A melancholy fog hangs over the latest episode of Riverdale, highlighting the fact that for Archie and the gang, it’s the end of an era. At times, it can feel as though the writers are overdoing the whole wistfulness thing, but then the final scene sets up the show’s upcoming seven-year time jump, and it all kind of makes sense.
But first, there’s the not so small matter of the gang’s last day at high school and graduation. Tying up episode two‘s loose ends, worried dad F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) announces he’s taking daughter Jellybean (Trinity Likins) back to Ohio, where they’ll have space to unpack the trauma that caused her to become the Auteur. Her brother Jughead (Cole Sprouse) barely has time to process their relocation bombshell before he’s summoned to the principal’s office and told, much to his relief, that he will be graduating after all. Sadly, it’s not such good news for Archie (KJ Apa), who’s informed that he’ll need to repeat his final year if he wants to graduate. His consolation prize is being asked to record a song for the graduation ceremony, which we see him practising in his bedroom later on.
At graduation, Betty (Lili Reinhart) delivers a pretty on-the-nose valedictorian speech where she reminds her classmates that their high school years have been “co-opted with heartache, drama and even death”. Way to bring down the mood, B. After the ceremony, the gang have beers on the bleachers and Archie drops another bombshell: he’s signed up to join the Army and leaves for basic training in the morning. He and Ronnie (Camila Mendes) had appeared to rekindle their romance earlier in the episode, so she not unreasonably flips her lid. Archie seems sure of his decision, though, telling the gang: “For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel scared for my future.” They all vow to reconvene at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe on the anniversary of their graduation – every year on this date, come what way.
Meanwhile, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) informs Toni (Vanessa Morgan) that she won’t be going to college with her after all. Instead, she’s decided to stay in Riverdale so she can focus on rehabilitating the Blossom family name. That way, Toni’s grandmother might eventually give the couple her full blessing. The bombshells continue to drop when Betty tells Jughead that she and Archie kissed, but just the one time. Perhaps significantly, the couple seem to sweep her indiscretion under the carpet rather than discussing what happened like grown-ups.
— Riverdale (@CW_Riverdale) February 4, 2021
Betty also comes clean to Ronnie, who’s too upset about Archie joining the army to be angry with her. The next morning, Jughead accompanies Archie to the bus stop where the army will pick him up, but Ronnie decides she needs to say goodbye too. She and Betty arrive a minute too late in her car, but in a very romcom plot twist, Betty puts her foot down and they catch the army bus up. Archie persuades the driver to let him out for a second and so he can have a proper emotional send-off. It proves to be one last moment of closeness for the gang. In a voiceover, Jughead tells us that they soon drift apart without Archie there to act as “glue”.
Then comes a mini-time jump teeing up the big time jump. A year later, Jughead is sitting in Pop’s waiting for the gang’s one-year reunion. Guttingly, no one else shows up, leaving Jughead looking thoroughly dejected. He informs us mournfully in his voiceover that “it would be six years before I saw my friends again”. What the hell could have happened to them in that time? Bring on episode four.
Did you notice?
- Archie didn’t really write the graduation song, because it’s actually ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’ by Green Day.
- Archie’s dad Fred Andrews, played by the late Luke Perry, makes a brief cameo in a poignant flashback sequence
- Talk show host and Real Housewives producer Andy Cohen gets a namecheck for the second episode in a row. Does he have a mate in the writers’ room or something?