May 6, 2017

Did the Riverdale murderer pull the rug out from under us?


The following discussion reveals major plot points of Riverdale.

Welp, the murderer of Jason Blossom was revealed last night on Riverdale, and we’re experiencing a giant sense of meh. After 11 episodes, the reveal certainly had a lot of momentum going for it, and Cole Sprouse (Jughead) himself had told The A.V. Club that the murderer would be revealed in episode 12. So a bunch of us happily anticipated a forward-moving Riverdale episode, even as we speculated on who the murderer would be. Gwen Ihnat’s pick was Alice Cooper, predicting that the reveal of her mom as a murderer would send Betty down a fun, hot-tub-induced bad spiral. Kelsey Waite agreed, as Mama Cooper seemed to be the character most desperate to pin the murder on someone, plus “she’s the only one who knew about the dinner and could’ve had someone plant that gun at Jughead’s dad’s after Archie and Veronica left,” which is a lot more thought than Gwen gave this, frankly. Danette Chavez played the twincest card and pointed to the certainly murder-capable Cheryl Blossom. But Esther Zuckerman trumped us all by predicting the actual killer—“Daddy Blossom, or whatever his name is”—possibly to cover up something twincest and/or maple syrup related. She also told us about a “theory that I saw floating online that Archie is a psychopath and actually did it,” which probably would have been preferable.

Now that the murderer has been revealed, like the Riverdale residents themselves, we all need to move on with our lives, at least until next week’s season finale. Here’s what we all thought about last night’s reveal, and what it means for the future of Riverdale.

GWEN IHNAT

The Jason Blossom murder reminds me a lot of Big Little Lies, another show I really enjoyed this year. Both shows were introduced to us with a murder mystery, but as time went on, that murder became less and less important. I liked the reveal that Cheryl had been in on Jason’s disappearance from the first, but the mystery got harder to keep track of once Jason’s jacket kept moving around, and harder to care, the longer it stretched out, about a character we never actually met, Laura Palmer-style. Now that the murderer has been revealed to be someone we care almost as little about—a wig weirdo who shot his own son in the head—it’s difficult to parse where Riverdale goes from here.

Our own LaToya Ferguson loved the episode, giving it an A, and I have to agree that it was filled with lots of dramatic grandstanding, like the incest reveal over at the Blossoms’ mansion (well, you knew there was going to be incest somehow), resulting in babies that are “pure Blossom.” Betty sticking up for herself in the face of formidable adult opponents, Joaquin getting on a bus to San Junipero—well done, show. Cheryl’s fate after all of this may be the most anticipated result of all; I suspect Betty’s “Polly” transformation has nothing on what Cheryl will morph into now that her family has basically crumbled, and was shipping drugs out of maple syrup barrels?






Honestly, I really enjoy Riverdale, but my favorite parts have nothing to do with any conspiracy theories. I like Archie and Veronica in a closet and pep rallies and Kevin’s wisecracks and any time Cheryl makes an entrance. I especially love how Cole Sprouse has shaken off any child-actor stigma to become the series’ most compelling character as Jughead: His devastation over getting rejected by both of his parents this episode was heartbreaking, and my favorite moment was when he found out that his dad was only trying to protect him from Daddy Blossom (see, I don’t even know his name). I also love the casting of former teen idols as parents and thought Skeet Ulrich gave as good as Sprouse did last night. But it all seemed very whiplash-inducing and convoluted, with lots of traipsing through people’s houses and accusations and running around, until the investigative funnel cloud somehow found that thumb drive in Jason’s jacket. Now that Jason’s killer has been revealed and Daddy Blossom is dead, I kind of just want everyone to go back and focus on the always exciting goings-on at Riverdale High. (Except Archie’s musical career, second only to the Miss Grundy affair as the worst storyline of the season.)

But what did you guys think? Do you feel as somewhat deflated as I do? Do you think maple syrup is intriguing enough to pin a whole town’s mystery on it for future seasons of Riverdale?

ESTHER ZUCKERMAN

Did it really matter who killed Jason Blossom? I say no. Like you Gwen, that’s not why I was watching Riverdale. I was watching for the ridiculous line deliveries, bizarre references to maple syrup, and the genuinely surprising and intriguing portrayals of characters I grew up reading. (Except for Archie. I don’t really give a shit about Archie.) Yesterday, before the episode aired, I guessed that Clifford would be the killer. It wasn’t because I had collected evidence from repeated close watches. (Though kudos to those who had been doing the guesswork.) It was because 1) he had all those wigs, 2) he seemed suspicious, and 3) he was completely disposable. The Blossoms are the characters with whom the Archie-reading audience has the least emotional attachment, so just as the show could open with one of them getting murdered and no one caring, another could be a murderer and it wouldn’t make much of a difference for long-term plotting. That also makes the choice of Clifford pretty boring. While Madelaine Petsch’s Cheryl has been a highlight of the season, the rest of the Blossoms were pretty forgettable save for the vaguely sinister air that always followed them and basically gave their involvement away. All that said, I still don’t really care. This was a fun episode with a lot of big moments. (The shot of all of them crying perfect tears while watching the video of Jason’s murder was genius.) But I also can’t wait for the show to get back to the high school nonsense: the romances, the random dance-offs, and the declarations of weirdness.



