“Riverdale is dying and we may be the only ones who can save it.”  These are the words that Archie Andrews tells his friends upon their return to Riverdale. In this week’s episode of the CW’s Riverdale, titled Episode Eighty: Purgatorio, we see Archie and the gang return to Riverdale for the first time in seven years. However, it is much different then the last time they were all there.  This review will recap where the gang is now, so if you do not wish to know, do not read past the next paragraph.  

Seven Years Later

In recap, last week we left off with Jughead stating they’re jumping ahead seven years before they all saw each other again.  This week we’re reunited with each character individually. Since they have all gone their separate ways after graduation.  Most shows that follow teenagers usually struggle with transitioning the show to adulthood.  This changed the tone of the show four episodes into season five drastically.  I think the transition would have benefited from this episode being at the top of a season, rather than four episodes in, but I understand due to the pandemic, that altered the original plans.  I do think they should have taken a one or two week break between episode three and four to account for the time that has passed. 

Those matters aside, I think that the tonal shift for Riverdale going forward will be quite interesting.  It is not often that we have such a massive time jump in a show of this nature.  Instead of seeing the gang in college and the struggles post high school, we see them in their mid-twenties as working Americans, who all for the first time, are living as individuals and not a group.  However, I have a feeling much of their progress, or lack thereof, will unravel and reveal itself again. Riverdale, after all, has a way of negatively affecting people.  

Where Are They Now?

It’s seven years since graduation, so where are Archie and the gang now?  That’s always the biggest question upon high school reunions.   This episode opened on Sergeant Andrews fighting in the Army. Archie goes back to Riverdale after an injury. The school needs a new ROTC coach after all.  He begins to call the rest of the team once he sees Riverdale for what it has become, a city that has been completely taken over by Hiram Lodge, and is now a town without law, is rundown, and only the poor have been left behind.  

Betty is now a trainee in the FBI, haunted by a prior case that leaves her having nightmares. Not that nightmares and trauma are anything new to Betty Cooper, but they are still haunting her in her time away from Riverdale. She makes her way back to Riverdale upon hearing from Archie, something tells me we will probably see Barchie happen upon the reunion.  

The Rest Of The Group

Jughead is in New York and is now a published author, but things are not going well for him as we soon learn, when he gets the call from Archie.  Veronica is also in New York, but married and a busy working woman.  Although she appears to be happy, is she living a lie, and is she slowly becoming like her mother?  

As for the rest of the gang, they are still in Riverdale.  Toni and Sweet Pea have taken over the Serpents and own the bar below Pop’s, renamed Whyte Wyrm.  Kevin, Fang and Reggie also remained in Riverdale, as did Cheryl.  Cheryl has stayed at Thornhill for almost the entirety of the last seven years, trying to renovate her home and the Blossom legacy.  Toni seems to be the only person who wants to get back together with her high school sweetheart, at least for now.

So What’s Next?

Riverdale, as I said earlier, is basically a ghost town.  It’s a skeleton of its former self, due to Hiram Lodge.  So, it’s going to be up to Archie and his friends to bring back the Riverdale that they once knew.  But is it able to be saved, and is it even worth saving?  Only time will tell for the rest of season five.

Overall this episode was intriguing, it practically feels like an all new show.  We are seeing new characters who are not the same as they were in high school.  I appreciate that this show covered every angle of directions that people go after graduation.  Usually we just see the characters go to college, join the workforce and maybe start families but everything stays the same, and the drama remains. This episode also dealt with its’ lead joining the military, which for many people is an option they choose to take.  I applaud Riverdale for catering to multiple audiences in this way. 

The CW Sticks To Their Script

The only cons I have is that they did not age the characters at all, except for their wardrobe.  As far as the rest of the season, they did some flashbacks in this episode for events that happened in the last seven years for Betty and I really hope they do not continue to do that. If you have a time jump, mention things but why do a time jump just to do flashbacks?  That story telling technique has become a standard CW tactic, and I am personally tired of it, and would love to see them not rely too much on that. 

I would, however, give this episode a 4 out of 5 because it seemed quite interesting and intriguing and fresh, which this show has not felt in a while.  I do have a few predictions, we will again (unfortunately) have a musical episode, because Kevin is now Riverdale High’s drama teacher and we will see couples reunite or new ones form.  For the past never stays in the past in Riverdale.  For more Riverdale, and to see how things pan out, stay tuned every Wednesday night at 8 PM, on The CW or on Thursdays via the CWTV app or CWTV.com, and continue to catch my reviews every week here via That Hashtag Show!