Mr. DuPont committed suicide, Bret revealed the location of the sex tapes, and Joan skipped town on Riverdale Season 4 Episode 16.
Below, TV Fanatics Becca Newton, Meaghan Frey, and Jasmine Peterson debate the answer of the Stonewall Prep mystery, Mr. DuPont's challenge to become the next Baxter Brothers writer, and the truth about Donna's identity.
The truth was revealed about the Stonewall Prep mystery and why the Stoney's tried to kill Jughead. Did it live up to your expectations?
Becca: I think the motivations of DuPont and the other Stonies (except the out of nowhere revelation about Donna) actually exceeded my expectations because I expected the reveal to be disappointing. This time the villains’ motivations reveal worked for me because it tracks with what I expect from stories about elite schools with dark secrets and these specific characters for the most part.
What disappoints me (even though I expected disappointment) about the Stonewall mystery is how the most interesting, and apparently the most vital, parts either happened offscreen or came to light too late in the game.
Plus, they underutilized Chipping, Moose, Forsythe I, and Donna’s real identity. Once again I found myself liking the ideas but disliking the execution.
Meaghan: I'm with Becca. I was surprisingly happy about the reveal.
While so much of this storyline has felt phoned in, this answer made so much sense and felt like they had been building up to it all season, creating a logical conclusion.
I also agree with Becca that I wish we had seen more of it play out instead of just being told. It seemed like we needed one extra episode to see this all play out a little bit more instead of rushing all the answers/reveals into one chapter.
Betty: The sequence holds true for every ghostwriter who proceeded them. It’s actually incredibly simple.
Jughead: Which brings us to a couple of months ago when I was awarded the contract. Why? To put a target on my back. Probably because I was already circling the truth, so he gave you guys a new challenge: to commit the perfect murder against me and be awarded the contract.
Betty: So, the million-dollar question is, “Who was going to kill Jughead and how?”
Jasmine: I completely agree. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the reveal.
By the end, it did feel as if they were properly building up to this the entire time, but I do wish we saw more than what we did. Cramming all the answers into one episode was disappointing, and they severely underused key characters.
Betty and Jughead retold the events of how Jughead survived the murder attempt, how he faked his own death, and how he saw everything play out. Throughout all the series of events, which moment or development surprised you the most?
Becca: I know the default with Riverdale reveals is they’ll wind up being lame, but I was still surprised with how incredibly lame the events at the Ides of March party turned out to be.
The worst was discovering Jughead’s confrontation with Bret amounted to nothing more than just having Jughead stand there and blindly hope he’ll survive what’s coming. What should have been the moment proving Jughead was the real Chessmaster among them made him look like an idiot.
I have to modify what I said at the previous episode’s round table; the storyline only somewhat delivered at transforming our heroes from pawns into players.
Jughead: What, did you miss me?
Bret: You’ve got to be kidding me?!
Mr. DuPont: Mr. Jones, we all thought you were…
Jughead: That I was dead?! Yeah, for a minute there I thought I was too.
Jughead: Hey, what’s that often-used Mark Twain quote? “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Joan: What is happening right now?
Betty: It is called getting your comeuppance, Joan.
Meaghan: I was completely shocked that it wasn't all planned out by Jughead and Betty. It felt like some things were set up like there was a greater plan and then the writers couldn't figure out how to make it work, so they let it fall by the wayside.
For instance, the mask Jughead wore ended up being completely pointless and random. You could have had Jughead walk up in his beanie and it wouldn't have changed anything in the story.
It also was a little bit shocking to me that until Jughead woke up from being unconscious over a day later, Betty wasn't completely sure she didn't try to kill him, and Archie and Veronica were more than willing to help her cover up the murder.
I feel like Jughead should be questioning his relationships with all of them a bit right now.
Jasmine: Yeah, I thought Bughead was in more control than they actually were. They really were playing defense for most of this, and it kind of soured their triumph for me.
Like Meaghan said, Betty spent a day and a half wondering if she actually had something to do with attacking him.
