The holiday season in a town like Riverdale should seem like a festive time but since this year the season isn't all white Christmas but more a darker shade with the threat of The Black Hood still in the back of people's minds on the mid-season finale, Silent Night, Deadly Night. Archie (K.J. Apa) and his dad Fred (Luke Perry) are running a Christmas tree business out in front of Pop's Chok' Lit Shoppe to help make extra money since the construction business hasn't gone so well. Plus Archie discovers that his dad's medical bills from the shooting haven't just been taken care of by the insurance company. It turns out they owe $86K and Fred tells his son not to worry because he will look into it. Of course, he will because that's the good kind of father he is to keep his son from worrying. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) asks Archie about their holiday plans but with his Mom deciding to go on a singles cruise it will just be a quiet time in town for him and his father.
At school, our merry band of kids are having a gift exchange that Kevin (Casey Cott) has decided to organize. With the breakups that happened last week, it's safe to say this idea seemed a lot better BEFORE that happened. Veronica (Camila Mendes) receiving a gift that was meant as something for her and Archie to do together leaves an uncomfortable odor in the air for sure. Archie gives Betty (Lili Reinhart) a book of the Swiss Family Robinson which seems to be something from when they were growing up, just leaves Veronica jealous of the bond they seem to have that her and Archie are missing. The best thing about this scene is that they do get interrupted by a visit from Midge (Emilija Klump) and Moose (Cody Kearsley) who appears to be in much better health now. Nice to see we can find some other storyline for this happy couple in the future.
Afterwards, while Betty and Archie are discussing the lingering dread of TBH, Betty notices the janitor mopping up behind Archie is not Mr. Svenson (Cameron McDonald). When she approaches this new guy, he tells her that he has no idea where Svenson is but his reason for being there is because he's been out the last few days. So no one has noticed the janitor hasn't been around?! For shame. This immediately plants a seed in Archie's brain that maybe by outing Mr. Svenson's true identity last episode that maybe they also put him in TBH's crosshairs. They inquire about him with someone in the school's faculty office and a woman tells them that he's been out sick with the flu. She took him some soup over to his house as a favor but never actually saw him. So maybe he's on the run or he left town in fear? Either way, you know Betty and Archie are going to look into this.
Before the school day is over, the two former couples exchange presents because they're still friends, even if in quite an awkward way. Veronica got Archie a nice engraved watch which she had already purchased before they broke up. When she senses that Archie has something big on his mind he reveals to her about the hospital debt his dad is in. He doesn't ask her for help obviously but if there's one person that has the means to help Fred out with some money Veronica Lodge is his best chance. As things would quickly turn out, Betty calls Archie and tells him that she wants to go check in on Mr. Svenson. So he leaves his Christmas tree duties and they head over to Mr. Svenson's home which looks like a dilapidated reject that couldn't make the cut for a Tim Burton film. They knock repeatedly but there's no answer so they give up for the moment (I seriously thought they were going to break in.) When Betty gets home a small box has been delivered that says it's from a Secret Santa. Puzzled as to what this could possibly be she opens it and is shocked when it's a severed human finger! The message inside is from TBH and would reveal that it is a finger from Mr. Svenson. He calls him by his real name of Joseph Conway and writes that they must "find the truth and reveal it to the town" or he will kill Mr. Svenson (or Mr. Conway, I don't know what to call him now). Maybe in an effort to really show he is not to be questioned, TBH calls Betty and briefly puts Mr. Svenson on the phone. He tells her to find "where the primal sin was committed," which she doesn't understand but we know Archie knows. After he tells her about the preacher that supposedly murdered Conway's family they think to visit the Sisters of Mercy which is the place that took him in until he was adopted. Good thing school is over because these two have found their new project.
Over at the Lodge residence, while Hermione (Marisol Nichols) teases Hiram (Mark Consuelos) about what present he might have bought her this holiday it angers Veronica for obvious reasons. And just as we all could've guessed she brings up how there are people less fortunate than them that need financial help. She tells her parents about Fred and Archie's problem but when Hiram isn't interested in helping them Veronica calls her dad Scrooge which seems to upset him way more than expected. He gets up and leaves the table now that his daughter has really struck a chord. Maybe some people don't like to be called cheap I'm guessing.
Speaking of people having financial problems, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) finds out from her mother that they are so broke that they can't even afford a Christmas tree this year. Well, that just won't due for someone like Cheryl who is used to getting what she wants. She still goes out to Archie's tree business in front of Pop's and purchases one. When her mother comes home and sees the large and lit up decoration in her living room she scolds her daughter for her actions. When she asks Cheryl how she plans to pay for it, her daughter simply cites what a terrible mother she has been over the years in raising her and leaves Mama Blossom to figure it out. As she leaves the room her grandmother Nana Rose (Barbara Wallace) drops her opinion by saying she should've drowned them at birth. As the saying goes, the apple has dropped very close to the tree with this family lineage.
