‘Riverdale’ Recap: Planning the Perfect Murder in Season 4, Episode 16 “Chapter Seventy-Three: The Locked Room”


Jughead is officially back from the dead, and in this week’s episode, Jughead and Betty trap Bret, Donna, Joan, and DuPont in the classroom at Stonewall to confront them on just how they planned to commit the perfect murder. Secrets are told, and Donna’s true identity is finally revealed.

Find out what went down in the latest episode of Riverdale, “Chapter Seventy-Three: The Locked Room.”

Jughead and Betty burst into DuPont’s classroom, surprising him, Bret, Donna, and Joan that Jughead is still alive. Jughead has Betty lock the door, and at least until the bell rings in 30 minutes, “your asses belong to us.” Donna tells Jughead she knew he wasn’t really dead, and Betty says since she failed to prove it or find Jughead, the two of them had time to figure out all the twists and turns of this murder mystery they’ve all been living for the past few months. Donna says she has no idea what she’s talking about, and Jughead tells her not to worry because he’s going to take her through it step-by-step.

Jughead starts with the fact that he and Moose were invited to Stonewall during their senior year, which was exactly how it was with Jughead’s grandfather, who was also DuPont’s roommate. Jughead says this is not a story about a murder; this is a story about grandparents and their grandchildren, which brings Jughead to his next point: Halloween, when he was drugged, only to wake up in a coffin and be let out a day later. And when he returned to his dorm, Moose had vanished. Jughead naturally assumed he went out the same way as the Stonewall Four. Although Moose ended up joining the Army, Mr. Chipping was the one who encouraged Moose to enlist or, more like, forced him. Betty says Chipping had recruited Moose the same way he did Jughead, then ran him out of Stonewall. Chipping must have known Moose was going to get murdered and was trying to save his life.

Malcolm Stewart and Cole Sprouse in Riverdale. Image courtesy of The CW.

Jughead says things got really interesting after Halloween. That’s when DuPont announced the writing competition. He was asking Jughead about his father and his grandfather. “So imagine my surprise when I found out that my good-for-nothing drop-out grandfather had actually written the original Baxter Brothers novel,” which a young Francis DuPont would then steal from him. DuPont says it was a 100% legal transaction, and Betty tells him he exploited Forsythe. If that secret ever came out, imagine the damage it would do to the very valuable Baxter Brothers brand. “Someone might kill to keep that secret.” Which is exactly what Jughead and Betty thought had happened to Chipping. Jughead told him about his grandfather, then Chipping talked to DuPont, and the very next day, Chipping dived out the window. Jughead tells DuPont he thought he had some leverage over Chipping, but it was actually Bret, Donna, and Joan and their blank expressions as they watched him jump.

DuPont says Chipping had demons, and Betty tells them his wife filled them in on all of those. Mrs. Chipping said he had been drinking more, having trouble sleeping, and complaining about the Baxter Brothers books. Jughead says they started to ask themselves, what would turn the opportunity of a lifetime, winning the Baxter Brothers contract, into a burden? DuPont’s ghostwriter challenge was to devise the perfect murder, but what if the real challenge, the real price that someone had to pay, was to commit the perfect murder in order to prove that you could write it?

Jughead reveals the same year, the same month that Chipping was awarded his contract, a Stonewall student disappeared. Betty and Jughead believe that the student was murdered by Chipping. Then, Ryan Allan, the previous ghostwriter who took up the mantle the same month, another one of the Stonewall Four disappeared. “The sequence holds true for every ghostwriter who preceded them.” This brings them to a couple of months ago when Jughead was awarded the contract. But why? To put a target on his back. Probably because Jughead was already circling the truth, so DuPont gave them a new challenge: To commit the perfect murder against Jughead and be awarded the contract.

Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart in Riverdale. Image courtesy of The CW.

Jughead says it was DuPont that gave him a clue, recounting when he asked who had rewritten his Baxter Brothers novel, DuPont told him they all had a crack at it. That suggested to Jughead that each of them had a hand in his murder. That night at the party, Donna had kept Betty busy, and Bret led Jughead into the woods, where he took off the bunny mask and put on his beanie. That beanie kept Jughead’s head from being completely cracked open when Joan crept up behind him and hit him with a baseball-sized rock. They had a foolproof plan, air-tight alibis. Betty says it all should have worked so perfectly, but it didn’t. Why? They didn’t kill Jughead. All they had to do was hit Jughead in the back of the head hard enough with a rock. Meanwhile, Donna was blowing Devil’s Breath (or scopolamine) in Betty’s face to set her up as the ultimate fall girl.

