FP held a wake for Jughead, the bloody rock cleared the trio of charges, and Donna questioned Jughead's death on Riverdale Season 4 Episode 15.
Below, TV Fanatics Jasmine Peterson, Meaghan Frey, and Becca Newton debate Jughead being alive, the potential romance of Archie and Betty, and the untimely death of Jonathan.
Jughead is alive and faked his death. React!
Jasmine: Oh my! I'm so shocked. I never saw this coming at all. What a twist.
I'm a bit bummed that it was never believable for a second that Jughead was dead. We all knew he was alive and faking his death, so it never felt like a real twist. It lost excitement and weight as a reveal.
It wasn't a matter of wondering if he was dead so much as waiting for it to be revealed that he was alive and watching the storyline unfold.
Donna: You must really miss your brother? When was the last time you saw him? He isn’t really dead, is he?!
[Betty comes rushing over]
Betty: Donna, are you serious?! This is Jughead’s little sister and you’re accosting her!
Donna: Oh, come on, Betty. You and I both know this is all an act.
Betty: B****, I’m done with you. Let’s go.
Meaghan: I'm concerned for the writers if they actually thought this was a shocking twist. I'm pretty sure there were no fans who actually thought that Jughead was dead.
To me, as the twist was so obvious, it would have been better if we had been in on it the whole time and seeing how it was all happening from the start.
Becca: Despite knowing the death was fake when it was officially revealed Jughead was alive, I still had an “Ahh, I’ve missed having you around” reaction.
Yes, Riverdale spent too much time and effort making it seem like Jughead was dead when no one would believe it. But, this storyline delivered what I wanted most from it: the transformation of our heroes from pawns to players.
Alice's interviews talked a lot about fan theories (Jughead being alive) and shipping (Bughead vs. Barchie vs. Varchie), but it was framed as town gossip. Did you like that Riverdale and its writers acknowledged the chatter happening online?
Jasmine: I am convinced that the Riverdale writers get off on trolling us fans. They know they're b****** crazy, and when we think we have a grasp on something, they say "hold my maple rum," so the interviews and fan theories were another addition to that.
It was definitely a very meta episode, and I enjoy the stylistic choices. It was fun and funny, and it's the second time they threw us a bone and acknowledged that they are paying attention to everything fans are saying. (The first time, of course, was with the kids talking to Ms. Burble on Riverdale Season 4 Episode 8.)
Meaghan: I always love when shows like this take a chance to acknowledge fans and the theories we make. Coming up with theories is one of the best parts of watching mystery shows.
Writers must LOVE reading the s*** that fans come up with.
Becca: It’s hit and miss for me. Reggie’s interview was one of my favorite moments of the episode and, because Reggie’s response was completely in-character, it was the best example of acknowledging fan theories without it being distracting.
Betty's ploy with hosting Jughead's wake and her fake romance was to slowly unravel the Stonewall Prep kids. Why do you think the Stoney's fell for her trap hook, line, and sinker?
Jasmine: Because they're arrogant and thought they had the upper hand?
Ironically, Donna was dubious the entire time (and still is), but she couldn't stop herself from pursuing it and investigating anyway. She's an interesting foil for Betty. She's like reverse Betty.
It was such an elaborate plan that involved so many people that maybe the Stoney’s couldn't believe Betty and Jughead would go to such lengths.
Meaghan: Exactly what Jasmine said. The Stoney’s aren't dumb, but they are arrogant and couldn't possibly comprehend that anyone would have been able to pull one over on them, especially people like Betty and Jughead, who they view as inferior.
I mean, at least someone was buying the writers' twist.
Alice: Though, I understand you made quite the public spectacle over the Archie and Betty romance?
Veronica: Hmmm, I think you mean I gave an amazing performance?
Alice: But weren’t you afraid that something might actually spark between them?
Veronica: I trust Archie, and I trust Betty. To be honest, the thought never crossed my mind.
Becca: Donna is too arrogant and too smart for her own good, which are the flaws separating the wannabe chess masters from the real deal. She can’t accept the possibility of Betty outplaying her with moves she can’t anticipate.
Jasmine, I wholeheartedly agree! Donna is Betty’s evil counterpart; what a "Dark Betty" would actually be. Plus, the Donna and Brett scenes come across as evil Bughead scenes.
I’m glad Riverdale set up the comparison/contrast between them because often the best, most interesting villains are the ones who are the most similar to the heroes.
I think Riverdale could have dug even deeper into this dynamic and expanded it so Archie and Veronica had evil, Stonewall counterparts too.
