Well, Riverdale has made a milestone tonight. Not many shows these days reach 100 episodes. Riverdale has done it amid a season of death. Now the stills from production are showing the ones we have lost in Rivervale (Archie, Toni, Reggie) back. We’ve also been told from the spoilers on Twitter that we will see a tribute to the original comic characters and a salute to what the show has done before. And, as it is called “The Jughead Paradox” it makes me wonder if Jug will wear the crown?
Let’s face it! Rivervale is/was a very strange paradox of Riverdale. When the show returns in March, we’re supposed to be back in Riverdale but how will the Rivervale plots echoed down to the original series. But, for tonight, I ask: Will Jughead do his Rod Sterling impression again? Will the devil release Reggie long enough to have an appearance in the paradox? What about Jason Blossom? Will Archie and Toni only appear in the comic salute? The comic salute seems to be slanted toward the late 1950s/early 1960s (per stills) so it will be interesting to see if any of the other comics (“Archie: The Married Life” and “Afterlife”) comes into play.
Tonight not subplots. It is complicated enough as it is. We have Rod “Jughead” narrating but there is a dead body found. Jughead tells us that Archie is back from the dead. Betty has a nightmare about the town sacrificing Archie. Fangs had a dream about Toni drowning and coming back as a ghost and tells her so. Veronica has Reggie back. Nana is back, out of bed (which worries Cheryl), and had a frightful dream. Jughead wakes up not with Tabitha but in Archie’s garage with black feet. What gives, he thinks. Later at school, Jughead is upset by all that he sees (espeically Archie and Reggie. And we have “Don’t You Forget About Me.” It’s a cross between high school, comic and Rivervale. This is proven true when Jughead in the bathroom sees Ben and talks to him about his jumping to his death. Ben said no that was their Pembroke teacher (flashback here). This is a cross between Riverdale, Rivervale and the comics (I’m betting).
Later, in the staff room, Jughead is still in stock and finds out that Archie and Betty will marry on Saturday. Archie wants Jughead as the best man. As they talk, Betty gets a call from the morgue doctor (Dr. Strange) that there is a new body and it is Jughead. She says “It can’t be. I’m takling to him.” Jughead goes to the morgue and it is his body on the slab. Slab Jughead had been strangled and found on the highway. When the lights flicker and the clock face breaks, the doctor says it’s a paradox. Live Jughead gets the other one’s backpack and returns to the apartment to find Riverdale comics.
Okay, for newcomers (and those unfamiliar with any of the comics) hold on. It may get really bumpy from here on. We’re in for a wild roller coaster ride featuring people we haven’t seen (or at least not alive) for a long time. Since I’m watching live as I write, I may miss something, and I’ll try to condense it down (wish I got screeners!). In fact, by the end of the episode, I’m thinking that they’re inviting us into the new Twilight Zone and we’re all going to be crazy (and I hope they release this as a book or comic although I won’t find it in my town).
Jughead starts reading the comics and comes up with the doppelganger effect. What this means is that there may be duplicates running around (and Doctor Who fans know that this can’t happen and only spells trouble). Ben is dead in Riverdale but alive now. Jughead explains what is happening to Tabitha who has seen the comics and begins to think he is losing his mind but later he finds the “Welcome” sign with Riverdale (written in reverse) on one side and Rivervale on the other.
Jughead talks to Archie and tells him about Riverdale and how all that has happened there is darker in Rivervale. Jughead suspects that Hiram’s blowing up Archie’s house while he and Betty were making love (which was Archie’s dream) caused the town of Rivervale to happen. When talking to Ronnie, he finds out that Hiram died and she can’t believe that Hiram was a Darth Vader (many “Star Wars” references) in Riverdale. Reggie notices that his appearance is different in the two comics (just wait for it). Next up is Cheryl who can’t believe that in Riverdale that Kevin and Moose found Jason dead. Then, surprise we have Jason come in and Cheryl says she and Jay-Jay have a doubles date. Okay, Jason is more like the comic version here. And Cheryl is acting almost like the high school Cheryl (in the comics).
As Jughead searches the yearbook and finds the tribute to Jason, Ronnie has problems of her own. First, she can’t believe what the comics say about Hiram but then a second Reggie shows up at the door (has anyone else got a headache yet). Jughead meanwhile investigates parallel worlds. When he goes to the library for a book, he finds out that Dilton borrowed it and never returned it. Jughead mentions Dilton is dead but no. He’s told he’s teaching Physics and when Jughead finds him, Ethel is with him. Shocker!
