This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 4 Episode 13
“Admit it, you guys are on the edge of your seats, aren’t you?”
Well, Jughead certainly appears dead.
I’ve got to hand it to this episode’s writers, Chrissy Maroon and Evan Kyle, as they scripted a plausible series of events that could in fact have led to Jug’s demise. I still don’t believe for a second that this show has the cojones to kill off a lead in this matter, but that’s not really the point is it? (Besides, nobody wants to see a Jughead-less Riverdale anyway).
Admittedly, I’ve been skeptical about the flash-forwards since they debuted. But if Riverdale is going to take narrative cues from Lost, then they should borrow some genuine shocks and mystery from that show too. And damn, they did just that here.
“This week started like any other, who would’ve thought where I’d be by the end?” Jug grimly states as this episode opens. The fact that he still is narrating while allegedly dead is a huge tip off that our whoopee-hatted hero is alive and in hiding. But more on that in a bit, as let’s run down the week this poor kid had:
• Discovers he is in danger of losing the Baxter Brothers contact, and has less than a week to come up with a completely different story.
• Jonathan alleges that Jughead plagarized him, falsely earning his spot in Yale and the Baxter Brothers job in the process.
• Jughead has his old laptop, which can prove that he wrote On Feathered Wings, stolen.
• Jughead discovers that a rewritten version of his Baxter Brothers story is being submitted for publication. Worse still, his classmates are the ones who secretly collaborated to write it.
• Brett blackmails Jughead with a secretly filmed sex tape of him with Betty.
• Determined to protect Betty, he agrees to not fight and leave Stonewall Prep — disappointing his father in the process.
• Jughead is bludgeoned to death with a huge rock by his girlfriend.
Your week isn’t looking too bad now, is it?
Things look really grim for our core four right now. The other flashforwards we have seen indicate that in the coming weeks Betty, Veronica and Archie will be arrested for their role in Jughead’s murder and its coverup. (And that Betty will have a further encounter with Brett).
So what could be happening to here? To follow-up on Betty’s lead, Donna could be the key here. Although it seems like Betty didn’t get through to her in their conversation at Pop’s, Donna could very well have been shaken by their talk. I’m willing to bet that however this all resolves, it will involve flashbacks and conversations that we haven’t seen yet.
With this in mind one can hazard a guess that somehow Betty and Donna formed an unlikely alliance, and that their chat in the woods was planned in advance…as was Betty’s getting triggered by another word Evelyn implanted. Why do this bit of theater? Because Brett was watching Donna, still thinking they are on the same side.
Furthermore, before the Ides of March party Jughead was acting very strangely, and promised Betty it would all be okay. The scene cut away at this point, but the quizzical look on Betty’s face leads me to believe that this conversation went on longer. I’m guessing that Betty filled Jughead in on her Donna collaboration, and the pair then set in motion a series of events that would make it appear like a murder, triggered by a jailed cult leader, would occur. Knowing how much was at stake, Betty and Jug probably even agreed to keep Archie and Veronica in the dark, what with plausible deniability and all.
Riverdale usually has two big storylines per season, and one tends to wrap up by the midway point (before threads of it become woven into the finale). If the show continues to follow this pattern, I expect that the Dead Jughead plot will be tied up in time for April’s musical episode. Then again, if the storytelling continues to be as captivating as it is in this episode, I’m more than happy for it to stick around.
There were other events happening here, most noteworthy Veronica being unable to cope with her father’s illness. Despite his many, many flaws, Archie actually was quite helpful here, telling Veronica that she has the gift of being able to say goodbye to her father. The pair’s relationship has never felt more real than in this scene, with KJ Apa really tapping into what makes Archie such a likeable guy in the first place. (Something that the series doesn’t show nearly enough).
Also, Camila Mendes gets the chance to flex her acting muscles quite a bit here, be it barking at Hermosa during the episode’s superfluous Maple Club infiltration subplot or heating up the rum wars to give her father a renewed purpose.
This was hands down the best episode of the season yet, one packed with genuine suspense that will make the wait until Wednesday a difficult one. How do you all think Jughead will get out of this mess?
– The name of the cover company Cheryl, Veronica and Toni are using for the Maple Club is Elliot’s Essential Oils.
– One of the fitness clubs Archie mentioned that Hiram is a member of is Soulstice — which is the same business Abby tended to endless pubic hair emergencies at on Broad City (Mark Consuelos’ wife, Kelly Ripa, also appeared on that city as an exaggerated parody of herself in one memorable episode).
– Still no sign of Vegas anywhere.
– Riverdale High’s chemistry teacher being named Dr. Beaker will never not be hilarious to me.
– Character names in Jughead’s Baxter Brothers rewrite include ‘Jarhead’ and ‘Bison.’ I guess Jug learned all he knows about writing from Mad movie parodies.
– What exactly was Hermosa up to tonight? Were these scenes just to give Choni something to do? Or could it be that Hermosa is trying to take all of Hiram and Veronica’s rum secrets and go into business for herself? (Which would make sense as it would unite these characters against a common enemy).
– It’s worth mentioning again how great Camila Mendes is in tonight’s episode. The sadness she emoted upon learning that Hiram shared his news with Hermosa but not Veronica was heartbreaking.
– Apparently Pop’s Chok’lit Shoppe bakes its own donuts. I want some.
– Not to victim blame, but Jughead accepting the laptop from Brett and not uploading his work into the cloud in the first place were poor decisions on his part.
– Stonewall Prep is EXACTLY the type of backstabby place that would celebrate the Ides of March.
– I’m glad the series addressed that Archie’s grades are slipping due to his commitments to Andrews Construction and the gym. (Likewise, the show answered a troublesome logic question by showing that Munroe’s mother is at the gym during the day).
– Betty announcing that she is the daughter of the Black Hood and has bigger things to worry about than a sex tape was a weirdly empowering scene.
– Remember, we never actually saw Betty being triggered by the phrase Donna claimed to have gotten from Evelyn. The key to unraveling of the mystery of what’s really happening here is going to depend on so much that happened off screen. So while it’s fun to speculate, we are really at the mercy of the writers here. Let’s hope they don’t let us down as this plot races towards its conclusion.