This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 4 Episode 14
“How’s Jughead doing these days?”
Let’s address the whoopee hat-wearing elephant in the room: Jughead is obviously not dead.
I mean duh.
Despite all the corpses shown/red herrings thrown around here, this is just a simple fact. Losing Jughead would break the show, and I can’t imagine that the series’ legion of teen fans would stand for such a thing. So the game that has to be played here is continuing to make audiences think that Jughead is dead. And it is one that this gem of a Riverdale does expertly, while also planting a few clues as to how this all will resolve.
Let’s first run down what we know for sure is happening here. First up, Donna, Brett and the rest of the Stonewall Prep jerkfaces absolutely think Jughead has gone to the big burger shop in the sky. They have a few motives for wanting him gone too, from getting the Baxter Brothers money for themselves to the fact that Jughead really isn’t one of them. My speculation is that the members of Quill and Skull (along with select faculty) all conspired to steal Jughead’s work and then get rid of him. Besides, a similiar scheme was successfully launched against Jughead’s grandfather. Then there’s the school legend about missing Stonewall students, so its likely that murder is just part of the curriculum there — carried out against students who either don’t conform or interrupt the school’s snobbish status quo.
This episode’s established that Betty was not in fact triggered by a dormant Farm post-hypnotic suggested but was instead drugged by Donna. Who subsequently tricked her into thinking that Dark Betty had emerged and brained Jughead. Bughead Nation, breathe a sigh of relief.
Another huge red flag: Consider that neither Betty nor Archie nor Veronica seem particularly shaken up by Jughead’s death. Sure, they are bummed by this turn of events. But where’s the outpouring or grief and anger? At some point between the burning of Jughead’s hat and Betty’s hypnotism session, Archie and Veronica were told the truth. If not before. Look at the scenes where Archie is talking in his room with his mother. The first time, he is shut down by an angry Betty. Later in the episode, Betty comes clean to the pair about blacking out, then later gets hypnotized by Charles and learns about the Devil’s Breath. Later, when Mary talks to Archie about all he is going through, what with the death of Fred and then Jughead, her son breaks. “Mom, I have to confess something to you…”
This is key.
So, Sherlocking all of these factors together, here’s what I’ve come up with. Remember a few weeks ago when Jughead was acting strangely and he told Betty that she had to trust him no matter what? I believe that he had learned of his murder plot by the Preppies. Together with Betty, they planned to fake his own death and then get justice against all the Stonewall assholes. It was never their intention to get Archie or Veronica involved, but that happened so Betty has been improvising since Jughead’s death. Most likely with his off-screen help. Once the plan got complicated, Betty had to bring Veronica and Archie in on it. She knew that Archie was about to break and tell Mary, so she called him to stop. But later in the episode, Archie looked across and didn’t see Betty at her window. Here then he decided to tell his mom that Jughead is still very much alive. We will learn the ramifications of this soon enough.
It’s a safe enough bet that F.P. knows the truth too. (Although the aftermath of Jughead making his father go through unnecessary grief would make for some great storytelling and work as a plausible reason that F.P. would leave town at season’s end). Could Jellybean be in on this ruse too? She seemed very non-plussed about grabbing Betty some fake blood, especially during a time when her brother was missing.
Other points to ponder: These kids also have interesting skill sets, so one of them can utilize makeup so that it looks like Jughead is dead. The coroner’s office scene was set up to make Donna and Brett panic, and is part of Betty’s larger plan to bring the Stonewall Prep gang down and expose all of their lies and murderous plans. She angrily tells Donna that “you’re gonna regret ever meeting me,” and it’s chilling how much I believe her.
This is some solid Riverdale-ing right here, folks, and I’m eager to see how and when this resolves.
– So if Jughead is alive, where exactly is he at? Probably the bunker in the woods, where all of Riverdale’s secrets hide at one point or another.
– I wish the revelation of Mary’s sexuality was handled with more grace instead of shoehorned into an already packed episode.
– It’s important to remember that Charles has his own agenda, and is in cahoots with Chic. If Chic somehow becomes the mastermind behind #Jugdead, I’m done with this show. Chic sucks.
– Also backburned is the storyline about Riverdale residents receiving mysterious videotapes. I fully expect that both plots will take centerstage in time for sweeps. (And after the inevitable resurrection of Jughead, which I’m guessing will occur at the end of the musical episode in April).
– Speaking of which. In his brief appearance tonight, Kevin was asked how the school musical is going. In case you missed it, it has been revealed that Riverdale High will be mounting Hedwig and the Angry Inch this year, and you can read all about the upcoming musical episode here.
– It will never not be funny that a town with such a criminal element as Riverdale has only one FBI agent based out of it.
– Betty getting Jug’s phone planted on her and having her bug discovered seems like rookie mistakes for someone of her sleuthing caliber. Did she allow these things to happen to lull Donna into a false sense of security?
– Like most scenes with Hiram, I really don’t have much to say about them. Tonight’s were exceptionally superfluous seeing how compelling the main plot is.
– Brett calling Archie “Elmo” is kind of hilarious.
– Seeing Evelyn is just a reminder of how much the writers dropped the ball on the whole Farm plotline, isn’t it?
– I haven’t warmed to Hermosa yet, but did love the look on her face when Veronica snarked “can you just for one second stop being such a suspicious bitch?” at her.
– There’s a problem with my theory about F.P. being in on Betty’s plan, and that’s the whole switching of the murder rock sequence.
– Earlier this week it was revealed that both Skeet Ulrich and Marisol Nichols will be leaving the series at the end of the current season. It’s unclear how they will be written out. (My secret hope is that the writers finally transform this series into Afterlife with Archie at the end of the season). We will have more on this news as it develops, and it’s a bummer as I love the F.P. and Hermione characters.
– Vegas: Still nowhere to be found.
– Next week: Jughead gets a funeral and Archie, Betty and Veronica are arrested for his murder!