Riverdale season 2 is not even halfway done. Yet there’s no point telling that fact to the show’s winter finale, “Silent Night, Deadly Night.” In the winter finale, Riverdale manages to tackle most, but not all, of its season 2 plotlines and attempt to tie them altogether (and even conclude a couple) into one action-packed hour. There might still be a lot of Riverdale season 2 to go but it’s hard to imagine a more satisfying season finale than “Silent Night, Deadly Night” even if it’s little just a midpoint.

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Crushing the Snake Charmer 

The driving force of the winter finale is Archie and Betty, in more ways than one. However, Riverdale does hand out two rather standalone stories to Jughead and Veronica that relate to their arcs this season. Jughead’s story, which should be obvious to anyone, involves much more of the Serpent story and Cole Sprouse showing as much of his teeth as he can while portraying Jughead’s anger.

Jughead decides that for Christmas he wants to get his dad out of the blackmail situation he landed him in with Penny Peabody. Jughead’s solution is to gather up all the young Serpents, dump Penny Peabody in Greendale and mutilate the Serpent tattoo on her arm. It’s a shocking dark moment but it’s also surprisingly effective as the plan goes off without a hitch. While F.P. is convinced Penny will be back, meaner than ever, Jughead thinks he’s won. 

In all honesty, Jughead’s probably way off. However, that’s not unusual for Riverdale season 2. This gangster Jughead story still seems like a huge mistake and takes the character way off from his season 1 emotional role and function, but whatever. Hopefully the conclusion for Jughead will be better than this ride. 

Veronica Goes All in on the Family Business

Jughead, of course, isn’t the only child diving headfirst into the dark world of their parents. After being put on the back burner for far too long, Riverdale finally revisits Veronica being initiated in the world of Lodge Industries. It starts innocently enough. Veronica learns that Fred Andrews is struggling with his medical bills and she decides to use her family’s fortune to pay for them. Yet, that’s really just the beginning. 

When Hiram and Hermione find out about Veronica’s Good Samaritan act they go a little berserk. Well, Hiram does at least. (Riverdale really needs to put Hiram and Fred in a room ASAP.) However, Hermione smooths things over and tells Hiram it’s time to tell Veronica everything about their business to avoid rash actions in the future.

The scene cuts away before all is revealed, which is supremely frustrating but not wholly expected. Whatever the Lodge’s are planning, it’s sure to be a huge story for the rest of the season, if not the series. At the very least, we should get more as Riverdale moves forward. Veronica does make her parents promise that she won’t have to do anything illegal. A promise that’s sure to be broken faster than Archie making his next dumb decision. 

Barchie Investigation Squad

Strangely though, “Silent Night, Deadly Night” doesn’t have much in the way of Archie being stupid — if you don’t count his usual recklessness. After exchanging Christmas gifts, Archie and Betty decide that they need to wrap up the Black Hood once and for all. They’re put on the trail when they discover Mr. Svenson hasn’t been to school in several days. 

Archie and Betty become convinced that The Black Hood has kidnapped Svenson. A theory that’s only confirmed by Betty getting another phone call from The Hood. This leads them down a twisty investigation and sharing a surprise (and completely out of place) kiss. The kiss is just far too rushed and a transparent way to spark the love triangle. It’s the weakest moment of the episode but at least it’s brief. 

When Betty and Archie aren’t inexplicably smooching, they discover the town’s original sin. A group of old Riverdale residents, including Cheryl’s grandmother, Nana Rose (who goes from background keeper to scene stealer), killed a innocent man who was accused of being the Riverdale Reaper. This began The Black Hood’s reign. 

Archie and Betty end up at the “Reaper’s” gravesite and find nothing but an empty coffin and the Black Hood, himself, inside. The Black Hood has been a bit of dud in the killer department, having only one actual murder under his belt. However, the show does milk the tension for all its worth as The Black Hood holds Archie and Betty at gunpoint. Luckily though, Betty was smart enough to call the cops. So when the sirens begin to wail, Betty is able to grab a nearby shovel and smack The Black Hood in the face. This starts a chase that ends with The Black Hood being shot and killed by Sheriff Keller.

The Black Hood Unmasked …. Maybe

The Black Hood lies dead and it’s time to finally unmask him. The Black Hood is none other than Mr. Svenson. It’s a result that really only shocks Archie (because again he’s a dumb-dumb). The real shocker is that Riverdale is wrapping up The Black Hood mystery this early in the season. It’s the right move though as The Black Hood plotline wasn’t exactly going anywhere. 

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Although, in the final moments of the episode some speculation logs are thrown in the fire. Archie and Veronica reunite, with her telling him that she loves him. This makes his kiss with Betty seem all the more bizarre, but the big moment isn’t the reunion itself. It’s that an unknown person is snapping pictures of them while they kiss. Perhaps the photographer will be our next “villain” … if Betty doesn’t completely snap first.

In the final scene, Betty starts burning her Black Hood evidence box. Yet, there’s one item she can’t bear to burn, The Black Hood’s mask. This is because, according to Jughead’s narration, it isn’t over for Betty. While the immediate implication from that is Svenson wasn’t the killer or Betty will start killing, it’s more likely that the darkness inside Betty is still churning from the Black Hood investigation. If Riverdale is going to “continue” the Hood’s story this is the correct course of action. The killer was only interesting for what he brought out in the other characters, particularly Betty. 

The one thing that is clear is that Riverdale is going to have a lot of time to fill in the new year. 

But what did you think? Were you surprised by the Svenson reveal? What do you think Betty keeping the mask means? Who is taking pictures of Veronica and Archie? Why? What did Veronica learn from Hermione and Hiram? How badly will Jughead’s “defeat” of Penny Peabody go? 

Riverdale will return Wednesday, January 17 at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Riverdale Facebook page!

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.