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Riverdale - Judgment Night - Review: 'Chaos'



Riverdale delivered a very intense penultimate episode this week and lives are changed. We also finally got to the big black hood reveal which felt a little underwhelming compared to everything else in the episode.

The Puppet-master

When Hiram Lodge arrived in Riverdale this season, he was not here for redemption, on the contrary, he was here to build an empire he had lost and it almost cost Veronica and Hermione's lives this episode. Hiram at his core is a frustrating character for me to wrap my head around. A good antagonist is captivating and makes you feel for their motives. Hiram doesn't have those traits, he is power hungry and cookie cutter which makes him pulling the strings in Riverdale hard to swallow because the main characters sans Jughead have taken up to this point to figure out his game. This isn't new for a CW show, but watching it unfold can get cliche and tiresome.

In this episode we watched him cut ties with Reggie just as quickly as he had tied them once he served his purpose. Reggie in fact did not fire the shot that wounded Fangs, that was Midge's mother, but the mere fact that it played out just how Hiram wanted it to shows that those in his orbit should have gotten hip to what he was doing before a full on riot broke out. Hiram stayed on periphery and really did not have to do anything except watch it all burn. He even had the newly-released Ghoulies start up their war with the Serpents which resulted in a devastating outcome that I will discuss later. Should Hiram have this much influence when he really isn't that menacing of a villain? I vote no, but the town fell for his puppeteering hook line and sinker. The only thing that did not go his way this episode was Papa Putine's son Small Fry (who is not so small) arriving in town thirsty for revenge. Alas it was not Hiram who cleaned up that mess, it was Veronica and Hermione who took care of him but not before he murdered the bodyguard Hiram had hired to protect his girls. Piggybacking off of last episode, Veronica continued to push back at her father and seemed to knock some sense into Hermione along the way. Hermione was such a supportive mom when we met her, and she has wilted into a puppet of Hiram's making. Watching her willingly go along with Hiram's plan to expose her affair with Fred if need be to win the mayoral race was infuriating to watch. It seems she has woken up once her daughter's life was threatened thanks to Hiram's actions and it looks like these three are headed for a huge divide as we head to the finale.

The Long Awaited Reveal?
This episode finally put to bed who the Black Hood was once and for all and it is Hal. I am still on the fence about this but feel it was the cleanest route to take to tie up this mystery so they can move on to the inevitable next one we will get next season. The red herring we got during the midseason finale was very obvious to most eagle eyed fans I have seen, and the Hal reveal was also quite obvious. Was that the point though? I feel like now that we know his motives dating back to his childhood and what he was taught gives more depth to the Cooper psyche and why Betty says she feels a darkness follows her. So maybe that was the point of this entire storyline. Is it a cop out in the reveal? Maybe, because in the end Hal believed his sins were justified whilst the people he targeted were somehow worse than him. I also worry that this trend of having the teenage characters find out that their parents are evil is getting stale, hopefully we now veer away from the murderous fathers in season 3.

For now, Betty and Alice are free from this and watching them work together much like Veronica and Hermione did was one of the best parts of the episode. Alice is a complex character and this season I think they fleshed out her character very well in terms of why she was the way she was when we first met her. The one thing that is still hanging out that I don't think we will get a resolution on this season is the man they disposed of thanks to Chic, surely this will be in the writer's back pocket for next season. Just as Betty had freed herself of the Black Hood and her father, she is dealt another devastating blow in the form of her boyfriend.

Sacrifice

'I love you, I'll never stop loving you'

Were these going to be the last words Jughead will ever speak to Betty? Probably not, because let's be honest, we are in season two of this show and Jughead is iconic to the Archie universe. Nevertheless, watching him make a deal after Penny demanded the Serpents hightail it out of Riverdale was compelling. Once again Hiram was behind this because Jughead Jones is the one nut he could not crack all season. Once Midge's mom came forward as Fangs' shooter, he and the serpents were on to the next problem and that was the freshly freed Ghoulies. They are here and want the town and of course it was Hiram behind it all. Penny also returned looking for her pound of flesh which she got.

The parental relationship was at the crux of this storyline as FP urged his son to be the leader he has been trying to be since his tenure with the serpents began. Every time I see FP watching his son in that leather, I feel as though it pains him. FP believes in his 'boy' as he so lovingly calls him and I think we've seen that he fears history is repeating itself, and in a way it has. This season, Jughead has embraced his role in this life and at times his decisions have backfired spectacularly and in this episode, his feud with Penny and Hiram could have cost him his life.

While FP wanted to take on the Ghoulies right then and there, Jughead wanted to wait and quickly went against his dad and struck a deal with Hiram to give himself up if the Serpents could stay, to which Hiram quickly agreed to. Jughead made good on his word and was brutally beaten and mutilated leaving us to wonder if he could come back from that kind of assault. Does it get more Riverdale than a father gladly accepting someone else's son sacrifice their life just to rid themselves of the pest? I mean seriously! Jug is Veronica's age and that is why Hiram now wins my worst parent of Riverdale and we just learned Betty's dad is a serial killer!!! The ending was extremely heartbreaking even if we are sure Jughead will live to sleuth another day. It was beautifully shot with FP carrying his battered son out of those woods to his friends and his shocked girlfriend. I am grateful they did this in this episode so we didn't have to mess with the whole 'is Jughead alive?' fiasco all summer. So thanks writers, now we don't have to watch verbal gymnastics at Comic Con this year!

Things I loved and Things I wonder:

*LOVE: Cheryl going full on Katniss Everdeen on Hal when he went after her and also when Toni was threatened. She was over it this ep and kicked some major ass. Next season I want more her, and I want more Choni please!

*WONDER: Is Fangs really dead? We saw Joaquin last episode, could a wounded Fangs have slipped out in the chaos to San Junipero? I hope so.

*LOVE: The Dad team up to run off the Ghoulies at Pop's. Mr. Kellar, Fred and FP showed up like three bosses and saved the day!! I'd love to see those three sharing some beers at the Serpent bar plotting how to get rid of Hiram.

*WONDER: When Alice said she stepped out on Hal too, is this confirmation that a few episodes back when she showed up at FP's trailer, they didn't just talk? I think so.

*LOVE: Fred keeping that vest on when the faux Black Hood Hiram hired showed up at the Andrew's house.

So what did you think? Will Jughead make it? Are we done for good with Hal? What mystery will hang there for us to ponder as we head to hiatus?

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