Riverdale Season 1 Episode 12: Anatomy of a Murder Recap


This week on Riverdale, Jason Blossom’s murderer is revealed, leaving us with several new mysteries to be solved. We say goodbye to several characters, and discover new links between some characters. All in all, you can feel this season winding down, and the set up for season two beginning.

This episode begins moments after the last episode ended. FP has just been arrested for the murder of Jason Blossom, based on an anonymous tip that led to Sheriff Keller searching the Jones trailer and finding the murder weapon in a lock box stashed in a closet. Archie and Veronica find Betty at Pops and tell her that the gun wasn’t in the trailer when they searched it earlier that evening. The trailer is so small that they couldn’t have missed it. It was planted there in between their search and the Sheriff’s. They decide to tell their parents, rather than the sheriff, because Archie is sure his dad will know what to do. I’m not sure what show Archie’s been watching, but I haven’t seen Fred take care of a problem with a solution more creative than sending Archie to his room.

The kids are all still dressed up from the dance, and look gorgeous against the backlighting from Pop’s neon signage.

Hermione, Alice, Fred, and Mary Andrews listen to the kids’ story. The adults are quick to gloss over the false evidence part of the story, and only worry about their kids’ amateur sleuthing, or how they themselves might be implicated in crimes. All four adults refuse to even consider that FP could be innocent, because vandalism and drug dealing are tantamount to murder in this judgey little town. Alice and Hermione are both glad to have the spotlight pointed away from themselves. Mary is an attorney who doesn’t know the law, as she tells Archie that their evidence would be inadmissible in court. I assume she and the writers are confusing this situation with the situation of evidence found by police who commit searches without a warrant. In that case, the evidence would be inadmissible.

Fred announces that FP may have ruined Jughead’s life, but he’s not going to let him ruin Archie’s. More on that later.

Jughead is at the bus station, trying to get out of the town that’s ruined his life. He calls his mom from the last remaining phone booth in the US and tells her that he wants to come to Toledo to stay with her and Jelly Bean for a while. We don’t hear his mother’s side of the conversation, but it’s clear that she tells him no, don’t come. He gets off the phone as quickly as he can, while trying not to let her hear how hurt he is. Once he hangs up, he shatters, but holds almost all of it in. If you didn’t appreciate Cole Sprouse as an actor before this, this sequence should convince you. If there’s anyone, besides Jason Blossom, who’s an innocent victim in Riverdale, it’s Jughead Jones. Jughead returns to the bus station and exchanges his ticket for one on the next bus out of town. That bus turns out to be going to Florida, but not until morning. The station is closing, so he needs to find someplace to go for the night.

Hermione is busy preparing to flee the country. She’s worried about what FP will say to the police, or that the police will bring them in simply as known associates of the murderer. Given the way the police work in that town, I can’t blame her. If being from the wrong side of the tracks is enough to d*mn you, even without a criminal record of your own, certainly being a Latina who’s married to an embezzler would be. It was enough for Fred, our role model of virtuous white manhood, to see her as someone he could use as he saw fit, whether that was pressuring her into dating him before he would offer her a job, or extorting a portion of her business from her.

Veronica, who still hasn’t accepted that she’s a mob princess, needs it spelled out for her. Hermione only lists the crimes we know about, none of which seems serious enough to require fleeing the country. Hermione tells her to be ready to leave on a moments’ notice.

Archie and Betty are searching for Jughead. They go to the bus station, but it’s already closed. Veronica calls and is miffed that they went on a manhunt without her. She immediately solves the mystery, pointing out that Pops is the only place in town that’s open 24 hours.

Sure enough, Jughead is there, because Pop is the only adult in Riverdale who looks out for him at all. He looks catatonic as the other three reach his booth. They apologize for their screw ups earlier that day, then tell him that the gun wasn’t there when they searched the trailer. That finally gets his attention.

