Monday , April 15 2024

‘Riverdale’ Season 4 Episode 16 Recap: Just One More Question

Here it is. Riverdale decided to answer the season’s biggest mysteries this week to make way for next month’s big musical episode. As we learned last week, Jughead is actually alive, which means the show has a lot of explaining to do. And that’s exactly what it does. This episode opens with a lengthy bit of narration from Jughead, explaining who knew what and when. It turns out Jellybean figured it out almost immediately, and Betty told FP just before organizing the search party. Hermosa figured out that the story wasn’t as cut and dry as it seemed, but thought Betty and Veronica killed Jughead so they could be together. She’s wrong of course, but I would be so here for that story. Is there a comic or fanfic where that happens? I need to see it now.

As Jughead wraps up his explanation, the show can’t help but give us one final tease. Just as he’s about to tell us what Hermosa dug up on Donna at the end of last week’s episode, Betty interrupts him. I guess reveals like that need to happen later in the episode. For now, Jughead and Betty need to lay it all out for the Stonewall kids. They interrupt a discussion on Crime and Punishment, which even Jughead points out is a little on the nose. Betty locks the door and Jughead goes over everything he’s learned this entire season. We got ourselves a bottle episode, kids. At least for the first two thirds.

Doralyn Mui as Joan Berkeley, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones and Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper — Photo:Bettina Strauss/The CW

Jughead begins with the events of Halloween, when he was drugged, put in a coffin and returned to find Moose gone. It turns out Mr. Chipping was responsible for Moose’s fast exit. Chipping recruited Moose to the school to play football. Then, around Halloween, Chipping pushed Moose to join the Army. Jughead figures out Chipping was saving Moose from murder. From there, Jughead moves onto Chipping’s suicide. It turns out it wasn’t, as Jughead originally thought, pressure from DuPont to keep the origin of the Baxter Brothers books a secret. Nor was it Donna’s story about an affair. It was guilt. As Betty points out the Stonewall Four all disappeared at the same time that a new ghostwriter took over the Baxter Brothers series. The challenge each time was to devise a perfect murder. Jughead realized that really meant committing the perfect murder. Chipping killed someone to get the contract. Though he’d saved Moose from becoming the next victim, the guilt still got to him.

Betty and Jughead continue to explain the events directly after his apparent death. It fills in some, but not all the gaps. The three friends all performed CPR on Jughead, bringing him back to life. He requested no hospital, which is what prompted Betty to ask for Charles’ help. After that, he spent three days in an FBI hospital, unconscious. The cleaning of the scene and clothes-burning was in case Jughead didn’t make it. Alright, I can mostly wrap my head around this explanation, it doesn’t fix every inconsistency. Betty’s memory hypnosis and her controlling Archie and Veronica’s actions don’t have any motivation behind them. Now, it’s clear she just did those things because the story required her to.

Sarah Desjardins as Donna Sweet, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones and Malcolm Stewart as Francis Dupont — Photo:Bettina Strauss/The CW

Finally, Jughead starts wrapping up, and brings everything back to Mr. DuPont. Not only did he orchestrate (though not technically commit) the murders of four Stonewall students, he also murdered the other members of his original writer’s group. They all knew the Baxter Brothers series was stolen. They were going to expose DuPont, but they all died in convenient accidents. That’s when FP, Charles and Jughead’s grandfather all show up. It turns out when Forsythe the First walked out on his family, he did it because he knew DuPont was coming for him. He spent as much time as he could tracking down evidence against DuPont. And he found it. Or at least enough of it for Charles to make an arrest. He doesn’t get to though, because DuPont throws himself out the window in a suicide that mirror’s Mr. Chippings. We got some serious fireworks this week.

After that, it’s just a matter of sorting out who did what. Charles tries everything he can to dig up some dirt on Donna, but nothing sticks. Even though Donna was manipulating Joan, she has diplomatic immunity. The FBI has no leverage as long as she leaves the country and doesn’t come back. Charles offers to drop Brett’s charges of recording illegal sex tapes of students and only keep the attempted murder charge if he turns over all of his tapes. He threatens to release Betty and Jughead’s tape if he doesn’t get a sweeter deal. Charles leaves the room, and lets FP and Jughead beat some sense into him with brass knuckles. It’s been a while since we saw this side of Jughead. I’ve missed it.

Skeet Ulrich as FP Jones and Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper — Photo:Bettina Strauss/The CW

Oddly enough though, there isn’t enough to drag Donna into an arrest yet. And for some reason, the dirt Hermosa dug up on her didn’t come into play in Jughead’s presentation. Turns out Betty was saving it. She confronts Donna as she’s packing up to head to a different school. The publishing company turned the Baxter Brothers books over to her, and they’re relaunching them as a new Tracy True series. Betty reveals what Hermosa found. Donna’s grandmother was one of the women in DuPont’s writing group, and he murdered her. Betty figures Donna planned all of this, including Jughead’s perfect murder, to take control of the Baxter Brothers series and ruin DuPont. Betty’s close, but not quite. Donna, with nothing to hide now, tells Betty that her grandmother invented Tracy True, which DuPont also stole. She didn’t want revenge. She wanted her grandmother’s creation back.

It’s hard not to feel like the mystery kind of petered out at the end there. We got a big splashy moment with DuPont’s suicide, but we don’t get the catharsis of seeing people pay for Jughead’s death. Betty just offers Donna an ultimatum: Abandon the Baxter Brothers/Tracy True contract or Betty will make Hermosa’s findings public. That will tie Donna back to Jughead’s attempted murder and give the cops a motive. That’s all the resolution we get for now. It feels a bit anticlimactic. This is what the entire season built up to and it ends with two people talking about a revelation that, compared to everything Riverdale’s done before, isn’t all that shocking. I guess it’s important to remember that the season isn’t over. There’s plenty of chances for this all to come back. And we still haven’t figured out what happened to Jonathan.

Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge and KJ Apa as Archie Andrews — Photo:Bettina Strauss/The CW

The mystery of Jughead’s murder is solved though, and despite the resolution feeling half done, the episode itself was a lot of fun. Cole Sprouse hams up Jughead’s explanation so well, and the writing of it all is paced so perfectly, that I was glued to the screen the entire time. I couldn’t wait for every commercial break to be over so I could learn what else Jughead and Betty had figured out. It’s a fun way to end a mystery, even if it didn’t totally stick the landing.

Riverdale is off for the next three weeks, which means this is my final Riverdale recap. I won’t be able to see the rest of the season through here on Geek. I’ll definitely be watching, though. After Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica all vowed to graduate together, Kevin forced them all to sign up for his variety show. That’s right, when Riverdale comes back in April, we’re going to get the now-annual musical episode. This year, it’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Oh boy. If last year’s Heathers is any indication this is going to be a glorious trainwreck. And I’ll be able to enjoy it while drinking. Heavily.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

Previously on Riverdale:



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