The ‘Riverdale’ Finale Decoded: So, They Were Dead the Whole Time?

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The final episode of Riverdale, aptly titled “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale,” aired today on The CW after seven seasons and 137 episodes. You might not have predicted that ending, even if you’ve watched the craziest shows on TV. Especially considering how many loose ends it left in terms of character outcomes.

Curious about the Riverdale series finale? Looking for an explanation of Riverdale’s season finale? The good news is that your question is answered both in the article’s title and body. Let’s not tarry any longer and go to work. Read on for a discussion of Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) farewell speech on Riverdale, as well as the events of Season 7, Episode 20, and their significance to the series as a whole. I was wondering which Jughead was making the delivery.

Riverdale Season 7 Plot Summary:

First, a brief introduction, because I know that some of you probably stopped watching the show sometime around Season 3 and are now thinking, “Hey, did Betty and Archie get together, or what?” If so, buckle up, because you’re in for an exciting journey.

The cliff notes version is that a comet wiped down Riverdale in Season 6 due to the manipulations of an evil sorcerer. No, just Riverdale and nowhere else on Earth. Tabitha Tate (Erinn Westbrook), a time-traveling “angel” who sped everyone back to 1955 in the nick of time, saved the day. Furthermore, the characters, who had previously become adults, were back in their teenage years and experiencing their Junior Year of High School at Riverdale High, where we initially saw them in Season 1.

During Tabitha’s absence “untangling the timelines” to ensure their safe return to 2023, she erased everyone’s memories and charged Jughead with the duty to “bend towards justice.” Basically, if they succeeded in making Riverdale and the world a better place, the conditions that led to the infamous Riverdale night and ultimately permitted the evil sorcerer to seize control of the town would never arise again.

The good news is that it actually did work. Tabitha returned in “The Golden Age of Television,” the series’ second-to-last episode, to reveal that they had strengthened the chronology by bringing ideas of tolerance and inclusivity decades before they would have otherwise appeared. Tabitha claims that the future will be much brighter and better, but she adds that there is a catch. She was successful in reinforcing the chronology, but only by making the 1950s utopian version of Riverdale the primary timeline and erasing the others. It means that none of them will ever be able to go back to the year 2023.

As an alternative, she gave her pals the option of future-remembering their pasts. Both the good and the terrible in Jughead and Betty’s (Lili Reinhart) past were remembered. Most people just thought back on the good times. What jogged their memory, I wonder? How? By catching up on all of Season 1 of Riverdale. There is no humor intended here. Really. On Riverdale, they watched the show. This program, dude. There just isn’t anything that compares to it.

Here we are at the final episode of Riverdale: “Goodbye, Riverdale.”

Riverdale Season 7, Episode 20, “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Seven: Goodbye, Riverdale” Plot Summary:

In the final episode of the series, we advance in time by 67 years. Betty, who has lived a full 86 years, is on her deathbed. We learn that the obituary she is reading is for Jughead, who passed away recently at the age of 84. Why, all of a sudden, Jughead is Betty’s junior by two years? What’s the point of fretting about it? Let it go! Disregard it! Keep going!

Anyway, she mentions to her granddaughter Alice that she would like to pay a final visit to Riverdale. Later that night, an ethereal Jughead clothed in his original season One attire pays her a visit. He promises to take her back in time to any given day, and she choose the day she was sick with the mumps at the conclusion of her senior year. She never got her pals to sign her yearbook and she always felt bad about it.

So, they time-travel back to that day, and Old Betty gets to experience high school all over again, this time in the seventeen-year-old version of herself (aka Lili Reinhart’s 26-year-old version of herself). All the characters’ deaths are revealed over the day, along with the revelation that Betty, Jughead, Archie (KJ Apa), and Veronica (Camila Mendes) formed a polycule and dated each other during their senior year after their memories were restored. If you were here to find out if Betty and Archie ended up together, I’m sorry to disappoint you.

