Betty Cooper has earned her "Final Girl" status. After close encounters as Riverdale's resident Nancy Drew, she took on a masked serial killer on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 20 and lived to tell the tale.
Her tormentor returned from horror movies past to channel pure teen slasher flick vibes.
The junior prom will never be the same way again in the town of Riverdale. But on the positive side for us viewers, "Chapter Fifty-Five: Prom Night" had plenty of tension and mystery to keep us hooked!
Regardless of the main plot, Betty is always front and center to face off against the Big Bad. She solved the mystery of Jason Blossom's murder, she fought against The Black Hood and took him down, and she's assumed the title of "The Gryphon Queen" to fight against The Gargoyle King.
Betty is basically our lead character. (Sorry Archie...)
I love that Riverdale is capturing her overall journey from girl-next-door to empowered survivor. She isn't waiting around for the baddies to find her; she's taking matters into her own hands. Like, when she practiced her self-defense skills at the firing range or when she confronted Edgar herself.
Betty is facing her fears head-on. But, she's also smart enough to know when to run away and take charge of the situation.
That is the true mark of a Final Girl (i.e. the lone survivor at the end of a horror movie who defeats the killer).
When the group found The Gospel of The Gargoyle King, the reveal didn't seem like it would be a red herring, but the coincidence of its scripture matching with the plot was a giveaway. Did the Gargoyles hope that Betty would find and read it in time for the junior prom?
Specific series of events had to line up to "call" The Gargoyle King based on the book.
In this Gryphons and Gargoyles world, Betty Cooper is The Gryphon Queen, so she's already part of this prophecy. Bringing together the Southside Serpents and the Pretty Poisons as her army, as well as changing the theme of the prom to be medieval, helped to set the stage for a tense and looming confrontation.
There's no definitive way to know when The Gargoyle King would show up, so the group played the odds. But, this is a teen drama after all; the villain couldn't resist showing up at the prom to cause chaos.
It's almost like the entire situation was pre-planned.
It's no secret that I love horror movies, and Riverdale Season 3 Episode 20 might be the most teen slasher-esque that the show has ever achieved. I loved every second of it!
Betty facing off against The Black Hood captured the high-tension excitement and fear you'd get from the final climax of a horror movie.
Desperate running from a killer, barricading yourself in rooms, discovering dead bodies, and fighting against the killer are all iconic horror movie tropes. Betty achieved all of these scenes within her five-minute standoff against The Black Hood.
Visually, the lighting and music enhanced the horror experience. The hallways had Riverdale's classic blue overtones, but the inclusion of red elements brought a new level of urgency and chaos. The additional touches helped show that Betty truly was alone in those hallways.
Plus, mixing in the flashback intercuts of Alice during Riverdale Season 3 Episode 4 provided a great callback to the horrors from the past. We as the viewers knew the evil that Betty would witness in that bathroom.
There's a moment when Betty was cloaked in red that perfectly symbolized her opposition against the killer. She emerged from the red light to strike back, and while she didn't take down the killer, her actions did save her life.
The three dead students she discovered weren't so lucky, but their sacrifice created one of Riverdale's Top 10 best sequences yet.
Because of the return of The Black Hood and his partnership with The Gargoyle King, Betty decided to move in with The Farm for protection.
Her chances are better going far away from the insane cult, but in her world, she has three enemies to choose from. The Farm might be the easiest to conquer.
Still, I can't shake the feeling that The Farm was somewhat behind The Black Hood's attack at the prom.
Hear me out: Dr. Curdle Jr. confirmed that Hal died in the bus crash, and the number of bodies matched who should be on it. Even though The Black Hood returned without his missing hand (replaced with a hook), that information was public knowledge. Anyone could've been under that mask.
Plus, Hal's time as The Black Hood focused mainly on exploring Betty's darkness and having her join his side. Why would he all of sudden want to kill her?
Attacking his daughter didn't match his modus operandi. Someone else could be pretending to be a new Black Hood to scare Betty into getting her to join The Farm or with the intention to kill her for The Gargoyle King.
My money is on Edgar Evernever or Chic.
Even with all of The Farm's preaching about unity and achieving your happiness, the group was pretty petty about Cheryl campaigning to be prom queen. Like, it's just a plastic tiara with rhinestones!
All Cheryl wanted was the honor of winning the class vote and standing up on stage as the elected winner. Based on her popularity in Riverdale High, she most likely would've won. We can blame Evelyn Evernever for depriving us of this shining moment.
There's no way that Cheryl's aspirations to be queen conflicted with The Farm's core values.
