So while this may have been rather unsatisfying, in our fallen world it was probably the best version of a season finale we were going to get.
For you young'uns and others who may not be familiar with seventies YA fiction, this episode was a direct lift from one of that era's most famous works, Killing Mr. Griffin. While it obviously varies from that story, it contains the same elements--a kidnapping prank gone wrong, a charismatic sociopath leader, and an enraging authority figure that, in actuality, is a caring teacher who is determined the bright young minds under his direction not coast lazily or throw away their gifts, who seems to think he's shaping them to face the world.
The problem is, of course, that while Mr. Honey is 100% correct in his technicalities, he has the worst possible personality to lead young minds anywhere. He's rude, he sets people up to fail (such as Betty and the yearbook). he does morally questionable things (the tape, Reggie's car), to use the most generous possible interpretation, to get his way. That he does it because he truly thinks he's helping makes him interesting, but doesn't make him a good educator. Taking away the only rewards a person or group has doesn't make them resilient or strong or grateful, it sows the seeds of a poisonous resentment that makes them band together, all right, but for no higher goal than destruction.
That said, the writers as usual seemed to be biting off more than they could chew with trying to set him up as an adversary. This can certainly be blamed in part on the truncated season, but Kerr Smith didn't have much chance to bring forth either the dark side that rents snuff films from Blue Velvet or the secretly caring person who gets kids scholarships and improves the GPA of Riverdale High. If you're going to have somebody be a Big Bad he's got to have at least a couple scenes where you find out more about him.
On the other hand, this one gave the gang, and Betty and Jug in particular, a real chance to stretch as characters. The casual way B&J smoothed into outright sociopathy was really pretty creepy, with Betty's enjoyment of the story as it grows ever darker and Jug's belated realization that he's enjoying this far too much, that it's coming way too easily.
Veronica, for once not being Daddy's Boring Mirror, also got something to do. She starts out just kind of going along and enjoying inflicting a little rough justice, but eventually realizes she's turning out exactly like her dad, and unlike Betty's acceptance of that fate as a source of power, freaks out and calls the cops.
Archie, as is his wont, goes along with things like accidental murder and body disposal while flustering around still trying to be "good." He's the moral conscience of the group but instead of leading, follows behind going "but guys, do you really think...?"
Reggie, who in the last ep and this one finally exists, gets to remind people that he may have anger issues but is the only one here who hasn't, so far, killed somebody, dug a grave or kept terrible secrets that could send him to prison. As usual, the actor's comedic chops make what could be a boring role hilarious ("... and I'm going to Riverdale Community College. Maybe.")
Cheryl's cool "so you won't be making that video, then?" and later hysterical sobbing are pure Cheryl. The most unusual thing about her was Toni wasn't attached to her like a remora.
Interesting that Kevin, while participating in the real world prank and all the bull sessions (done out loud in a public space with tons of people around as usual) isn't in the murder story.
The whole thing could be summed up when the gang are facing down Mr. Honey as he's leaving and he tells them that he really was doing all this for their own good, that this town and school are pits of chaos and dead ends, and Betty says "well, that's normal for us."