Because of it, Betty doesn’t remember when Donna led her into the clearing where Jughead’s body was and placed the bloody rock in her hand, leaving her literally red-handed with the murder weapon. After which, the four of them returned to the party and ran into Archie and Veronica. They pointed Archie and Veronica to where they would find Betty standing over Jughead’s corpse. After kneeling by Jughead, Archie kept asking Betty what happened, and she tells Archie to start compressions while Veronica uses Jughead’s beanie to stop the bleeding, and Betty gives him mouth-to-mouth. After a few moments, Jughead wakes up but soon falls back under. Jughead didn’t regain consciousness for another 36 hours. Betty called Charles. She says they carried Jughead through the woods to the old postal road, where Charles was waiting for them with an FBI med-van. Charles had told the three of them to go back to where they found Jughead, clean the scene, and make absolutely certain that they don’t leave anything behind. They also need to get rid of their blood-covered clothes and get washed up.

After doing what Charles said, they all went home. Betty says not knowing if or when Jughead was going to wake up and wondering if she had actually been responsible was a waking nightmare. Bret’s trying to add it all up. They saw Jughead’s corpse at the coroner’s office. Dr. Curdle Jr., the coroner, was definitely in on it. He and Betty go way back. While Betty was keeping them busy with a cat-and-mouse game, Jughead was in the bunker untangling “this Gordian knot of a year.”

Cole Sprouse in Riverdale. Image courtesy of The CW.

Did Jughead mention that he and Betty went and saw the Baxter Brothers ghostwriters? Jughead says they all asked for their lawyers when they told them their theory. Specifically, the three members of the original literary group who DuPont murdered: Jane Dallas Brown, Charles W. Chickens, and Theodore Weisel. When DuPont stole Jughead’s grandfather’s original Baxter Brothers novel, it was a fact known to Forsythe, DuPont, but also his inner circle of classmates. The bigger it got, the more worried DuPont became that one little slip of the tongue would send the whole thing tumbling down. DuPont’s life work would be revealed as a lie and as a fraud. Betty adds that DuPont started going after people who knew the truth and started staging their accidental deaths until only one living member of his literary society left.

Betty opens the door to FP, Charles, and Forsythe, live and in the flesh. Forsythe tells DuPont that Theodore came to see him before he died, and he hadn’t slept for days. Theodore had told him that DuPont killed Charles and Jane because they were going to spill the truth. He said they knew too much, and DuPont was going to off them, too. Forsythe says two days later, the expert diver drowned in shallow water. He realized that Theodore was right and he was next, so he went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back. Since 2002, Forsythe has been collecting evidence that linked DuPont with the murders. While everyone had been locked in the room, Charles’ team combed through DuPont’s house for the last hour. Given the trophies of his victims that they found hollowed out OED, his ghostwriters lawyering up, and Forsythe’s detective work, “It’s over, Francis.” DuPont says he built the Baxter Brothers franchise, and with that money, he helped build Stonewall Prep. Just as Charles is about to arrest DuPont, he goes the same way Chipping did: a dive through the window.

Betty waits for Donna in her dorm, and when she arrives, Betty tells her she wants to congratulate her personally. She and Jughead heard that Donna’s taking over the Baxter Brothers, and Donna says the brand is relaunching as Tracy True. Betty says her plan worked. “You managed to get everyone else to do the actual dirty work,” even DuPont’s dead. Donna asks Betty if she’s really so delusional she would believe she would mastermind some elaborate conspiracy that caused the deaths of multiple people just to win a YA book contract. Betty says no. But Donna would do it for revenge for the murder of her grandmother, Jane Dallas Brown. Donna had dedicated herself to getting into Stonewall Prep and Chipping’s class, and each step brought her closer to her grandmother’s killer. Donna tells Betty that DuPont didn’t merely kill her grandmother; he stole from her the same way he did from Forsythe. Betty realizes Tracy True was Donna’s grandmother’s invention. The files that Hermosa had dug up and given to Veronica were medical files that confirmed that Donna was the granddaughter of Jane Dallas Brown. Donna asks Betty what she wants, and Betty says she wants her to walk away from the Tracy True contract. Tracy deserves better, as does the memory of Donna’s grandmother. If she doesn’t walk away, Betty will ensure every major city newspaper gets a copy of the medical file.

Lili Reinhart in Riverdale. Image courtesy of The CW.

Jughead is back at Riverdale High, and although Mr. Honey isn’t too happy about it, he legally has to let Jughead back. He just really hopes his credits transfer. Later that night, the Core Four are hanging out at Pop’s, and Archie says to make a vow, even though everything went to hell pretty quick the last time they made a vow to have a normal senior year. But they only have two or three months left. “Let’s end it on a high note.” However, Jughead brings up the fact that he and Archie will probably not be graduating with Veronica and Betty, and Betty asks him if they really think the two of them will just sit idly by and not help their boyfriends graduate. Veronica tells them they will graduate; even if it takes a thousand tutors, they will set aside everything. No more mysteries.

After an insane few episodes, Riverdale is going on a brief hiatus. But when the series returns, it will be the annual musical episode. First, it was Carrie, then Heathers. Next, it will be Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Riverdale returns Wednesday, April 8 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on The CW.

Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvels911s if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.

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