As Jughead explains the theory, Dilton agrees that there are two universes that exist – Riverdale and Rivervale and they should be mirror images but they have become fractured. Dilton is studying them. To him, the dead Jughead was an abnormality. Wait for it. More is coming but I can’t tell it here.
Meanwhile Ronnie is having trouble with two Reggies who do not look anything alike. And they argue about everything. Ronnie says that there can’t be two of them running around town and one must stay at the apartment. They all do make it to the bachelorette party where one Reggie is a stripper and the Reggie who sold his soul to the devil gambles at Archie’s party. Archie and Jughead talk and we get a flashback to a past dream episode about Archie’s wedding with Fred there. (Hmm! Do I smell a rat?0 After the party, back at Ron’s apartment, she suggests a threesome but this freaks both Reggie’s out.
The next day, in the high school teacher’s lounge, Cheryl appears. Jason has been kidnapped by the Black Hood. By thinking about Riverdale, Jughead tells Archie about what happened in that universe. Archie, Jughead and Sheriff Keller go to where Jason is being held. They break in and try to rouse Jason when the Black Hood appears threatening to kill all but Keller shoots him. When the mask comes off, it’s Gilbert Blossom behind the mask (and not Betty’s dad).
Ronnie is upset with the Reggies when neither are dressed for the rehearsal dinner. She goes alone to the Pop Tates’ where Alice and Hal are hosting the dinner. Toni suddenly appears and tells them that Cheryl is dead. Going to the morgue, they find her body and Jughead realizes who is behind it. Jughead rushes to the high school where Dilton is preparing to leave. The universes are imploding and he’s the one who cojoined the universes for research. Jughead tries to make him see it has to stop but Dilton doesn’t care. All is in the name of science. Little does Dilton realize that Ethel isn’t buying into this plan. She poisons him and he dies. Ethel helps Jughead with figuring out what caused the split (bomb blowing up Archie and Betty). They have to recreate the events, but Jughead doesn’t want to hurt Betty and Archie. Jughead decides he must save Ethel who helped him realize the truth.
Jughead goes and talks to Ronnie. He knows that he must blow up the house and somehow he decides he and Ronnie must be the two making out at the time. Ronnie is okay with that and mentions Bughead (nice fan-verse reference). Jughead goes to set the scene and Archie arrives. He tells Jughead that he knows everything. Ronnie had told him before he killed her. In fact, Archie has killed everyone (but Dilton). Archie doesn’t want the worlds stabilized because he hopes Fred will return. He’s left Betty at the altar and came to the house to stop Jug. Archie explains that no one stays dead in Rivervale. All people come back to life in this universe. Archie then explains that he was at ground zero when the Riverdale saga began (the start of the comics back in the 1930s/1940s) and will there when it is destroyed. He has seen everything in all universes. The Rivervale one is a distortion not a copy or mistakes. It must survive so Fred will come back. (You know, this is actually a great tribute to Luke Perry.) As they start to fight, Betty arrives and kills Archie. She says “no one leaves a Cooper girl at the altar.”
Time is running out and Jughead tells Betty what has to happen. They go to Archie room with the bomb to recreate the incident as closely as they can. As they start to make love, Archie revives and comes upstairs to stop it. When the bomb doesn’t go off, the other Jughead comes in the door. Rod Jughead explains that when he died, he wen to the “great Pop’s Chocolate Shop” in the sky where they live as their comic characters. To solve the dilemma, there has to be a new power source. The power source is imagination. Since there can’t be two Jugheads, the Rivervale one must go into hiding and write the stories. Betty is upset because this isn’t fair. In the end, they agree that Jughead must start writing. The “Rod” Jughead can’t do it because he’s the narrator. Jughead goes to the bomb shelter (with Ethel who he will save by her coming to the shelter with him. In Rivervale, the bomb doesn’t go boom and Betty and Jughead are back in normal clothes. Going downstairs, all is back to normal with the others preparing to eat. And the universe starts settling.
In our Riverdale, Betty gets a call saying they need to leave the house. They make it out (evidently) and Jughead is writing in the garage where he feels the explosion. Jughead has a ringing in his ears which means that the universes are back to normal.
So what does 2022 hold for the Riverdale faithful. Well, things are back to normal. Archie, Toni, and Reggie seem back to normal. Cheryl mentions the curse and things start to happen. We will have to wait for what is to come and how Rivervale may impact the characters we know in Riverdale. Will there be another death. Executives say yes. Will Jughead still appear as Rod Sterling? Will Ethel return? I doubt it as she died in Riverdale. Hey, I’d like for her to return but I don’t see how. Will the curse play out? It’s going to be a long three months, isn’t it?