Events in Riverdale steeped up a notch in last week's episode, "Heart of Darkness," when Betty Cooper realized that her dad, Hal, could be responsible for the murder of Jason Blossom. Her conclusion came after Hal’s revelation that his grandfather had been murdered by grandfather Blossom, and that Jason had broken off his engagement with Betty’s sister, Polly. Not only that, but a final scene revealed that Hal now has the contents of Sheriff Keller’s ‘murder board,’ plus the files that were stolen from his office.
Exactly where Polly is and why will become clear in tonight's episode "Faster, Pussycats! Kill! Kill!," when Jughead and Betty pay her a visit. A trailer for Chapter 6 also seems to show Betty actually asking her dad if he killed Jason, but we can’t imagine he’s going to ‘fess up there and then. After all, Hal’s motive could just be another red herring in the ongoing saga of who killed Jason Blossom. The list of suspects seems to change each episode, here’s the latest roundup:
Who’s Not a Suspect?
Out of all the residents in Riverdale, there are some we can discount right away. Miss Grundy seems to have skipped town for good, so she’s out. Josie and the Pussycats seemingly have no motive, and the band is pretty much a device for Archie’s increasing involvement in music, so for now, we can count them out, too. Then there’s Archie himself - it would be kind of strange to have the central golden boy framed for murder, so he’s also discounted.
Veronica Lodge didn’t arrive in town until after Jason’s murder had taken place, and she had no clue who he was, therefore she’s out of the running unless Riverdale are really going to spin some elaborate tale. Also, more minor characters such as Coach Clayton and his son, Chuck, plus Pop Tate, Mayor McCoy, and Principal Weatherbee can be overlooked for now.
Let’s start with the man who is currently prime suspect number one. We’ve already seen that Hal is exceptionally protective of Polly; becoming almost aggressive towards Betty when she pushed him for answers concerning where her sister is being held. We also know he at least has a hold of the documents from Sheriff Keller’s office; whether he carried out the break-in or not, remains to be seen.
Then there’s that old blood feud that caused Hal to be so angry when Polly and Jason started dating. Not a motive to then murder Jason, but coupled with the fact that Jason had (allegedly) treated Polly badly, it might well tip an already unstable man over the edge. Hal was initially a much more minor character and only really came to the fore in Chapter 5, but the caring, doting daddy act seems to be just that; he's much more sinister under the surface.
If you’re wondering if the whole of the Cooper clan is on this list; yes. Let’s face it, something is not quite right in that family, and dark secrets are buried deep. Alice Cooper is a control freak, a perfectionist, and a lover of twin-sets and pearls, sure, but that’s not what makes her a suspect for murder.
That suspicion arises from the darkness that comes from within her; the tone she uses when speaking to Betty that makes it known she is not to be disobeyed; the way she’s so scathing about anyone or anything she doesn’t deem worthy for her family, and the way in which she’s still exceptionally angry about the way Jason treated her beloved daughter. This is a woman who medicates her own child, who snoops at her diary and gleefully hands it over to get Archie into trouble; this is a woman who wants to be top dog no matter the cost.
One of the central characters and seemingly determined to catch Jason’s killer, Betty might seem like an unlikely suspect, but let’s break this down a little. In Chapter One, we learned that Betty is medicated with Adderall, a drug used to treat attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy, but she hasn’t been filling her prescriptions. Though her mother is now firmly in charge of that, is Betty actually taking the medication? We also saw Betty balling her hands into fists when Cheryl was mocking her during cheer leading tryouts. She was clenching so hard that she hurt herself, giving a brief but noticeable look at what she’s capable of.
But Betty’s abusive tendencies really came to the fore when her and Veronica confronted Chuck about his slut shaming in Chapter 3. Donning a black wig and channeling her inner Veronica, Betty got so carried away that she nearly burned Chuck alive, all the while referring to herself as Polly and Chuck as Jason.
Is Betty mentally unstable and incapable of knowing what she’s doing in moments such as these, or is she playing an elaborate and calculated game? Could it be that Betty murdered Jason, but wasn’t lucid in that moment, meaning she’s forgotten what she did? If that’s the case, it would suggest that Alice wants her daughter medicated because she knows what she’s capable of, and it would also mean the reason Hal stole those files from the Sheriff is because he knows what’s up.
