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Riverdale’s Season 3 Finale Proves it’s The Cliffhanger King

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Riverdale Season 3 finale.

With the clink of four milkshakes, season three of Riverdale is over. From the deadly game of Griffins and Gargoyles, to sporadic seizures, to The Farm’s organ harvesting, season three of Riverdale has put it’s viewers on a wild ride. Although viewers may have thought this season was a little odd and slightly confusing at times, this final episode, “Survive the Night,” tied everything from all three seasons together.


Starting the finale off shortly after the previous episode ended, Betty (Lili Reinhart), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Veronica (Cami Mendes), and Archie (KJ Apa) are invited by the Gargoyle King to attend a dinner party hosted by none other than Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt). There, not only was it revealed that Chic (Hart Denton) was the Gargoyle King, but also that Penelope was the mastermind behind it all.


Penelope then tasks the Core Four to their last quest: to survive the night in the woods, hence the episode’s title. What seems to be a simple task turns out to be very much the opposite, in true Riverdale fashion.


Archie fights a beastly man resembling a bear, Veronica and Betty are forced to drink poison, Jughead battles Chic, and Betty is forced to choose between killing her father, Hal (Lochlyn Munro), or not obtain the poison antidote. Ultimately, Hal is killed, Chic goes to jail, Penelope escapes, and the Core Four successfully survive the night. At the same time, Cheryl escapes The Farm with Alice’s aid, while the Farmies prepare to “ascend.”


Later in the episode, Betty and Jug are caught by surprise when they’re visited by a FBI agent, who turns out to be Charles Smith, FP Jones’ and Alice Smith’s son. As if Charles’s appearance wasn’t too big of a shock itself, he reveals to Betty and Jug a huge twist: Alice has been working with the FBI to build a case against The Farm her entire stay there. Meanwhile, the Lodges are met with a twist of their own: Hermione is arrested for conspiracy to commit murder against her husband, Hiram (Mark Consuelos).


Nevertheless, nothing in this episode was as shocking as the last five minutes.


Rid of Gargoyle Kings, Black Hoods, and death cults, the Core Four go back to their normal lives — or so they thought. Having a celebratory round of milkshakes at Pop’s, the four make a vow to thoroughly enjoy and cherish their senior year, which as Archie says, “could be last time [they’ll] all be together in the same place.”


After all agreeing with Archie and toasting “to the future,” the scene flashes forward to spring break of their senior year, where Archie, Betty, and Veronica stand in their underwear around a burning fire in the middle of the woods covered in blood.


It is not hard to notice that Jughead is missing from this scenario. Making it even more apparent, Archie is ordered by Betty to throw Jughead’s iconic beanie into the flames — leaving many viewers worried for Jug’s future in the fourth season.


“After tonight, we never speak of this, ever, not to each other, not to our parents, no one,” Betty tells them. “We finish our senior year, we graduate and we’ll go our separate ways. That is the only way we won’t get caught.”


Returning to present day, the episode ends with a zoom out of the four laughing and enjoying their milkshakes, with the lyrics, “Life would lose its meaning if I lost you my love,” playing ominously in the background — possibly foreshadowing to a murder in season four or Jughead’s suggested death?


While this episode answered many questions that came up throughout the season, it also inevitably left viewers wondering about what will happen to Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Archie as they head into their senior year in season four.


Where did all the Farmies (including Alice) go? Will Charles cause a shift in Betty and Jughead’s relationship? How is Hiram going to get revenge on Veronica? What is going to become of Chic and Penelope? How are the writers going to deal with Luke Perry’s (who played Fred Andrews) death? What are Archie, Veronica, and Betty trying to cover up? And most importantly, is Jughead dead?!?


Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the creator and showrunner of Riverdale, told Entertainment Tonight that season four is going to be largely inspired by “Christopher Pike novels, or [Lois Duncan’s] Killing Mr. Griffin or I Know What You Did Last Summer, even the Donna Tartt novel, The Secret History.” Although the gang vowed to take a break from murder mysteries their senior year, this hints at them being involved within a murder more so than ever before.


“We started to talk a bit about what we were going to do next season and we felt like one of the things that had never happened on the show was that something extremely terrible hadn’t happened to one of our Core Four,” adds Aguirre-Sacasa in the ET interview, regarding Jughead’s alluded death. “It felt like one of them had to be at the bleeding heart of this crime, so that’s kind of how the idea evolved.”


I still hold strong to my theory that the gang does kill someone in the next season, but it’s not Jughead. To me, the most likely suspects are either Hiram Lodge, Chic, or Penelope Blossom. We will just have to wait and see when season four of Riverdale airs in fall 2019 on The CW.

Sofia is a double Screenwriting & Journalism major at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Twitter: @sofiacmiera Instgram: @sofiacmiera
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