Riverdale Episode 1.12 Recap – “Anatomy of a Murder”

Last Time on Riverdale

The murder of Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) looms over the Riverdale, blocking it from the healing properties of the sun like a cloud of sticky red maple syrup.  We see FP (Skeet Ulrich) give Jason’s jacket to Joaquin (Rob Raco) and Ronnie (Camila Mendes) and Archie (KJ Apa)  searching around FP’s trailer for any clues.  The biggest one they don’t see is the smoking gun which is later found by Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins).  Things are not as they appear, even though everyone seems to be finding something different.

Betty (Lili Reinhart) is trying to protect both Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and her sister Polly (Tiera Skovbye) while also remaining loyal despite the alleged facts.  She is the daughter of two investigative journalists so ultimately her motive is to get to the truth.

Ronnie is still playing her game of either trying to exonerate or implicate her father.  Her journey is reckless and incredibly narrow sighted as she outs a lot of her family’s business unnecessarily, bringing loads of stress to her mother Hermione (Marisol Nichols) in the process.

Archie… well, Archie just wants what’s good and fair in the world and for everyone to be happy no matter what.  And he really wants to get in Veronica’s pants again (they seriously need to talk to Betty about this.  It’s gonna be so bad).  

Jughead volleys between the option of believing his dad and being wrong, or not trusting his dad and being right.  Both are opposite sides of a coin that Jughead just wants to stop flipping.  Ultimately, he just wants to go away as we see him at the bus station after purchasing a ticket to Toledo, OH.  We see him get told that maybe now is not such a good time when he calls to share the good news of his visit with his mother.  Yikes, what happened there?  Cole Sprouse really brought it this episode.  Even though we didn’t even hear his mother’s voice, his face conveyed exactly every unintentional hurtful and cutting word she was saying.  

I spoke last week about one of the successes of Riverdale was that in a town shrouded by the mystery of Who Killed Jason Blossom, that storyline in and of itself wasn’t the most interesting thing to watch.  Riverdale one-upped me by making this entire episode about the reveal and keeping it engaging, surprising and wholly entertaining.  

We start the episode with a very simply answer:  FP killed Jason Blossom.

Then mere seconds later we’re met with the premise of:  Did he?

Yes!  He definitely did.  FP confessed to the whole there, there are flashbacks!

But wait… that’s… something’s not right?  Didn’t Hal (Locklyn Munro) break into Sheriff Keller’s office and steal the files?  Why is FP admitting to that too?  Oh, well, either way, he definitely did it.

No!  You’re crazy, it’s too easy.  There’s no way FP killed Jason, there’s more to the story!

Oh wait, FP is telling Jughead he did it?  Telling him to stay away?

WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?

This episode brought a rollercoaster of emotions in a way that involved everyone in reasonable ways and ended with a bittersweet reckoning for the town.  

We start with our core group (minus Jughead who is freaking out, understandably) discussing the implications of the planted gun at FP’s.  Some want to go to the cops, but Archie wisely (surprisingly so) suggests that they go to their parents first.  Which is a feature that is often overlooked in teen dramas and I’m glad they used it here.  

Though after a session where they are pretty much completely shut down, a little light is shed on why parents are excluded – turns out they really just don’t understand. If the kids have different POV’s they’re trying to solve the murder from, then the motives of the parents are just as inspired.  

Hermione is nearly falling apart at the implication not even of Hiram, but of she and Veronica.  She goes so far as to ready their passports and breaks down when Veronica notes that running will make them look guilty.  Hermione has a lot of devils and she’d rather let FP take the fall if it meant not getting her hands any more dirty.  

Mary (Molly Ringwald whose botox is… troubling) and Fred have one single mission and that’s the protect Archie at any costs.  Fred is a creature of habit and tries his best to learn from past mistakes by invoking the “my name is Emmett and I ain’t in it” approach to conflict resolution.  He’s happy to blend into the background if it means staying safe.  Fred’s got more of a story, I’m sure of it. Mary is an officer of the court and relies on cold hard facts and evidence when arguing a case.  Archie is far too sentimental, which only greatens Mary’s desire to protect him from the big bad world.

Which brings us to Alice (Madchen Amick) and Hal.  Probably the most disconnected at the time, it’s tough getting an understanding of their involvement outside of Mary and Betty’s curious nature and desire (altruistic or otherwise) for justice to be served.  Mary wants the scoop and even though she’s suspicious, she’s willing to let it go for a good headline and assurance of future peace.  Betty is still young, and fearless.  She doesn’t just want a headline she wants the truth. Hal, who ends up throwing a wrench in FP’s story by trying to destroy the files he stole from Keller’s office, wants to make sure he’s in complete control of the news.

Can we take a brief hiatus to talk about how secrets don’t make friends?  We receive a startling revelation that the infamous legend of Great Grandpappy Blossom killing Great Grandpappy Cooper comes to a head when we find out it was less of a Hatfields and McCoy’s situation than it was Romulus and Remus, or better yet, Cain and Abel.  Turns out the two were blood related brothers and a travel down the line reveals that Polly (now pregnant with twins) and Jason are blood related third cousins.  

The reveal shakes the Coopers to the core and they realize such findings may be enough motive to frame FP for the murder of Jason.  Though when they rush to Thornhill to liberate Polly from the Blossoms?  They’re slightly less than concerned.  Mama Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) delivers the stunning line of “Nothing more could be purely Blossom”  and Clifford (Barclay Hope) justifies that you know… it’s like third cuzzos, it’s fine!