At the jail, Keller is asking leading questions of FP. FP gives Keller a full confession without much prompting that fits the town’s favorite theories about what happened. Jason approached FP about drug sales. FP recognized him and agreed to help, but then captured him and held him hostage for ransom, until Jason escaped. Keller fills in that FP shot Jason. FP continues that he dumped the body in the river after they were done dragging it, and admits to stealing the murder board and torching Jason’s car. Keller wants to hear FP say that he killed Jason Blossom. The camera cuts away. We never hear FP confess to the actual shooting.

The four teenagers arrive at the police station to tell Keller that FP is innocent, but Keller tells them that it’s too late. He’s already confessed.

The next morning the Blossoms, who seem to always be at the table eating, tell Polly that Jason’s killer has been caught. Polly is surprised at the identity of the killer. Cliff says he went to the station and looked Jason’s killer in the eye.

During lunch in the high school cafeteria, Betty and Kevin argue about whether FP is guilty or innocent. Kevin is loyal to his father and insists that FP must be guilty since he confessed. Betty points out that FP could have been coerced, or he could be protecting someone, like another Serpent.

Jughead walks into the cafeteria, straight over to Cheryl, and says, “I’m sorry, Cheryl,” in a heartfelt, broken voice. She stands up and slaps him, then pounds her fists on his chest. The principal appears out of nowhere to drag Jughead away. Archie defends Jughead to the principal.

When Jughead is done in the office, he tells Betty that he believes that his father is guilty. He’s tired of waiting for FP to do the right thing.

Archie comes home to find Fred at the end of a phone call with Principal Weatherbee. Weatherbee doesn’t want Jughead to come to school for the rest of the semester, supposedly for his own safety. Archie sees right through it, and asks how it’s fair to kick Jughead out for having gotten pummeled by Cheryl? Archie is ready to do whatever it takes to support Jughead through his time of need, however long and however much it takes. Fred just wants to separate Archie from Jughead as quickly as possible, because the entire Jones family is tainted in some way and he doesn’t want that stain to reach Archie.

Fred may be trying to protect his own son, but he’s willing to throw an innocent child that he’s known since birth to the wolves to do it. I have no respect for him, between the way he treated Hermione as someone who’s only deserving of sympathy and decency when she’s someone datable, and the way he’s treating Jughead.

Archie isn’t the brightest, but he does care about people, no matter who they are, and he cares about justice. He’s still trying to figure out his own moral compass, since his father’s is so narrow and selfish, and his mother doesn’t seem to be much better.

Jughead overhears the entire conversation, and it’s driven home to him, again, just how alone he is in the world. He walks out past Fred and Archie, quietly telling Archie that he’ll sleep in the garage. I’m sure he’d love to leave completely, but he has no where else to go.


Alice and Betty wake up to sounds in the middle of the night. Alice seems positively thrilled to have a reason to use her handgun. Hal has come home to dispose of the murder board evidence that he stole from Sheriff Keller’s house the night of the last drive-in. Betty realizes that FP lied about that part of his confession. Alice doesn’t shoot Hal.

Hal explains that he stole the murder board because he was worried that Keller would figure out the real connection between the Blossoms and the Coopers, and decide that there was an even greater motive for murder than was already known. Betty asks if he means that one Grandpappy murdered the other Grandpappy. Hal tells her no, there’s more. The two Grandpappies were brothers. The Coopers are actually Blossoms. After the murder, one side changed their name to Cooper and severed all ties with the other side.

Alice and Betty realize that Polly and Betty are both Blossoms, 3rd cousins to Jason and Cheryl. They wonder how far the Blossoms would have gone to stop cousins from having babies with each other, if Hal was willing to send Polly away. It’s time for the Coopers to storm over to the Blossoms and rescue Polly!

Alice dramatically reveals the “incest,” which the Blossoms know all about, and are fine with. Honestly, how do you think they get all of those redheads? They probably routinely marry their distant cousins. Middle class morality be d*mned! 😉


Mary Andrews pretended to be FP’s lawyer so that she could examine his files and meet with him. She meets with Archie and Jughead in the morning to tell them what she’s found. She lists all of the things that count against him right now, and, suffice it say, she’s a lousy lawyer, because some of that is inadmissible in court, and some just wouldn’t hold much weight. Probably for the best that she’s not willing to take on the case.

