As promised, Riverdale revealed the identity of Jason Blossom’s killer in the penultimate episode in season one. And in a word it was disappointing.
Spoilers for episode 12 of Riverdale.
When the first-born and presumed heir to the Blossom family’s maple syrup dynasty turned up shot to death instead of accidentally drowned in Sweetwater River, everyone in Riverdale was a potential suspect. We chased down the possibilities, pondering if it was the Coopers who’d rather lock away their daughter Polly in a shame convent rather than have the world know she was a teen mom in the making. Or perhaps it was the Lodges, who have hidden reasons to resent the Blossoms, that killed in Jason in a kidnapping gone wrong. Maybe it was Miss Grundy, Jason’s former tutor and possible molester, or that crazy, violent ex she claimed to have. Maybe it was that shady F.P. Jones, who was arrested last week when the murder weapon was discovered in his trailer. Or maybe it was Jason’s own parents because blood-feud, incest, and maple syrup!
And after all that it was the friggin’ Blossoms. Specifically, it was the wig-wearing Clifford Blossom, who shot Jason in between the eyes in the basement of the Southside Serpents’ bar, after snatching back that fat-diamond family heirloom.
The episode called “Anatomy of a Murder” began with the in-custody F.P. Jones confessing to everything. He admitted—as he had to Archie and his friends—that Jason Blossom had come to him looking to deal some drugs to fund he and Polly’s runaway scheme. But then the motorcycle gang leader told Sheriff Keller that he realized more money could be made if he kidnapped Jason and ransomed the boy to the richest family in Riverdale. He said things went wrong (a theory I had, but tied to the Lodges), and Jason was shot, stored in a freezer, then pitched in the river after it had been dragged. F.P. also took the blame for ransacking the Sheriff’s home office, which astute viewers knew was bunk because he was at the drive-in accepting a payoff from Hermione Lodge that night.
So, we knew F.P. was covering for someone, giving the Sheriff a full confession even if it didn’t make sense. Why? You probably rightly assumed to protect Jughead, because whoever killed the town’s golden boy football star wouldn’t wince at murdering Riverdale’s resident weirdo. (He’s a weirdo. Never forget.)
Later, Hal Cooper admitted to his family that Betty was right: he had been the one to snatch the Sheriff’s files. Hal insists he was protecting Polly, and reveals that his grandfather’s murder wasn’t only scandalous because it was a blood-feud maple empire murder, but also because his grandfather was a Blossom! Meaning Polly and Betty are related to Jason and Cheryl. Meaning Polly is popping out some incest babies. It was a very Veronica Mars twist that didn’t feel all that shocking, and certainly didn’t bother the Blossoms, who sniffed, “It’s not like they were brother and sister. They were, what? Third cousins?” Props to Penelope for keeping it gothic and creepy by declaring, “Nothing could be more purely Blossom than those babies.” This family truly is the Lannisters of Riverdale.
As to the rest of F.P.’s confession, there was some truth to it. Joaquin admits to Kevin that he helped hide Jason’s body, and clean the murder scene. So the Southside Serpents were definitely involved in Jason’s demise. But Joaquin also tipped them to the dead boy’s hidden varsity jacket, which contained a jump drive that had footage of Jason’s execution at the hands of his father. So F.P. is innocent of murder, but still guilty of a litany of other crimes, like accessory and mishandling of a corpse, conspiracy to cover up a crime, etc.
After witnessing the terrible tape, Betty immediately calls Cheryl, who sheds a glamorous tear before scolding her bad dad. But before Sheriff Keller can get to Clifford Blossom, the Blossom patriarch’s conveniently committed suicide, hanging himself in the big red barn that holds the “sticky, dark, dirty truth!”
The Blossoms weren’t only dealing in maple syrup; they were also dealing drugs. Presumably the same drugs the Serpents were selling. So that’s how they are tied to the Blossoms. But we still don’t really know why Jason was killed. Did he discover the truth about the drugs and threatened to go to the cops? Was that enough for Clifford to murder his favorite child? Was the diamond ring more than an heirloom, and that got Jason killed? Did Penelope Blossom know what her husband had done? With Clifford dead, there’s some questions that may never get answers. (Like why he bothered with all those atrocious wigs?) But there’s plenty more questions that Jughead’s dad can answer in episode 13.
Why did F.P. set up a camera to film what turned out to be a murderous meeting between father and son? Did F.P. hide the jump drive in Jason’s jacket after it was retrieved from the demolished getaway car? Or did he plant it in the car before so that whoever discovered it would have the answer to the murder mystery? (Otherwise there’d be little reason to recover the jacket from that car.) If so, was it Jughead’s unearthing of the car that changed his plan?
As much of a fan of this show as I am, I’m underwhelmed with the reveal that it was the rich kid’s dad. It just feels lame and easy. Sure, it feeds into Riverdale’s theme that grown-ups and that every family has secrets so dark they could destroy them. It also plays into the noir trope that the wealthy are a heartless, cold-blooded people. But it’s exactly that expectation that makes Clifford as obvious a suspect as F.P. Because first you look to the sketchy local crime lord, then you look to follow the money to the “respectable” hidden crook that bankrolls him. Beyond that, Clifford was barely a character, and his motives still remain so vague that last night’s reveal was more frustrating than fun. And I’ll admit I have sour grapes, because I really thought I was on something with my Smithers theory.
Next week’s season finale will surely offer reveals to smooth some of these jagged edges, and set up a potentially spooky season two. But for now, can we all agree on something: Cheryl and her mom totally pushed Clifford to suicide to preserve the family honor as best they could.
I mean, right?