Riverdale recap: Betty and Jughead take down the Stonewall preppies
After last week's Riverdale revealed what we already knew — that Jughead was never really dead — this week's episode went into exactly how it all happened as Betty and (a seemingly unshowered?) Jughead unraveled the season-long mystery for the Stonewall preppies.
First, we get a glimpse at Jughead's underground life, which he's decided is about as close to death as one can come despite the fact that he's, you know, fully alive. But, as he puts it, not only did he read two of his own obituaries, but he watched a livestream of his own wake, because that's normal. For two weeks, he microwaved his meals, wrote on his typewriter by candlelight, studied everything he knew about the preppies, and never, ever showered. (I think?)
He also breaks down who knew what: Jellybean figured out he was alive on her own, and Betty told FP ... but only after she let him think his son had died for a little while? That honestly might be the most messed up thing these kids have done. Archie went rogue and told his mom, and Veronica was backed into a corner and had to tell Hermosa after she started snooping around. And ultimately, it was Hermosa who brought them the final piece of the puzzle — more on that later.
For now, Betty and Jughead are headed to Stonewall Prep to lock Mr. DuPont, Donna, Bret, and Joan in a room and unravel this mystery in the most dramatic way possible. (No way this speech only took half an hour.)
Bughead, wanting to soak in every moment of their victory, starts at the beginning: This is a story about grandparents and grandchildren and the sins of one generation being passed down to the next —cycles of violence, if you will. It started when Moose was invited to Stonewall Prep, then Jughead was drugged, woke up in a coffin, and was freed in time to find out Mr. Chipping had practically shoved Moose out the door and into the Army. Why would he do that? Because Moose was going to get murdered and Chipping was trying to save his life.
When Mr. DuPont tries to speak up, Jughead utters perhaps the most Jughead line ever to be uttered, "As they say in Lord of the Flies, I have the conch." UGH.
This brings us to the Baxter Brothers writing competition part of the story/season. Jughead reminds Mr. DuPont that he exploited his grandfather for the original Baxter Brothers novel, a secret he would do anything to keep lest someone find out that the franchise upon which he built everything wasn't his idea. And it all goes back to the Baxter Brothers contract: Why did Chipping's wife say he hated it so much? Because there was one part of the writing competition Jughead never heard about: In order to prove you could write the perfect murder, you first had to commit it. Bughead linked each of the missing Stonewall Four to the years that new ghostwriters joined the Baxter Brothers franchise. And that brings us back to Moose.
Chipping invited Moose to Stonewall Prep to be the next victim to be killed by the next chosen ghostwriter. But when Chipping couldn't go through with it, he told Moose to run, and then he killed himself. And when Jughead won the contract, DuPont gave the students a new challenge: Commit the perfect murder against Jughead and get the contract.
So, the students worked together: Donna kept Betty busy (and blew devil's breath in her face) while Bret led Jug into the woods, and Joan hit him over the head with the rock. It was Jonathan's job to make sure Jug was dead. He clearly failed, which is why he's not in this room right now. Then, they placed the rock in Betty's hand and pointed Archie and Veronica in her direction.
But when Betty came to, she immediately started CPR on Jug — or as she yelled at Archie, "Start pounding on his chest!" While Veronica used the beanie — THE BEANIE — to stop the bleeding, they were able to revive Jug long enough for him to tell them not to take him to a hospital. Even half-head, Jughead had a plan. So, Betty called Charles and the FBI medical van took Jug away, where he didn't regain consciousness for 36 hours!! (After, I don't know, 24 hours, they didn't think a hospital might be a good idea?!)
Once Jug came to, he met with the former Baxter Brothers ghostwriters and told them their theory: That they're all murderers. And each one of them asked for a lawyer. Additionally, Jughead and Betty discovered that three members of the original literary society had been murdered, otherwise known as the only people who would know that DuPont stole the idea from Jug's grandfather. In fact, there's only one living member left, and that's when Betty opens the door to reveal FP, Charles, and the original Forsythe. It seems one of Forsythe's classmates came to him and warned him about DuPont years ago, and when that person turned up dead a few days later, Forsythe had no choice but to abandon his family and run lest DuPont kill him too. Ever since, he's been collecting evidence against DuPont.
And that's why Chipping invited Jughead to Stonewall Prep: as a way to lure Forsythe out so that DuPont could finish the job. Now, the FBI is at DuPont's house, where he was dumb enough to keep trophies from his victims. But before Charles can arrest him, DuPont jumps out the window the same way Chipping did (though admittedly with less flair). Further proof Charles isn't a good FBI agent? He didn't stop DuPont despite the man obviously positioning himself closer and closer to a window.
After that, Charles interrogates the world's most privileged kids, and when that doesn't work, he lets FP and Jughead work on Bret with some brass knuckles — so yeah, definitely a bad FBI agent — until he gives them the location of his videotapes and Quill & Skull is officially disbanded.
As for Betty, she has one more thing to take care of: At Donna's dorm, the preppie is packing up, preparing to transfer schools and relaunch the Baxter Brothers books as Tracy True. And that's where Hermosa's very important piece of information comes into play. It seems Donna's grandmother was one of the original classmates that DuPont killed to cover up the truth. Furthermore, DuPont stole the character of Tracy True from Donna's grandmother. So not only does that give Donna a motive, but it links everything back to her. With that, Betty threatens to send out the medical file linking Donna to her grandmother if Donna does anything Betty doesn't like. "Play nice from now on," Betty tells her. "I'll be keeping an eye on you."
Back at Riverdale High, Cheryl tells Betty that "no one ever really dies in Riverdale" despite the fact that this series kicked off with her brother definitively dying. Then, she calls Betty out on her feelings toward Archie. When Betty says it was all pretend, she says, "It looked real to me." But don't worry, Betty. Your secret's safe with Cheryl.
With Jughead accepted back to Riverdale High, the core four meet at Pop's. They only have a few months left of senior year, and they're going to make graduating their sole purpose. Well, that and Kevin's variety show.
I will say that this episode impressively wove together the season's mystery, proving that the writers had a clear plan, and although I still think killing Jughead would've been the bold move, this at least gave us some definitive answers. Do I find those answers satisfying? I guess so, though I'm not sure DuPont being a crazy murderer had much of an impact on me.