A bit of a long shot, since we don’t know anything about Polly other than hearsay, but we will find out more in Chapter 6. We know Polly thought Jason was her one true love. We also know that Hal says she was utterly devastated when he ended things, and tried to take her own life. What we don’t know, is whether Hal is telling the truth.
It’s been said that Polly is in a hospital to ‘get well.’ In essence, this is a good thing if she’s had a breakdown, but from what we’ve seen of the Coopers, it seems more likely that Polly is being held in an institution against her will, and won’t be getting the help she needs. Polly had left the family home before Jason was murdered, true, but that’s not to say she didn’t get out to kill him, and that Hal and Alice aren’t covering up their daughter’s secret.
Let’s be real here; the relationship between twins Jason and Cheryl is just plain weird. It will be no surprise to learn it was incestuous, and even if Riverdale don’t confirm it, it is still heavily implied. Cheryl plays the grieving twin sister well, and she also likes to be the center of all the drama - as evidenced when she gleefully allowed herself to be led out of class by the cops, with a declaration of “I’m guilty.” Cheryl claims she helped Jason escape Riverdale by rowing him to the other side of the lake, and that she was waiting to hear from him, but is that the truth?
Certainly if she was in an illicit relationship with her brother, then jealousy could be a powerful motive for her to end his life. That could be especially true if either he had ended the relationship when Polly came along, or if he had never felt that way towards her. Maybe Cheryl just couldn’t handle the thought of a future where her brother could love someone else the way she thinks he should love her? Recent episodes have led us to feel more sympathy towards Cheryl; could that be a big ruse by the writers, ready for a bomb to drop?
Penelope and/ or Clifford Blossom
Yes, we’re suspecting an entire family again, but there’s something about the Blossom parents that’s not quite right. From Clifford’s boorish arrogance, to Penelope’s treatment of her daughter, there are more than a few skeletons in their closet. Did anyone notice the way Penelope touched Archie at Jason’s memorial? That was not just a grieving mother missing her child; that was downright creepy. She looked like she might jump the poor boy at any second. She clearly loathes her daughter, and her treatment of her is disgusting. Did she treat Jason the same in life, or was he the golden child, the one who could do no wrong, and did that attitude push Clifford Blossom over the edge?
Given that Jason was held, bound, prior to his death, it seems unlikely that either his mom or dad would or could do that to their own son, but frankly, nothing would surprise us when it comes to the Blossom family ethics.
The Outside Suspects
In short, those who, thus far, have barely any motive, but who might surprise us all. Fred Andrews just seems like the good guy whom everyone wants as their cool dad, but did the writers really give us someone so one-dimensional, or is there more to him than meets the eye? He will have been at school with Penelope Blossom, and Jason was the one thing stopping his son from making Varsity.
Then there’s Jughead. In all honesty, it would be a massive surprise if the one painted as the dark, brooding, dangerous teen actually turns out to be just that. In fact, Jughead is showing a much softer, more vulnerable side to himself and though his dad might be a Southside Serpent, Jughead seems an unlikely suspect. That said, he has been conspicuously lurking during all key moments.
Hermione Lodge is also on the outsiders list; though ostensibly out of town when the murders took place, she is from Riverdale and knows the town and its inhabitants. It’s hard to see a motive for her to kill Jason, though, other than her old high school rivalry with Penelope, which seems to have followed them both into adulthood.
Finally, Reggie, Moose, Ethel and Kevin are all students who just might have had some kind of motive, however weak it may seem. For Kevin, there’s the prospect of Jason having been homophobic towards him, possibly leading him to snap, or of the pair being locked in a secret affair which Jason ended. With Ethel, we already know she’s not in favor of the way footballers treat the girls at school, and she was all for teaching Chuck a lesson.
For Reggie and Moose, well, the addition of their names is based on nothing more than the fact that Reggie is not a nice character in the comics, and Moose always goes along with everything he does. So far, on Riverdale, Reggie has been painted as a pretty decent guy, all things considered, and he was especially gracious towards Archie in Chapter 5. That doesn’t mean badness isn’t lurking, waiting to be uncovered.
Who killed Jason Blossom? Is it as cut and dry as Hal Cooper exacting revenge? Hardly likely. Luckily, we’re only halfway through the season, giving us plenty more time to dissect and discuss. Leave your guesses in the comments!
Riverdale airs Thursdays at 9pm on The CW