Riverdale has finally allowed everyone to remember their memories. “The Golden Age of Television” arrives with the moment that was feared may never come. After an entire season of watching memory-wiped versions of Archie and his friends, the penultimate episode allows the show to go into its series finale with everyone’s eyes wide open to the truth about their past.
From the moment Jughead arrives home to see Tabitha everything changes. Returning from her mission of trying to fix the multiverse timeline problem, she has finally stabilized the universe, which gives her the opportunity to show Jughead his memories of his former life.
Tabitha revealing that she had stabilized the timelines because the group in the 1950s had managed to start enacting positive change gives slightly more justification to the disconnected feeling season seven had built itself on. At least now, everything from fighting racism and censorship to embracing a new and different thought about life in the 1950s adds up to something.
Unfortunately, Tabitha has another piece of bad news. She can not return everyone to 2023, which means that everyone needs to continue their lives in the 1950s and move forward from there. However, she can give everyone their memories of their lives before the comet back, and then allow them to decide if they want to keep them or forget them forever.
While initially uncertain of what their memories hold, each of Jughead’s friends eventually succumbs to curiosity and agrees to see what their lives had been like previously, except for Kevin, who initially rejects the offer because Clay is not involved, as well as Julian due to discovering he was only a doll in the original timeline.
The revelations from the past do hit some emotional beats, such as Jughead’s tears of remembering his life and Archie’s emotional response to having spent more time with his father.
Others have slightly more comical or horrified responses, such as Veronica’s discomfort with having killed her ex-husband Chad and her father. Meanwhile, Betty deals with the family drama of her father being the Black Hood and Polly’s death and resurrection.
Other characters do not get the attention they should. For as much as Toni and Fangs loved their son, Riverdale never lets the two discuss how they had been married, and been a family, before the comet. Cheryl never gets to react to Jason’s death, and even though she has Julian as a twin brother, Jason’s death had been one of the initial driving forces behind Cheryl’s arc.
Ultimately, most of the group determines that they had suffered enough trauma in one lifetime, and decided that while they want to keep the happy memories, they also want to forget the bad ones.
It makes sense that most of them would want to ignore the bad parts, as so much of the first six seasons of the show had been filled with devastation and hardship. Tabitha can fill the request, giving everyone a soft reboot and filling their minds only with the happy times they spent in the original timeline with only Betty and Jughead choosing to remember everything, good and bad, about their lives before.
But, while this may be a happy ending for most as Riverdale prepares for its series finale, that may not be the case for Tabitha. Angel Tabitha can not stay with them as there is another Tabitha in this time period, one who would settle in Chicago and have a fulfilling life moving forward. But, this is also the end of Jughead and Tabitha’s relationship.
Tabitha, either version of the character, had rarely appeared in the final season, leaving and briefly returning throughout the final season. So, while it is disappointing that Tabitha and Jughead’s relationship ended as it did, Riverdale at least revealed to the audience where the 1950s Tabitha would end up.
Now that everyone remembers their past, the series finale can address the fallout of what that means for everyone moving forward. What does that mean for their futures now that they remember what had initially happened?
Do they follow a similar path? Or, now that things are so drastically different, do they take advantage of the second chance they have been given? Now that they remember who had ended up together in the original timeline, do they follow those relationships? Or, will they deviate from those plans?
Returning everyone’s memories before the series finale offers a better chance at an ending that can feel more connected to the characters that the audience had spent years getting to know, even if their recollection of the worst parts of their lives are missing.