For so many seasons, I have felt beyond frustrated with Veronica Lodge’s treatment as well as the storylines she’s given on Riverdale. Yet, I was very pleasantly surprised with the execution of her season 5 divorce storyline. In all honestly, I think its the best storyline the writers could’ve done with her character for a few reasons.
Seven years into the future we see Veronica is trapped in a loveless marriage just as her parents were. We see many red flags showing just how unhappy she is, from Chad trying to force her into having kids to him trying to keep her from doing her dream job. It’s very clear that her husband is just as manipulative and abusive as Hiram was. As horrible as it was to watch, I also knew this was a huge opportunity for the character to finally break the toxic cycle of her parents and realize she deserves better than the toxic men she’s accepted into her life.
It was very obvious from the moment Veronica stepped back into Riverdale that her marriage wouldn’t last. In a lot of ways, going back to the town was her wakeup call. Her going back also just puts another wedge between the already falling apart couple, Veronica even deciding to drop his last name and go back to Lodge. Chad’s behavior at the key party is the last straw and Veronica finally announces she wants a divorce. She then reunites with Archie, but of course, Chad refuses to sign the divorce papers and uses pictures of her and Archie as blackmail.
We finally find out about the accident that Chad continually brought up and it only further shows how controlling the man is. The couple was in a helicopter crash and Veronica stayed with him since then out of guilt, blaming herself despite the fact that Chad was drunk and most likely crashed on purpose so they could be together forever. She travels back to New York for closure and because she feels she “owes” him, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Chad manipulates the situation from the moment Veronica arrives, guilting Veronica into one last night by telling her that he’s signed the divorce papers and just wants her to be happy.
The next morning, we find out that Chad did not actually sign the divorce papers. He admits to making some bad investments and threatens to not only blame the whole thing on her but also testify against her, saying no one will believe her. This not only is done to back her into a corner and force her to stay with him, but to ruin the freedom she thought she had by creating her own jewelry store, which was now also being used against her.
Veronica works to pay off all of Chad’s debt in order to free herself and even denies his help when he tries to manipulate the situation once again. When he calls SEC on her, she manages to flip the tables and destroy his entire scheme. It’s absolutely glorious to watch her come out on top. Next episode is finally the moment we’ve been waiting for: the divorce. Chad purposely acts difficult, wanting everything and Veronica is ready to give all of it up for her freedom and happiness, because she realizes that she deserves to be happy. Many have pointed to the line “all I want, all I need is Archie” and tried to twist the meaning when in reality, it is an insanely powerful move on her part.
With this line she is telling Chad that despite his attempts, he has no power over her and will not ruin her life. She will move on and be happy without him, and there’s nothing he can do to stop her. Naturally, this leads to Chad attempting to shoot Archie at Hiram’s instructions, which he fails miserably at, and when Veronica finds out, she is furious. She uses that incident to get everything in the divorce, leaving him with nothing. Now, with Hiram in the mix, this also allows us to finally have the final dance of death between the father and daughter.
No one is more tired of this plot than me, but this time, I was genuinely happy with how it all played out. After finding out that Hiram is behind the mine explosion, which was his latest attempt at killing Archie, she takes matters into her own hands by holding her father hostage. She finally has the chance to open up about his emotional abuse and its long overdue. She’s done trying to live up to his expectations and isn’t afraid of him anymore— she has all of the power now.
It wasn’t a huge surprise that Veronica’s actions didn’t go over well with Chad. He shows up to her apartment with a gun, taking the whole twisted sentiment of “if I can’t have you, no one can” to the extreme and Veronica ends up killing him in self defense. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but Veronica is justified in what she did and there is no world in which she should’ve been distraught or crying over Chad’s death when he was literally a monster to her for their entire marriage and was never going to let her truly be free.
As expected, Archie makes it out of the mines and Veronica does let Hiram go, but is sure to let him know that if he ever comes after her or Archie again, he’ll end up just like Chad. The only complaint I do have is I wish Veronica would’ve had the chance to talk about what happened, but that obviously wasn’t possible with the amount of time left in the episode. Her and Archie finally have their candle lit bath and it finally feels like she can be happy after so much fighting.
Addressing a completely different point for those who have mentioned how Archie “barely says anything to Veronica” in this episode, there was a clear reason for that: this was Veronica’s story, not his. Archie was a supporting character in Veronica’s narrative. Archie already had multiple episodes dedicated to dealing with his trauma for the season while Veronica has not. This episode was about her perspective and her arch. We needed to know how Veronica was feeling about the entire thing because Archie has already made it clear many times how he felt about her and their relationship by not only saying ”I still have feelings for Veronica,” but waiting for her to get her divorce finalized because he wanted them to be together the right way.
Camila Mendes did a fantastic job with this storyline and shows exactly why she deserves to get deeper content moving forward rather than the same recycled storyline. New episodes of Riverdale season 5 will continue airing Wednesdays at 8PM ET on The CW.