Jughead has been having a lot of issues dealing with his dad FP (Skeet Ulrich) and the fact that he is shutting him out of any Serpent business. Even when Jughead just tries to help with the Serpents charitable Christmas drives FP would rather have the help of Sweet Pea (Jordan Connor) over his son. Things would grow even tenser when Jughead would get a visit from FP's parole officer to the house. When FP would come home later Jughead's nagging to his dad about running drugs for Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan) causes him to finally lose his cool with his son and even suggests they shouldn't live underneath the same roof. I blame Jughead for this because his insistence on his dad that he can somehow fix everything with Penny himself is so annoying. But later on, he would actually prove me wrong.
Veronica is not taking her dad's refusal to help Archie at all and decides to go into his office to start snooping around. First of all, I don't know why someone with such shady dealings as Hiram would leave his office door unlocked but that's just my two cents. Going through his file drawers she would discover the deed to Pop's that shows her father was the owner. Daddy Lodge is going to have some explaining to do for this one. But until that Veronica decides to use the fact that her father is hiding things from her to justify using her mom's black credit card to pay off Fred's medical bills. Veronica shows us that she is such a product of her father's DNA more and more every week.
When her parents would return home they knew what their daughter had done and were not pleased with their young lady at all. Veronica did exactly as expected and brought up their acquisition of Pop's as a reason that they could afford to pay Fred's bill as she is tired of them hiding things from her. Hiram tells her that there are many things that she doesn't know about and that has been for a reason but Veronica says if her name is on these documents as well then she deserves to be let in on their plans. This causes Hermione to bridge the gap between the two and agree with their daughter. She warns Veronica that in choosing this path it will be the end of her being just their little girl. I know we already
have Dark Betty but I think now we need to come up with a name like Reyna Veronica for the direction this is likely to take her. After they explain the plan to her she seems fine with it as long as she doesn't have to do anything illegal. Her mother reassures her that none of them are doing anything illegal because they use the magical term of plausible deniability. And she wants Fred's medical expenses still taken care of. Even though Hermione has to convince her husband, Veronica gets her way. Now we'll have to see where this new level of secrecy will take her.
After the huge argument he got in with his father, Jughead decides that he's done being the boy who listens and he's going to show he's the son of a Serpent. He rounds up a group of his fellow younger Serpents and explains how Penny Peabody has his dad over a hump right now by having him deliver drugs. He encourages them that they need to stand up to her now because she's just going to keep asking for more and it will eventually lead them all down a path of terrible consequences. When Toni (Vanessa Morgan) reminds everybody of the first law in the Serpent book being "no Serpent stands alone" that is all it takes to get the group onboard with Jughead's plan.
They all head over to Penny's base of operations to pay her a visit and while wearing those large serpent masks from the Jughead initiation episode, throw a bag over her head and kidnap the Snake Charmer. My question here is that is Penny is the head of a drug operation shouldn't she have paid for some security at least? Guess the lady is overly confident when it comes to her safety. They drive her all the way out of town and dump her off in Greendale. Jughead leaves her with the message that she can do whatever she wants, just don't do any of it in Riverdale. When Penny tries to challenge Jughead that he can't do any of this because she is branded as a fellow Serpent, he decides to take that away from hef, by literally cutting the tattoo off of her arm. Finally, Jughead has grown some serious sack and really taken a grown-up step here. It's about time.
Meanwhile, with Jughead playing enforcer, Betty and Archie go to visit the Sisters of Quiet Mercy to find out more about what happened to Conway after the murders. While he stayed there, a group of men and one woman took the law into their hands and executed the individual that Conway fingered as the murderer of his family. Only thing is over time, as he stayed with the sisters, they would learn that maybe Conway was unsure if he selected the right man. Well damnit Conway that's sure a big mistake. The sister couldn't remember the group from so many years ago, but she did remember the woman had the unique look of white hair with a cherry stripe in it. Betty and Archie look at each other and realize it has to be Nana Rose Blossom. Looks like the old crow had some dirty dealings in her past, such a Blossom thing to do.
