If you missed last week’s episode of Riverdale, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) quickly brings you up to date at the start of this week’s episode. We get a feel of what he did during his time spent “dead.” He wasn’t out investigating, instead he was locked away in Dilton’s bunker. He did fun things like read his own obituary, both of them, watch his own memorial service, and make an A Beautiful Mind-like string board connecting all the clues of Mr. Chipping’s suicide (murder?).
Of course, Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) were in on Jughead’s “death” from the beginning, but when did they bring everyone else in? Jellybean was kept out of the loop, but figured things out all on her own. Skeet (Skeet Ulrich) was brought in shortly thereafter, but later than I had initially thought. Betty didn’t fill him in until after the bloody rock was found, but before the search party went out for Jughead’s body. Archie told his mom when we thought he did. Veronica enlisted Hermosa just to get Hermosa to stop being annoying about looking into it herself.
While Betty, Archie and Veronica kept everyone off Jughead’s trail, Jughead worked on putting together all the evidence that his friends scrounged up for him.
Up at Stonewall Prep, Mr. Dupont (Malcolm Stewart) leads the writing group in a discussion on Crime and Punishment. Someone must have heard me think it’s weird to see this classroom in action without Jughead, because Jughead and Betty burst through the doors at that moment, surprising his classmates and teacher. Bret (Sean Depner) literally leaps from his seat.
When they express their amazement, Jughead breaks out the X-Men’s favorite Mark Twain quote, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Jughead announces he’s holding his own locked door mystery. Betty helps by locking everyone in the classroom. Isn’t this hostage taking, Betty? Bret wants to call security, but Donna (Sarah Desjardins) is defiant, saying they have nothing to hide.
Jughead starts by saying he finds it odd that Moose and Jughead were asked to study at Stonewall their senior year. Jughead theorizes this is a multigenerational murder plot.
Jughead recaps the school year, including his drugging and burial on Halloween, and Moose’s disappearance that night. Betty recounts Chipping’s recruitment of Moose followed by Chipping trying to convince Moose to leave. When Dupont interupts, Jughead shuts him up when he quotes The Lord of the Flies, saying “I have the conch.”
Betty and Jughead recount Mr. Dupont’s legal theft of The Baxter Brothers from Jughead’s grandpa by Mr. Dupont, the discovery of which led to Chipping’s suicide. When Chipping did that, the Stonewall students looked on blankly. Jughead noted that at the time and couldn’t figure out why they would act so strangely. Bret tries blaming Chipping’s suicide on Chipping’s affair with Donna, but Betty provides the evidence that Donna lied about that.
Jughead theorizes that the Baxter Brothers challenge wasn’t only to write the perfect murder but also to commit the perfect murder. He and Moose were brought in as victims, like hunting game. This means Chipping committed murder as a student too! Every time a new Baxter Brothers writer was given the ghost writing job, a Stonewall student disappeared. It’s so simple, but no one ever saw it. Jughead theorizes that his classmates were told they would get the contract if they killed Jughead.
But who tried killing Jughead? According to Jughead, all of them helped. Donna kept Betty distracted. Bret diverted Jughead’s attention while Joan (Doralynn Mui) crept up behind him to deliver the killing blow. When Joan says it could have been Jonathan, Betty wonders where Jonathan is. Also, that’s not really a “I didn’t do it” defense, Joan. It’s more like, “Prove it wasn’t the other guy.”
Jughead says that for all their effort, they failed. They didn’t kill him. He jokes, “Whose job was it to check my pulse?” To which Joan responds seriously with, “Jonathan!” Oh, Joan…
Betty mentions the devil’s breath that Donna blew in her face, and the Stonies subsequent sending of Archie and Veronica into the woods to discover Betty standing over Jughead’s body.
We finally see what happened after they came upon Betty in the woods. Betty regained her composure and led Archie through CPR. They manage to save Jughead, who refuses to let them take him to a hospital. Jughead was then unconscious for 36 hours after that, a gamble for sure.
