. He then says he expects Hermione to show up at work in the morning.
At the Blossoms, Penelope walks in to find Cheryl holding a candelabra and smells the floor covered in gas. Saying it’s the only way “they can truly start over,” Cheryl then sets the house on fire. Later, Cheryl watches the house burn as Penelope melts down.
At FP’s place, Jughead tells Betty he loves her. Betty returns the sentiment. At the same time, Veronica and Archie sneak into the Lodge’s for some romance. Archie and Veronica then have sex. As Jughead and Betty heat up, they’re interrupted by some Serpents, who tell Jughead that they’ve got his back, offering him a Serpents’ jacket for FP not turning them in.
The next morning, Archie gets up to leave Veronica to go see his dad at Pop’s – apparently Fred called and asked Archie to come over, wanting to talk about something. After Archie arrives, he goes to the bathroom to wash his hands. As Archie is cleaning up, a man bursts into the diner and attempts to rob the place. When Archie comes out of the bathroom because of the noise, he finds the man threatening Pop. When Archie looks like he’s going to make a move to intervene, Fred stands up and slowly approaches the masked man, hands raised. The man, toting a gun, turns toward Fred. When Archie realizes what’s about to happen, he tries to step in front of his father, but he’s too late … the man shoots Fred Andrews in front of his son. But as Jughead’s narration tells us, this shooting was no random act.
Continue on to read the review of season one’s thirteenth episode and season finale, “The Sweet Hereafter.” It’s separated so you can tackle all of the juicy Riverdale drama in chunks and explore the episode’s key moments and highlights. Click Next to scroll through, or jump straight to the part you’re most interested in: