After last episode’s cliffhanger ending, I was not ready for a two week break before more Riverdale! But now that we are back, the new episode gets right into things. We see a repeat of the scene that ended Riverdale season three: Veronica (Camila Mendes), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Archie (KJ Apa) standing in their underwear in front of a burning fire, burning their clothes and Jughead’s trademark beanie (though maybe that beanie deserved to be burned). Jughead narrates his own post-death scene.
Hiram and Hermione are surprised to see Veronica come in so late and in her underwear. Archie is caught by his mom as well. Archie says their clothes were stolen by preppies after they went skinny dipping. Veronica tells her parents she lost them in a strip poker game at the same party. Alice (Madchen Amick) notices the blood on Betty’s bra. Betty comes up with the worst excuses of the bunch, saying Brett (Sean Depner) spilled wine on her, and she took off all her clothes to soak them in a sink…in the middle of a party…near her boyfriend’s dorm room.
The next morning, at Pop’s, Betty chastises Veronica, Archie and herself for their lame excuses that don’t line up, and reveals to the audience that so far they told Charles and only Charles. From their point of view, this is a great play; he has experience with crimes scenes and dead bodies. But from the audience’s point of view, oh gang, you’re opening the lion’s mouth and stepping into the jaws! Charles is the enemy!
Betty is convinced this is all a plot by the Stonewall preppies, who are trying to take her down by framing her for Jughead’s murder. Veronica doubts this, but Bety is convinced. Kevin (Casey Cott) pops into Pops, but is rebuffed by Archie. Wanting to make things seem okay to outside observers, Betty invites Kevin back over and switches topics to the new school musical.
Brooke Rivers, Archie’s mom’s friend from the Naval Academy and Captain Marvel stunt double, pays a visit to the Andrews house. She offers to recommend Archie to the Naval Academy. Archie quickly agrees, largely probably because his mind is elsewhere.
The Lodges have a family meeting about Hiram’s health. Hiram updated his will. This quickly devolves into a Veronica vs. Hermosa shouting match, but Hiram quells it. Veronica isn’t happy that no one will speak openly about his failing health and storms out.
Betty calls Skeet (Skeet Ulrich), asking if he heard from Jughead, pretending not to know about the tragic events of the night before. She reads from a script, supervised by Charles. Charles hands Betty a bug. She’s headed back to Stonewall to interrogate Bret and Donna (Sarah Desjardins). Unfortunately for Betty, it looks like Donna remembers more about the night than Betty does. Donna and Bret both paint pictures incriminating Betty, almost as if they’re working with Charles to ensnare Betty in a trap.
On her way out, some other girl body checks Betty in the hall. Was that an act of aggression, or did she just plant something on Betty?
Veronica expresses concern privately to Archie about Betty. They found her with the bloody rock, standing over Jughead. Veronica points out that Betty knows enough about forensics not to pick up a murder weapon after the fact.
Betty pays a visit to Evelyn Evernever aka Farm Girl! Betty, why would you go to the girl who may or may not have sleeper agent hypnotic power over you? She wants to know if Donna visited Evelyn in jail. Evelyn tells her that she did. Betty wants to know if Evelyn gave her a hypnotic command over Betty. Donna pretty much says, “Yup.” During the call, Betty flashes back to holding the rock, fresh blood covering it. Evelyn asks Betty how Jughead is doing, which gets Betty to tell her to go to hell.
Charles is listening to the bug that Betty planted in Bret’s room. So far nothing of use came of it though.
Archie’s mom breaks to Archie that Brooke isn’t just her friend, she’s also her girlfriend. Archie takes the news well, but they don’t get much time to discuss things before Betty shows up, in need of help. She wants Archie to go to Stonewall to start a fight with Bret. She thinks this will get them talking in the wire.
Archie storms into Bret’s room, asking what he did to Jughead. He beats down on Bret, accusing him of killing Jughead. The weirdest part of this scene is Bret when says, “You know it was Betty who killed Jughead.” Aren’t all sides pretending they don’t know about Jughead being dead yet?
Betty’s plan works. Bret talks into the wire, though they don’t say what Betty wants them to. They say they know it was Betty who killed Jughead, and then talk to Betty through the bug, saying they know all about the bug. Seriously though, Betty and Charles, who plants a hidden bug that flashes a bright red light? That light is going to seem fairly obvious at night in a darkened dorm room.
Archie’s mom gets a call from Stonewall about Archie’s assault on Bret. She wants to talk to Archie, worried that Archie is lashing out about her relationship with Brooke. A call from Betty interrupts them. Betty, watching from her room, tells him to clam up quickly and get out of there.
Skeet is at the Cooper house. He tracked Jughead’s phone to Betty’s jacket, and wants to know what she’s doing with his missing son’s phone. Betty says Jughead left his dead phone at her house to charge. This story unravels quickly, but Betty hides behind being worried about Jughead and not being lucid because of this. She asks Skeet to declare Jughead a missing person.
Betty figures out Joan planted the phone on her when Joan bumped her in the hall.
Hiram has a private meeting with Veronica. He apologizes for not telling Veronica about his illness, saying he never wanted to appear weak in front of her. Veronica says she loves him. This illness is really reconciling them. Hiram would like Veronica to get along with Hermosa, and this is possibly the only way the two of them would get along, a sick Hiram asking for it. If he even is sick. Ah, there’s that Riverdale doubt everything mindset that is always in the back of my brain!
Later, Skeet calls Betty with a lead. A hiker found a bloody rock in the woods. With all their burning of clothes, they didn’t take the rock with them?
