It’s the end of senior year at Riverdale High and emotions are all over the place. As everyone celebrates graduation, the gang worries about where they all will be in the years to come. Jughead finally learns the truth about his girlfriend and his best friend, Archie makes a decision about his future, and not all friendships and relationships last after high school.
Keep reading for a recap of Riverdale‘s third episode of season 5, “Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation.”
“From the start, this story has been about a town, and the people who lived in that town, and the darkness that lived in some of those people.” Jughead narrates the opening of the episode, talking about Clifford Blossom, The Black Hood, Gargoyle King, the Stories. And to their ranks, his sister, Jellybean who had been the Voyeur/Auteur, making the videotapes that had been disturbing their town for months. Jughead looks at all of the masks of him and his friends that are lying on the table and Betty comes over to him, saying it’s not his fault. “It just feels like it.” He was the one that convinced her to move out there, away from everything she knew. And then he ignored her. Betty tells him he was in the fight of his life at Stonewall Prep, Jellybean is tough. She’ll get through this.
Later, F.P. finishes talking to Jellybean and comes downstairs, telling Alice, Betty, and Jughead he doesn’t know how she is. Alice doesn’t know if he’s going to like this idea, but she’s been looking into child therapists and she found one that has excellent references. F.P. hopes they’re in Ohio, because that’s where he’s taking Jellybean. Back to Toledo. Maybe F.P.’s right, Alice says she might need a mother. “And her father.” F.P. tells Alice that Jellybean is his little girl and if this isn’t a cry for help, he doesn’t know what is. They will have a conversation about this, but first thing’s first. Jellybean told him where her accomplices were hiding out most nights.
Jughead and F.P. knock on Archie’s door and F.P. tells him they need him to open up his gym. The three of them make another stop to the Pembrooke, Tom Keller now with them. F.P. tells Hiram he needs to reinstate Tom as Sheriff, “Right the hell now.” They get to the El Royale and look under the boxing ring, sure enough seeing all of Jellybean’s friends sleeping.
“Asleep, they almost looked innocent.” Jughead tells Betty what happened, saying they survived the death of Jason Blossom, and the Black Hood and the Gargoyle King, but he didn’t even consider how the fallout of that would affect the generation coming up behind them, including Jellybean. Unless a meteorite strikes the town in two days, they’ll have survived graduation, but will they? “And are we just doomed to be haunted by this town for the rest of our lives?”
Archie, meanwhile, has other thoughts. While sleeping, he has a dream of the Core Four getting ready for graduation, and Archie is telling his dad to take the picture. In an emotional reveal, the late Luke Perry as Fred Andrews is holding his phone, Mary standing next to him, telling him the ceremony starts in 10 minutes. “I can’t believe we’re here. Archie, you’re graduating. Didn’t think I’d live to see this day.” Archie wakes up in a sweat.
As the last day of school starts, the seniors gather together as they unlock the time capsule from the Class of 1945, the first senior class of Riverdale High. Mr. Weatherbee tells the students as their seniors prepare for their own graduation, it’s time to open it. Cheryl and Toni open the box and start going through the items and afterwards, Cheryl says that all of the items will be on display for closer inspection. She then tells her fellow seniors to enjoy their last day of high school.
Archie is nervously waiting his turn in the principal’s office until Jughead comes out, giving him the news that he’s graduating. “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” Archie goes in, but he doesn’t get the same news as Jughead. Despite his efforts, Weatherbee tells him he will not be graduating with his classmates. Summer school also won’t be enough. As if not graduating wasn’t the worst of it, Archie will have to repeat his senior year. Archie asks if he can still walk and Weatherbee tells him of course. In fact, Weatherbee was hoping Archie might record the graduation song. Archie would be happy to.
The seniors are all in their final class, anxiously looking at the clock. The bell rings and everyone celebrates, hugging, kissing their significant others, happily leaving class for the last time. Archie goes over to the table with the time capsule items and looks at the picture of the four graduates getting ready to head off to war, as Veronica looks over.
It’s officially graduation at Riverdale High. Betty’s on stage, giving the class valedictorian speech. And soon, with Archie’s cover of “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” playing in the background, the class that we have come to know, love, and worry about, that we have known since their sophomore year, are walking across the stage one-by-one and getting their diplomas as their families and friends watch on.
After the ceremony, F.P. and Jellybean are getting ready to leave. F.P. tells Jughead he knows he would have given up Iowa for Jellybean and he promises she is going to know it too. Jughead going to college, being a success, it’s good for them. F.P. says his goodbyes to Alice, who wonders if this is it. “The end of our story?” F.P. hopes not but for now, Alice knows what he has to do. And she loves him for it. Falice has one last kiss goodbye and Alice, Betty, and Jughead watch F.P. and Jellybean ride off on the motorcycle. Archie, meanwhile, goes up to a military booth at the school and asks the recruiters if it’s too late. One of them tells him it’s not, and they’re happy to discuss options with him but this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Archie tells the recruiter he understands, he’d love to hear what what they have to say.
