Is your 2020 in need of a major boost of Riverdale Season 4? A new year means a new batch of episodes is coming soon!
There are still a few mysteries left to solve, like the drama surrounding Jughead's death. But for the first half of the season, much of the plots focused on development (Betty and Cheryl), retreading old stories (The Farm), and of course, going in strange directions (superhero). It's been a bumpy ride at times.
Though, as the plots start converging on the flashforward storyline, the drama could be kicking into full momentum pretty soon.
Before we head back to the dark and twisty world of Riverdale, let's take a look back to discuss the highlights, the low points, and everything in between. Who needs more screen time? What couple needs to break up? The best episode?
Check out the full report below.
Best Storyline: The Stonewall Mystery
Jughead's journey through the halls of Stonewall Prep has led to one intense mystery after another. What started as a scholarship to a prestigious school became an evolving plot about legacy, class warfare, and the pursuit of glory.
In his short time, Jughead has witnessed Mr. Chipping committing suicide, discovered a generational secret involving his grandfather, got hazed, inducted into a secret society, and uncovered an urban legend about missing students. (And that's possibly the tip of the iceberg for what's to come.)
Let's not forget that this all stems from the flashforward of his murder! Jughead's storyline is the plot that keeps on giving.
Worst Storyline: Vigilante Archie
Archie has had his fair share of confusing decisions and terrible storylines. Though, his choice to become a masked vigilante to fight criminals takes the cake.
Seriously, how did this idea become a thing?
Riverdale has toed the line with inspirations outside of its dark mystery theme, like using medieval/Game of Thrones during Riverdale Season 3. Here, the plot has felt more like a storyline from Arrow. (Surprisingly, Riverdale didn't join the recent crossover with the other superhero CW series.)
Archie has ventured too far away from the series; it's felt misplaced with everything else going on.
Biggest Letdown: Veronica vs. Hiram War
Speaking of plots that need to end, this war is a storyline that's been done to death. The characters have grown and developed so much these last few years, Riverdale didn't need to return to this old chestnut.
Veronica has openly stated many times how much she wants to be free of Hiram and get away from his control. So, why is she engaging in a battle to destroy him? Also, why is Hiram getting so overly involved in her life again?
These two love the chase of the battle.
Veronica had plenty of opportunities to be at her dream school and get away from him. It's a letdown to see her throw that all away over pointless revenge.
Best Villain: Edgar Evernever
Edgar's reign of terror might be over on Riverdale, but he went out with a bang!
The Farm's storyline needed closure after Riverdale Season 3, and there was some uncertainty about how the plot would end once the cult skipped town. But, once the tension ramped up with Betty, Charles, and the FBI teaming up to take down the leader, that's when Edgar entered his prime as a supervillain.
All of his serene cult leader qualities faded away, and the real Edgar emerged. The vindictive, calculating, and psychotic leader who believed he could escape on a rocket ship off the top of a building.
Edgar delivered in his final chapters as Riverdale's latest baddie.
Worst Villain: Brett Weston Wallis
Brett is the personification of entitlement and privilege. His main motivations for hating Jughead were because (1) Jughead was more talented at writing, and (2) Brett's family was richer than Jughead's family.
He's the teen drama equivalent of a prep school villain that's overcompensating for his insecurity. Come on, he's such a cliche.
Most Improved Character: Betty
Betty's biggest challenge has always been her internal fight to stop "Dark Betty." Her dark persona was a sinister force that could've tipped her over to the dark side if something terrible happened. Now, that presence might be gone.
Much of Riverdale Season 4 helped Betty achieve self-realization about who she was and the person she wanted to be.
Plus, she experienced closure with Hal, Charles, and Alice. Betty wants to be a good person, and the past stigma that developed because of her family history won't be the reason that brings her down.
It's a completely different landscape from where she started.
Character That Needs Improvement: Alice
Come on. You thought I was going to say Archie here, right?
Alice is in major need of improvement from a character development standpoint. Sure, she had an epiphany during her therapy session, but that's only one instance after she had fallen to her lowest in a safe environment. Alice barely changed before that.
After everything Alice did to Betty and Betty's family throughout these years, she pretended as nothing happened and returned to her normal life once The Farm collapsed. This is Type-A delusion at its finest.
Alice has a long way to go before she's fully grasped the error of her ways. She needs to work on herself and change for the better. It wouldn't be surprising if she slid back into bad habits because that's her familiar territory.
Longest Overdue Goodbye: Jason Blossom
Who would think that a character who died on Riverdale Season 1 Episode 1 would still be around?
Jason Blossom has been an overarching presence that has affected Riverdale these last four seasons. From his murder mystery to Penelope's medieval revenge, Jason catalyzed the ensuing chaos.
This time around, his literal stuffed corpse played a part in Cheryl and Toni's story. Thankfully, Cheryl found enough strength to say goodbye to her brother and let him have peace. Jason will be missed, but it's time for his ghost to move on from being involved in Cheryl's narrative.
Hopefully, Riverdale will follow suit and let Jason be freed of any future Riverdale plots.
Character That Needs More Screen Time: Reggie
Reggie has assumed the vacated spot now that Josie moved over to Katy Keene. His non-existent story has become a glaring problem regarding Riverdale's development.
