Eight Thoughts on Riverdale‘s “Night of the Comet”

By | August 1st, 2022
Posted in Television | % Comments

Welcome back all you Riverdale fans! A traditional Riverdale finale is big, bold, and absolutely bonkers. Even the quieter ones had some elements of true nonsense . This season, however, things are reserved. After a season full of the wackiest ideas we’ve seen in a while, it’s fitting.

It’s even more fitting that they throw my words above out the window during the final 3 minutes for a cliffhanger I am still cackling about.

As always, spoilers ahead.

1. Little Apocalypse

On the one hand, I’m frustrated that we didn’t get the kind of reckoning with Percival’s manipulationsI had predicted. On the other hand, what we got was moving and meaningful. On the other, other hand, I’m fucking livid that Alice Smith gets a pass again and there’s not a single moment of reconciliation or sitting with the awful things these people did, mind controlled/influenced or not. On the other, other, other hand…there is no other hand.

I’m so mad. I shouldn’t be but seeing these characters get off scot free and seeing Betty give Alice a complete pass for everything boils my blood. I know they didn’t have much time to do anything that wasn’t easy. I know the characters were under a spell. But they still caused hurt, there was something which made them easy targets and easily influenced by Percival. There is work to be done and none of it is done on screen.

The result could have even been the same – Betty forgives her mom because she loves her and understands that she has suffered too and then they come together. Betty wouldn’t have to guilt her or refuse to understand and forgive. But what we get is too easy. It didn’t have to be this easy. Alice should have been more introspective and if she wasn’t, Betty could have been honest. It would hurt, but real change isn’t always neat and painless.

And don’t even get me started on how we don’t even get a reconciliation scene between Kevin and his father, who, I must remind you, was ready to have his son executed in front of the whole fucking town. How amazing would that scene have been? Kevin understands exactly what it was like to be under Percival’s influence but he also has the trauma of what his father was willing to do AND of seeing his dad killed.

Why couldn’t we dig into that? Why couldn’t Kevin be given anything more to do than sing a little and look sad? You had the perfect opportunity! He doesn’t even have to be mad. It could be a scene of reconciliation and sharing pain and relief and bonding especially after learning that his dad may die in the process of saving the town. What a fucking waste.

2. Spellcaster, Soulswapper

One of the other plots that really didn’t work for me was Cheryl and Toni’s. I have no time for the show’s insistence that the two are soulmates and that Heather and Cheryl have to break up. It’s another 11th hour change that comes out of nowhere, like Cheryl originally breaking up with Toni! Fucking garbage.

I have no strong attachment to either relationship in the show. What I do have an attachment to is them making it work with the plots and character beats they’ve already established. Right now, Cheryl has not done shit to earn her good graces with Toni. She’s made some amends but sees no issue with her past actions or how she’s treated Toni and others.

Plus, the idea that Fangs is gonna die or they’re gonna split because “soul mates” and that means Heather can’t stay with Cheryl for the same amount of time and be happy together is kinda nauseating to me. It does a disservice to Fangs. It does a disservice to Heather. It does a disservice to Cheryl and Toni too. It forces them together instead of letting it develop as the two grow and change as people and either find themselves together again or not. It pigeonholes them, instead of opening up possibilities.

Wrapping it up with Abigail and Thomasina’s past is also distasteful, making it seem like it MUST happen because they were torn apart by tragic circumstances and Fangs’ awful ancestor, which, uh, wasn’t that in Riverdale? Whatever.

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That sex scene was also very tepid by Riverdale standards. Also not very tender. One out of five stars.

The stupid shirt gloves though? 5 out of 5.

3. If I Were An FBI Chief

Of all the characters, Betty’s the one who spends most of the episode reckoning with the possibility that these may be her final hours on Earth. What does she want from her future? Who does she want in it? Is the life she chased one she actually enjoyed? And the answer she figures out, after Archie proposes to her and after she finishes talking with Drake, is she wants a quiet life with people she loves.

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, it’s Betty being the “girl next door” once more. On the other, she’s happy with that. We’ve seen her figure out that an exciting life, despite her being good at it, is too much of a burden on her. Lili Reinhart nails this during the conversation with Agent Drake, who I hope comes back next season, and I felt myself tearing up a tiny bit at the end of it. She’s not just turning down the position because she’s not sure she’ll survive.

She turns it down because she knows, if she does survive, that life is no longer hers to live.

4. Mary’s Monologue

Molly Ringwald is back and ready to talk some sense into Archie. If only he’d talk to her instead of running to the town border with an Nth metal mace and smacking at the blue raspberry barrier.

It’s always a treat when Ringwald gets to guest star. She’s able to ground even the most silly scene and we really needed here with Archie. He’s spiraling, feeling like he has to be the golden boy, the town’s savior, to live up to the image he’s built up of Fred in his mind.

You can see it getting to him all episode. It’s underneath his proposal to Betty – specifically the timing – as well as his refusal to tell his mom that she drove into a trap and is stuck here. Mary gives him a good talking to about it leading to a wholesome moment of connection and a scene that finally, FINALLY got Archie to go home and be with the people he loves and who love him.

That’s something I expected more of, actually. Scene of characters contemplating the end of their world. I also expected Brookewho was last mentioned 46 episodes ago, to show up and be more important. Instead she’s written out and Mary is single again.


5. Sunset, One Minute After Sunset

They got me! I didn’t think I’d cry but I did. As I said earlier, I got a little misty eyed with some of the conversations in the episode. This one was full-on sniffly, running, and weepy. Or, specifically, the one scene where Tabitha and Jughead have their one date that is their entire lives.