The one useful thing she does is tell them that FP called Joaquin.

She also tells Jughead to go see FP, since the case against him looks bad, and it’ll only get harder to visit him, so Jughead does. I love watching Cole and Skeet work together. Jughead pours out his heartbreak and dashed hopes to FP. FP tries to maintain his hardened criminal facade, but at the last moment he sends Juggie a pleading look as he orders Jughead to leave and never visit him again. You can see the moment when Jughead, who’s given up on his father, reads that look on his father’s face and realizes that everything else has been a lie. He calls Betty to tell her that she was right. FP is hiding things.

Archie and Veronica canoodle on her couch in front of a fire, as they try to figure out why FP would have called Joaquin instead of Jughead or a lawyer. Veronica has an odd need to put herself in the middle of the investigation, and to prove that her father was the one who hired FP, so she, Archie and Kevin go see Joaquin.

Kevin leans on Joaquin until he tells them what he knows about the murder. On the night of the murder, FP called Joaquin to the basement of the White Worm, the bar that the Serpents hang out in. The basement is normally off limits to everyone. FP needed help with cleaning up Jason’s body and the surrounding mess/evidence. They stashed the body in the freezer. Joaquin never asked FP who killed Jason, he just assumed FP did it.

Kevin is disgusted with Joaquin. Veronica asks if Joaquin thinks Hiram could have hired FP to kill Jason. Joaquin doesn’t know, but he did hear Mustang (the Serpent who wanted to beat up Archie in the bar) tell FP something about some rich guy. Mustang was the only other person who knew about the murder. Veronica, Kevin and Archie insist that Joaquin take them to Mustang.

Mustang has been staying at a run down old motel. They find him dead, overdosed in his tub. Wonder who wanted him dead? Joaquin gets out fast, with Kevin right behind him, leaving Archie and Veronica to call the police.

The police find one of the bags Hermione used to pay off FP under Mustang’s bed, filled with $100 bills. Whoever murdered Mustang wasn’t interested in money. And why was Mustang still living there when he had so much money?

Sheriff Keller questions why Hermione’s bag was in Mustang’s room. Veronica pipes up to tell him that the “HL” on the bag means Hiram, not Hermione, Lodge. Hermione shuts Veronica down, telling the sheriff that they’re done talking without an attorney present. Hermione really needs to get busy with Veronica’s mob princess training. Understanding how to fend off police questioning and appear innocent in the face of indisputable evidence are key elements.

Fred takes Archie home. He pleads with Archie to stop investigating Jason’s murder.

When Veronica and Hermione get home, Hermione collapses in tears.

Kevin puts Joaquin on a bus to San Junipero. Joaquin is in danger from both the law, and from whoever killed Mustang. Before he leaves, Joaquin tells Kevin where to find Jason’s jacket.

Jughead and Betty meet at school to look over their murder board and figure out who the real murderer is. They eliminate everyone but Hiram Lodge and Clifford and Penelope Blossom. Alice shows up to tell them that the police ruled Mustang’s death a suicide, and Keller is convinced that Mustang was working with both FP and Hiram. I’m sure we’re all shocked that the sheriff, who’s been bought and paid for by the Blossoms all season, is coming to these conclusions so quickly.

Cheryl confronts Penelope and asks her what Jason and Clifford were arguing about the morning of Jason’s disappearance. Penelope explains, as she has before, that Clifford had groomed Jason since birth to take over the family business, but in the end Jason couldn’t handle it. Cheryl wants to know what it was that Jason couldn’t handle. If Clifford and Penelope weren’t upset about Polly, then what did Jason see that upset him so much? What was he running away from? Penelope drags Cheryl out to the syrup barn to show her where the answers are. Maple syrup. The sticky, dark, dirty truth about the Blossoms.

