A few recaps back, I put forth a bold statement: Jughead Jones is a terrible writer. I mean, think about it! We’re led to believe (and, man, is it heavily implied — even going so far as to show his typings matching the narration) that the narration to each episode is really excerpts from his novel about Riverdale. The only problem with this is that his narration is incredibly, incredibly repetitive and filled with artsy pseudo-intelligent formatting and imagery that only works within the confines of the episode itself. As promised, I’ve decided to put this to the test and combine his narration all in one place. Hell, I’ve even given the guy the benefit of the doubt, and, assuming some passages would be omitted if the audience were watching it play out on screen, have provided some context where necessary. Without further ado (and with an obvious *spoiler warning* for the entire season), here’s definitive proof that Jughead isn’t perfect, with excerpts from his crappy novel, Untitled:Our story is about a town; a small town, and the people who live in the town. From a distance, it presents itself like so many other small towns all over the world: safe, decent, innocent. Get closer, though, and you start seeing the shadows underneath. The name of our town is Riverdale, and our story begins, I guess, with what the Blossom twins did this summer.
On the Fourth of July, just after dawn, Jason and Cheryl Blossom drove out to Sweetwater River for an early morning boat ride. The next thing we know happened for sure is that Dilton Doiley, who was leading Riverdale’s Boy Scout Troop on a bird-watching expedition, came across Cheryl by the river’s edge. Riverdale Police dragged Sweetwater River for Jason’s body, but never found it.
So, a week later, the Blossom family buried an empty casket, and Jason’s death was ruled an accident as the story that Cheryl told made the rounds: that Cheryl dropped a glove in the water, and Jason reached down to get it… and accidentally tipped the boat, and panicked, and drowned. As for us, we were still talking about the July 4th tragedy on the last day of summer vacation, when a new mystery rolled into town.
(The decidedly non-enigmatic Veronica Lodge and her mother Hermione arrive in Riverdale, following daddy Hiram’s pending embezzlement trial in NYC. Archie later kisses Veronica, which upsets his neighbour-with-a-crush Betty Cooper, who refuses to accept his apology.)
And so, it wasn’t one heart that broke that night; it was two, and the night was far from over.(Kevin Keller and Moose Mason, during an attempted romantic endeavour in the woods, stumble across Jason Blossom’s decomposing body with a bullet-wound in the forehead.)
By morning, everyone would be talking, texting, and posting about it. We’d all be feeling it. But the world around us had changed — maybe forever — that Riverdale wasn’t the same town as before; that it was a town of shadows and secrets now. On Monday, the autopsy on Jason’s body would take place… and on Tuesday, halfway through fifth period, the first arrest would be made.
I think many of us — maybe the entire town — had been hoping against hope that somehow Jason Blossom hadn’t drowned on July 4th. That we’d come to school on Monday morning, and there Jason would be — or that we’d see him and Cheryl in a booth at Pop’s. But that was before the undeniable, irrevocable fact of his bloated, waterlogged body; a corpse with a bullet-hole in its forehead and terrible secrets that could only be revealed by the cold steel blade of a coroner’s autopsy scalpel or the telltale beating of a guilty heart.
(Jughead, Archie, Betty and Veronica all make up and happily share a booth at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe as friends.)
To someone on the outside peering in it would’ve looked like there were four people in that booth… but I was there, and I can tell you, really, there were only three: a blonde girl, a raven-haired girl, and the luckiest redheaded boy in the universe. For one shining moment, we were just kids; those bright neon lights of Pop’s keeping the darkness at bay — giving way, as all nights must, to a morning of reckoning.(Cheryl Blossom is arrested — partway through fifth period — in connection to her brother’s murder, and confesses it’s ‘because she’s guilty’.)
As shocking as those three words were, they were nothing compared to the secrets that Jason’s body had given up during its autopsy: that Jason didn’t die on July 4th, as we believed, but over a week later.
Guilt, innocence; good, evil; life, death. As the shadows around Riverdale deepened, the lines that separated these polar opposites blurred and distorted. “I’m guilty,” Cheryl said in Biology class… but of what?
(Cheryl confesses she is guilty of lying, not of murder. She explains her complicity in Jason’s plan to run away from home. Betty and Veronica later torture a confession out of Chuck Clayton — a slutshaming misogynist jock — for an exposé article for the school paper to present to Principal Weatherbee, but Betty takes things a bit too far.)
