After a week off, presumably to prolong the agony, Riverdale returned this week with a highly consequential episode, one that seemed to set up the final revelation of Jason Bloom’s killer. To get there though, we had to indulge in more suspicion of F.P. Jones, more creepiness in the Blossom household, and more drama in the Andrews home as Archie dealt with the return of his mom, and growing feelings of desire for Veronica. Guess which one was more the priority for the red-headed scamp?
After a brief appearance of Molly Ringwald at the end of episode 10, it was Mary Andrews turn to shine in “To Riverdale and Back Again”, the title referencing a 90s TV movie/backdoor pilot about the Archies gang as adults. It seems that Riverdale has blended that idea into it’s DNA, again implying that the parents have long had their tendrils in each other’s affairs. F.P. seems to know something sorted about Alice and Hal Cooper’s relationship, and Alice later tries to pluck up trouble between Fred and Mary by talking about how Mary’s soon to be ex-husband was carrying around with his colleague, Hermoine. Mary let that roll off her back either because she didn’t believe Alice or she didn’t care.
So what exactly was the point of Mary coming back? By the time we got to the end of the episode that was one of my questions because it was not addressed what internal drama lead her and Fred to break up in the first place, nor was it explained why she decided to return to town now. Was she there because of Archie’s drunk dial appeal to his parents for reconciliation. Was she there for one last hurrah at Homecoming? Or was she there to entice Archie to move with her to Chicago for some false drama? Hm, I wonder if Archie’s going to choose to move away from Riverdale?
So having Mary Andrews around did nothing for the episode, especially when the drama around Jason Bloom’s murder was heating up again. Alice deduced from spying on Jughead’s birthday party that F.P. and Joaquin were up to something, and she assumes it has something to do with Jason. Unless she could read lips, you have to wonder how she made that link, especially since they’re both Southside Serpents and could be involved in any number of clandestine criminal endeavours. So using her perch as the adult supervisor of the student newspaper, she recruits the kids to help her look into it.
Veronica is a willing volunteer, desperate to prove that her father wasn’t the puppet master behind Jason’s death (or finally prove he was, as the case may be). She drafts Archie to help her break into F.P.’s trailer while Alice keeps the Joneses occupied with a nice family dinner for a girlfriend’s mom to meet a boyfriend’s dad. Archie is concerned about Jughead being hurt again, in spite of the appearance that F.P. has literally and figuratively cleaned up his act, but let’s be honest, once a girl’s kissed Archie it’s pretty easy to hold him under thumb.
And what is the root of F.P.’s sudden conversion to being a quality father figure? He’s shaved, washed, and he’s cleaned up that ruddy old trailer. He’s reading Jughead’s work and engaging in meaningful conversations with his son about his writing. He’s quit drinking, and he hasn’t missed a day of work. What the hell? It seems like only a few episodes ago that F.P. was a mess of wreck, hiding Jason’s jacket, and tasking Joaquin to spy on the Sheriff by posing as Kevin Keller’s boyfriend. F.P. was definitely in it deep, so what change it all around?
One thing’s for sure, the suspicion isn’t doing anyone any good, and no one knows that more than Betty and Jughead. Just when everything seemed to be going great for Riverdale High’s favourite couple, the confluence of Betty’s mom, and her two best friends casting renewed suspicion on her boyfriend’s father starts adding more pressure to Betty’s already full plate. On top of that, it seems that Betty’s getting lost in the case, a monster obsession of her own making, and understandably so given how her sister is at the centre of the mystery. There are couple of times in the episode where it looked Betty was really losing it, all that ambition and optimism out the window and down the abyss.
Sadder still is that all the suspicion and investigation of F.P. causes a rift in our Betthead. Betty knew that her mother was up to something concerning F.P. and the dinner party, but Jughead didn’t. He thought they were doing something nice and normal. When Jughead sees Betty confront Archie and Veronica about their skullduggery, Jughead thinks Betty was in on it too, and in a way, knowing that something was up and that she didn’t say anything, she was. If there’s one thing you don’t want to hear on the night your dad is arrested for murder, it’s that your girlfriend and friends might have had a hand in making it happen.
Oh yes, F.P. gets picked up by the police shortly after Archie and Veronica searched his trailer, the key difference between the searches though was that the police found a lock box with a gun in it. A lock box that wasn’t there when Archie and Veronica searched the trailer maybe an hour before. So who planted the gun, and who cast suspicion on F.P. all of the sudden? Someone that knew that F.P. had Jason’s jacket, presumably the same person that took the ring from Jason’s car and set it ablaze the night Betty and Jughead found it?
And speaking of that ring, it turned up in Penelope Blossom’s jewelry box, much to the surprise of Cheryl and Polly as they were looking for some vintage jewelry to borrow for the Homecoming dance. Cheryl seemed just as surprised to find it as Polly, almost as if she thought she had rid herself of some particularly incriminating piece of evidence. Penelope explains to Polly that Jason threw the ring in her and Clifford’s face the day he disappeared, a symbol of his renouncing of all that the Blossom name entailed. Polly seemed less than convinced.
So here’s a theory: What if Penelope and/or Clifford hired F.P. to find Jason’s car and recover the ring? Then, F.P. took the jacket and maybe a few other mementos for insurance in case there was ever any blowback on him. But none of that answers who killed Jason. Certainly the Blossoms are suspicious, but Penelope seemed so ruined in the privacy of their home when F.P. was arrested, why put on a show when there’s no one to put on a show for? Scratch that, there was actually someone to put on a show for, and it was Cheryl Blossom.
We’re probably all thinking the same thing now, right? That Cheryl killed Jason. Perhaps she was jealous of being the proverbial red-headed stepchild, saw Jason breaking free of the family structures that were being built around him and for him, got jealous, and went along with her sibling’s plan to run away because it afforded her the chance to get rid of him in a much more permanent way. Why else would she hold on to the ring, a symbol of the Blossom legacy that was about to be passed on to the next generation of Blossoms that didn’t include her. Notice too that all that payback against Archie, Polly and everyone a few weeks ago has now taken a back seat. One wonders, does Cheryl get bored easily, or is she a sociopath compartmentalizing? Looks like we’ll find out next week.