The truth of the Killer Milkman has been revealed, Riverdale fans.
After months of mysterious deaths and control from the adults, their secrets came crumbling down on Riverdale Season 7 Episode 18. A tidal wave of revelations and victories left this town shaking in its boots.
But with this being the third remaining episode of the series, did the reveal make its big landing? Or did it bubble over like curdled milk?
“Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Five: For A Better Tomorrow” was a jam-packed chapter that made up for lost time.
With so little time left in Riverdale Season 7, the momentum kicked into overdrive to unravel some long-standing mysteries. And in one case, a secret we didn’t even know was happening under the surface.
Before we get into the three main stories, we need to call out the exciting style change within the episode.
Shifting scenes from color to black and white was very evocative. It gave off Pleasantville vibes to see the characters and settings change to black and white as they entered their dramatic mystery tales.
The choice balanced the tone nicely because it took away the 1950s camp and color that distracted us in the past. Sure, the plots still fit the 1950s aesthetic, but the moodier treatment felt the closest we’ve been to the original Riverdale vibe in a long while.
Damn you and your fear-mongering, Jughead Jones.
It would’ve helped the flow if the different stories were kept together, as with Riverdale Season 7 Episode 5‘s scary stories.
Jumping back and forth between tales lost some of the momentum. It would have been a harder hit had we only focused on specific stories at a time.
Out of the three stories, Jughead and Cheryl’s portion solved the most questions.
For much of Riverdale Season 7, we waited to discover why the adults controlled the teens and the truth about the Killer Milkman.
Granted, we didn’t get clear answers for everything, but we can infer that Clifford Blossom’s schemes over the Palladium seeped into everything else he was doing. For instance, his morality committee against Pep Comics and shutting down any mention of a Killer Milkman.
The second the word “Palladium” was brought up, I knew where the focus was headed. Somewhere, Hiram Lodge from Riverdale Season 5 is scheming to get his batch!
Revealing Clifford as the cause of the milkman killings (through an assassin) made a lot of sense.
Who else but the most powerful and crooked man in town would want to silence and kill people? If all the milkmen were changing, there needed to be one constant: Clifford.
Clifford had become a conniving and manipulative mastermind, like with his control of the basketball team on Riverdale Season 7 Episode 12. He always had to get his way and enforced his power when he could. This plan was another way to cause chaos.
Dilton Doily: In its inert state, Palladium is basically harmless. But, in its purest state, concentrated and compressed, scientists speculate it could be more volatile than plutonium. And if detonated, more destructive than a hydrogen bomb.
Jughead: This is starting to ring a bell for me.
It was a good reveal. However, the supporting evidence, like Ethel’s parents being suspicious of Clifford, would’ve been better had it been peppered in throughout the season.
Dumping it all together in one reveal takes away from the big “a-ha!” moment. Having more clues beforehand helps the intrigue; it doesn’t take away the surprise.
On the other hand, Clifford and Penelope being Russian spies was a surprising twist.
“Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Five: For A Better Tomorrow” played on the themes of the Cold War and espionage. Not too long ago, Archie’s favorite teacher was accused of a similar concern, so it was nice to see these themes come back with a big reveal.
Plus, Cheryl got her shining moment.
Who else loved it when Cheryl got to bring in the FBI to take her parents away? You know she was living for that moment; all the karma returned to get Clifford and Penelope.
So satisfying and deserving!
Speaking of satisfaction, who else was so happy that Uncle Frank was kicked out of Archie’s house?
Joyous. Warm. All the happy feelings.
Frank overstepped his bounds so many times, and by now, he was treating Archie terribly in every chapter. But the audacity of that man to hand Archie the dog tags of his dead father and encourage him to join the army just so that he doesn’t write poetry.
Frank is infuriating. Kudos to Mary for sending that man out.
It was exciting how history was repeating itself.
Archie wanted to box for the Naval Academy in the original timeline, but it didn’t work out. He eventually joined the army as a way to solve his future. He left for the army on Riverdale Season 5 Episode 3.
Mary: I can’t have you anymore here, Frank. It’s time for you to move out.
Frank: Mary, you called me here to help.
Archie: And now she’s telling you to hit the road.
Frank: And who’s gonna be the man of the house when I’m gone?!
Archie: I am!
Mary: [Laughs] Not that I need one. I am the woman of this house, after all. I’m the one who pays the mortgage around here.
In this case, he considered both the Merchant Marines and the army as possible solutions.
We could say it’s retreading plots, but it’s also potentially a cycle. Even though the teens and adults were sent back to Riverdale 1955, they still follow the same patterns. Regardless of the plots, they ended back where they started.
Archie, both in the present and in 1955, couldn’t shake his path. It’s an interesting loop for his story and everyone else’s growth.
Betty and Ethel’s story is the tale I didn’t see coming. Did anyone correctly predict that Ethel would be related to Hal?
There weren’t many (if any) clues that hinted at this twist.
Many of the problems in the Cooper house were between Alice and Betty. Things like Alice pushing Betty into a bad relationship or condemning Betty for every little choice caused tension.
Placing all the blame for Alice’s fears, paranoia, and bad decisions on Hal’s cheating (and subsequently, the secret of the hidden child) didn’t feel like a good take.
Poor Ethel. She got dealt a terrible hand with the murders and the mistreatment from Alice.
She is an innocent victim in all of this, who then discovers the truth everyone kept from her. It’s a blessing she so easily forgave Alice and Hal for what they did.
Betty: What do you want?
Ethel: To be happy. To move on with my life. To start over.
The same goes for Betty too. If I were her, I wouldn’t have forgiven so easily.
As Betty unraveled the messy web of Alice’s secrets, it felt like she was trying desperately to tie together why Alice acted terribly. It felt like a stretch at times, like she was washing away Alice’s blame for her actions because of this secret.
We can’t forget how easily Alice was ready to throw Betty away.
If there’s one thing Riverdale as a series has done right, it’s giving Ethel a good send-off.
Ever since she appeared on Riverdale Season 1 Episode 3, Ethel has gotten the short end of the stick. She’s faced many obstacles, suffered from Riverdale’s darkness, and was hurt by the villains.
And granted, she was a villain for a time, like her working with the Gargoyle King.
Her arc in these last few chapters repaired much of the damage and set her up for success. Even if Riverdale returns to the present timeline, at least we’ll know there’s a world where Ethel is riding high and happy.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
It’s a shame that it took us this long to get some Cheryl and Jughead investigation plots. They balance each other so nicely! The campy comedy writes itself when they’re together.
Their driver’s education class looked like fun.
Seriously, Uncle Frank and those dog tags. The audacity. The cheek. The gall. The nerve!
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans.
What did you think of “Chapter One Hundred Thirty-Five: For A Better Tomorrow”?
Who else from the group will leave Riverdale next? Which of the three tales was your favorite? Would Penelope and Clifford have succeeded in their arms race if they weren’t caught?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.