Reggie lacks any real change or movement. Most of his appearances tend to be filler additions for the main characters' stories or the few hints that cover consistent themes.
For example, Reggie's issues with his dad that got wrapped up in one chapter and his prank against Mr. Honey. There's no momentum for the character! It needs to change because he could be utilized more than he already is.
The same goes for Kevin and Toni too. They slightly edged out Reggie, but they're not far behind.
Most Heartfelt Moment: Fred's Memorial
Everything about Riverdale Season 4 Episode 1 was a heartfelt and touching memorial to Fred's (and Luke Perry's) legacy.
Riverdale's farewell to a treasured and loved family member tackled the loss with respect, grace, and plenty of emotion. It was next to impossible to not cry during many of the heartbreaking moments, like the funeral or Mary/Archie breaking down over the preparations.
This episode was Riverdale at its most raw and real
Best Couple: Charles & Chic
I know -- this is a strange option. Chic is a psychotic serial killer behind bars, and Charles is a shady FBI agent who's secretly working against his family. But, you can't deny the love they have for each other.
They've rocketed to the top spot because of the work they've put in all these years to complete their master plan. Chic's storyline started way back on Riverdale Season 2 when he pretended to be Charles. Now, they're together and putting their plan into action.
They're working as a tight unit, even if they're evil and separated by prison glass.
Jughead and Betty would've been the ones to claim the top spot, but there's the little matter of the flashforward. Betty might be responsible for killing Jughead, so until that mystery gets resolved, we'll put a pin in Chic & Charles' competition.
Worst Couple: Hiram & Hermione
Why are Hiram and Hermione still a thing? Why?! No one wanted this, especially Hermione!
The couple has tried to kill each other, get each other charged for murder, and they've cheated countless times. They've openly spoken terribly about one another and played mind games. It is the epitome of a toxic relationship.
Both Hiram and Hermione had an out to escape this chaos. They're better apart than together.
This marriage is only going to end in tragedy yet again.
Best Episode: Chapter Sixty-Five: In Treatment
Riverdale loves experimenting with new format structures during their episodes. Some have been successful, while others are simply for a newsworthy buzz. In the case of "Chapter Sixty-Five: In Treatment," the episode was framed as different therapy sessions with the Riverdale High guidance counselor.
The first word that comes to mind for this episode is "brilliant."
Everything you hoped for that the characters would talk about to work on their issues finally happened in one chapter. Betty challenged Alice on her parenting, Archie tackled his bad decisions, Jughead's discussed his superiority complex, Cheryl approached her abandonment issues, and Veronica faced her daddy issues.
These characters needed therapy after everything they faced these last four years. Clearing the air and pushing them to face their faults felt like a breath of fresh air. This move gave us hope that the characters could change for the better.
Plus, Gina Torres is amazing!
Worst Episode: Chapter Sixty-Six: Tangerine
Where do we start with "Chapter Sixty-Six: Tangerine"?
For a midseason finale, there was a lack of cohesion that connected the plots. The stories continued the downward spiral with the characters making bad decisions and it doubled-down to reinforce their choices.
Veronica descended deeper into her war with Hiram and needed back-up to up the pettiness. Archie continued his vigilante duties that nearly got someone else seriously hurt. And Jughead threw caution to the wind to sign himself up to a shady club he knows might've caused Mr. Chipping's suicide.
It's just one thing after another.
Continue It: Cheryl's Growth
Cheryl has crossed a monumental bridge in her ongoing character development. As discussed above, Jason was holding her back from becoming the person she was always meant to be. Cheryl could never give up the ghost, as it were.
Now that she has let Jason move on, her future is bright and wide open.
Riverdale should continue this positive momentum for Cheryl. Penelope is no longer in her life, she's moving on from her heartbreak, and she knows what she wants in life.
Nothing should hold her back.
Wait and See: Jughead's Murder
The flashforward has teased Jughead's death over several flashbacks, with the new bits of information adding more questions to the mystery.
How did Donna and Brett see the murder? Why was he murdered? And of course, was Betty the one who killed him?
The answers won't arrive any time soon, so we'll need to see how this progresses. It could either be shocking like the Jason Blossom murder or confusing like the first Black Hood.
Stop It: Character Inconsistencies
This plot choice has been a detriment for Riverdale in the last 2-3 seasons. Decisions were made that suited the plot progression but not for the benefit of the character.
Some instances include Betty visiting Chic in prison, Archie jumping back into becoming a vigilante, Hermione getting back together with Hiram, and so forth. Many developments that don't coincide with where the characters should be.
We all love dramatic and soapy plots that keep us at the edge of our seats, but the characters shouldn't suffer because of it. There was a time that the Riverdale teens were the ones making smarter decisions than the parents; they're on the same level at this point.
Riverdale Season 4A is an improvement over the rocky and chaotic path that was Riverdale Season 3. Many of the characters evened out and got back into a rhythm, but there were hiccups along the way. Some, like Betty and Cheryl, are in much better situations than others.
The Stonewall Prep mystery and Jughead's murder mystery are captivating, so there is the potential here for the momentum to grow.
What do you think of the report card? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Riverdale returns Wednesday, January 22 at 8/7c on The CW.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.