Kevin calls Betty to tell her about Jason’s jacket. They find it where Joaquin had hidden it. FP had used his one phone call from jail to tell Joaquin to forget about using the jacket as a contingency plan. Joaquin didn’t know whether the jacket would help FP or incriminate him further.

The gang gathers to analyze the jacket. They start out with a whole lot of jumping to conclusions, all of which are wrong. A bag in a motel room is just a bag in a motel room, it doesn’t tell you what crime it’s connected to without further evidence. A jacket is just a jacket, the same rule applies. Luckily, in the case of the jacket, there is further evidence.

They find the evidence, in the form of a flashdrive, because Betty is a great detective who never gives up. The flashdrive holds a video of Jason’s murder. After the kids watch it, Betty calls Cheryl and tells her to get out of her house. Cheryl goes downstairs to where her parents are eating, again, and stands next to her mother. She tells Clifford that he did a bad thing, and now everyone will know.

Alice takes the flashdrive to the sheriff and the mayor. They watch the video. It shows Jason in the basement of the bar. Mustang taunts him, then Clifford shoots him in the head. FP is innocent.

Clifford visited FP on the night of his arrest and threatened to kill Jughead if FP didn’t confess to the murder. FP was protecting his son. The sheriff still refuses to release FP. He reels off a list of charges that he intends to file against FP, and says FP isn’t getting out any time soon. Of course, if FP’s not in the video, he’ll have trouble making the charges stick, unless the courts are as biased as he is. You’d think FP would have been smart enough to destroy the parts of the video that implicated himself and Joaquin. The anonymous tip is now compromised, the murder weapon was obviously planted, and the confession was coerced. He doesn’t have any other evidence against FP, does he? Mustang and Joaquin won’t be testifying. We’ll find out later that Clifford won’t be available to testify either. It’s only hearsay that connects FP to the jacket and the car, outside of the coerced confession. The sheriff has nothing to pin on him related to the murder, since the physical evidence was all destroyed. The show may do things differently, since we’ve already seen them misquote the law, but that’s how it should work in real life, if the system works properly. FP should use the blackmail material he has on the Lodges to get them to pay for an expensive lawyer to make sure he gets off.

Jughead argues with Sheriff Keller for his father’s sake. His family has been restored in one small way.

Veronica finally has to admit that her father wasn’t involved with Jason’s murder. She apologizes to Hermione. Hermione tells her that Hiram is coming home.

Mary Andrews says goodbye to Archie and goes back to Chicago. She and Fred don’t even say goodbye. So much for a possible reunion.

Th police arrive at the Blossoms to arrest Clifford, having given him ample time to flee the country, commit suicide, or put his affairs in order in whatever way he chose. Penelope and Cheryl point them to the syrup barn, where Clifford is hanging by a noose from the rafters, dead, appearing to have hung himself. A syrup barrel is knocked over, and packages of drugs have spilled out. Murder looks as likely as suicide. We still don’t know why he killed Jason.



I can appreciate a woman who’s always prepared, so Hermione really should know where the passports are. Why aren’t they with the other important legal documents? Or does she have multiple sets and aliases? She seems nervous enough that you have to wonder exactly what else she and Hiram have been involved in with the Serpents, or what she’s accidentally witnessed.

The question of whether Jughead was left behind in Riverdale by his mother, or chose to stay behind, seems to have been answered. Jughead was left, and saved trying to follow his mother and sister to use as a last resort, Hail Mary move. He knew deep down she didn’t want him, that’s why he chose sleeping in closets and movie booths over asking to move in with her, even when he had no close friends left in Riverdale, as was the case all summer long and at the beginning of the school year.

Current theory: Jughead’s “mother” is actually his stepmother. His own mother died giving birth to him, leading to FP’s hospital bills, overwhelming stress, and spiraling depression, that ended up with him involved with drugs, an alcoholic, and in way deeper with the Serpents than he ever intended. There are a few years between Jughead and Jelly Bean, but Jelly Bean’s mom would still be the only mother he’s ever known. Apparently she doesn’t view him as her “real” son, if abandoning him with his alcoholic father while she goes to live with her parents is any indication.

