Riverdale Season 6 Episode 5 Recap and Ending, Explained

Image Credit: Colin Bentley/The CW

‘Riverdale,’ the teen series based on the famous ‘Archie’ comics, focuses on the personal and social lives of Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead, and Cheryl in the small town of Riverdale. Although not critically acclaimed, The CW series, created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, has garnered a cult-like following for its dark plotlines, chaotic drama, and close-knit friend groups.

Season 6 of the show switches things up by dabbling in the genre of horror. Through the 5-episode event of ‘Rivervale,’ we witness the sacrificial death of Archie, the selling of Reggie’s soul to the Devil, and the switching of bodies between Nana Rose and Cheryl. On the other hand, Toni becomes La Llorona, Sabrina Spellman visits Rivervale, and Cheryls’ witchy ancestry is revealed.

Needless to say, the worlds of Riverdale and Rivervale are keeping fans quite confused. However, the last episode of ‘Rivervale’ finally answers all the important questions pertaining to the two towns. Here’s everything you need to know about ‘Riverdale’ season 6 episode 5 recap and ending explainer. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Riverdale Season 6 Episode 5 Recap

The episode opens with a corpse lying in front of the Rivervale town sign. Elsewhere, we see that Archie has come back from the dead. Meanwhile, Betty, Veronica, Toni, Fangs, Nana Rose, and Cheryl talk about their nightmares — from Archie’s sacrificial killing to the swapping of bodies — which encapsulate all of the supernatural events we have seen in ‘Rivervale.’ Jughead begins to grow uneasy and starts noticing discrepancies in his reality.

On Jughead’s first day back at school as a teacher, he sees the high school versions of himself and his friends roaming in the halls. Then, he runs into Ben Button, who sacrifices himself to the Gargoyle King by jumping out of the window in season 3. Later, we find out that Archie and Betty are getting married during the weekend, with Jughead as their best man.

Shockingly, Dr. Curdle informs Betty that he has come across Jughead’s corpse. A stunned Jughead heads over to the mortuary and sees his doppelganger’s body — it was strangled to death and found near the town sign. Jughead goes through his doppelganger’s belongings and finds an ‘Archie’ comic book titled “Rivervale: The Jughead Paradox.” He then realizes that he has an entire collection of comics that explore the worlds of ‘Riverdale’ and ‘Rivervale.’ Thus, we see all six seasons of the show being read by Jughead in comic-book form. He comes to the realization that Rivervale might be a “warped reflection” or a parallel universe of Riverdale.

Later, Jughead meets Jason Blossom, who dies in season 1, Dilton Doiley, who dies in season 3, and Ethel Muggs. However, only Jughead remembers these deaths. Doiley is teaching physics at the high school and explains to him the parallel universes of Riverdale and Rivervale. Then, Veronica comes across two Reggies — one from season 1 of the show, played by Ross Butler, and one from seasons 2 to 6 of the show, played by Charles Melton. Both begin to fight for her attention.

Afterward, Jason is kidnapped by the Black Hood. However, Jughead, due to his memories of Riverdale, manages to find him at the Whyte Wyrm. Sheriff Keller, Archie, and Jughead unmask the killer — he is revealed to be Clifford Blossom, who kills his own son, Jason, in season 1. Later, Toni reveals that Cheryl has been strangled to death.

Riverdale Season 6 Episode 5 Ending: Are Archie and Jughead Dead or Alive?

Veronica finds out that the two Reggies are dead after dueling over her. Then, Jughead reaches out to her and explains that they need to experience the bomb blast together as they are the counterparts of Archie and Betty. But when Jughead doesn’t show up for the wedding ceremony, Archie realizes that he is trying to separate the two universes. Thus, he kills Veronica as she is trying to help Jughead; he is also the murderer of Cheryl. We realize that Archie is the “big bad” of Rivervale as he strangles Jughead.

However, Betty, in her wedding dress, comes and shoots Archie dead. However, after Betty and Jughead leave to reenact the bomb blast scenario, Archie rises from the dead to chase after them. So although Archie dies in ‘Rivervale’ initially, due to the nature of the parallel universe, he simply keeps coming back to life. We also find out that it was Archie who strangled narrator Jughead to death at the beginning of the episode. However, narrator Jughead also comes back to life and helps his doppelganger in figuring out the mystery of the two parallel universes.

