The days of Riverdale High are over (at least for the teens). Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica, and the rest of their friends are heading out into the real world.
On Riverdale Season 5 Episode 3, the group survived to walk across the stage on Graduation Day!
Many emotions and tears were spilled during this chapter, especially since it was supposed to be the Riverdale Season 4 finale. Grab your tissues, Riverdale fans; you're going to need them.
After four seasons of dark mysteries, murder, and chaos sweeping across the "sleepy little town," our favorite Riverdale High classmates proved the impossible and graduated from school.
Even Archie, who I've been skeptical about due to his destructive tendencies, found a happy end for his teen storyline. In many ways, this chapter could've served as a strong series finale for the teens as they left their cursed town behind.
Riverdale Season 6, here we come!
"Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation" focused on the emotional heart of the series.
The crazy drama and supernatural twists were set aside to showcase the characters' most raw and real emotions. After four years, you can't help but tear up when Archie wished his dad was there to take photos or when Alice cried at the thought of not having Betty around.
And don't even get me started on the montage of when the teens walked the graduation stage! (Not all the tears were pretty here.)
These emotional, celebrated scenes were well-earned, and we as the viewers got to be as proud as the parents seeing the teens graduate because we've followed them go through the wringer. Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica, and the rest faced the world, and they survived.
The chapter as a whole acknowledged this, too, with its flashbacks and references to past plots. Riverdale celebrated the past before moving into the future, which was a great decision as it honored everything that came before.
Archie's decision to join the army wasn't surprising in the least.
Archie tends to make rash and quick decisions, especially when he gets swept up at the moment. With the naval academy not working out and getting the news he'll need to repeat a year, he was bound to make a quick Plan C choice. His next step could've been anything!
The army plotline aligns with his character because he wanted something physical. He was open to a military career before. His character needed something that would explain the time jump. His reasoning to Veronica wasn't completely off, despite what she said, as there were some connections.
Still, why didn't Archie consider getting his GED instead? If not, there were other opportunities out there for a post-Riverdale High development.
He decided within one to two days (if even) to join the army; he rushed into it. Archie should've taken some time to consider it first.
But, it was all worth it to have the now-iconic farewell scene of Archie heading off in the army bus. Did anyone else swell up in the emotions too?
First, there's Betty, Jughead, and Veronica driving up in the jalopy to chase down Archie, paired with the perfect background music to match Riverdale's happy-go-lucky side. Kudos to the music team for choosing this track; it made the moment!
Then, Archie's heartbreaking farewell to his friends and him watching them go off in the distance from the bus window.
Archie: Later, bro.
[Archie offers his hand]
Jughead: Don’t “bro” me.
[The pair hug]
The latter half of the scene perfectly blended sadness and uneasiness. The characters got the resolution to say goodbye to their friend, but there's an unspoken regret between them made at that moment: Archie with leaving them behind and his friends watching him go, uncertain if he'll come back alive.
Granted, Archie will come back in the time jump, but it was needed to have Veronica say "I love you" one last time.
In addition to "Varchie," there was a whole mess of breakups.
We were not emotionally prepared for all these endings in one go! For example, FP and Alice's tearful breakup when he left to bring Jellybean back to Ohio.
Why did they have to end things?
Jughead: It’s getting pretty full in there.
[Jughead pulls off his beanie and throws it into the time capsule]
FP and Alice are adults; they could've made it work long-distance or moved to one of the cities together.
Sure, Skeet Ulrich is leaving Riverdale, and the show has to address writing his character out, like with Hermione on Riverdale Season 5 Episode 2. However, the couple didn't need to split because of this decision. He could've been referenced in the background and appeared in a few guest spots.
Luckily, the future of the couple is a bit more open-ended with their dialogue. Hopefully, they reconnected after their tearful kiss goodbye on the motorcycle.
The Cheryl and Toni breakup was another ending that didn't need to happen. Why couldn't they have kept their relationship going through the distance?
Cheryl's decision to fix the Blossom legacy and rebuild the business is a noble mission, especially after all the evil her family caused. But, staying behind in Riverdale didn't warrant her having to end things with Toni to do it.
Cheryl: You know I love you with every ounce of my soul, but I don’t want you to have to choose between your family and me. And perhaps if I’m successful, you won’t have to and we can be together with their full blessing? But, in the meantime…
Toni: Don’t say it. I don’t want to hear you say it.
Cheryl: Then you never shall.
Toni admitted that her grandmother started accepting Cheryl in her life, and with the further work Cheryl would do, that would further build that bridge between them.
While an emotional scene and coming from a place of love, Cheryl's grand gesture only hurt her and Toni's chances for a happy life together. "Choni" could've stayed and dealt with their post-Riverdale High life to face those challenges.
Though, when it came to Betty and Jughead's breakup, the end of their relationship felt like the most realistic depiction of a breakup that Riverdale has ever done.
No fights. No big twists. No spur of teen drama. Sometimes couples grow distant, and trust is lost because of one decision that was made.
Don't get me wrong, the Betty/Archie kiss ignited the spark that led to the breakup, but how Betty and Jughead acted after that revelation in the summer months put the nail in the coffin.
So, please, stay young for as long as you can. Stay innocent for as long as you can, even if it’s for one more moment.Betty
The pair weren't communicating, and if they weren't able to get past one kiss, there would be no hope for them in university.
"Bughead" always seemed like a strong pair, but as we've discussed many times before during our reviews, the teen couples don't work on their issues and instead brush past them. Betty and Jughead couldn't survive in silent resentment and uncertainty.
The separation may be the best thing for them to work out their issues. And, maybe the time jump will answer the big question if Betty and Archie are the true endgame couple, after all?
Speaking of the time jump, "Graduation" clarified the time difference would be a seven-year time jump. This means the teens will be right into adulthood and have graduated from any schools/left the military.
Riverdale writes their teen characters as older in many of their plots and personalities. The time jump looks like it will match the ages closer to the actors and the stories' plot style.
Jughead teased the upcoming drama after the first yearly flashforward, but it only left one burning question: why didn't the group confirm with each other before Jughead waited all day in the diner?
Like, a text message? Group chat? Email? Or maybe even a phone call?
Friends lose touch all the time, but if they made a vow to meet in the same place and someone planned to honor it, a little coordination would've gone a long way here.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Jughead threw his beanie into the time capsule?! Did not expect him to part ways with his iconic hat.
- Penelope emerging from the bushes to declare her arrival is the type of grand entrance that feels so her. Prison might change her once she's free in the time jump.
- How did no one notice the community center kids sleeping under the boxing ring?
- Betty's valedictorian speech was concise, thoughtful, and had a great message. Overall, a good speech.
Only Cheryl could get away with wearing a different robe to the graduation ceremony.
- Either it was him being sheriff again or more appearances from him, but Tom Keller looked extra handsome this chapter.
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation"?
Which breakup/farewell brought you the most tears?
Did you like how Riverdale approached the group drifting apart?
What scandal will bring them back together?
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.