With that the tenacious twosome head over to Cheryl's place and ask to talk to her Nana. Cheryl always one to be the good-natured welcoming person invites them in because she says Nana will be happy to have visitors. When they ask Nana about this group that executed a man, she says she wasn't around when it happened because it was a "guys only" kind of thing. When asked if she knew where it happened, Nana told Betty that her grandfather would know where because he was a part of it. As Betty's face turns a cold shade of surprise, it is also very weird how Nana called her Polly. The last thing Nana would give them is to say how she used to have a picture with all of the guys in it taken where they buried the man alive.
Once outside, Archie has to calm Betty down who is in hysterics over the fact that her grandfather was part of killing an innocent man. Archie does the best he can by holding her hand and telling her that he really needs her right now so they can end all this business with The Black Hood. She looks into his eyes and slowly begins breathing normally again-- -then she kisses him. What?! Where did that come from? That was random and pretty cool at the same time. She then seems to get her sense back with turning on the car and getting them out of there. But not before we see a shot of Cheryl smiling as they leave her house. My money is on that she saw the kiss.
A quick hop over to Jughead's place as he tells FP that he drove Penny out of Riverdale and she won't be bothering them anymore. FP is so angry at his son for what he feels was such a stupid thing that he has done. FP tells him that she will be back but Jughead says it's fine because they'll be ready for her. And then he takes it that extra mile by telling his dad that he really wants to stay being a Serpent as much as FP is trying to keep him out of it. That even if he takes his jacket away he will stay a proud Serpent. I think it will just be easier to have him stay in the club, FP.
After a look through of her grandfather's old photos, Betty finds one with a group of men standing underneath a tree with some freshly dug ground in front of them. Figuring this has to be it, they recognize the area and head over there with the quickness.
When they get there TBH is already one step ahead of them and has put a makeshift tombstone symbolizing Conway is buried there. Thinking he must be buried down there, Archie and Betty frantically start shoveling and eventually uncover a coffin. But when they go to open it, it's empty? And at that exact moment TBH comes out of the shadows and has his gun aimed right at them. We haven't seen him in quite some time and now he is poised to possibly kill two more people. Sounding like he is using the same voice box effect as the other CW's character Green Arrow he tells Archie to get in the coffin and for Betty to fill in the grave. At gunpoint, they have no choice and after Archie gets in, Betty begins shoveling dirt on the coffin with tears coming down her face. But let's not forget that they called Sheriff Keller when they were heading there and the distraction of the police sirens gives Betty the chance to smack TBH right in the face with the shovel. As she pulls Archie out of the coffin, TBH makes his escape but he's no match for a youthful football player and Archie catches up to him quickly on the bridge. TBH tries to jump over the side to flee but Archie points the gun at him and tells him to stop and that he will pay for what he did to his father. TBH must have had no faith in Archie pulling the trigger because he goes to jump off the bridge but is properly gunned down by Sheriff Keller! Way to earn that paycheck Sheriff!
The Sheriff pronounces him dead on the scene but of course, the BIG moment we want is who the hell is this guy under the mask? Keller removes the hood and it's Mr. Svenson? After all the red herrings that it might be him and then dismissing the idea last week with Archie confirming he's "seen the black hood's eyes" and saying it was NOT him?! This is a very disappointing outcome. About as anticlimactic as we could not hope for.
Later on that night at Pop's, Archie tells Veronica that she was right all along when she suspected it was Mr. Svenson. That's 2 for 2 for Veronica since she also was right about Keller having an affair. This girl is on her game for sure! While Jughead is puzzled as to what motivated Mr. Svenson to become TBH all Betty can come up with is guilt over getting an innocent man killed for fingering the wrong man that murdered his family. So Svenson had to get rid of the sinners in Riverdale to make up for the one he committed. I for one could care less at this point because the whole thing fell flat and has made much of this season a waste of time.
We close out our time in the town with everyone celebrating Christmas and the gift giving has brought smiles to all of their faces. Jughead is ecstatic over Betty buying him a typewriter which even with this shows love for nostalgia seems a little far-fetched. Veronica loves the necklace that Archie has given her and decides to go over to his place and thank him in person. She tells him that she realizes he's a good person and that's what she needs in her life. And then she drops the four lettered L-Word! Well, I guess it didn't take long for Veronica to come around on that one. As they kiss on his front porch something strange happens as we're shown someone is taking pictures of them. TMZ has made it to Riverdale! We see Betty take out a box and start burning all TBH's newspaper clippings she had saved. But then she comes to her own hood, the one TBH had left for her in his old house. And for some reason, she doesn't throw it on the fire. Ah, crap not more Dark Betty! That's it for our stay in Riverdale for 2017. Wish it would've been a little better but we'll see you all for whatever new stories they come up with in 2018 on The CW!