At Last, Riverdale Gives Us The Sticky, Dark, Dirty Truth
The penultimate episode of Season 1 solves the mystery of who killed Jason Blossom, and...well that's all that matters, really.
Honestly? There are some loose ends, a few leaps of logic, and at least two subpar performances, but this is a really good episode of Riverdale. It's an hour that goes from FP Jones's confession to the revelation that it was actually Clifford Blossom himself who murdered Jason, hopscotching along from clue to revelation to clue to revelation at every step in between. Archie and his pals super-sleuth their way to the solution in a manner that feels exciting yet satisfyingly amateur.
The big reveals: Hal Cooper says he stole Sheriff Keller's files way back when so he could keep the family secret buried. That secret: Great-Grandpappy Cooper was a Blossom. Which makes Polly and Jason...[counts the rings on the Blossom's branch-less family tree] third cousins. That fails to meet the Roosevelt Standard (that'd be fifth cousins), so it's officially WRONG. Clifford and Penelope Blossom knew about this and were pretty chill with the idea of inbred offspring (the better to keep the bloodline pure, after all).
FP having confessed, the kids might not have had much reason to continue poking around in the town's secrets, but Archie's mom starts the ball rolling when she reveals that Joaquin was FP's first phone call. Secret lovers? Eh, no such luck. But the kids (including a scowly Kevin) get Joaquin to confess to helping FP remove Jason's corpse, and leads them to another Serpent named Mustang who also knew about the murder. Mustang's dead, though, which means he won't be able to spend the sack full of cash that was found in his room. That bag has the monogram "H.L." on it, which everyone (except slow-on-the-uptake Sheriff Keller) takes to mean "Hiram Lodge."
One more Joaquin bread crumb: he leads Kevin, Betty, and Archie to a spot in the woods where they can find Jason's letterman's jacket, and inside it, a flash drive. On that drive is a video. The one that was in all the commercials for this episode. The one to which Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and even Kevin give A+ horrified reaction shots at what they see, while Archie looks like he may have just sat on a thumb tack. The video that shows Clifford Blossom shooting his son in the head.
So if he was cool with his son fathering his own fourth cousin (once removed), then why DID Clifford Blossom murder Jason? It might have something to do with the barrels full of drugs (packed in delicious maple syrup!) that are in the Blossom barn, uncovered by the police as they find Clifford hanging head from the rafters.
That leaves quite a few open questions for next week's season finale, but speaking solely for this week: well done, show.
- FP (Jughead's dad)
The cold open where FP confesses to the murder of Jason Blossom is riveting, especially when we later realize that most of it (all the stuff except killing Jason) is true. That FP is covering for someone is obvious from the break, and it's probably a good thing his "Go away and never come back!" speech to Jughead is played as a dead giveaway, because it isn't Skeet's most convincing work. Sheriff Keller still plans to prosecute for being an accessory, though, so FP's not exactly scot free.
Continues to be the bland fulcrum around which this whole show pivots, and honestly, that's fine.
Kevin gets more to do! That's good. Though by this point he's still a ways away from being an interesting character. Interesting bad-cop interrogation technique on Joaquin, though: "I'm not talking to you as your boyfriend, I'm talking to you as the sheriff's son!" Damn that's hot!
She was so single-minded in her determination to prove that her father was guilty that I became stone-cold convinced he wasn't. One of the few areas where the show tipped its hand too much.
- Fred (Archie's dad)
As Fred overreacts about getting Jughead out of the house soon, because the Joneses do nothing but attract trouble, I got the impression that Fred is the Jim Walsh of this situation, while Archie is the Brenda, and Jughead is the Dylan. Which honestly makes an extreme amount of sense.
Takes the news that she's bearing a couple of incest babies in stride, more or less. Guess she recovered from all those poison milkshakes.
Kudos for being the only one holding a candle for FP's innocence while everyone else figured a confession was good enough for them. Later, though, why exactly does she need to make Archie try on Jason's jacket in order to dig around for that flash drive? Quick way to cop a feel, eh Betty?
While I would have appreciated Cheryl taking the power and solving Jason's murder herself, she gets a couple of moments in this one. Like slapping/pummeling Jughead with her tiny fists like she's in a 1940s horror movie after he tries to apologize for his dad killing her bro. She also gets to stride into her parents' living room and ominously declare, "You did a bad thing, Daddy, and now everyone knows." Can I get a gif of THAT for future use?
- Hermione (Veronica's Mom)
Should we be suspecting Hermione Lodge of more than we are? She certainly knows how much hot water she could be in, even having just covered for Hiram. But could it be more than that? Veronica jumped to that monogrammed bag being her father's super quickly, but is there any reason why it couldn't be Hermione's?
So there were no deeper secrets than Joaquin being FP's right-hand Serpent (though, no, not that kind of right-hand serpent). At least now he's getting out of town. That he ended up leaving Kevin and his friends to the clues that led them to break the case wide open is admirable, and Kevin seemed to soften a bit by the end there, but as he boarded the bus (to San Junipero!), I couldn't help thinking, "Get out and don't look back."
Some really great acting by Cole Sprause here: on the pay phone as his mom tells him not to bother come visiting her in Toledo; the jailhouse scene with his dad. Though this makes for two straight episodes where he's removed his "weird" hat. Two too many, if you ask me.
- Alice (Betty's Mom)
When did I become a giant Alice Cooper (not the bad) superfan? Was it when she shaded Archie, Betty, and Veronica by calling them "three amateur sleuths"? Was it when she responded to a home intruder by pulling out her gun and telling Betty, "You dial 9-1, then when I say, dial 1 again"? Was it when she apologized to the Coopers for interrupting "the witching hour at Thorn Hill," then later exasperatingly sighing, "Enough of this Dr. Moreau experimentation in breeding and eugenics." All I want for next season is for Alice to be the snarky M to a teen detective agency. Either that, or she and Cheryl should have a series of insult-based rap battles.