You guys?  I love the Blossoms.  Give me a good, rich entitled family with sticky maple secrets and I am in!

Anyhow, even though the Coopers leave the evening with Polly in tow (Mama Cooper apologizes for “ruining the witching hour at Thornhill, ha!), Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is still disturbed.  She has an interesting journey in trying to find peace once FP is outed as the killer.  She goes off on Jughead at school, but she’s still concerned about why she doesn’t feel any resolution about the death of her beloved JJ.  

Cheryl questions her mother who takes her to the barn and tells her that the answer is syrup.  She shows her barrels of the stuff and tells Cheryl to drown in it.  It’s very effective because really in this town the meaning could be literal or figurative.

Throughout the episode the scenes that we’ve seen of Jason’s death are interspersed with new footage wherein the narrator becomes highly unreliable.  In Joaquin’s story, Jason is found on the floor with a bullet in his head.  Later, we hear of him being tied to a chair.  Little idiosyncrasies that start to unravel FP’s unchanging (and thus… flawed) story.

We get to the end of the rope and are left with nothing but Jason Blossom’s jacket and Kevin (Casey Cott), Veronica, Archie, Jughead and Betty, trying to figure out what’s missing.  

Then, they find it.  And yes, it’s a little deus ex machina, but after such a tense episode it’s needed.  Betty makes Archie put on the jacket and in the process finds a flash drive that FP was hanging on to for insurance.  On the flashdrive we see what really happened that day (early in the ep we see FP wiping down the view from our perspective indicating a camera, I’m glad they brought that back).  Clifford Blossom walking into the basement of the Wyrm where Jason is tied up.  Jason yells, and after a moment, Clifford takes out a gun and shoots him point blank in the forehead.  

Before we see this, the crew sees it and their reaction of tears and shock is haunting.  For teenagers to have to be exposed to such horror permeates this scene with a bitter undercurrent that’s wildly effective.  Betty is moved, but still clear headed as she calls Cheryl and tells her she needs to get out of the house.  

But Cheryl knows.  Jason never had the stomach for it, but Cheryl?  She’s a Blossom to her core.  She goes downstairs, stand next to her mother in a kind of solidarity, and tells her dad that he’s done a bad thing and now everyone knows.

We end the ep with the police storming Thornhill and Cheryl and Mama Blossom pointing them to the barn we saw earlier where the barrels of maple syrup, signifying the Blossom legacy were stored.  Now we see Clifford Blossom hanging from a noose and overturned barrels hiding blocks of drugs pouring out sticky maple syrup onto the ground.

The aftermath begins, Jughead is trying to argue his father out of jail though the Sheriff tells him that even without murder, FP is going to be doing some time.  Veronica goes home to apologize to her mother, but Hermione assures her it’s okay and that Hiram is coming home.  This is presented as good news, but we know otherwise.  Which is kind of the catch-22 of this episode.  The entire thing is spent looking for closure because the answer they get (FP did it) is unsatisfying.  When confronted with the truth though, more questions are presented than relief.  Even though the main suspects in Riverdale aren’t guilty in the death of Jason Blossom, they’re hardly innocent.  The troubles of our Riverdalians are far from over.

Next Time on Riverdale:  “Some secrets are so painful, you even hide them from yourself.”  And it seems as even more of these types of secrets will be revealed.  Betty postulates “Something wicked this way comes” and then we see Archie playing his music.  I don’t think that was unintentional.  We also see a lot of tantrums in the snow and everyone acting weird.

I can’t wait!  See you next week!

Stray Rounds

  • I love that the incest we expected (Cheryl and Jason) was replaced by the unexpected (Polly and Jason) and it’s still something we’ve come to reason away because… it’s the Blossoms.
  • There’s a scene in the jail where FP and Jughead are talking.  FP is yelling at Jughead to never come back and his face is pressed against the bars of the cell.  One part in particular bisects FP’s face and we see dark on one side and light on the other.  I like to think that was intentional and it was very well done in showing us how multifaceted FP really is.
  • Although we find out that FP lied so Cliff wouldn’t go after Jughead, was it necessary for him to implicate himself in literally everything else?  Kidnapping, drug running, failure to report a crime, terrible body mishandling.  There was a moment when he was telling his story when the sheriff asked him if he was having Jason transport drugs.  FP simply hums, but then in the next breath says “I put some weed in the back”, like c’mon FP!  Save a little for the retelling!
  • FP held Jason from July 4th to at least the 11th.  What happened those days?  
  • Am I the only one who entertained the notion that Jason and Cheryl weren’t twins, but actually were born at the same time, one to Mama Blossom and one to Jughead’s mom?  And that’s why Jason went to FP in the first place?  Reaching?  Fine, I’ll table it… for now.
  • Another Alice Cooper gem: “We’re leaving this Dr. Moreau experimentation in breeding and eugenics!” as she pulls Polly from Thornhill.
  • There’s this whole side thing with yet another serpent called “Mustang”.  It’s mainly to implicate Hiram a bit more, but I do hope they revisit it and we find it was definitely not a suicide by overdose, but instead… murder.
  • Joaquin decides to bail and gets on a bus headed to San Junipero.  It could be a coincidence, but this is the name of a Black Mirror episode that explores the life and afterlife of a gay couple.  If it was an intentional nod, it was very well done.
  • “I’m gonna miss you, Preppy.”  I’m pretty cold hearted when it comes to Kevin and Joaquin, but I melted a little at this.