Thus, just like Hiram Lodge is the “big bad” of ‘Riverdale,’ Archie is the villain of ‘Rivervale.’ This is because Rivervale exposes the residents of the town to their darkest sides. Archie, driven mad by grief at losing his father, Fred Andrews, decides to use the concept of the two universes to try and bring him back since “everybody comes to life” in ‘Rivervale.’ Desperately wanting to see Fred at the wedding, Archie begins to kill his own friends who are trying to split the two universes.

Thus, here we see an exploration of duality in terms of characters, world-building, and motives. Each character’s negative trait is taken to its extreme, which not only works brilliantly with the horror genre but also serves to highlight their good characteristics in the OG universe. Additionally, Jughead’s writing prowess and investigative skills shine through as he’s the only one who even notices that there are two worlds with the same setting and characters.

Are Riverdale and Rivervale Parallel Universes?

Riverdale and Rivervale are parallel universes — the latter is created due to Hiram’s bomb blast during the finale of season 5. The confluence of good (Archie and Betty’s love) and bad (Hiram’s hatred) gives rise to a twisted reality with a penchant for the supernatural.

We also find out that Dilton, who teaches physics in Rivervale and dies in ‘Riverdale’ season 3 due to cyanide poisoning, is responsible for these parallel universes that aren’t supposed to exist. He wants to see what will happen if the two universes are left in their combined state. “I’ll be the first scientist to document a prime pocket universe collapsing in real-time,” he declares. However, he dies after being poisoned by Ethel, who is troubled by his lack of empathy.

Meanwhile, because of the ‘Archie’ comics, his own intuition, and Ethel’s help, Jughead realizes the mystery of Rivervale and the fact that his own writing is the only documentation of all the events in both universes. He finds out that recreating the circumstances that gave birth to Rivervale will produce enough energy to divide the two parallel universes. This is because Riverdale and Rivervale are linked at the point of creation even though they are dangerously expanding.

Later, narrator Jughead reveals that he visited Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe in the sky after being strangled by Archie. There, he found a special issue comic that bridges the gap between issue 95, which is the last ‘Riverdale’ comic, and issue 96, which marks the beginning of ‘Rivervale’. Through it, he realized that imagination is the power that is needed to separate the two universes and restore normalcy. This is because imagination is the equivalent of creation and the bomb that creates Rivervale is a form of destruction.

Thus, Rivervale’s Jughead is the only one who is both inside and outside the story; he decides to become a “living battery” or a “story generator” in order to save both the OG and its alternate version. By endlessly writing stories for Rivervale, Jughead is able to control the town’s fate. However, he must live in isolation for the rest of his life, fading from people’s memories even as he writes their realities to save them from their otherwise gruesome futures.

Thus, although narrator Jughead and Betty get ready on the bed for the planned explosion meant to mimic Hiram’s blast and produce enough energy for the separation, writer Jughead writes the bomb out of existence. He also stops Archie in his tracks; the others, such as Veronica and Cheryl, are alive again as well and happily wait for Jughead and Betty to join them.

Moreover, due to everyone’s outfits, we realize that most of the events of this episode take place right before the bomb blast at the end of season 5. Thus, we realize the importance of a writer and a narrator — right from season 1, Jughead provides us with his insightful knowledge of Riverdale’s people and places. Ultimately, his passion for his small town and intelligent storytelling enables him to save the residents of both Riverdale and Rivervale.

Do Betty and Archie Survive the Bomb Blast?

Betty and Archie do survive the bomb blast at the end of season 5 — we know this solely because of the events that transpire in season 6. Because of his understanding of parallel universes, Rivervale’s Jughead manages to reach out to Riverdale’s Betty and Archie through a distorted-voice phone call and warns them about the bomb. Thus, we believe that Betty and Archie escape the room right before the bomb goes off. The strong reciprocal bond between ‘Rivervale’ and ‘Riverdale’ thus enables messages to be carried across different timelines and dimensions.

Read More: Is Archie Dead or Alive in Riverdale? Where is He Now?