Somewhere in the third act of Wednesday’s new Riverdale episode, “Witness for the Prosecution,” I had a lightbulb moment: Bret (Sean Depner) is going to die. We’ve all been so worried about whether Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) may perish after that alarming season 3 cliffhanger last spring, we’ve missed the fact that Bret Weston Wallis, Stonewall Prep’s worst person, is the most obvious casualty.
“Prosection” begins laying the groundwork for Bret’s demise — and that’s not even the most morbid storyline on the episode’s plate. That award goes to Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), who realizes Riverdale may have another serial killer on the loose. Elsewhere, Veronica Lodge (Cami Mendes) and Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) fight the respective crime kingpins in their lives. Veronica even gets a very hermosa new sister out of the situation.
Let’s get down to the most bonkers moments of the episode and try to unravel them. They’re in no particular order, because Riverdale excels in the chaos.
Meet The Baxter Brothers
“Prosecution” is the definition of a table setting episode, and the What Happens To Jughead Jones? mystery receives the best attention. It’s here that Mr. Chipping (Sam Witwer) reveals he is the current ghost author of The Baxter Brothers series, Riverdale’s answer to The Hardy Boys. Now that Chipping has finished his fourth book in the series, it’s time to hand over the reins to younger blood.
That is where the literary group comes in. Chipping and supposed OG Baxter writer Francis DuPont Jr. (Malcolm Stewart, who is scheduled to return for at least two more episodes) plan to pick the new writer out of Stonewall’s writerly fivesome. This has been the tradition since the series began. Light parlor games and, eventually, a true writing test will decide who the lucky author is.
DuPont helps shed some light on what happened when Jughead’s grandpa, Forsythe Jones I, went to Stonewall (and was an absolute babe, yearbook photos confirm). Apparently, Forsythe was an amazing writer. So good he’s the true Baxter author? Maybe. He was also a real “brawler,” a detail Bret later uses to taunt Jughead. The moment Bret insecurely calls Jughead every rude name in the books and brings his grandfather into the fight, it seems clear Bret needs to die.
The last scene of “Prosecution” starts to reveal how Bret's undoing will come about. The theme for the Baxter writing competition will be “the perfect murder.” This prompt will be Jughead and Bret’s final showdown. It seems inevitable that things will go horrifically, tragically wrong.
The Core Three are accused of murder
In the “Prosecution” flashforward, we see Jughead’s dad FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich) storm a Riverdale High biology class to arrest Archie, Betty, and Veronica for killing his son. The flashforward image of the trio covered in blood and setting Jughead’s beanie aflame last season certain hint they’re at fault.
But this is Riverdale. And Jughead was just tasked with figuring out the perfect murder. If he ends up really having to commit one, wouldn’t convincing the world he was the one murdered be the genius part of the con?
Betty Cooper: Serial killer? Charles Smith: Serial killer?
Last season, Riverdale revealed Betty has the so-called serial killer gene. Then, the series appeared to forget since it had a Gargoyle King to catch, an evil board game to defeat, and a speakeasy to run.
Now that Riverdale has taken a breath, it can return to Betty’s worst Prodigal Son-y anxieties. “Prosecution” marks Betty’s formal entrance into the FBI after taking down one of America’s most dangerous cult leaders on her own. Betty enrolls in big half-brother Charles’ (Wyatt Nash) Pre-FBI Class for Murder-Obsessed Teens and realizes she is simply too good at spotting serial killers. So she goes to the doctor and learns she definitely has the “serial killer genes” — that the rumor wasn’t a creepy Farm lie from her awful sister Polly (Tiera Skovbye).
Quickly, Betty starts recalling horrifying memories from her childhood. First, she assumes she drowned her cat Caramel, as Polly claimed last season. The truth is more twisted. Betty didn’t drown Caramel — she bashed the cat’s head in with a rock after she was hit by a car. Hal (Lochlyn Munro) is the one who urged his daughter to do the mercy killing, apparently as some serial killer induction ceremony.
When Betty tells Charles she needs to leave the program to avoid the inherent darkness in her own heart, he counters. Charles says Betty should stay precisely so she can learn to embrace and control her more violent urges. Charles would know, he explains, as he too has the serial killer gene (so Alice is the carrier?). Charles’ confidence — and suspiciously bare life — send off warning signals in Betty. What if Charles is yet another Smith-Cooper family member with a meticulous murderous side?
By the end of the episode, Betty is tailing her brother to figure out what hunky, hunky Charles is hiding.
Hermosa Lodge rising
Ronnie has a (half?)-sister. Her name is Hermosa (the fabulous Mishel Prada) and she dresses like a 1940s noir dame. She’s a licensed private eye from Miami who helps spring her father Hiram (Mark Consuelos) from jail. Hermosa is even more of a daddy’s girl than Ronnie.
This means the entire Lodge family is free after a messy — and mercifully quick — court storyline (Ronnie did some blackmail to save Hermione).
“Prosecution” is only an amuse bouche of the discord Hermosa and Hiram are bound to sow now that the latter is free and planning to run for mayor. Welcome to the crime lord party, Hermosa! We’re glad to have you.
Archie is the most obvious superhero
Archie is now donning a full black athleisure outfit and mask to fight crime on the Southside (we all remember how well that went in season 2). While Archie’s intentions are as pure as ever, it’s impossible not to feel frustrated when you watch him tackle would-be muggers in the middle of the street. Or confront the new local baddie, the hilariously named Dodger (Juan Riedinger), using just a fake voice and a slow walk.
Archie is the only person standing up to Dodger. How long will it take for the savvy criminal to figure out Archie’s very obvious identity?