The Complicated & Murderous Backstory Of Betty Cooper's Secret Riverdale Brother

Photo: Courtesy of The CW.
Well, Riverdale can certainly still pull off a jaw-dropper of an episode, can’t it? Even with all the mob-related explosions, gruesome murders, and rampant general chaos, Wednesday night’s “Prisoners” proved the real Riverdale surprises come down to family. Namely, almost always, the Cooper family.
After months of believing Chic “Cooper” (Hart Denton) was the long-lost brother of Betty Cooper, we now know that is a big fat lie. Instead, Betty’s MIA sibling is actually a completely different, allegedly dead, person named Charles Smith. So, creepy, murderous Chic was merely an imposter. It’s important to remember “Charles Smith” actually was the name the Coopers were given when they began searching for Alice Cooper’s (Mädchen Amick) first child — everyone just immediately accepted “Chic” as an appropriate nickname.
Well, that was very, very incorrect. “Prisoners” clarifies almost an overwhelming amount of information about Charles, including what really happened to him after Alice gave him up for what she believed was an adoption, and how he supposedly met his grisly end. Oh, and there’s that small, tiny detail about Charles’ true paternity.
So, keep reading for the complete explanation on the real Charles’ history, including some very suspicious Black Hood-related details. Because it can't be a coincidence the Black Hood's return just so happened to coincide with Charles' legitimate introduction.
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Four Months Before Alice’s Homecoming Dance

After nearly a full year of speculation, it’s official: The father of Alice’s first baby is none other than F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich). Alice tearfully confirms as much during “Prisoners.” It’s unclear if Charles was conceived during an on-again, off-again period for teenage Alice and future husband Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro), or if Alice simply dated F.P. first.

What we do know is, Charles is (was?) the perfect mix of Northside and Southside Riverdale sensibilities. Falice forever, y’all.
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Twenty-Something Years Before The Events Of Riverdale, At Alice's Homecoming Dance

The drama surrounding Charles begins at the Riverdale High homecoming dance of yore, when F.P. noticed Alice and the terrible, awful, no good Hal arguing at the dance. Hypothetically, the teen couple should have been overjoyed — they won king and queen that evening! — but, instead, it was Yell City.

By the season 1 finale, “The Sweet Hereafter,” we learn the issue at hand was Alice’s surprise pregnancy. Although Hal wanted his girlfriend to have an abortion, Alice wasn’t so sure. Hence, the very scream-y tension.

Also, it is now very likely Hal was so determined to terminate Alice’s pregnancy because he knew the child definitely wouldn’t be his. Because, you know, Falice.
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Five Months After That

The day after the homecoming fiasco, Alice officially decided to bring the pregnancy to term. So, she went to the Sisters Of Quiet Mercy, the extremely creepy convent lurking in every dastardly Riverdale plot, to wait to give birth.

Then, five months later, Alice welcomed a baby boy and named him Charles. Although it sounds like Alice clearly loved the baby, she seemed to believe she wouldn’t be able to care for him properly as a teen. So she allowed the Sisters to arrange a “quiet adoption,” and gave the baby away.

While explaining the secret pregnancy saga to Betty, the distraught mom says, “It’s the biggest regret of my life.”

There was only one problem…
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The Quiet Sisters Of Mercy Years

Unbeknownst to Alice, there was no adoption.

While Chic definitely bounced around the foster system, it doesn’t seem like the real Charles met that same fate. Instead, we can surmise Real Charles was left to wile away at The Sisters of Quiet Mercy, the only house of horrors that can rival the gothic terror of Thornhill Manor, for his entire life. As Sister Woodhouse (Beverley Breuer) tells Betty and boyfriend Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), “I never forget my children.”
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Overlapping With Svenson

Before “Prisoners,” Riverdale really wanted us to believe RHS janitor Mr. Svenson (Cameron McDonald), born Joseph Conway, was the Black Hood. As “Prisoners” proves, by way of a reemergence of the morality-obsessed killer, that underwhelming Scooby Doo-ish twist was a total red herring perpetrated by both the real Hood and Riverdale’s writers.

While we don’t know a lot of Charles, including his motives or affinity for black-hooded violence, we do know his time at the Sisters overlapped with Svenson’s time there for at least two years. Is that enough time for them to feed off of each other’s hatred for Riverdale? Or their own internalized guilt over the town? Or, even, for Charles to pick up a serious grudge against the ex-Sisters patient-turned-groundskeeper and framed faux serial killer?
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Leaving The Sisters

As Jughead notes, the real Charles ran away from the Sisters nine years ago. Considering just how horrific the convent is, we have to wonder what kind of scars the Dickensian group home left on young Charles, who apparently decided facing homelessness was better than the sisters.

At some point after Charles’ escape, he did ring the Cooper family doorbell, but didn’t explain who he was. Alice, understandably not recognizing her son, and finding a stranger on her doorstep, turned Charles away.
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Meeting Chic

It’s unclear when Charles Smith met Chic No Last Name, but Chic does confirm in “Prisoners” the pair first crossed paths while on the streets. Soon enough they were living together in that seedy Centreville motel room.
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“Murdering” Charles

Chic originally tries to blame the Coopers for Charles’ alleged death, claiming Alice’s doorstep rejection led her son to a fatal jingle jangle binge. But, a neighbor tells Jughead and Betty that Charles was actually “the nice one,” and was consistently polite to her. Yet, Charles and Chic constantly argued, until one day there was only one left — “the bad one.” At that time, the woman also noted bloody sheets and pillows in the dumpster.

Chic finally confesses to murdering Charles when Betty confronts him with actual death. “We got in a fight. I lost control. I didn’t mean to hurt him,” Chic explains. Interestingly, the Black Hood already knew about this murder, as evidenced by his “Prisoners” phone call with Betty, despite the fact Chic and Charles were likely the only people in the room at the time. Hm.

And, on Riverdale, if there is no on-camera body, there is no death.
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The Black Hood’s Reign Of Terror Begins?

It’s not explained exactly when Chic “killed” Charles, but it fair to assume it happened around the time the Black Hood began terrorizing Riverdale. After all, people don’t live in those motels for very long, and that neighbor had a very clear memory of Charles.
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Chic Begins Masquerading As Charles

With Charles “dead,” Chic is free to act as a Charles imposter when Betty and Alice go to track down their long-lost family member in “The Blackboard Jungle.” Chic’s motives for spinning the con are mysterious, but the subterfuge is either the best way to cover-up Charles’ murder — if you pretend to be Charles, no one of import is looking for Charles — or a twisted revenge scheme against the white picket fence family.
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The Cooper-Joneses Learn The Entire Truth

Finally, in “Prisoners,” everyone learns the truth about the Charles-Chic disaster. F.P. finds out he has another son (there’s also the little fact that the son he already knew about is dating his secret first son’s little sister). Poor Jughead doesn’t hear about any of this. But, at least, he and everyone else finds out about Chic’s massive, murderous lie.

Without any time to really mourn “dead” Charles, it certainly feels like another shoe is about to drop.

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