We also learn that while most people were content in their own ways, they did not rely on one another for support. Archie became a builder, Veronica worked in Hollywood, Betty published a feminist magazine, and Jughead published a humor magazine. Toni (Vanessa Morgan) and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) stayed together and became campaigners. Casey Cott’s Kevin and Karl Walcott’s Clay stayed together and had a great life in the Big Apple. Charles Melton’s character, Reggie, was a professional basketball player. Four weeks later, Midge (Abby Ross) and Fangs’s daughter lost their father, Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner), in a bus accident.

There are a few more conclusions we learn along the way, but those are the key ones: Alice (Mädchen Amick) got married and traveled the world, Pop Tate (Alvin Sanders) died peacefully in his sleep, and Nana Rose (Barbara Wallace) was reincarnated several times. This concludes the show and answers any questions you may have had.

Riverdale Series Finale Ending Explained:

…and this is where the ambiguity may arise. Grandma Betty, Alice, and Alice’s daughter… Boyfriend? Husband? Driver of a cab? stop by Pop’s Diner, which is no longer open. When they get there, they find Betty dead in the rear seat after a vehicle accident.

The younger Betty exits the vehicle and enters Pop’s, where the neon signs glow. It’s the ’50s again, therefore she’s wearing the same style of clothing and hairstyle as we first saw her in Season 1.

No one seems to be at Pop’s to greet her. That would be Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines), the character whose untimely demise set in motion the events of the pilot. All her buddies are waiting for her inside the diner. At the booth, Toni and Cheryl are chatting. You can find Pop Tate behind the counter. Pinball is being played by Reggie and Julian (Nicholas Barasch). Ben Button (Moses Thiessen) and Dilton Doiley (Daniel Yang) are also present. Betty greets everyone (including a few extras) and makes her way to the booth, where Archie, Veronica, and Jughead are waiting for her. They’ve prepared her favorite flavor of milkshake for her arrival: strawberry. Betty’s guardian angel, Jughead, appears outside to spread joy and laughter to the group.

As we watch a montage of everyone having a fantastic time at Pop’s, Angel Jughead has this to say:

“We’ll leave them here, I think. Where they’re forever Juniors. Forever seventeen. Always grabbing a burger, or a shake. Always going to, or coming from, some dance, talking about school, the big game, who’s dating who, homework… Whatever movie’s playing at the Babylonium. You know, the moments that make up a life. It’s where they’ve— We’re we’ve, always been. In this diner. In this town. In the Sweet Hereafter. So if you happen to see that neon sign, some lonely night, at the end of that long journey… That journey that every one of us is on. Pull over. Come on in. Take a seat. And know that you’ll always be among friends. And that Riverdale will always be your home. Until then, have a good night.”

Jughead Jones (Angel Version), Riverdale

The unmistakable clacking of Jughead’s typewriter keys may be heard as this Jughead leaves Pop’s and disappears into the night. As the screen goes black, we hear the satisfying ping of a typewriter carriage, signaling the end of a line, a page, a story. The Riverdale logo finally makes an appearance this season. As for me, I’m done.

…So, what exactly is going on? Have they always been lifeless? Is this some sort of heavenly tale? There were two Jugheads, but why?

Disclaimer: the following is merely my interpretation of events; there are undoubtedly blanks for you to fill in. But (and I hate to bring up Lost again) this finale sounds awfully familiar. Contrary to what some viewers may have told you, they did not remain dead during the entirety of the show. In the series’ concluding moments, however, the island’s residents finally got to see each other in a hybrid purgatory/heaven before moving on.

That’s precisely what occurs in this case. Previous seasons of Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have established that Heaven, or The Sweet Hereafter as it is known on the programs, is a happy place. Each person has their own, and yet they all relate to one another. It’s possible that we’re in Betty’s happy place here, as she spends much of the episode wishing she’d kept in touch with her pals and thinking about how great it would be if they could all stay young and beautiful forever. Given that everyone she knows who has passed on is there to welcome her to Pop 2.0, the most charitable reading is that they are all in The Sweet Hereafter together, spending forever with the people who meant the most to them in this and the previous life.