Betty got help from Charles, who helped move Jughead in a FBI med van. I guess Charles really is in the FBI. Charles told them to clean the crime scene and get rid of their blood-covered clothes. Betty recites her speech detailing their plan for the coming year that we first heard at the end of last season.
Dr. Curdle Jr helped out in exchange for a nice stack of hundreds. I was wondering why he’d get involved in this.
Jughead then cedes the floor to Dupont, who gives him an A for effort, but laughs it off. Jughead then says he tracked down the previous Baxter Brothers ghostwriters, who all asked for their lawyers when Jughead ran his theory by them. Betty brings up Dupont killing off his own writing group from his time as a Stonewall student, in a way to keep the truth of the Baxter Brothers origin quiet. Mr. Dupont is a stone cold serial killer.
Jughead and Betty have a surprise guest, escorted in by Skeet and Charles: Forsyth the first! One of their classmates from way back when, Weisel, came to see Grandpa Jones. He told Grandpa that Dupont was killing them all off. Two days later, Weisel, the expert diver, drowned in shallow water. That’s when Grandpa went off the grid, to do his own investigating.
Charles boasts of the FBI’s part in all this. They’ve searched Dupont’s home, found trophies he took of his victims, and got statements from the previous ghostwriters. Charles steps forward to arrest Dupont, who chooses the Chipping way out, the stained glass window express, 30 feet straight down.
Dupont’s dead, time to question the Stonewall students. Charles tries getting Joan to turn on Donna, but Joan’s father is an ambassador and she has diplomatic immunity. He then tries to get Donna to confess, who paints Bret as the ringleader. Donna tries to play the crying victim, but Charles sees through her. He then interviews Bret, who remains defiant. He offers Bret a deal if he hands over his collection of video tapes. Bret gives a counteroffer of letting him go or he releases Betty and Jughead’s sex tape onto the web. Charles steps out, and Skeet and Jughead step in a with a counter-counter offer: Skeet’s brass knuckles. A bloody Bret gives up his tapes, which Jughead destroys.
The Jones and Smith families are going to celebrate, but Betty has “one more T to cross.” Betty visits Donna at school. Donna is moving out, transferring schools. She got the Baxter Brothers contract, but the brand is relaunching as Tracy True. So Donna won? Betty applauds her on that, but Donna isn’t falling for it. She doesn’t admit to anything in boast, so Betty brings up her theory, that Donna did this all for revenge. One of the original students that Dupont killed was Donna’s grandmother. Donna is shocked that Betty knows this. Donna says that Dupont didn’t just steal from Grandpa Jones, he stole Tracy True from Donna’s grandmother. Hermosa discovered the Donna and her grandmother connection. Donna wants to know what Betty wants. Betty wants Donna to walk away from the Tracy True contract. If she doesn’t, Betty will circulate her medical file to every newspaper in the country. Betty thinks she won here, but Donna is vicious. I can see her coming back for both Betty and Jughead.
Jughead is ready to celebrate their victory, but Jughead, we’re only 16 episodes into this season of Riverdale! You’ve got more trouble coming.
At school the next day, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) has the scary line, “No one really dies in Riverdale.” Why is this scary? Because her twin brother died in season one and she was recently hanging out with his dead body. Someone get this girl help!
The three Forsyths reunite after school. Jughead is happy to see Skeet and his dad talking, and seemingly getting along. Don’t leave Riverdale, Skeet! You’re the best part of this Riverdale!
Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty meet up for milkshakes at Pops. Archie wants to end their senior year on a high note. Betty and Veronica vow to get their boyfriends to graduate on time. Getting that done seems harder than solving any Riverdale murder mystery, am I right? Kevin interrupts, saying he is posting the sign up sheet for the Riverdale Variety Show and he wants them all to perform. Betty says to count them in. Yay, happy ending!