December 11-12, 2021
Riverdale’s resident Sweet Pea, Jordan Connor, is heading to Supanova Comic Con & Gaming this April, and to celebrate, we’re looking back at some of the most memorable moments of his buddies, the Southside Serpents.
Right from the start, Riverdale set out to show viewers that this was not the wholesome town they remembered from Archie Comics. One of the biggest examples of this was the transformation of the Southside Serpents from harmless childhood bullies into gang members with hidden hearts of gold.
In one early episode of Riverdale, Jughead Jones is desperate to save the Twilight Drive-In. This is both because he works there, and because the projection booth has served as his temporary home. At the Drive-In’s final night, a number of Southside Serpents attend. After the other moviegoers depart, the Serpent’s leader, FP, expresses concern over where Jughead will go. Viewers were treated to the then rather shocking reveal that Jughead was the son of the Serpent King.
In the final episode of season one, a group of Serpents show up on Jughead’s doorstep and offer him support while FP is away, while presenting him with a Southside Serpents jacket. The jacket fits perfectly. This foreshadows his greater involvement with the Serpents, and eventual rise to Serpent King in season two.
When Jughead is forced to transfer to Southside High in season two, junior Serpent Toni Topaz is the first students he meets. She guides him through the inner workings of the school, and helps him revive the school paper. Meeting Toni is an important turning point for Jughead, showing him that the Serpents are not just a gang, but a family.
After embracing his heritage and wishing to improve things on Riverdale’s south side, Jughead makes the decision to officially join the Serpents. After a series of rigorous initiation tests, Jug is accepted into the gang.
After a set-up raid finds contraband running rampant in the school, Mayor McCoy orders Southside High shut down and demolished. Jughead, Sweet Pea, and a number of other Southside Serpents protest the demolition by chaining themselves to the front of the school. The protest includes a fun nod to the comic version’s Jughead’s bottomless stomach when FP delivers a large bag of burgers to his son.
The Cooper family find themselves in a spot of trouble after Darla, the girlfriend of criminal Dwayne, arrives demanding money to keep quiet about his disappearance. Just when things are looking particularly bad for Betty and Alice, FP leads the Serpents to the rescue, chasing Darla out of town. This event prompts Alice to give up her long-running vendetta against the Serpents, and embrace her own Southside roots once more.
Believing that all recent trouble at Riverdale High is due to the Southside transfers, it is decided that all Southside High students will be transferred to another school. The north side students, led by Archie, protest the decision by wearing Serpent jackets to school. The Southside students are allowed to stay at Riverdale High, and the conflict between them is ended once and for all.
In the final episode of season two, FP Jones finally steps down from his role as the Serpent King. He passes the crown to Jughead, in honour of all he has done to help the gang stay afloat throughout the season. In his first official act as leader of the Serpents, Jughead presents Cheryl Blossom with a custom-made Serpent jacket.
Early in season three, the Serpents discover that rival gang the Ghoulies have taken Hotdog, the Serpents’ ‘Spirit Animal’, hostage. Jughead and the other teen Serpents venture behind enemy lines to rescue the much-loved pooch. While the plan does not exactly go off without a hitch, the group, with Hotdog in tow, manage to escape unscathed after Cheryl fires an arrow at Penny Peabody.
Like many of Riverdale’s teens, the young members of the Southside Serpents become obsessed with the dangerous role-playing game Griffins & Gargoyles. The Serpents quest to rescue ‘The Red Paladin’ occurs concurrently with the other teens’ efforts to break Archie out of jail. The game becomes terrifyingly real when the seriously injured Archie drops into the bunker where the Serpents are playing, and Toni must work some quick first-aid magic to save him.
For much of season three, Sweet Pea has been caught up in an on-again/off-again relationship with Josie McCoy. While Sweet Pea clearly developed true feelings for Josie, on her side, it was a relationship of convenience. When Josie shows up at Sweet Pea’s trailer looking for a date to her mother’s wedding, but again refuses to commit to a more serious relationship, Sweet Pea puts his foot down. He deserves better. Because, as the show has proven time and time again, the Southside Serpents are not just gang members or criminals-in-the making. At heart, they’re confused, lovesick teens, just like everybody else.
Lead image: Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones and Jordan Connor as Sweet Pea