So many of these details were meaningless in the end. They got by on the skin of their teeth.
The Stonewall Four were revealed to be past victims of the Baxter Brothers writers. Why do you think Mr. DuPont enforced the rule of murdering someone to become the ghostwriter?
Becca: He wanted absolute control over the ghostwriters to prevent them from revealing his dirty secrets and to ensure they could never take the franchise away from him.
Mr. DuPont: Well, Mr. Jones…
Jughead: Shut up!
[The room silences]
Jughead: Mr. DuPont, as they say in Lord of the Flies, “I have the conch.”
Meaghan: What better way to keep them under his thumb than by having terrible leverage to use against them? It reminded me of The Skulls when the society forced the initiates to reveal their darkest secrets to each other while being filmed so they could use the tapes to keep them in line.
Jasmine: Power and control. It was the best way to protect himself and keep them under his thumb.
Mutual destruction if necessary.
Joan skipped town while Bret and Donna stayed behind to face the consequences of their actions. Will we ever see any of them again?
Becca: I don’t foresee Joan coming back. Though, I wouldn’t mind if they brought her back as a (hopefully more fleshed-out) villain in Riverdale Season 5 or Riverdale Season 6.
I’d rather see her again over more return appearances from Nick or Elio.
We’ll see Bret and Donna again. How soon and how big their roles will be is what I’m having trouble predicting.
With much of the Stonewall stuff resolved, the time seems ripe for Charles to become Betty and Jughead’s main problem. I think the roles Bret and Donna will have going forward (for the remainder of this season at least) will be determined by the direction of the Charles plot.
If Charles has any villainous connection to the Stonewall stuff or uses it to further his agenda (wild guess: maybe he kills Donna to seize the Baxter Brothers’ money for himself and Chic?), we should be seeing Bret and Donna sooner rather than later.
Meaghan: I feel like Donna and Joan will be gone for good. Joan just feels like an extra throughout all of this. Donna completed the mission she set out to do. She got revenge for her grandmother.
Bret, on the other hand, remains a wildcard. He did this without any motivation other than power, and on Riverdale, people like him don't stay down for long.
Jasmine: I don't think we'll see any of them again. I think their chapter is closed.
But, maybe they'll bring Bret back since the show loved to play around with him and Jughead's tension. It was arguably more pronounced than Betty and Donna. He has the face for a return.
Jughead and FP got their revenge on Bret for secretly recording the sex tapes. React!
Becca: It was satisfying, but hopefully, it's only the beginning of Bret’s comeuppance. Among other things, I hope he loses his spot at Yale.
Meaghan: I love any time the dark side of FP and Jughead comes out. This season, it has been easy to forget that The Serpents existed. This was a great reminder.
Jasmine: I'm a Serpent diehard, so anytime they give us a taste of them, I love it.
I also appreciate how far FP and Jughead have come in their relationship, so their team-ups are the best. Bret was long overdue for a beatdown.
Donna's mission at Stonewall Prep was to exact revenge on Mr. DuPont from the inside and destroy his empire. Do you agree with the lengths she went to achieve her goal?
Becca: I have this urge to upload a Brooklyn Nine-Nine gif of Jake saying “Cool motive. Still Murder,” because it pretty much captures my thoughts on this topic.
Meaghan: No. She was willing to kill Jughead to get revenge, making her just like Mr. DuPont himself. It would have made more sense if it turned out that she had been secretly protecting Jughead the whole time from the inside.
Cheryl: What about you and Archie canoodling?
Betty: That was just pretend.
Cheryl: I don’t know, cousin, that looked pretty real to me.
Betty: Well, yeah, that was the point.
Cheryl: Right. All I’m saying is your secret is safe with me.
Jasmine: Exactly, Becca! Donna did the absolute most to achieve her goal at everyone else's livelihood and expense.
She was no better than DuPont. She would have done better working with Jughead since both of their grandparents were DuPont's victims in one way or another.
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Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.