Betty asks Jellybean for the fake blood she had on Halloween and then searches the garden for a new rock.
Charles and Betty relay over the phone that Betty threw the original rock into the school swimming pool Betty theorizes that the preppies had a backup rock to frame her. Charles makes an offer to Skeet to have Quantico test the bloody rock for him and then switches the rock out with the one Betty covered in fake blood. They’re going to send that rock to Quantico for testing. Your Riverdale tax dollars at work. Even Charles rolls his eyes at the ridiculousness of this plan.
A shirtless Archie watches from Veronica’s bed as she fields a call from Barnard. They’re reconsidering her acceptance. Someone ratted out to them that she’s running an illegal rum club. They immediately think to blame the Stonewall preppies.
Betty, Archie and Veronica meet to discuss the events of the night of the party. Betty thinks she blacked out and is worried that she might have killed Jughead. Veronica says they need to figure out what happened after Donna talked to Betty and before Archie and Veronica found Betty standing over Jughead. Veronica suggests enlisting Charles’s help, since he helped Betty get over the Farm’s hypnosis before. Oh guys, right into the lion’s mouth.
Charles puts Betty into a hypnotic state while Archie and Veronica watch. He’s trying to help her remember what happened after she blacked out while talking to Donna. Betty falls into a flashback, remembering her conversation with Donna. It turns out Donna did not use a sleeper activation word on her, but instead blew white powder in her face. Charles theorizes the powder was devil’s breath, a drug that causes blackouts. He also says that under the spell of that drug, Betty would have been in no way capable of attacking Jughead. He thinks Donna put the bloody rock in Betty’s hand. She must have also cleaned the powder off Betty’s face, since Archie and Veronica would likely notice their friend sporting Joker makeup when they came up on her.
Betty returns to the scene of the crime, inviting Donna to join her. Betty tells her she knows Donna drugged her and didn’t use an activation word on her. Donna admits to both of those being true, and that Farm Girl was all to happy to help Donna play with Betty’s mind. But Donna claims to have the upper hand, knowing Jughead’s body will never be found, because if it was, all evidence would point to Betty.
Later, Betty tells Archie and Veronica that she wants to go on the offensive and do something Donna and the other Stonewall kids wouldn’t think they would do. That’s when Betty, Archie and Veronica help Skeet lead the search party for Jughead that we saw in the flash forward from episode 2 of this season of Riverdale. Skeet, with help from Archie, finds Jughead down a ditch.
Betty and Skeet identify Jughead’s body at the morgue, just like in the flash forward from Riverdale S4E4. Bret and Donna try to enter the morgue room, but Betty loudly throws them out.
At home, Archie’s mom, Mary (Molly Ringwald), tries to console her son, who says he has something to confess to her. Is he confessing to being accessory to murder and cover up? I don’t think he is, and I’ll explain below.
Donna and Betty meet in the woods again. The interesting thing about this meetup is that Betty didn’t invite Donna, but predicted she would be there. Betty threatens Donna, claiming to be the biggest wildcard in Riverdale, the daughter of the Black Hood who also has FBI training. She says she’s coming for Donna, forget Bret and the others, just Donna. Donna looks visibly shaken.
Okay, so here we are. Jughead’s body has been found. Either he’s dead or something else is going on. I don’t think he’s dead. For one, I remember Cole Sprouse giving an interview where he said he took the role of Jughead over Archie because he knew they would never kill the narrator of Riverdale. But beyond that, I just don’t believe it. What’s going on then? Let’s look at who has seen Jughead’s body since he died: Archie, Betty, Veronica, Skeet and the local coroner. With the exception of the coroner, those are Jughead’s nearest and dearest, people who would help him trick people regarding his death.
I think Jughead has a few motivations. One, he wants to prove what a great mystery writer he is to the Baxter Brothers folks by staging a murder mystery in real time with a real body. But he couldn’t pull this off without help, and would not want to put his dad and closest friends through the trauma of thinking he was really dead.
Jughead and Betty also want to solve the mystery of Chipping’s murder/suicide, and Donna’s involvement in that. Betty declared Donna the most dangerous Stonewall student a few episodes back. Maybe Donna, Bret and the other Stonewall kids really did have plans to kill Jughead, and when Jughead found out, he was willing to see it play out, just without actually dying. Removing himself off the board allows him to work behind the scenes investigating.
I think Archie felt guilty about lying to his mom, and filled her in on what this Jughead death scam.
But what this doesn’t account for is Charles and Chic. We know Charles is working against Betty and the gang, and I don’t think Betty and the others realize this yet. Also, is Charles even a real FBI agent or has he been lying about his contacts at Quantico and just faking lab results? When is he going to make his ultimate move?
It also doesn’t account for Betty, Archie and Veronica never breaking character about Jughead really being alive, even when they’re alone. Are they so suspicious that they are worried they are always being watched and can never slip up? Or did Jughead really fake his own death and not tell them? But if he did that, how did he possibly fake his own dead body being found and taken into the morgue? A drug that induces a death-like state? This season of Riverdale is playing out like a pulp novel, and that’s the kind of plot twist you’d expect in a pulp.
We have just under 10 episodes left of season 4 of Riverdale. That’s plenty of time for the Jughead death investigation to ramp up, for Charles to covertly betray Betty to set her up for a fall, and for Jughead to save her at the last minute by being alive this whole time. I’m guessing Jughead’s reveal will be in the second to last episode of the season with the showdown against Charles and Chic in the finale.