Riverdale‘s season 3 finale kicked off with a number of twists and turns — and several revelations that left Archie and his friends fighting for their lives.
Picking up where last Wednesday’s episode left off, Betty (Lili Reinhart) wakes up to find herself mysteriously at the home of Penelope Blossom, despite having passed out at The Farm headquarters after discovering Edgar Evernever (Chad Michael Murray) was stealing organs at The Farm from his faithful followers.
Betty walks into the dining room to find Archie (KJ Apa), Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) all being held hostage by Penelope with Sister Woodhouse, long thought dead, holding the teenagers at gunpoint.
What follows next is one of the strangest dinners seen on the popular CW show, with the friends joined by fellow dining guests the Black Hood — Riverdale’s most wanted serial killer — and the elusive Gargoyle King.
Betty is shocked to discover that her father, Hal Cooper, is still alive and thriving as the Black Hood. Penelope recruited him to wander around Riverdale for a reign of terror while he killed those who they deemed sinful.
Hal admits he allowed Chick, who posed as Betty’s dead half-brother Charles, to live after the season 2 finale, which led fans to believe he’d been murdered by Hal.
Penelope recruited Chick to pose as Jason Blossom, her dead son, and also as the Gargoyle King to introduce the dangerous and addictive game of Gryphons and Gargoyles to the teenagers of Riverdale.
What ensues is a hellish ordeal for Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, who are forced to continue playing the game while evading death in the form of poisoned drinks, gun-bearing Gargoyle acolytes and a brutal fight between Archie and a wrestler out to kill him.
Although Fred Andrews (played by the late Luke Perry) isn’t seen in the episode, Archie briefly mentions his father. “If I don’t make it, tell my mom and dad I love them,” Archie tells his friends. (In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said that Fred’s fate will be addressed in season 4.)
Alice Cooper (Betty’s mom) then smuggles Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) out of The Farm after discovering Edgar’s scheme to harvest organs.
Archie and his crew inevitably survive (although Hal is shot to death by Penelope) and race to The Farm, where they discover the members of the cult “ascended” and are now missing — with only Betty’s friend Kevin Keller as the sole witness of what happened.
Among those unaccounted for are Alice, Edgar and Evelyn, Edgar’s wife.
While it might have seemed like Alice was brainwashed by The Farm, by the end of the episode it turns out that she was working with FBI Agent Smith to investigate it and Edgar all along.
In another stunning twist, Smith reveals himself as Alice’s long-lost son, Charles, whom she shared with FP Jones, Jughead’s dad, making Smith a half-brother to both him and Betty.
As for the Lodges, Hermione was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder — which is revealed as another play in Hiram’s game to get back at her and Veronica for landing him in prison.
Overwhelmed by the changes happening around them (and the darkness they found themselves involved in), Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Betty make a vow “to be done with death cults and murder mysteries and gremlins” ahead of their senior year in high school.
As they toast “to the future,” the scene flashes forward to spring break of their senior year, when Archie, Veronica and a Betty stand naked in the woods and covered in blood.
The scene is missing Jughead and hints that the three are covering up a murder, with Betty telling Archie he has to throw Jughead’s beanie into a burning fire.
“We have to burn all of our clothes, including Jughead’s beanie. We’ll wash off the blood in the swimming hole,” Betty tells them. “After tonight, we never speak of this, ever, not to each other, not to our parents, no one. We finish our senior year, we graduate and we’ll go our separate ways. That is the only way we won’t get caught.”