Good and evil; light and dark; Betty and Veronica. Two sides of the same Janus coin. Given Betty’s article, Weatherbee needed a sacrificial lamb. So, after Hermione Lodge negotiated a lesser sentence for our two avenging angels, Coach Clayton — to save his job, to save the school’s reputation — was forced to cut his own beloved son, and his goon squad, from the team. An action that, though none of us knew it at the time, would have terrible consequences in the weeks to come. But one thing was for certain: Betty and Veronica — now B&V, and maybe forever — had been forged. They walked through the fire and survived.
(Dilton Doiley threatens to expose to Archie Andrews’ secret affair with Miss Grundy to Betty and Jughead at the school paper in exchange for immunity from an incriminated scoop on him.)
We crave absolutes — they comfort us, but life is infinitely more complex than that. Despite all of our recent troubles, I would’ve done anything to protect Archie… but Dilton Doiley had just opened Pandora’s box, and now there was nothing I, or anyone, could do to save him.
It’s been a week since the discovery of Jason Blossom’s body. But the death is not the first, nor would it be the last casualty that the town of Riverdale would suffer. The Twilight Drive-In — where I work, my home-away-from-home, a piece of town history — is closing for good, just when we needed a place to escape to the most. With Sheriff Keller knocking on every door, and neighbor suspecting neighbor, Riverdale, every day that passes, is becoming more like Salem during the witch trials… and meanwhile, the girl next door, our friendly neighborhood Hitchcock blonde, Betty Cooper, was wrestling with the knowledge that her best friend, Archie Andrews, was caught up in a forbidden romance.
(Mrs. Grundy is driven out of town as the town prepares for Jason’s memorial.)
Every town has one. The spooky house that all the kids avoid. Ours was Thornhill, the Blossom family’s mansion, with its very own graveyard. And, trapped within its walls like some gothic heroine, was Cheryl Blossom. Still grieving for her beloved brother, Jason — linked in death as they were in life.(Jason Blossom is buried.)
Every town has one. The house on the haunted hill all the kids avoid. Now that Jason was buried in the earth, it was only a matter of time until something poisonous bloomed in that long, cold shadow cast by death. Whatever grew in the rich black soil of the Blossom’s garden always found its way to the town — whether it was murder, or love, or secrets… or lies.
Fear. It’s the most basic, most human emotion. As kids, we’re afraid of everything: the dark, the bogeyman under the bed — and we pray for morning, for those monsters to go away… though they never do, not really. Just ask Jason Blossom. Another fun fact about fear? Sometimes it grows up with you — or it curls up inside of you, tightens around your guts. Each fall, Riverdale High hosts a variety show. This event is no mere student frolic.
(Archie, despite his stage fright, performs at the Riverdale High Variety Show.)
Here’s the thing about fear: it’s always there. Fear of the unknown, fear of facing it alone. Fear that the closest to you are the monsters. Fear that as soon as you slay one, there’s another monster waiting to take its place. Fear that there’s one more bogeyman waiting at the end of a dark hall.(Betty’s perfectly stable sister, Polly, escapes from the mental institution she is being forced to stay at by her controlling parents for her insubordination.)
She was out there, alone, bereft, unmoored. Where was she going, and what would she do next?
What makes a place feel like home? Is it warmth and familiarity? Some idealized, make-believe version of the American dream? Is it love and acceptance, or is it simple safety? …Or none of those things, and it’s a place where the captain of the football team is murdered? Or maybe it’s just a forgotten closet under a well-trod staircase, where it’s just you and the mice and the spiders — like an extra in a Wes Craven movie.
(Jughead eventually moves out from under the school staircase to start rooming in Archie’s bedroom, and says he ‘hopes’ his alcoholic dad will get his life together soon.)
‘Hope.’ A word so close to ‘home’, and as tricky. As much as we wanted Jason’s killer caught and the town — our home — to feel safe again, with every day that passed, our hopes dimmed more and more. There’s that old clichéd saying: “It’s darkest before the dawn,” but sometimes there’s just darkness.
The Coopers: the Stepfords of Riverdale. High-school sweethearts who got married and had two beautiful daughters, Polly and Betty… until Jason Blossom happened, and now we would hear from the person closest to him those days leading up to his disappearance: Polly Cooper.
How a casual conversation turned into an epic forbidden romance. How, for reasons still murky, their respective parents tried to tear them apart. How their break-up was short-lived, because Polly soon learned she was pregnant with Jason’s baby. How they became secretly engaged with his grandmother’s blessing — and her heirloom ring — and made plans to run away together to start a new life. And how their dreams of escape went up in flames.(Polly gives a statement to the Sheriff before moving in with the Blossoms instead of coming home to her own family.)