This is precisely what Angel Jughead is suggesting in his remarks, however the ambiguity of his wording once again leaves it up to the reader to decide whether or not the story should progress. This is the other facet of the situation… Many viewers have pondered who or what Jughead is narrating the story. Is the book he’s working on a lengthy one? Perhaps it’s Archie Comics. Was he, perhaps, penning Riverdale? Instead, the takeaway is that this omniscient, narrator version of Jughead is doing all of that, even if it doesn’t quite gibe with where we picked up with the narration in Season 1: he is recounting the eternal story of Archie Comics/Riverdale/these characters’ lives. Everything has ended. The story ends here for these characters. But it’s not over yet, because nothing ever ends in Archie Comics. In addition to being beloved by fans, Betty, Jughead, Archie, Veronica, and the rest of the gang have become cultural icons. And his suggestion is that you can return to them whenever you like, be it through rewatching the show, reading the books, or even more esoterically, upon your own death and entrance into your own Sweet Hereafter. They’re constantly present.

It’s a bit of meta-text at the end of a show that has lived and died on meta-text, remarking on the show ending and letting the characters conclude their own journeys while also placing the show in the perspective of what it might mean to us as viewers as a seven-year chunk of our own lives.

But there is still one more inquiry to resolve:

The Riverdale series finale posed the question, “Who was Angel Jughead?”

Numerous versions of Jughead Jones have appeared in Riverdale. There’s the Jughead from Season 1 who we followed for the whole of the show before he was relegated to the 1950s. In Riverdale’s other timeline, there’s a Jughead who got stuck in the bunker and has to keep writing about his pals forever. Another Jughead existed in Riverdale; he was killed, brought back to life, and eventually replaced the original Jughead as the de facto leader of the town after the latter was imprisoned.

This is some pretty advanced stuff! Who was the Season 1 looking person outside delivering the closing monologue, considering that the 1950s Jughead appeared to be seated in the Pop’s booth at the end of the show, laughing and having a wonderful time with his friends?

I would venture to say all of the above and none of the above. Over the course of seven seasons, Riverdale has largely relied on feelings rather than narrative reason to propel its mythology forward. But by the end of the series finale, we can tell that Angel Jughead has recollections of “his” past. He proudly displays the crown he drew on the floor of the Babylonium theater. Betty asks Jughead whether he has any regrets about not getting “circled,” or married, and Jughead gives her a sharp look before answering, “Sometimes.”

Jughead can be described in various ways like this. A unified Jughead, complete with his past lifetimes’ worth of knowledge. A cherub in Old Betty’s room lights up when he enters, suggesting that he is certainly something more as well.

Betty might either be guided by the “real” Jughead here, or the Jughead in Pop’s booth could be a part of her Sweet Hereafter. The second is that this is the former Riverdale Guardian Angel, Raphael (Hamza Fouad). Raphael appears to Tabitha like Jughead to Archie in Season 6’s “Angels in America,” and Sprouse handles both roles similarly. The more plausible explanation is that Jughead has been appointed Guardian Angel. Tabitha took over for Raphael in this role, and in the series’ penultimate episode, the Angel Tabitha departed for… Well, wherever it was she was headed. One possible reading of these events has Jughead replacing Tabitha as the Guardian Angel of Riverdale in The Sweet Hereafter after he died.

Is that, in fact, what transpired? Is this Jughead in his own personal Sweet Hereafter, where he spends all of eternity writing about his own life? Maybe he’s someone else. It’s possible that we’ll never learn the truth. Till then? Have a restful evening.

Read more – An Emotional Tribute to Ray Stevenson Is Part of the Premiere of “Ahsoka” Just call him “Our Friend, Ray.”

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