Let’s set one thing straight, Riverdale fans: Jughead (Cole Sprouse) probably isn’t dead. The CW series, however, wants us to believe that Jughead is very much a goner, having become a victim of the nefarious Stonewall Prep crew. After a season of teasing the murder of Riverdale’s narrator with flashforwards to spring break senior year, we finally caught up with the night in question. Appropriately, Jughead’s supposed killing took place on the Ides of March, and it appears that Betty (Lili Reinhart) was possibly to blame...with an assist from super not cool Donna (Sarah Desjardins).
Jughead has had a very complicated time at Stonewall Prep, the bougie private school he was recruited to for senior year. Terrible classmate Bret (Sean Depner) filmed Jughead and Betty hooking up in their dorm room as a way to blackmail him. He won a contract to write a Baxter Brothers novel, only to be accused of plagiarism and have the rights to his story stolen from him. Jughead even got indoctrinated into the Skull & Quill, a secret society which made him spill his darkest secrets — only to then get booted from the club.
In Riverdale’s “Ides of March,” Jughead — still a student at Stonewall — is informed he lost the Baxter Brothers contract, and decides to hatch a plan to take down Bret and the rest of the Stonewall prepsters once and for all. The perfect place to do it, Jughead decides, is at their annual Ides of March party. We don’t actually see what plan Jughead came up with, but it involves joining Bret in the forest for a confrontation, with Jughead wielding a shiny knife.
Betty also goes into the forest, in order to talk to Donna. Betty wants Donna to admit that there’s something insane going on at Stonewall Prep, and that they manipulated Jughead into having him write a story for the school to steal. Instead, Donna informs Betty that she went to visit imprisoned cult leader Evelyn Evernever (Zoé de Grand Maison), and learned of the secret code word that makes Betty go into a fugue state and hurt the ones she loves. Betty isn’t afraid of Donna’s threat, as she overcame this code — which was once the word “tangerine” repeated three times. Donna knows something Betty doesn’t, though: There’s now a new code, one that can hypnotize Betty on a dime.
The scene then cuts to Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Archie (K.J. Apa) stumbling upon Betty in the woods. She’s holding a rock and standing over Jughead’s unmoving body. Archie checks on Jughead, and is horrified to realize that Jughead has no pulse.
Finally, Riverdale has caught up to the night previously teased in the season 3 finale, but that doesn’t mean we know the whole story. For one thing, we never saw Betty in her fugue state go after Jughead with a rock. We also don’t know what Jughead’s master plan was for the Stonewall Prep kids. Is it possible that Jughead really is dead, and his plan went awry when Donna stepped in to mess with Betty? Sure, but more likely, faking his death is a part of the plan for Jughead to punish Bret, Donna, and the rest of the crew.
If that is the case...how much do Veronica and Archie know about Jughead’s plan, if anything? Was this all a big part of Jughead’s revenge plot the whole time, or something that he and Betty only thought of after Donna declared she was ready to send Betty into a serial killer state?
Riverdale returns February 26 — ideally, with all the answers to these burning questions.