Riverdale's 100th Episode Is a Multiversal Celebration of All Things Archie

Of the course of its previous 99 episodes, Riverdale has hopscotched between being the most and least self-aware series on television. (In one of this latest episode’s many instantly iconic scenes, Jughead and Veronica run down how the town has seen everything from multiple cults to murderous nuns). Most of the time the storylines here are entertaining as they occur, but fail to stick the landing. Indeed technically this is the case with Rivervale itself, as the events of the previous four episodes are dismissed as dreams before the credits are done rolling.

But this is all a red herring, as the key to Rivervale was Jughead’s comic collection. Briefly introduced back in the season premiere, the books explain how Riverdale became Rivervale — Mr. Lodge’s attempted murder of Archie and Betty via bomb. When the explosion occurred, it ripped open the multiverse and events from one reality began bleeding into another. Well, that’s basically the idea anyway, as the much-missed Ethel (Shannon Purser) explained to Jughead in an infodump reminiscent of Doc Brown explaining paradoxes to Marty in Back to the Future Part II.

Following a quick detour to the afterlife — a version of Pop Tate’s Chok’lit Shoppe that is styled after the classic retro Archie Comics look — the resurrected Jughead whose murder kicked off this episode teams up with his multiversal counterpart to save both of their universes. The mission accomplished, the Jugheads resume their roles as narrator and participant of the story. Back in Riverdale, Betty and Jughead survive the explosion thanks to a very long distance call from Rivervale. Jughead however is caught in the blast, seemingly rendered deaf from the noise of the bomb. To be continues next year…

How anything that occurred in Rivervale is carried over into the main narrative will remain to be seen, but there are enough similarities between the two parallel universes that this shouldn’t be much of a concern. And also that’s not really this specific episode’s concern. What Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa accomplished here is a tribute to this stupid, confounding, amazing show that manages to honor its source material in a respectful touching way. (When the Pop’s heaven sequence cut to Archie, Betty and Veronica sharing a milkshake — arguably the most iconic Archie Comics image — reader I cheered). Rumors have started to swirl that next season could be Riverdale‘s last. As a lover and critic of this show, I’m fine with that because I can’t ever see the series getting better than this episode.

Riverdale Rundown

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