This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 6 Episode 19
“Welcome to the Sisterhood of Night, ladies.”
When Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) returned from The Sweet Hereafter to appear in what was, disappointingly, a glorified cameo earlier in this season of Riverdale, fans were bummed by the lack of screen time that the now-twentysomething witch received.
However, this latest episode served not only as a satisfying epilogue to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but it also brought witchcraft to The Town with Pep in a huge way. (Not to mention that it leaves the door wide open for Sabrina’s return in the future). But for right now, the focus is that the television Archieverse finally has a satisfying crossover in an episode that will rank high among this season’s best.
There was an intimidating amount that this episode needed to accomplish. First and foremost, it had to resolve the cliffhanger of bringing all the first-born individuals who died the last time around back to life. Then it had to incorporate Sabrina into this storyline in a satisfying way. Additionally, it had to drive Percival’s evil plotting one step closer to the finish line. Daunting story hurdles to be sure. Fortunately, they were all overcome, with the bonus that we also learn how Sabrina is alive (Nick sacrificed himself), while Reggie shows his true colors (he’s not a bad guy after all).
Was anyone else shocked that all this was handled with the grace of a Cirque du Soleil performance?
Riverdale is not a show that does subtlety. So it was fair to be apprehensive about how Sabrina would fit into the show. Would it feel forced? How much supernatural shit can you sneak into this show without breaking the narrative and overall tone? Would Shipka still bring magic to the character? Let’s answer these questions quickly and move on: No, endless amounts, and with ease as if no time had passed.
The merging of Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina‘s worlds was so effortless it is difficult to not look at this installment as a proof-of-concept that illustrates how well the Archiveverse shows can unite on screen. (True, Riverdale has attempted to do this before by bringing on Katy Keene characters and through the failed The Pussycats backdoor pilot, but none of those efforts possessed Sabrina’s pop culture cachet).
In each scene, Shipka stole the show, presenting a more mature Sabrina but one who is still immediately recognizable. She still uses the world of the supernatural to further her own agenda, as showcased in this episode when she used Jughead’s body to briefly bring dead boyfriend Nick Scratch back to the world of the living. Yes, this was contrived, but I’ll allow it as this move answered key questions about the Sabrina finale and how the character is now alive in the first place.
Sabrina’s return was about more than just flashy magic. The majority of this series’ female leads are now witches. Cheryl can resurrect the dead. Betty is, well, whatever she is. These are plot development so big that I can’t even imagine Riverdale ignoring them once Percival Pickens is dead and gone. My gut instinct (which I delve into more below) is that the stage is set for a full-scale Archiveverse crossover next season. Even if these characters never interact again, this episode was a celebration of the richness and versatility of Archie and his world.
• With the supernatural aspects of this episode rightfully getting all the attention, let’s not overlook the substantial character development that happened over in the B-plot: Reggie revealed that his innermost desire is to be a hero. His plan to help his dad and Kevin escape the clutches of Percival are temporarily thwarted, but he just might be able to fulfill his noble destiny with the help of a stolen magical knife. Stay tuned.
• Following her apparently not entirely welcome resurrection, Sabrina dedicated herself to the study of necromancy — giving the character the focus her life lacked in her solo TV series.
• Cheryl plays with life and death in a cavalier way when she brings her dead family members back to life. But as Sabrina remarks, “death doesn’t like to be cheated,” so you can expect there to be major consequences for Cheryl’s actions.
• Archie’s Mad House was the comic that Sabrina the Teenage Witch originally debuted in back in 1962. By 1970, the title had morphed into Madhouse Glads, a comic detailing the adventures of an Archie-esque group of friends. (Over the years, Archie Publications have printed several titles that featured knock off versions of their core characters, it’s super weird/fascinating). In this episode, Jughead is shown to be the creator of the Madhouse Glads comic in his version of The Sweet Hereafter.
• Tonight’s episode was written by Riverdale/Chilling Adventures of Sabrina creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Chrissy Maroon.
• The last time Trevor Stines’ Jason Blossom appeared on Riverdale, he was finally given the opportunity to speak. He’s back to being mute, but perhaps he will have something more to say next week.
• Although they don’t appear, Sabrina’s beloved aunties are mentioned in this episode.
• In the aftermath of Netflix’s cancellation of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, word spread that a potential fifth season would have featured a Riverdale crossover. Given recent developments, it seems like the next and final season of Riverdale may just feature some sort of version of this proposed storyline. Or, better still, maybe they will just go completely nuts and do Afterlife with Archie for the show’s swan song. As a general rule, apparently we aren’t allowed to have nice things in 2022, but let’s hope for an exception here.
• When Sabrina appears to Jughead in the Sweet Hereafter, she looks exactly like her comic book counterpart. (As does Jug for that matter).
• Yes, those were all authentic vintage Archie comics that appeared in Jughead’s Sweet Hereafter sequence. A development that made this longtime Archie fanatic’s heart soar.
• It says a lot about Fangs and Toni that their idea of heaven includes the Ghoulies. An additional nice touch was having Anthony paired off with Twyla Twyst’s son.
• Do you think anyone ever let Mary Andrews know that Archie was okay? Or that he died and was brought back to life through witchcraft?
• For a minute there I thought that this show was going to pull a fast one and play the resurrection card to bring back Hiram Lodge.
• What exactly does it mean for Tabitha to be Riverdale’s Guardian Angel, and how will that impact her relationship with Jughead?
• It is unclear if Veronica even knows that Babylonium has been taken away from her. She can’t catch a break these days.
• Jughead makes a good point: “endless burgers and comic books” are the perfect afterlife.
• This exchange: “How many people get to say they died and came back?” “In Riverdale? A lot.”
• We still have no idea what it means that Betty is the Harlot of Bablyon, but it can’t be good news for Percival.
• It was super jarring to see Sabrina and Jugnick dining at a Riverdale restaurant that wasn’t Pop’s.
• Cheryl, upon discovering that she has the ability to resurrect the dead: “This is cuckoo bananas but I’m okay with that.”
• Next week: Betty goes to a macabre family reunion and someone sings, probably! Plus, Rivervale is back, just when you needed it most!