Riverdale Season 4 Episode 15 teased some sparks brewing between Betty and Archie. Do you think this pre-series crush will develop into a full-blown romance?
Jasmine: I don't know, but it's about time they brought that up. To be honest, Bughead has gotten boring, and the only thing Varchie seems to do is roll around in the sack (or supply closets, or music rooms, or ... anyway).
My point being, I'm here for them shaking things up again. I had a hard time believing that those feelings between Barchie just vanished and transitioned to platonic affection with ease.
I doubt the show would go out of the way to have both Jughead and Veronica make the same inquiry about Barchie's potential lingering feelings for one another without choosing to explore them again. Bring it on, I say.
Meaghan: I really want to see this storyline explored. Bughead has gotten very stale and it is time they give that ship a break. I haven't been able to see Varchie pretty much ever, but especially lately, so I'm ready for them to be done as well.
In order for those two ships to be endgame, if that is what the writers intend, they need to explore Barchie and show they can't work, otherwise, it will always be a "what-if" scenario. Who knows, maybe they will end up being the superior ship?
Becca: The texting scene came off as the show deliberately trying to incite buzz. With Jughead’s death officially revealed as fake, the answers of how the fake death was pulled off promised in the next episode, and all the other plots on hold, there’s really nothing else to speculate about.
Many shocking moments came to be once the trio was released from questioning. Which one surprised you the most and why: (1) FP quitting his job as sheriff, (2) Hermosa helping Veronica find dirt on Donna, or (3) Cheryl sending around the text message of Betty and Archie kissing?
Jasmine: My boy Sweet Pea showing up at Jughead's funeral after being MIA for a season, and Toni dusting off that Serpent jacket in honor of her former friend/screw buddy since the Pretty Poisons are but a distant memory.
Sorry, I'm a Southside Serpent girl! Any chance I get to hold onto the remnants of their glory days, I hold on with a vice grip.
I'm going to say Hermosa helping Veronica find dirt on Donna was a surprise.
Hermosa is always so hard to place. She's shady, and she doesn't like Veronica at all, so she didn't have much incentive to help Veronica and her little friends with anything at all. Was she bored?
FP has been on the verge of wanting to quit anyway, especially since he hates being under Hiram's thumb. Also, we know Skeet Ulrich is leaving, so it made sense. And Cheryl is messy, so I'm not surprised she sent the text message of Barchie kissing.
Although dramatics aside, if she cared about Roni, and she does, shouldn't she have told her directly before sending it around the school? Veronica could've found out in mere seconds. We know how gossip spreads around Riverdale.
Meaghan: FP and Cheryl weren't the least bit shocking, so I will have to go with Hermosa. She is a wild card, so who knows where she stands at any point in time.
I'm just glad they added some use to her character other than to just be an obnoxious thorn in Veronica's side.
Veronica: Well, well, well! If it isn’t the girl who cried, “Papi.”
Hermosa: I did a little digging like you asked me to.
Hermosa: You are lucky I am such a good P.I. because you’ll never believe what I found out.
Becca: I agree with Jasmine and Meaghan.
Meaghan, I agree it was good to see Hermosa do something than be an obnoxious thorn in Veronica's side. Even though it makes the episode end on a Deus ex Machina note, the groundwork has been laid for Hermosa to be an obnoxious thorn in everyone's side when Hiram appoints her as the next Sheriff.
Donna implied that Jonathan has been killed. Share your theories about how and why this came to be.
Jasmine: Jonathan maybe got sick of all these antics, and he wanted out, and Donna the psycho control freak killed him. I'll be honest here, I completely forgot Jonathan was a thing.
Donna: In case you’ve forgotten, I’m the brains of this operation. We still have a job to finish and a meddlesome girlfriend to pin this on.
Donna: And if you ever undermine me again, you will go the way of Jonathan, may he rest in peace. And that’s a fact.
Meaghan: I legit had to Google who Jonathan was. I could not for the life of me remember him.
I agree that Donna is most likely the one behind his death.
Becca: Mentioning Jonathan was the one to smear Jughead’s blood on a rock was a nice detail to include because it sounds like Jonathan had a Lady Macbeth “Out, damned spot!” breakdown (also comparable to the breakdowns suffered by Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment and Phillip from the Hitchcock film, Rope).
With Jonathan becoming a liability, I’m guessing Donna drugged him, killed him, and then stashed the body somewhere because she can’t risk the heat the discovery of another dead Stonewall student would create.
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Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.