Thicker than blood, more precious than oil, Riverdale’s big business is maple syrup. Since the town’s founding, one family has controlled this lucrative syrup trade: the Blossoms. They were a part of the fabric of our daily lives. Rich or poor, old or young… we consumed Blossom Syrup by the bucket; that sickly sweet smell was inescapable.
The death of Jason Blossom precipitated a crisis: with the heir-apparent gone, who would inherit the family business one day? Certainly not Cheryl. It was a question that brought the wolves to Riverdale, and now the Blossoms were circling the wagons against possible attack from within their own ranks.
(The Blossoms quell the investors’ concerns. Veronica apologizes to Ethel Muggs for the role her dad played in the Muggs family’s economic downfall. Archie learns, by making appearances at Blossom family events in exchange for lavish gifts, that the Blossoms are secretly responsible for rival Hiram Lodge’s imprisonment.)
It seemed that for Veronica, the sins of her father would remain simply that, while Archie Andrews returned from the brink with one more bit of news. Winter had come early to Riverdale, brutal and unforgiving… but it would be nothing compared to the storm that was gathering: a storm of chaos named Cheryl Blossom.
Weekdays, from 8:25 a.m. to 3:01 p.m., we adhere to a strict regimen — everything in our lives controlled. But then something like the murder of Jason Blossom happens, and you realize there is no such thing as control; there is only chaos. Nevertheless, some of us strive to impose and maintain order in what is, fundamentally, an orderless world — a fact which would very soon be confirmed in ways none of us could have foreseen.
People like to say that the death of Jason Blossom changed everything at Riverdale High, but certain things — certain traditions — never change. Take homecoming, for instance. Though Jason’s jersey had been retired, the Riverdale Bulldogs would still be playing their archrivals, the Baxter High Ravens, with the River Vixens cheering them on. As in previous years, graduates from days of Riverdale past will come to town to relive their more youthful, more carefree days… or to make up for lost time.(Jughead’s Southside Serpent gang leader dad has confessed to Jason’s murder, but the teens have come across circumstantial evidence proving his innocence. Sleuthing about, they find a video recording of Jason’s death and real killer, and they turn this footage in.)
That night, Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy saw what we watched in Archie’s garage: Jason, tied to a chair in the basement of a bar on the south side of Riverdale, while a Serpent, Mustang, taunted him. Then the unthinkable.
(Clifford Blossom is seen shooting his son point-blank in the head.)
Later, we would learn why my father confessed: because Clifford Blossom visited him on the night of his arrest with a threat that I, Jughead Jones, would suffer the fate of Jason Blossom if he didn’t confess. My dad was protecting me from a monster, and the nightmare was far from over.
And though one question had been answered that night — that it was Clifford Blossom who killed Jason — a new mystery loomed over Riverdale: why had he done it? It was a question only Clifford himself would be able to answer.(Clifford hangs himself in his warehouse, accidentally spilling a syrup cask filled with heroin in the process.)
It was the ultimate cliffhanger: Clifford Blossom had killed himself, but why? Life’s not an Agatha Christie novel; it’s a lot messier. Turns out, maple syrup was a front for his true business, transporting heroin from Montreal on his trucks. A narrative quickly emerged…
(Alice Cooper writes an article for the Riverdale Register, taking over explaining the chain of events.)
…and then to Jason’s murder at the hands of his father.(She does so again.)
…and, oh, yeah, I almost forgot: Mr. Blossom threatened my life so that my dad would confess to pulling the trigger, even though all he did was clean up the mess. He would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for a group of pesky kids who uncovered the truth.
Jason’s murder has revealed some dark truths none of us were too eager to face… especially not Mayor McCoy, who wanted every last vestige of corruption crushed like a snake under a boot heel.(To celebrate the conclusion of the mystery, the gang sits down for shakes at Pop’s.)
We had many milkshakes that night, and we all felt that as dangerous the world around us had become, here, at least — in this booth — we were safe.
(Archie’s dad, Fred, is shot and bleeding out at Pop Tate’s in an apparent robbery gone wrong.)
Imagine this instant, frozen in time. People will look back at this as the exact moment that last bit of Riverdale’s innocence finally died; when darkness won, marked by an act of violence that was anything but random.
Look, man, I know you love writing, but maybe it’s time to…