On the Riverdale High football field, Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Reggie, Toni, and Cheryl have gathered together to bury their own time capsule. That night, the Core Four are sitting on the bleachers and Archie tells them they are the best friends anyone could ask for. “Uh-oh. Sounds like another vow is coming on.” Archie says to make a vow, really. The four of them, right now. That in one year, no matter what’s going on in their lives, they’ll meet back at Pop’s, one year from that day. And every year after that.
They make the deal, then Archie tells them he enlisted and leaves for basic training in the morning. He can get his high school degree without repeating senior year, which is what he was going to have to do. He’d be set up for college. For the first time in a long time, Archie doesn’t feel scared or uncertain about his future. The others look shocked and worried. Veronica tells Archie she won’t sit there and support this. She reminds him that there’s a war going on, telling him that he doesn’t have a plan and she gets that that’s scary. But this is just straight up lunacy and she won’t indulge it.
At home, Jughead asks Betty how Veronica’s doing, wondering if she thinks it’s crazy that Veronica had no idea what Archie was planning to do. Maybe it’s just him, but it kind of seems like the two of them have been squirrelly since prom. He just doesn’t know what the problem could be. Betty tells Jughead she thinks she may know what happened. Jughead can already tell what’s coming and Betty tells him about the kiss between her and Archie. She swears to Jughead that it was only once. She’s guessing Archie told Veronica and that’s why she’s been acting so weird. Betty didn’t tell Jughead and she’s sorry. She should have told him right when it happened.
In the morning, Archie says goodbye to his dog and his mother, thanking her for everything, and he and Jughead leave for the bus stop. At the bus stop, Archie begins to tell Jughead about what happened between him and Betty and Jughead tells him he knows. She told him. Jughead says it’s okay, seriously. He knows neither of them did it to hurt him or Veronica. “Maybe a little normal high school angst is good for us.” They’re okay, they always will be. Meanwhile, Betty sees Veronica telling her she has to apologize to her for something. Veronica knows, and she’s not mad at her. She can’t be, not today. She’s too upset. Betty says she’s sorry and hugs Veronica. She tells her she feels so responsible for what’s happening between her and Archie. Veronica, through tears, tells her it’s not that. “It’s how it’s all ending,” so sudden and unresolved. She wishes she had said goodbye to him. More than anything, she wishes she had hugged him one more time. Betty tells her Archie’s bus may not have left yet, she knows exactly how they’re going to get there.
Driving the jalopy, Betty and Veronica get to the bus stop to find just Jughead sitting on the bench. He tells them the bus left a minute ago, he’s gone. Betty tells Jughead to get in and they drive off. On the bus, Archie is looking at a picture of him and Fred at Pop’s, then gets flashbacks of his dad, Veronica, Betty, Jughead. The jalopy’s horn can be heard and Archie looks out the window, surprised to see his friends driving next to him. All three wave to him and Veronica tells him she loves him. Archie begs the bus driver to pull over and he does. Archie gets a proper goodbye with Veronica, Jughead, and Betty before getting back on the bus. He looks out the back window, seeing his friends one last time.
“Once Archie had left, it was as if the glue that had held our group together had begun to dissolve.” First to go was Veronica, who tells her friends she’s going to take some time off before school starts. She’ll spend her summer with her mom and Andy Cohen in The Hamptons. Veronica was gone within a week. As for Jughead and Betty, things had changed. They never talked about her and Archie, about the growing distance between them. Not even when Betty announced she would be going to New Haven early. She and Alice are taking a road trip before Alice drops her off. Jughead tells Betty they deserve the R-and-R. But what’s going to happen to them, Betty wonders. Jughead still loves her and always will. Betty tells him the same thing. But for now, Jughead tells her she should focus on Yale and he’ll focus on Iowa. Betty and Jughead say their goodbyes when it’s time, and Jughead watches her and Alice leave.
After the Coopers left, Jughead says it didn’t feel right to keep living at their house anymore. So, he moved into Archie’s house, which was empty for the time being waiting to be sold, until they cut the electricity, gas, and hot water. Jughead sought refuge in a place he knew all too well. “Honey? I’m home.” He’s back at the bunker, staying there until August when it was finally time for him to go where no Jones man had gone before. College, but not without having one last Pop’s burger.
As Jughead left for his new future, he wondered if they would keep the vow they made on the bleachers, to return home to their booth at Pop’s one year later. “Only time will tell.” And time did tell. One year later, Jughead would be the only one waiting for his friends at Pop’s, who would never show up. “It would be six years before I saw my friends again. We’d be different people, each of us, brought together by, of course, a new crisis and mystery. But that’s another story. For another day.”
Catch Riverdale when it jumps ahead six more years starting this Wednesday, February 10 at 8 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. CT on The CW, streaming free the next day on The CW app!