Evelyn doubled-down on her reasoning because Cheryl stood up to her at the ticket table. She expected Cheryl would back down, but when she didn't, Evelyn and Edgar held something even more powerful in their hand to hold over her head.
That tactic worked this time, but there's no that strategy will work forever. Cheryl even spilled to Toni her wistful apprehensions about the group since they kept her from winning the title.
I wouldn't be surprised if this spark (however small and insignificant it might be) pushed her in the direction of working with Betty again to defeat the cult.
It's refreshing to see Archie focus heavily on a goal that will help his future. He may be inconsistent about everything else in his life, but when it comes to his career, he puts his all into it.
The professional boxing career seemed to be his bread and butter.
He has all the elements to make it happen, like a gym to train in and a cheesy montage of training sessions to show his "growth." Plus, he's competing in big tournaments and not getting knocked out. It's not a big factor, but at least he knows he can hold his own.
The problem, which has been a bad trend for Archie, was that he kept making reckless decisions and couldn't face the situation like an adult. In this case, it was his mother's disapproval of him wanting a professional boxing career.
Seriously, why can't Archie think before (re)acting?
Of course, Mary would be worried about Archie joining a career that would involve him being harmed. She nearly lost him to juvie, and he hasn't given her a reason to breathe a sigh of relief in a very long time.
Archie is only 17. If he wants to be a boxer, all he has to do is wait a year or get Fred to sign some of his waivers. The tournament might help him for his future, but he still needs more training.
Archie is essentially a rookie who wants to play with the Maddogs of the world.
Mary's idea of Archie going to the naval academy wasn't a terrible prospect. Archie could get the professional boxing training he needed to become an athlete in the pro leagues, but if that didn't work out, he'd get a degree and a guaranteed job. Having a safety net isn't a bad thing.
Though, if Archie didn't want to go to school, he should've told Mary upfront about his concerns. His after-school, sitcom hijinks of fighting in two matches on the same day was the worst thing he could've done.
The physical stress of two boxing matches seemed incredibly dangerous and risky.
Archie looked battered and bruised after losing the first match; he barely had enough energy to get into the car. He should've thrown in the towel and refused to fight Fangs in the exhibition match. Or better yet, he should've told Mary from the start that a naval career wasn't in his future.
Archie wants to be treated as an adult and make adult decisions, but then he makes moves like this that put his life at risk. God forbid he got hurt during his exhibition match with Fangs and any chance of a pro career evaporated!
His motivation to appease everyone ended up hurting them, including himself.
And let's not forget Veronica in this equation either; she's just as much at fault as Archie. As his boxing manager, Veronica should've pushed him harder to focus on only one of the matches. She had Maddog ready to go to fight in the tournament.
Archie was in the wrong for lying and competing in the matches. Veronica was wrong for enabling his lies.
Speaking of Veronica, I loved that she's taking charge of the war against Hiram. Her father pushed her for the last time; he will rue the day!
Though her discovery of him secretly owning Pop Tate's Chock'lit Shoppe and La Bonne Nuit seemed too convenient from a plot standpoint. Riverdale continued to make twists that were too outlandish to be true.
How is Hiram going to avoid getting arrested for real estate fraud? And that's what this is: REAL ESTATE FRAUD.
Based on this lie, Hiram literally stole money from Veronica, purchased a property from her under deception, and "sold" her a property that she wouldn't own. Mobster Al Capone got arrested for something less than his more serious crimes; Hiram could be taken down with someone as small as this.
And are we to believe that Veronica made significant changes to the diner and nobody knew that Hiram's name was still on everything collecting the money?
This twist came across as a lazy and convenient way to get Veronica outraged at her father again. The retread of the Hiram war continues...
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Betty confronting Edgar about the tattoos was an obvious excuse to get Chad Michael Murray shirtless to see his abs. No complaints about this, but I see you, Riverdale!
Veronica investing in a fledgling gym like the El Royale might be less about business portfolios and more about supporting Archie. She still has feelings for him and it's clouding her judgment.
Come on, Archie and Veronica were totally going to go to the prom together! They naturally were going to find a way back to each other, regardless of it being a friend date.
Fangs and Kevin are official. Should we start working on a ship name?
Mary Andrews is always a fresh of breath air; whenever she arrives in town, she thinks clearly and makes sound decisions for the betterment of her son. With Fred out of town (RIP Luke Perry!), does that mean she'll be sticking around more?
- Fred is currently out of town, but how will Riverdale explain his continued absence? Will he simply be written out and live in the background?
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Fifty-Five: Prom Night"?
What horrors await Betty at The Farm? Did Hal truly return as The Black Hood or is there another answer? Will Veronica and Archie succeed in defeating Hiram?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.