You're Crying. I'm Not Crying.

It’s a beautifully shot and paced scene. Very short, perhaps even just one minute of screentime, where we see them in this one booth grow a family, grow old together, and then embrace, saddened that they may never get to do it outside the time-bubble. It’s heartbreaking. That Riverdale would let the scene stand on its own, wordless and uninterrupted, is nothing short of a miracle.

And, bonus, it was 3 hours and 13 minutes shorter than Titanic. Do you think they had to change the VHS tapes of their date halfway through?

6. To Friends

The other unequivocally wonderful set of scenes are the ones between Veronica & Reggie. I actually think this is Veronica’s episode, even as the show seemed to want to make it Cheryl’s (sorry Cheryl.) She gets the best moments, she gets an arc that’s a culmination of a whole season’s worth of actions, and it feels like she’s reached the end of one journey. She finally is able to fully let go of her father, reconciling who he was with who he was to her, and it’s visualized in an eerily beautiful scene with her father’s portrait; I got chills when it started rotting with the bittersweet music beneath it.

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Then there’s her and Reggie’s relationship. While I think the two did make a good couple, I also think them remaining friends and having Veronica commit to living a single life that is hers, wherever it takes her, is the right move. It’s a mature choice and the two share a mature conversation, though I think Veronica could have been a little more pointed with Reggie for all the problems his toxic masculinity caused the past year.

Still, I feel less angry about it in part because he began to make amends, he’s clearly trying to change, and because this feels more like Veronica letting go of a piece of who she once was – the anger and drive for revenge, control, oneupmanship – rather than unquestioningly rewarding him and forgiving him. I want that for her. She deserves happiness.

7. The Comet Dance

You didn’t think I’d forgotten that there was a deadly comet coming to destroy Riverdale this whole time did you? I know this finale episode was mostly full of character work and little out-there Riverdale-isms, aside from the whole souls in a jar so two ancestors can have a goodbye fuck thing, but that just means the one element that IS pure, unadulterated Riverschlock has to be big and silly.

So…is it?

Well, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure. In a season that featured a 500-year old, immortal warlock from another dimension with a grudge who represents Conservatism and is technically a representative of Hell in the war between literal Heaven and Hell that is supposed to happen in Riverdale, stopping a comet and bringing down a town barrier with some rope and fire isn’t too strange. The hows are certainly wild though.

Veronica acts as a superpower dialysis machine via a blood circle, gives those powers to Cheryl, and then she uses them to power her final Phoenix form – which just makes her hands glow blue – to MELT THE COMET. Oh and this was originally supposed to kill one or more of the people she previously brought back to life because her power’s the only thing keeping them alive.

Blueberry hands to the rescue!

That last bit did rankle me a little because there are never any consequences in Riverdale despite having, in this case, an explicit warning that the scales would have to be balanced. Apparently that meant this? Bah. We all knew it wouldn’t come to anything and lo and behold, Veronica’s play seemed to save everyone from certain doom AND losing a loved one.

What I love about this is, though, is we don’t get a real solution until at least 45 minutes in and so the characters sit with this possibility for a while AND there’s still no guarantee everyone will come out unscathed. It’s a good use of established stakes even though, much like Titanic, we know what was coming.

I also love how the scene leading up to Cheryl melting the comet is a musical number. It’s a good one! It’s thematically appropriate, well-sung, and the unfolding of events feels like a culmination. I didn’t quite cry here, though not for the show’s lack of trying. I tend to weep at big, bombastic Broadway numbers and this was one that would have gotten me. I don’t know why it didn’t.

Maybe I was too impressed with Madelaine Petsch’s singing and that AMAZING red leather outfit? Or maybe I was just too aware that we still had five minutes left and my mind was racing as to what could be coming. And what came was certainly nothing like what I expected.

8. Far From the Time I Know

Jughead’s got a big J on his shirt. Archie’s got a bit R on his shirt. Betty has a mother who doesn’t suck! Archie’s mom is downstairs! Everyone is crying because James Dean just died and it seems like they’re mirroring the first episode of Riverdale, only this time, things are idyllic like the comics. The tension between reality and the romanticized past they now encounter is palpable.

Only one person remembers this, the one who has been writing and talking about every season thus far from a distance and from across time: Jughead. Strap in folks. Just because it’s Archie Comics 1959 doesn’t mean things can’t get strange and terrifying.

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It's kinda amazing how well he pulls off the silly R. I can't wait to see the return of the OG costumes.

That about does it for now! Thank you for sticking with me as Riverdale had one of its longest stretches, with only a few short breaks. What did you all think of this finale? Was it weird enough for you? Let me know in the comments below and let me know if you have any thoughts on what will happen in our final season.

Which begs the question: When will I speak with you all again? Normally I’d say September but we’re already two months past the usual season end dates and The CW’s schedule is, putting it mildly, a shitshow. It’s looking like we’ll return in the midseason – perhaps December 2022. Perhaps January or February 2023 – with an undetermined number of episodes. So, you know, our usual Riverdale ambiguity.

Until then, stay safe and tell the ones you love that you love them Riverdale.

Best Line of the Night:

Cheryl: “Don’t worry. Heather will keep our spirits in a jar until the lovemaking ends.”

And one final snarky tweet I gotta highlight:

//TAGS | Riverdale

Elias Rosner

Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. Co-host of Make Mine Multiversity, a Marvel podcast, after winning the no-prize from the former hosts, co-editor of The Webcomics Weekly, and writer of the Worthy column, he can be found on Twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and has finally updated his profile photo again.


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