(Consider this your spoiler warning. Stop reading now if you haven’t seen the latest episode.)
OK, then, let’s proceed. The episode opens with Jughead trying to come to terms with the fact that his father may have somehow been involved in Jason Blossom’s murder. Of course, Betty, Veronica, and Archie know F.P. was framed, but it turns out he’s not entirely innocent either.
Hal Cooper reveals he was the one who stole all the information and evidence from Sheriff Keller’s office because he didn’t want the investigation getting back to the Cooper family. Why, you ask? Well, it turns out the Cooper family is related to the Blossoms. In fact, there isn’t even a Cooper family. Hal’s grandfather was brothers with Clifford’s grandfather, but when he was murdered by Clifford Blossom’s grandfather, the Coopers severed ties with the Blossoms and took on a new family name. Got that? Which means, of course, that Jason Blossom and Polly Cooper were related. (They’re third cousins, but still.) It’s only now that Alice Cooper realizes they have to get Polly out of Thornhill. (Mother of the year, that Alice.)
Alice Cooper: “Hal, if you were willing to send our daughter away [to a sanitarium] to keep her away from Jason…”
Betty Cooper: “…then how far would the Blossoms go to keep them apart?”
The amateur sleuths then head to Thornhill to get their daughter back, and Alice confronts Clifford: “You were disgusted that Jason and Polly were dating because they were related!”
Meanwhile, we learn that south side serpent Joaquin teamed up with Jughead’s dad F.P. to put Jason’s body in a freezer when they discovered he was fatally shot. So much for F.P. walking away from this thing clean.
Later in the episode, Betty discovers a disc drive in the pocket of Jason Blossom’s jacket—and bingo! We are finally about to see who murdered Cheryl’s twin brother.
The entire Riverdale High gang gathers around a computer when we see Jason in his last minutes alive. He’s tied to a chair in a bar on the south side of Riverdale while serpent Mustang (who died earlier in the episode from a drug overdose) taunts him. Moments later, Clifford Blossom walks in, pulls the ring out of Jason’s pocket that he was going to propose to Polly with, and immediately shoots his son in the forehead. Yes, Clifford Blossom kills his own son! We knew the dude was creepy, but to actually murder his kid?! PSA to Cheryl Blossom: Get as far away from your parents as you possibly can.
We also learn why F.P. Jones confessed to Jason’s murder. Clifford visited F.P. on the night of his arrest and threatened Jughead’s life. F.P. is still pretty damn shady, but at least he wants to protect his son.
If you thought that was the extent of the shocking moments in the episode, think again. Because when the sheriff and his team arrive at Thornhill to arrest Clifford, they (as well as Cheryl and Penelope Blossom) discover he’s hung himself inside the Blossom Maple Syrup barn.
“[Cheryl’s reality] is not really focused on how she feels about Jason’s end, but who she’s stuck with,” Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl) says. “She’s living in purgatory, basically.”
With only one episode left in the season, plenty of questions remain. Did Clifford actually commit suicide or was it set up to look that way? Did Penelope know about her husband’s involvement? How will Cheryl function with her whole world crumbling around her? And can we talk about the incredible talent that is Cole Sprouse? If you weren’t crying—or at least empathizing—with Jughead through the entire episode, we need to talk.
But first, we tracked down creator and executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to get all the answers about why Clifford murdered Jason and what will happen next.
Glamour: You recently mentioned there were three possible suspects you were considering in Jason Blossom’s murder as you began to write season one. What made you decide on Clifford Blossom being the killer?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: As we got deeper into writing and filming the season, we discovered that our show was at its most vital when we were subverting the classic archetypes, tropes, and themes set out in the Archie Comics library. So, among many other ways we tried to do that, we started thinking about the most shocking, transgressive way in which Jason could have been killed. A father killing his own son in cold blood is nothing if not taboo. We thought that if we could get Clifford to a place where he might conceivably do that to Jason, and really land the emotion of it, that would be a pretty chilling place to land the mystery we’ve been building all season.
Glamour: Clifford had plenty of reasons to dislike his son and even disown him, but will we find out what drove him to actually kill Jason?
RAS: Absolutely. We expect the audience to have many questions about Jason’s murder and Clifford’s motivations, and we will address many of those questions in the finale. This episode is the “Whodunnit?” Next episode is the “Whydunnit?”
Glamour: What happened during the time between when Cheryl came downstairs, stood by her mother, and said, “You did a bad thing, Daddy. And now everyone knows,” to when Clifford commits suicide? Will we find out or ever see what happened in those missing moments?
RAS: That’s a very good question. On the surface, it seems Clifford’s guilt—and his fear of being imprisoned—drove him to suicide. But like everything on Riverdale, there’s always so much more happening beneath the surface…
Glamour: And Penelope had no knowledge of what her husband did, right?
RAS: Another good question that I don’t want to answer definitively—not to spoil anything but just to leave our world open to interpretation. I think that their marriage was intimate and genuine, but a secret that terrible? I think most husbands would try to keep that to themselves as long as humanly possible. If she knew, that would make Penelope like Clifford—monstrous—which would be tragic, but also suggests an interesting dynamic between Cheryl and Penelope…
Glamour: Madelaine has teased that by the end of the season, Cheryl will be totally broken. How can she ever recover from something so inconceivable?
RAS: It’s true; this revelation would be a gigantic blow to anybody’s psyche. Cheryl is pretty much broken by it. And believe it or not, but things are gonna get worse for her. So, to me, the question isn’t how will she recover from that, it’s: Will she recover from that? And the truth is, I don’t know that she will.
Glamour: At what point did you and the writers decide to have Hal and Clifford be related? Was it really that big of a deal that Polly and Jason were together if they were third cousins?
RAS: We knew that the Blossoms and the Coopers were related from the beginning. When we first started writing our season, we created a long, detailed history of Riverdale and its main families. When one of our especially bright young writers proposed this ancient connection between the families, it immediately became part of our show’s mythology.
Glamour: Although F.P. was framed, clearly he’s not innocent either. How will Jughead change in the aftermath?
RAS: Exactly right—F.P. has a lot to answer for. Jughead is relieved, I think, that his dad didn’t actually pull the trigger, but there’s no doubt that this will affect him deeply. You will see at least one way in which this changes Jughead by the end of the finale. But expect a big shake-up for the Jones men.
Glamour: Polly is not scheduled to give birth before season one ends, but should viewers anticipate that she will actually give birth to healthy babies?
RAS: You’re right, she’s not due until after this season ends. For now, there’s no reason to think her babies aren’t healthy.
Glamour: Finally, how difficult was it to write this episode? There were so many moving parts, I needed a flow chart! What was the toughest scene to figure our or write?
RAS: This episode was unique for us, in that it featured a ton of the mystery story and we had to bring things to a head very quickly, presenting a lot of information in a way that felt dramatic and emotionally true. And always on the run. We knew the episode had to move like the wind. It was definitely a challenge to get the calibration right, but we have a great staff, great producers, a great crew. And we’ve been working on the Blossom mystery for months, so we were as prepared as anyone can be. I think the toughest scene was just figuring out the most powerful way of revealing the truth of Jason’s murder to our main characters.