There’s not a single adult in the world who cares about Jughead, other than his father, who can’t keep himself together long enough to be of much use on a day-to-day basis. Yet Jughead always tries to do the right thing in the grand scheme of things, even when the world is actively against him. He’s the contrast to the characters with more privilege who take the easy way out and make excuses for themselves, but still pat themselves on the back and think they’re good people. Cole Sprouse gave an Emmy-worthy performance during this episode.

Joaquin’s exit looked permanent. He and Kevin deserved better than the setup and dropped storyline they got. He’s not dead, though, so he could be back. I kept waiting for him to be related to Jughead, but, with Hiram coming back, he could also be related to Veronica, since Hiram has such a strong connection to the Serpents. Or both. Sadly, going to San Junipero suggests that he’s going to live on only in our memories.

It seems strange that the Serpents would be working for both Hiram and Clifford, who have been presented to us as rivals. Were Clifford and Hiram actually in the drug business together, and one was trying to cut the other out, just like what happened with Grandpappy Blossom and Grandpappy Cooper? Did Clifford get Hiram arrested to cut him out of the business, and Jason found out about not only the drugs, but Clifford’s dirty dealings? Maybe Jason was okay with the drug dealing, but couldn’t stomach the totality of his father’s law breaking. Clifford killed him so that Jason couldn’t betray Clifford to the police or Hiram. Maybe Hiram will turn out to have been involved after all, now that Veronica’s given up trying to pin it on him.

New mysteries: Who killed Clifford? Who killed Mustang? Why did Clifford kill Jason? What did Hiram pay Mustang for? What normally goes on in the basement of the White Worm? Do all Blossom men die violent deaths? Who will inherit ownership of Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy, Hiram or Penelope? Will Mrs. Jones and Jelly Bean ever come home? Can Riverdale recast Reggie with an actor as likable as Ross Butler? Have Josie and the Pussycats gone on tour with Josie’s father? Will Alice turn the school newspaper into her new publishing empire? Will Cheryl and Betty be the next pair of Blossom cousins to try out “incest”? Where are the lawyers who live in Riverdale and the surrounding area, especially the ones who are public defenders?

It doesn’t matter what a citizen witness was doing when they witnessed a crime, unless they were impaired in some way, like being drunk or high. Even then, the other side has to prove that the impairment affected their testimony. Even illegal immigrants can testify in court. That’s part of the ongoing battles between municipalities and the federal government. Municipalities need witnesses to be safe when they come to court to testify. The new regime in Washington wants to violate that longstanding agreement by staking out courthouses and arresting people who are helping make sure that justice is served in cases of violent crime. Certain rich white men don’t care about that, though.

The incest isn’t really incest, it’s just culturally distasteful to some. Genetically, the babies are fine. As third cousins, Polly and Jason would have been free to marry anywhere in the US. Their genetics would only be slightly more similar than that of the general population (0.78% in common). The real question is how much of a tradition inbreeding is amongst the Blossom clan. Jason and Cheryl may be the ones who had/have to worry about genetic issues due to cousin marriages.

You have to figure that Archie and his mom are also Blossoms, given the way that the entire Blossom clan recognized him as one of their own, and the way that Mary couldn’t get out of town (and away from her sinister extended Blossom family) fast enough. That would explain why Fred was so adamant about keeping Archie away from the investigation and Jughead, and insisted that if he didn’t stop, he’d end up dead. Just like his brother/cousin Jason? Were the twins not really twins? Was one of them Mary’s child? Probably Cheryl, given her poor relationship with Penelope. Or are they both Mary’s, since infertility is a common result of inbreeding? If Penelope was infertile, they could have called on her sister to bear children for her. That would also explain the extreme animosity between Fred and Clifford.