Riverdale lets its bad guys and villains have the night


In the apocalyptic penultimate episode, Riverdale trots out all it’s bad guys and villains, making them the stars of a very dark episode.

Is it just me or does the Town With Pep look a lot less like the campy Riverdale we know and love and a lot more like the mean streets of Gotham? Even Veronica notices and delivers her opinion in a solid one-line zinger. However, those Batman villains don’t have a thing on the mean mugs causing havoc in Riverdale. I’m here to celebrate all the nefariousness.

We have confirmation now that Hal is definitely the Black Hood, even though there’s a copycat roaming the streets. Finally, he gets his 15 minutes. All along, we’ve known the Black Hood has been the worst possible version of a serial killer, but Hal redeems himself in “Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Day.” If this was a Batman movie, he’d be the lowest level bad guy to be dispensed, but he still makes use of his fleeting moment of evil.

Chasing Cheryl through the house, Shining-style, was merely the amuse bouche to the dead doctor and creepy home movie. When he lures Betty home with the threat of slitting her mother’s throat, we get to see what he’s really made of — even if the backstory was kinda convoluted and confusing.

Before Betty whacks him with a fireplace shovel, he unravels about his grandfather as the Riverdale reaper and his manipulations of the “Conway boy,” better known as the anemic scapegoat, Svenson. We watch as the film reveals a scared young “Harold” getting stern advice from his mother to “do better” and we instantly get a chilling Norman Bates vibe from him.

Never one to be back down, or miss an opportunity to emasculate her husband, Alice goes in hard on his mama’s boy status, giving Betty the opportunity to get the upper hand. Well played, Cooper ladies. Alice Cooper is the hero we all need and want, and she proves her worth again and again in this series.

Another minor villain which packs a punch (ha… see what I did there?) is Papa Poutine’s ironically named son, Small Fry. Small Fry mouth-breathes his way through town, looking to exact revenge on Hiram for his father’s death. Let’s hope Small Fry didn’t get paid per word because he’s a bad guy of few. To his detriment, he stumbles upon Hermione and Veronica mulling over the “October Surprise” file, and I bet he wishes he hadn’t burst his way in. It’s a rough night for doors in Riverdale, but an even worse night for chest wounds.

It takes four shots to take him down, but Hermione’s casual, “there’s another dead body in the study” line officially puts her in the running for “most badass mom.” It’s not enough, however, for her to abandon team Hiram, even though his mustache-twirling is quickly becoming tiresome.

While the rest of the town has descended into chaos, Hiram is tucked safely away in his car, fielding calls from a desperate and terrified Reggie. Hiram gets none of the action, even though he’s the one who lit the metaphorical match in the first place. Although technically still a villain, most of his malice is enacted from a safe distance away. I guess he doesn’t want to risk mussing that perfect head of hair. Booooor-iiing.

The most exciting bit of villainy, however, comes from the perfectly dressed savages, The Ghoulies. They are the absolute stars of the night, marauding their way through town, terrorizing everyone. Every element of this gang — the painted faces, the leather jackets without shirts, the tasers (!!!)  — makes me both excited and a little terrified.

Riverdale — “Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Night” — Image Number: RVD221b_0067.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Casey Cott as Kevin, KJ Apa as Archie and Cody Kearsley as Moose — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

It’s especially unsettling to know that folks, including our anemic hero Archie, can’t tell the difference between them and the Serpents at first. A gang is a gang, I guess. Archie shucks off the tired TV trope of forgetting he has a cellphone and confirms with Jughead that he’s in real trouble with the Ghoulies. A couple of Molotov cocktails later, and he’s kept them at bay.

Of course, Archie isn’t hero enough to handle these villains himself. So, it is a blessing to him (and our eyes and hearts) when the Hot Dad Squad rolls into town. Be still my own heart.

The Ghoulies, as we later find out, tagged along with Penny Peabody who is straight out of Batman movie in every single way. Give this woman and her goons a show of their own. She’s there to collect her “pound of flesh” from Jughead and take back the Southside for drugs or whatever. Girl is doing it!!!

My appreciation of her awesomeness was short-lived because, well, we know how it ended it up. If all these villains and bad guys came straight out of Gotham, I guess that means Jughead is Batman. Except in this universe, Jughead is (ostensibly) dead.

I went wild-eyed, as my hand flew to my mouth and I gasped out loud. Could it be? Is it really so? How can Jughead really be dead?!

Probably not, but dang…. Riverdale is going out HOT!

A few afterthoughts:

Cheryl is a damn queen, and if she wasn’t slaying before, she is definitely killing it now. Wounding the Black Hood/Hal with an arrow and a wardrobe change? All the yeses, folks. All of them.

Is Jughead’s “death” a gateway into a  more supernatural Riverdale? Could this be the beginnings of zombie Jug? And how will that work out for Bughead in the end?

Where the heck is Josie? I guess Attorney McCoy knows better than to let her precious out on the rioting streets of Riverdale, but, dang, I miss her.

The phrase “October Surprise” and Hermione’s use of the phrase “I’m the law and order candidate” has me thinking Riverdale might take a bit of a political turn in its final episode — whatever that will look like.

Are we really not going to address the amount gun violence that happens in this town? I mean … is everybody just walking around packing these days?

Cheryl’s part in dispensing saving Toni will hopefully bring these two together. I want more Choni!

We finally got our turf-war showdown, just not between who we were duped into believing it was. Can we finally stop villainizing the Serpents, now? Please?

Related Story: Another Black Hood? Really, Riverdale?

Next week is the season finale. What’s on your wishlist for the season 2 ender?