DANETTE CHAVEZ

Whether it was because of the “twincest” or just the idea of being abandoned by him at Thornhill, I thought Cheryl Blossom had been the one to kill her brother, Jason. Happy to be proven ever so wrong by “Anatomy Of A Murder,” though, since it was, as our LaToya put it, “aces” from start to finish. Betty’s face when Archie suggests they tell their parents at the top of the episode was perfection, reminding us that our hot, sometimes bland, protagonist still has a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the Riverdale crew. She maintains that sense of certainty throughout, even though the episode has one other big reveal aside from the murderer’s identity.

There’s never too much of anything on Riverdale—not milkshakes, dancing, or weirdness—so it stood to reason that we’d be in for more than just solving the big murder mystery of the season in this penultimate episode. Like you, Gwen, I was also a bit let down by the reveal that Clifford Blossom had killed his son for… I guess not wanting to take over the family business, which is much more shadowy than we’ve been led to believe. Wigs aside, he’s never been very interesting, but then, most people would fade into the background whenever Cheryl’s around. But since his death could fuel the intrigue of the second season, we might not be done with him yet—which is fine by me, as long as we don’t have to see anymore of his bad rugs (I lied).

As for the other big reveal of the night, that the Coopers were Blossoms, well, the show delivered somewhat on all the incest it had been teasing this whole time. Jason and Polly had no idea, so it’s all innocent enough, though. I actually didn’t mind the dashing through everyone’s homes, because I thought it served to remind us of where everyone’s coming from—Betty’s homelife was upended before her parents split (temporarily?), and she’d been just as consumed with what happened to her sister as she eventually was about the Grundy incident and the murder. I keep coming back to Betty, I know, but I just loved the way she stood up to her distant relative Penelope at the Blossom mansion. I still love Veronica, but Lili Reinhart has turned my head as much as Jughead’s.



Beyond a sense of closure, I’m relieved that Jason’s murder has been solved. Oh, we’re still in for a fallout, which we’ll probably see in next week’s finale. But at least we can go back to the show’s high school angst roots and watch everyone’s parents act out the same melodrama decades apart. Like so many other people, I was skeptical of this show when it was first announced, but came around after that first round of screeners. So, as we gear up for season two, I’m in a very different position than I was last year—I’m thinking about how Riverdale is going to top, not prove, itself.






KELSEY J. WAITE

As someone who never read Archie, I actually was watching Riverdale with an interest in who killed Jason Blossom and why. Early on I got drawn in by the show’s many visual and narrative nods to shows I love and have been waiting for the writing to give those references depth and to do justice to the talent apparent in these young actors—the performances by Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, and Camila Mendes have almost solely kept me going. That said, last night’s reveal for me was a major letdown and confirmed that the show is as slipshod underneath as I feared it to be. Like you all said, Daddy Blossom is the most boring, low-stakes killer the writers could’ve chosen. It’s not surprising, and it’s not compelling. I picked Alice Cooper because, firstly, I thought she fit the bill, but secondly, I hoped the reveal would tighten the narrative around our core cast—a dark-Betty storyline like Gwen suggested would be awesome—but instead we get this dilution that pulls in the least appealing characters and, to me, doesn’t set up a great draw for season two.

And it doesn’t exactly line up with earlier details (you know I like details). For example, if Jason was shot in the basement of the Worm, what shots did Archie and Miss Grundy (gross) hear at the river? I need to know these things are thoughtful and not wasting my time. Finally, I know incest has been hinted at throughout Riverdale’s season, but last night’s soap-opera reveal that the Coopers are Blossoms felt like it came out of left field, and not in a good way. I liked the momentum of the episode and especially the storyline between F.P. and Jughead, but overall it reminded me of The Killing, where viewers came to learn that they couldn’t trust that much of what they’d been shown so far was pertinent to solving the central mystery, and that show saw almost a million viewers lost going into its second season because of it. I love the Betty-Jughead chemistry and the dramatic line deliveries as much as you guys, but I’ve had my ticket out of Riverdale booked since sometime midseason, and last night confirmed for me it’s time to go. I don’t think I’m in for a season two, but I will absolutely see you guys in Twin Peaks in a few weeks.

Gwen, what do you think? Is your whiplash mild enough to have you back for a second season? Are you in for the maple-syrup mystery?

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