A little bit of hope can go a long way toward saving the town. Granted, all the eggs are in the basket of Riverdale High, but it's a beginning.
The fight to save and repair Riverdale started on Riverdale Season 5 Episode 5. It's a full-fledged battle! Though, one that seems impossible based on the hurdles Hiram set up.
Toni and the crew are not backing down without a fight.
The fight to save Riverdale seemed like a harder battle to win than possible. Granted, the group found opportunities to get some leverage, but other issues have mounted into bigger problems.
"Chapter Eighty-One: The Homecoming" brought up realistic concerns about the future of Riverdale, let alone Riverdale High.
I liked that the chapter explained Hiram's ulterior motive and the importance of how an unincorporated town would affect their chances. This is a far cry from Veronica Mars Season 2, which played with a similar plot, but that season didn't explain it in an impactful way.
Toni: Okay, I’ll help. I’ll give you some advice: watch your back, Jones. You’ve made a lot of enemies in this town.
The shifting vote throws a huge wrench into the plans, and now that Riverdale isn't a working entity anymore, the group is facing a bigger uphill climb. They've got to start from the ground-up to bring life back into the town and justify winning over the vote.
Also, none of that can be possible while Hiram is still in town messing things up. He's already five steps ahead; based on his blackmail votes, more than half the town agreed with him to make it happen.
It will be a miracle if the group wins the war by the end of Riverdale Season 5.
Riverdale High going private will be an interesting first step in taking back the town.
The group will do everything they can to run the school and offer a beacon of hope for the remaining citizens. However, as mentioned above, it's only one building in a one-sheriff-town.
Hiram will no doubt throw many wrenches into their plans to ensure the school shuts down.
Hiram controls the utilities, the surrounding neighborhoods, and the futures of the current residents. If he were to convince more people to move out of Riverdale, the school wouldn't have any students to teach. For this war to be won, the battle has to extend outside the school.
Still, the look on Hiram's face when he discovered that he doesn't control the school: priceless!
Speaking of the school, did anyone else get major Glee Season 6 vibes from the plot of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead returning to teach at Riverdale High?
The plot seemed like a convenient way to get them back together into one place. But, if Riverdale was more realistic, there's no way all four would agree to give up their lives to stay behind. Maybe one or two, but not all four.
Betty is a trainee at the FBI, and she's almost done her coursework. Veronica has a new life in New York. Jughead may have stuck around with Archie, but it wouldn't have been a permanent thing.
These plots feel like a way to cling to the past while injecting moments of the present.
Don't get me wrong, they're fun and bring back a lot of nostalgia/moments. However, the plots don't give breathing room to grow for the future as they keep looking back. It's a tad restrictive for development.
One of those storylines was the tension between Betty and Polly. Had they not gotten over their drama in the last seven years?
Their disagreements seemed weirdly fresh, as if they never took the opportunity to talk things out, let alone acted as if they never saw each other all this time. Strangely, neither Alice nor Polly told Betty how their lives were like in Riverdale while she was gone.
The family and town troubles seemed like something she would be aware of, especially since Alice still lived in town and was on the school board. Sure, Polly may have been distant, but Alice and Betty were still good.
Plus, where did all this newfound animosity toward Betty leaving come from?!
Betty left for school AND to pursue her dream career. It's not like she abandoned them; she just had different priorities than living in Riverdale.
Let's not forget that Polly threw many of the first stones towards Betty!
The entire storyline involving The Farm is a nostalgic time capsule of how Polly betrayed her sister. If anyone deserved to have a chip on their shoulder, it's Betty.
And the mountain of secrets and lies to life in Riverdale only adds to it.
Whatever Polly has gotten herself into, it's gotta be something dangerous. Alice has to know as well; she's keeping secrets, and if Polly disappears too, she'll need Betty on the same page to help solve it.
Did anyone else cheer for joy at the "Barchie" ship moment?
Betty and Archie hooking up was long overdue, but the chemistry was well worth the wait. This plot returning provided some closure to the desires they had in the past.
Riverdale never fully explored the Barchie relationship; there was always a secret or hurdle preventing them from dating. Keeping their hook-ups a secret is another potential barrier. However, they can progress naturally if they want to explore a romance.
Archie: Betty, what just happened?
Betty: [Laughs] I don’t know. Something we’ve been wanting to do since high school but never got around to do.
Archie: Sounds about right.
Based on their steamy shower scene, Archie and Betty heated up real quick. You could feel their passion and intensity from the makeout, and their post-shower chat was all smiling.
Don't get your hopes up just yet, Barchie fans! The shower was their first hook-up. Anything could happen next, and it's very early into their return.
Either they'll burnout fast and strong, or they will grow over time.
Did Jughead not plan for the future at all? He has to admit at some point that he's a bit destructive and self-sabotaging.
Getting a job at the diner will alleviate some money issues, but it will only get him by so much. He's got bills to pay and people who are coming to collect from him, like the debt collectors or Cora.
He should be very thankful that Tabitha gave him a chance at the diner! And hopefully, he receives a paycheck from the school.
Jughead: I saw you're looking for a new waiter. I’m definitely interested.
Tabitha: Thanks, but this definitely isn’t the right job for you.
Jughead: You don’t even know me.
Tabitha: Also, you can’t just sit here all day using my internet. You have to actually order food, not just coffee, and then you have to pay for said food. My grandfather did things his way and I do them mine. And the first rule of MY diner is no running tabs.
Though, he needs to get his writing career in order.
If what Toni said was true, there's an entire town of hurt coming for Jughead. And, if Pop Tate and Tabitha find out about his writings, they'll lash out at him too.
Look at the mess you've created, Jughead!
Veronica's drama, on the other hand, seemed confusing at times. Her real motives mysterious remained mysterious before she reached out to Reggie and Hiram with the truth.
Did the montage of interviews and purchases feel like she was leaving Chad?
All the steps she took, like selling her pearls and interviewing for jobs on the west coast, seemed like she was planning for a life without Chad. I was half-expecting her to reveal as much before she just threatened him instead.
Betty: You know, it used to be Kevin and I would sneak a peek through that window hoping you were shirtless. And now you’re spying on…
There's something off about this relationship that maybe even Veronica hasn't figured out yet.
Veronica has every right to end things if she's not getting what she needs from their marriage. Chad doesn't seem like an easy person to play ball with, and he'll most likely betray her trust yet again.
Veronica and Chad don't come across as a strong enough relationship to survive past the Riverdale High storyline.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
You could tell from Hiram's face that he enjoyed every minute of turning Veronica away. He matched petty with petty: she called him a hurt puppy and didn't invite him to her wedding; he's no longer helping his princess. It's a fair trade.
Archie and the group should've considered joining the sheriff station instead. They took down the Ghoulies with ease.
Come on, Cheryl! Just admit you still love Toni and want to help her. Forget about the Blossom curse!
The appearance of Veronica's undercover blonde wig was a welcomed cameo.
Placing bets now that Tabitha and Jughead are going to date. Did you feel the sparks between them?
- Reggie cannot be trusted. He has fully moved over to the dark side.
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Eighty-One: The Homecoming"?
Will Polly be the next victim of the truck driver? Is a new romance forming between Archie and Betty? Will the plan to save the town work out?
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 below.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.