The truth has been set free! (Did any of your guesses prove right?)
Jughead and Betty confronted their long-time Stonewall Prep enemies on Riverdale Season 4 Episode 16, and their investigative tactics let them have it. This is the point in the murder-mystery where the detectives shout out "a-ha!"
Everything that came to be from the flash-forward led to this moment. It was so worth it to have Donna and her minions stew in panic.
"Chapter Seventy-Three: The Locked Room" channeled the perfect tone from a mystery novel's killer reveal.
The series of events that took place within Stonewall Prep's literary office was better than the last. Betty and Jughead topped each reveal with an even better mic drop moment that made you not want to look away from the screen. Especially, with the fear of missing a key piece of information.
All the clues and evidence collected throughout Riverdale Season 4 was expertly brought back and connected into a seamless narrative.
If any fan had accidentally skipped over a clue or missed a chapter, this was a great catch-up to bring everyone up to speed. Plus, there were flashbacks and references to previous scenes to showcase word-for-word what happened.
Whether you're a fan of Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew, or The Hardy Boys (or even a little Scooby-Doo), the framework felt like it had reached the climax of a murder-mystery. This was a mystery lover's dream!
The choice to focus the majority of the narrative on this interrogation scene is a decision that I love.
After a season and a half debating over Jughead's death, everything led to this moment. Jughead and Betty needed their moment in the sun to confront their would-be killers and put the pieces of the crime together.
The weight of the scene was strong enough to stand on its own. We didn't need any of the B or C plots interrupting what was happening at Stonewall Prep; any breaks in between (beyond commercials, of course) would've devalued the importance of this confrontation.
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.
And, there was so much history and evidence to go through. Could you imagine also dealing with a plot about Hiram/Veronica in the mix? That would've felt overkill.
The structure was tight, focused, and delivered the impact it needed to hammer home this reveal. Jughead, Betty, their friends and family, and all the fans got to bask in the "a-ha!" moment of Stonewall Prep getting their major comeuppance.
This is one of Riverdale's best episodes.
The truth about Jughead's "murder" during the Ides of March party filled a lot of holes about what happened that night and who played what part. This was needed to deduce if the survival came across as believable.
In a way, it mostly was.
Frankly, we knew that the Stonewall Prep kids had tried to kill him. Dark Betty was a good red-herring, but after she was ruled out, the answer had to be them. It didn't matter who delivered the blow with the rock; they were all covering up the crime.
Though, the fact that it was Joan who delivered the attack is a clever nod to the intricate planning the group had done.
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.”
She's the only one with diplomatic immunity, so if any evidence had been discovered pinning to her, she'd have an easier way to avoid the crime. And, the part about telling Jughead that Bret had the immunity was a diversionary tactic to get Jughead to lower his guard. It's a clever plan with lots of layers.
Also, Jonathan failing in his part to check Jughead's pulse connected to why he mysteriously disappeared.
He had one job! It's no wonder Quill & Skull were mad at him and wanted him gone.
Mr. DuPont revealed as the spider at the center of this nefarious web wasn't that shocking. He had immersed himself quickly within the group, and he did whatever he could to push Jughead and Mr. Chipping away.
You always had a sense that Mr. DuPont knew more than he was letting on. And, he had his own dirty laundry involving the Baxter Brothers book series.
But to Riverdale's credit, new layers were added to the mystery with his character that felt refreshing and deep. For instance, the twist involving the generational book series murder scheme was jaw-dropping!
The disappearances started as a Stonewall Prep urban legend; a trope for Quill & Skull to toy with Jughead's mind. But, it pleasantly became this missing piece that tied together why Jughead had to be murdered and why Moose randomly showed up at the new school.
Everything that happened served as a purpose for Mr. DuPont's greater plan.
Let this sink in for a moment: Mr. DuPont inforced a murder payment in order to become the next Baxter Brothers writer. It's mind-blowing that he did this, but it's surprising that people were willing to pay it, like Mr. Chipping.
Though, based on the cold-hearted state of Stonewall Prep, it seems like all their students would pay that price.
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?”
My theory for why he conducted this test is two-fold: (1) he killed everyone in his former Literary Salon to get the book series, so the next writer should be willing to do the same. And, (2) the writers would be bonded together with the same secret they all shared; none could talk without fear of being exposed themselves.
Bret, Donna, Joan, and Jonathan were willing to play that game. Mr. Chipping played it before his guilty conscience took hold. A history of past writers did it too.
It now makes sense why Mr. DuPont framed Jughead and kicked him out of the group. Jughead would've never made that payment; he was closer to tearing them down than joining their side.
He would've gotten away with it had Jughead died. Instead, he exited in the scene we all suspected was coming.
Seriously, Stonewall Prep needs to get rid of that window or reinforce it! It's majorly bad luck from now on.
The interrogation scene with Charles, on the other hand, didn't have a completely satisfying ending for the Quill & Skull kids.
Donna, once again, got away with so much leeway due to her tears and planning. One day, she won't be so lucky and she'll slip-up. Joan delivered the coldest moment of the chapter. It's no wonder she didn't talk as much; her washing her hands of her former friends cut deep.
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.
Luckily, Bret got the karma we've all been waiting for!
Who else cheered on Jughead when he knocked the smug smile off Bret's face? The sex tapes are gone, Quill & Skull got disbanded, and Bret got his behind whooped for everything he did to Jughead, Betty, and the countless people he hurt.
There's no way Bret will be able to get out of that trouble. A nice cherry to add on that delicious sundae.
Donna's identity reveal was an interesting comparison to Jughead's role during Riverdale Season 4.
In hindsight, their motivations shared many of the same points: they came to Stonewall Prep to make up for the sins of the past, seeking redemption for a grandparent, and achieve great success for the future. The difference here, however, is the lengths they would go through to get it.
Donna became the monster she sought to destroy whereas Jughead stayed the hero. Sure, Mr. DuPont stole the "Tracy True" character and killed Donna's grandmother, but the purpose of going to Stonewall Prep was to ruin DuPont from the inside.
Instead, Donna destroyed countless others to climb her way to the top just for the hopes of getting the writing opportunity. She became Mr. DuPont, and that's something she'll have to live with.
Though, she most likely doesn't care. Donna's goal came true, even though she accidentally worked tirelessly against it.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Hermosa theorized a possibility of Veronica killing Jughead so that she can be with Betty. The fan-fiction stories basically write themselves here.
How does Charles have access to FBI services at the ready? It seems implausible that an FBI medical van was ready and available in Riverdale for him to use.
Archie and Betty are going to explore their romance soon. Cheryl saw through Betty's lies!
- We need to keep an eye on Jellybean. She has eyes and ears everywhere!
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Seventy-Three: The Locked Room?"
Is this the last we'll see of Donna? Did the Stonewall Prep storyline live up to your expectations? Will Archie and Jughead graduate with their friends at Riverdale High?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.