The Auteur’s identity is revealed in “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders”, an episode packed to the rafters with death and bizarre plot developments.
This recap of Riverdale season 5, episode 2, “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders”, contains spoilers.
As we discussed in our recap of the premiere, this kind of ad-hoc mini-season of Riverdale has been irreparably blighted by the pandemic, so there’s probably no wonder that so much happened in “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders”. But either way, so much happened. It’ll probably just be easier to get straight into it and unpack it all as we go.
For one thing, there’s basically toxic masculinity – especially teen toxic masculinity, definitely the worst kind – embodied entirely in Archie’s storyline, since he’s being pulled in all directions and has no real means of dealing with what he’s feeling beyond using his fists. What he swiftly realizes is that might not be enough. He can’t punch the Auteur, obviously, since nobody knows who that is – yet! – and he can’t punch Veronica for suggesting that they keep up appearances relationship-wise until school ends. He can punch Hiram, who confronts him at the gym and tries to mess him up for breaking Ronnie’s heart, but he’d probably eat more in return than he could dish out, and he can’t exactly punch his mother for asking him to write a letter to the judge overseeing his father’s hit-and-run case – though he can punch, swing on, and otherwise smash up the television set and the videotape he catches his mother watching on it while uncontrollably sobbing. He can also punch Uncle Frank, which proves to be a turning point.
Frank turns up almost exclusively for macho bonding, which is basically antagonizing Archie into wailing on him until he’s spent – I’m aware that sounds like a euphemism, but I swear it isn’t. Frank takes the licks like a champ, and in the aftermath, he seems ready to atone for his mercenary past. Archie, doing his bit, writes the letter. I can’t say it was the easiest path to that conclusion, but here we are.
Veronica, meanwhile, is thrown a bit by the return of Hermosa, who arrives on the scene by murdering three Malloy men with a silenced gun that, since it’s registered, apparently means she hasn’t broken the law? I have some serious questions about that, but whatever. She’s also back to run Hiram out of town, first by convincing Veronica to convince Hermione to participate in a hostile takeover, sell her shares of Lodge Industries and get them Hiram’s underworld contact book, and then by getting some of her goons to batter Hiram to within an inch of his life so that, when he inevitably asks Ronnie for help, she can say no and tell him to die in the street like a mutt.
This storyline is quite clearly bonkers beyond belief, but so is most of Riverdale, if we’re being honest, so “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders” just feels like par for the course really. Either way, Hiram agrees to take a sabbatical after Veronica graduates, which will leave Hermosa to run things and allows Hermione to divorce him since if Ronnie isn’t there anymore she has no reason to stick around when she can be a real housewife of New York instead. Not a single word of what I just wrote is fabricated, but I totally understand why someone would think it was.
Speaking of things that are quite obviously bonkers, Cheryl’s storyline in Riverdale season 5, episode 2 might actually take the cake. In response to the governor agreeing to give up portions of the family grounds to people they’ve wronged, Penelope, Cheryl’s mother, decides to poison the entire family. This is supposed to be some kind of atonement and gives Cheryl – who Penelope told to get herself an alibi – full control of the Blossom holdings. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start.
And now onto the main event, since everyone is waiting with bated breath for Betty and Jughead to figure out who the Auteur is. The episode actually opens with them – well, Betty – receiving a call from Brett in the middle of the night begging to get him transferred to solitary since he’s obviously in some kind of danger, and lo and behold, by the time they arrive he has been killed. They learn later that he was stabbed multiple times and had his eyes gouged out. They blame David and then find David dead too. There’s quite a bit of death in this episode, isn’t there?
The body count only rises when Donna calls Betty – does she ever get a good night’s sleep? – to say that Joan is also dead and that she’s on the run, which also turns out to be true. Right on time, they receive another Auteur video which shows the mysterious videographer breaking into their home and holding a big knife to Jellybean’s cheek, so understandably they all shut shop and move away. Suspicions turn to Charles, who turns out to be quite a proud serial killer but not, in fact, the Auteur. This, by the way, is an extraordinarily bizarre conversation and isn’t believable in the slightest, so it totally works. It also leads Jughead to figure out who the Auteur really is, and it turns out to be… Jellybean, of all people.
The justification for Jellybean’s misbehavior is hilariously quaint – she just wanted Jughead to stick around, so fashioned a rapidly escalating mystery to keep him close. All is miraculously forgiven, and somehow one of the weirdest shows on television just keeps getting weirder. Somehow, it’s better for it.