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SYFY WIRE Riverdale

Look of the Week: Riverdale's final quest fancy gowns

By Emma Fraser

Welcome back to Look of the Week, celebrating the best in TV and film sartorial excellence, past and present across sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and other genre classics!

Prom isn’t the only reason to dress up on Riverdale, especially when there is one final quest to complete in this season-dominating game of Gryphons & Gargoyles. The deadliest prom since Carrie was themed in order to draw out the Gargoyle King, but now Betty (Lili Reinhart), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Archie (KJ Apa) have been gifted outfits perfect for a school dance with a traditional theme. But instead of a night of frivolity, they have to play a twisted scavenger hunt in order to survive.

Spoilers for Riverdale ahead.

A culmination of two seasons of serial killers and riddles sees the teens attending the kind of dinner party reveal you would expect to from an Agatha Christie novel, but instead of a detective unveiling who is behind the dastardly crime, the orchestrator of it all takes the lead. Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) has been pulling both the Gargoyle King and Black Hood strings. The only thing she isn’t in control of is the Farm, but she did buy Betty off Edgar Evernever (Chad Michael Murray) so all the players would be available to complete her twisted Grand Hunt plan.

Riverdale costume designer Rebekka Sorensen-Kjelstrup ups the glam stakes with Betty’s stunning sparkling pink Jovie gown paired with a faux fur Ted Baker cropped jacket — perfect for a decadent dinner party or night of dancing, less so for a night of terrors in the woods culminating with a run for her life. Penelope Blossom is dastardly, but she sure knows how to execute a scheme with the necessary design flourishes. She could’ve got them to dress up in G&G role-play attire, but this is very much a Penelope Blossom spin on things.

Penelope isn’t going to wear clothes from any old dress-up box; instead, she is all black lace, pointed white dramatic collars, and red capes. The latter almost matches her daughter’s choice of rescue get-up. Cheryl’s (Madelaine Petsch) mother is not particularly maternal, but she did pass sartorial flare down to her daughter. After all, this is the woman who has funeral-themed cheer outfits.

Betty and Veronica have the most impractical outfits for the final escape, but it is Archie who stumbles and falls during this getaway. It's a gender-swapped damsel-in-distress detail that doesn't go unnoticed and one that is very much appreciated. It is Veronica and her cumbersome gown that scoop him up and get him to safety. She gets a rose-on-rose belted floral dream and once again, she might be awful, but Penelope Blossom sure has a good eye for outfits to match the person she has picked it for.

In the first episode of the season, Archie wore a bow tie in court and the costume design team will always nod to the source material when they can. This accessory makes an appearance in the finale, visually bookending the season. Archie has spent most of this season in one kind of physical fight or another, the finale is no different. He quickly loses his tie and the suit he is wearing ends up a muddy and bloody mess. Formal wear, forests, and fighting really is a terrible combination for keeping garments clean. 

Jughead isn’t one for formalities, so he is lucky Penelope gave him the option of an open collar. He almost loses his hat in his challenge, but he successfully beats the Gargoyle King. In a very Riverdale narrative spin, it isn't Jason Blossom (he really is dead and his corpse is now hanging out with Cheryl), but Chic (Hart Denton), the guy who pretended to be Betty's half-brother last season. 

Switching from their fancy clothes into their regular attire is meant to show how back to normal things are with Archie in signature blue, Jughead in another shearling jacket to add to his collection, Betty in floral Kate Spade, and Veronica in an embroidered collar Club Monaco sweater. The situation is anything but normal as Veronica’s parents are both in prison and Betty’s mom is missing. It turns out Alice (Mädchen Amick) has been working with the FBI as an undercover agent infiltrating the Farm.

The latter left Kevin (Casey Cott) behind in his all-white attire in a scene that looked heavily influenced by the Guilty Remnant from The Leftovers. In another very Riverdale soapy twist, the FBI agent who speaks to Betty and Jughead is also their real half-brother Charles. Now all of this is out in the open they can spend the summer having fun, right?

No matter the season, Jughead’s beanie is part of his signature look in the TV series, and a nod to the Jughead crown from the comics. It is also a vital ingredient of the ominous Season 4 tease. The teens might want a senior year free from drama, but this town is not ready to give them an easy time. A flash-forward to spring break shows mud-and-blood-covered Archie, Betty, and Veronica standing by a fire in just their underwear. This show loves to get hot and heavy, but this is not a throuple situation. Something very bad has happened that requires them to burn all their clothes, including Jughead’s iconic beanie.

This tease is obviously meant to look like Jughead is dead, and while I definitely don’t think this is the case, it does a good job of creating intrigue. In the present, they are toasting "Friends Forever!" In the future, they are talking about going their separate ways. 

The framing of this scene as they slurp milkshakes and laugh about their crazy year, juxtaposed with the spring break horrors, tells fans to expect another season of friendship-testing mayhem— not only that, but Jughead is going to have to get a new hat. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.