Riverdale recap: The Auteur's identity is revealed
We knew the day would come. Well, two days actually. The day Charles showed his true colors and the day Betty and Jughead solved the Auteur case with absolutely no help from the actual authorities. But what I'm guessing you didn't see coming is that both things would happen on the same day!
So much happened in this episode, and specifically, so much murder happened in this episode, so let's dive right in!
Archie's story this week is one of an extremely overwhelmed teen. The Auteur's latest video has him feeling all sorts of things about his dad and going on sweaty runs to the cemetery in the middle of the night. Then, Veronica suggesting they pretend they're still together for the final week of school sends him down another emotionally exhausting path. Then Hiram tries to choke him out at his gym for breaking his daughter's heart. AND THEN his mom asks if he's willing to write a letter to the judge overseeing his father's hit-and-run case asking for leniency for the man who, reminder, took the fall for his son.
It's a lot for previous Archie to handle, and he can only throw so many punches before his emotions consume him. And that's basically what happens. After Mr. Augustine asks Archie for the letter himself — because his son has now confessed to the crime — Archie arrives home to find his mother watching the videotape and sobbing uncontrollably. (It honestly felt like a bit much.) So, Archie rips the tape in half like the Hulk — sorry, teenage Thor — and takes a bat to the television set, at which point mom calls in reinforcements.
Uncle Frank arrives just in time for Archie to beat him to a pulp before collapsing, sobbing, into his arms. Men, amirite? Once that anger is out of his system, he's able to sit down with his mom and uncle. It seems Frank is ready to turn himself him for the things he did when he was a mercenary. As for Archie? He writes that letter for the kid who killed his dad. Because it's what Fred would've wanted.
Hermosa is back this week, and she's got big plans. After three Malloy men show up at Pop's and nearly shoot Veronica, Hermosa kills them with her registered gun. She talks about it being registered as if that means she can just murder three people?! And Veronica is, quite frankly, not shocked enough by this whole situation.
But that's not the biggest move Hermosa makes. She convinces Veronica that it's time for Hiram to retire. Step one of their plan? Convince Hermione to sell them her shares of Lodge Industries and get them a copy of Hiram's contact book. They're planning a hostile takeover, and Hermione is so in!
Hiram, however, is less enthused. So long as he has his fists and his gun he thinks he can still be Hiram Lodge, so Hermosa makes her next move: She gets some of "her guys" to beat Hiram up. And this time, when "Daddykins" texts Veronica asking for help, she says no. She tells him he can exit the business gracefully or die in the street. (And I don't think we're focusing enough on the fact that Hermosa is clearly insane?)
At a Lodge family meeting, Hiram agrees to take a sabbatical after Veronica's graduation. Then Veronica will head to college and Hermosa can run things. As for Hermione, she's divorcing him! It seems she only stayed to protect Veronica, and now that she's leaving, Hermione is taking Andy Cohen up on his offer to become a Real Housewife of New York. Apparently, that was her biggest ambition in life? But now I suppose we have our answer to how they'll explain her absence from the show.
After Cheryl puts up a fight about the school's blue graduation gowns — hers has to be crimson, obviously — she heads off to try to right some of her family's wrongs. (She clearly wants this time away from Toni to be short.) So, Cheryl holds a Blossom family board meeting via Zoom, which made me laugh. It seems the governor has agreed to declare some of their land grounds for the people their family has previously wronged. There, they can rebuild and reopen the factory and rebrand Blossom maple syrup, a business Cheryl herself will run. But the family is not interested.
So, Cheryl pays mother dearest a visit, and Penelope does what any loving mother would do. She tells her daughter to get an alibi because she's going to MURDER THE ENTIRE FAMILY. And that's just what she does.
By the end of the episode, Cheryl's entire family has poisoned themselves to — according to a suicide note — atone for their sins, and now, Cheryl has full control of the Blossom holdings. Also, can we talk about how Penelope came walking out of a secret bookcase in the wall?! There's so much to unpack in this episode.
Betty and Jughead
I would like to start the Bughead portion of this recap by saying it is still so weird to me that Betty and Jughead's families are now really one family and they live together under one roof like siblings, they share an actual sibling, and they sleep in the same bed every night!!! Who needs a murder mystery when you have this incestuous drama?!
Speaking of that shared bed, Betty (and therefore Jug) wake up to a call from Brett at 3 a.m. He begs for them to get him transferred to solitary. If they do that, he promises he's got something they'll want to hear. And yet, by the time they make it to the prison, Brett's been killed, a fact that the cop at the front desk just shares with a couple of teens who have yet to even identify themselves.
At the coroner's office, Betty and Jughead get more details: Brett had multiple stab wounds to the abdomen and his eyes were gauged out. Chatting with Charles, they come up with the theory that David ordered a hit on Brett as a way to tie up loose ends as he was leaving town.
So then when they find David hanged at a cabin, it feels like the story's over, right? Wrong.
After Jughead gets accepted into the University of Iowa's writers' workshop, Donna calls Betty in the middle of the night. She claims that Joan is also dead, and now she's running for her life. Betty isn't exactly willing to believe her, so she hangs up. But when she goes to call Joan the next day, she finds out that Donna was telling the truth. There's a Preppy murderer on the loose.
And that's when they get another video delivered to their doorstep. In this one, the Auteur actually enters their home, goes inside Jellybean's bedroom, and touches a knife to Jellybean's cheek. Immediately, they pack up and relocate to the Five Seasons. And that's where Betty and Jughead put everything together.
It's clear that the Auteur hasn't just been watching but also listening. And who do they know that likes to bug phones? YEP, it's time to talk to Charles. Back at the house, Betty confronts Charles, and he immediately confesses to killing Joan and Brett. Or rather, he had his boyfriend Chic kill Brett. In fact, Charles is pretty much a serial killer and he's fine with everybody knowing it, because he only kills people who deserve it.
Betty pulls a gun on her half-brother and tells him he's going to confess. Only, he's not the Auteur. Yes, he killed David, but Charles says he's not behind the video tapes. Then he calls Jug his "baby brother" and once again I'm uncomfortable.
So, Betty and Jughead have one more of their incredible heart-to-hearts and Jughead, in thinking about who else had access to the information on the tapes, cracks it: Jellybean is the Auteur. (And again, she confesses immediately. If they'd just thought to ask either of these questions earlier, there wouldn't have been a mystery.)
Jughead explains it all to FP: The videos started when Jug went away to Stonewall Prep. Jellybean figured the best way to make Jug stay would be a mystery, and her friend Ricky introduced her to Blue Velvet video. Eventually, they upped their game to keep the mystery interesting, but she never understood the enormity of what she was doing. And in the end, FP gives her a hug and tells her it's all okay.
So there you have it, our latest murderer and the Auteur have one thing in common: They're siblings of Betty and/or Jughead. Again, there's so much to unpack within this one, very strange family.