Last night’s Riverdale felt like a major story pushing effort. Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) fell deeper into the Southside Serpent abyss. A major twist about Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) was revealed: he’s super buff! Just kidding, that’s true, yet, more importantly, he’s having an affair with Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens). But the biggest “Tales From The Darkside” bombshell has to do with the beleaguered mayor's daughter, Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), who has an increasingly violent stalker. While we can all agree Josie’s new BFF Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) and her creepy drawings are involved in the scary situation, I would wager Riverdale’s stalking conundrum is far complicated than it looks at first blush.
If you really look at the “Darkside” evidence, it becomes pretty plausible there are actually two stalkers running around Riverdale High School terrorizing Josie.Throughout the episode, the singer gets two notes from her “mystery bae,” as Cheryl calls the stalker. The first is left in her locker and is attached to a banal teddy bear; it reads, “I’ll be watching you.” Depending on how you read it, that could be creepy or a poor attempt at being cute. The second note threatens, “If I can’t have you, no one can.” If that’s not terrifying enough, the message is scrawled on top of a scarily detailed drawing of Josie’s face. And then that note was laid on top of a box holding a pig heart. Later, we see Cheryl dreamily drawing a picture of herself and Josie in the exact same style as the pig heart picture.
As an obsessive television writer, I decided to compare these two very different messages, and they clearly weren’t written by the same people since the handwriting couldn’t be more different. While all of the shared letters look dissimilar, the U’s are what solidify this theory. In the first note, there’s no lines attached to the right right half of the vowels. But, in the second message, there are. Someone's handwriting can’t change that much, and a show as obsessed with details as Riverdale wouldn’t allow for such a careless production mistake. As the ball hairs of American Vandal prove, it's the small design differences that tell us the most.
By realizing this, it’s easier to understand what is probably going on with the stalker(s). It seems the first secret admirer is someone who has a simple crush on Josie. The teddy bear is the third gift Josie has received, and it’s probably purposefully creepy-seeming janitor Mr. Svenson (Cameron McDonald) is inappropriately crushing on the student. That apparently happens a lot at Riverdale High. Someone with Svenson’s position in RHS definitely has the ability to break into Josie’s locker. Cheryl, on the other hand, doesn’t exactly have the same level of access, unless she memorized her friend’s locker combination by sight alone.
That is why I would theorize Cheryl used the fact Josie already had a stalker to push Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway) out of her friend’s life for good. Think about it: While the previous mystery bae's missives were put inside of Josie’s locker — which Cheryl can’t easily get into — the scary second one was placed into the music room, a location anyone can slip into quite freely, the day right after Josie and Chuck's flirty trip to Pop's.
So, did Cheryl pull this stunt because she’s in love with Josie? Maybe, since she was drawing that picture of Josie with practical emoji heart eyes, but, the whole scenario is likely more complex than that. As Cheryl mentions in “Darkside,” she feels Josie, above the other girls who beat the stuffing out of would-be rapist Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips), saved her from sexual assault. If you look back at “When A Stranger Calls,” it’s Josie who physically checks on a drugged Cheryl right after Nick is pulled off her. Josie was literally the first person Cheryl saw after her assault, and, as we later see, the person she leans on for support immediately afterwards. That’s why she’s getting Josie studio time and trying to turn the Pussycat lead into a star.
Now, Cheryl, an assault survivor, sees the exact friend who she believes saved her from an attempted rape is going on dates with a known predator. As we learned in season 1’s “Body Double,” Chuck has preyed on multiple young women, including Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) and Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser). Chuck is precisely the kind of person Cheryl would want far away from her BFF, and she would likely go to great lengths to make him persona non grata in Josie’s life. Alleging he cut out a pig’s heart and left it for Josie to find, along with a menacing note, following their first date-not-date would certainly do the trick. By the end of Josie’s chapter in the episode, Chuck has a police mandate to “steer clear” of the Pussycat, who’s now convinced he’s an animal-mutilating creep. Mission accomplished.
Interestingly enough, it seems Chuck isn’t the first person Cheryl has chucked from Josie’s life for what the Blossom teen would consider her BFF’s own good. Early in Josie’s chapter, her co-Pussycats Valerie Brown (Hayley Law) and Melody Valentine (Asha Bromfield) confront Josie for branching out as a solo act, which is something Cheryl put in motion through her connections with Abbey Road Riverdale knockoff Shabbey Road Studios. Cheryl also continuously encourages a hesitant Josie to pursue the opportunity, reminding her she doesn’t need the other Pussycats.
Valerie and Melody find out about the betrayal via a note in their locker. While Cheryl can’t break into a locker — like the teddy bear-giving secret admirer — she can certainly drop a piece of paper through a slot. And I bet if you compared the handwriting on that drama-starting note to the one atop that chilling drawing of Josie, they would be identical.
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