Riverdale Has Become The 1 Thing I Never Expected: Boring
The final season lost all of the show's bonkers charm.
You can criticize a lot about Riverdale. Did its storylines go off the rails more than once? Definitely. Did its constant couple-swapping feel a bit fan-servicey? Sure. Does literally anything that happens make sense? Hell no. But these are all things I and other fans of the increasingly bonkers show could forgive. Laughing at the ridiculousness of the show actually became the main reason to keep tuning in. And that’s what made the final season’s tone shift such a letdown. Instead of embracing the campy, off-the-walls absurdity to send the gang off with a bang, Riverdale became the one thing nobody saw coming. It became boring.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m still holding out hope that the final episodes of Riverdale could deliver something truly zany, but halfway through Season 7, the show feels like its treading water with no actual stakes for any of its main characters. The season started off promising enough; a freak comet explosion sent the whole town of Riverdale back in time to 1955. Now that’s the kind of stupid nonsense that I love about this show! But immediately, the magical comet stuff stopped mattering. The premiere teased that it’d be pivotal that Jughead was the only person to remember that everyone is from the future... only to then wipe his memory clean and have him join in the ‘50s fantasy.
Since then, the show has pushed aside its weird sci-fi bent and tried to become a generic high school drama. That’s all well and good for some shows — lots of former fans who fell off after Season 1 would probably love Season 7 for its focus on typical high school relationships — but for those of us who’ve seen these teens infiltrate cults, break out of jail, and literally become superheroes, it just flattens everything. Betty Cooper should be hunting serial killers, not clumsily trying to figure out puberty. Veronica Lodge should be in a kill-or-be-killed power struggle with her parents, not picking out which B movie to show next at her movie theater.
Jughead’s arc in this final season is the best illustration of how low-stakes everything suddenly feels. He’s actually on the trail of a murder mystery... except you probably forgot about that. The Milkman is a far-cry from the Black Hood or the Gargoyle King. While those iconic killers had connections to every character, the Milkman is a Jughead solo mission, which effectively cuts him off from the rest of the main cast most of the time. It doesn’t feel like the show is even that concerned with the murderer — it just needed to throw some new killer in to keep its tradition going.
The bulk of Season 7 has been filled with school dances, awkward dates, and theme parties at Veronica’s movie theater. It’s fine, but it’s hard not to feel detached from these milquetoast stories after Riverdale has spent seasons priming viewers for unexpected, logic-defying twists. Even if the show eventually does zap back to the present, it’ll feel a bit cheap to have basically wasted the first half of the season rolling around in a nostalgia-tinged stasis that likely has no bearing on how every character ends up. Can someone hurry up and drop another comet on this town, please?