The students of Riverdale High simply cannot catch a break. Just as one mystery ends — like, say, the true motive behind “The Farm” or who is behind Jughead’s supposed “death” — another one emerges with full force. On last week’s episode “Lynchian,” the investigation into those unsettling videotapes (which may or may not be real snuff films) continued, with Jughead (Cole Sprouse) leading the charge. Though no answers were found, the show did tease a killer suspect: Mr. Honey (Kerr Smith) might be the one sending those tapes after all.
In “Lynchian,” Jughead discovered the Scarlet Suite, a room at Riverdale’s video store that catered to disturbing (and, in some cases, criminal) content. This room contains a video of Jughead and Betty (Lili Reinhart) having sex, which was created after Jughead’s former roommate Bret (Sean Depner) filmed them without their consent. (Gross, not to mention illegal.) It’s also hinted that the “tickling” tapes end up in the Scarlet Suite as well, suggesting there’s something more nefarious going on with the tickling ring than Kevin (Casey Cott) is a part of. There’s even a copy of Clifford Blossom (Barclay Hope) killing his son Jason (Trevor Stines).
At the end of the episode, Mr. Honey is seen at the video store. He’s informed that, unfortunately for him, a frequent Scarlet Suite visitor, the Scarlet Suite is no more thanks to an FBI raid. Honey declares that it’s “probably for the best,” but obviously, there’s something real weird about the fact that the Riverdale High principal was into this stuff in the first place.
Mr. Honey frequenting the Scarlet Suite is the biggest clue that he may be involved in those “watcher” tapes sent to the Riverdale kids, but it’s not the only hint. For one thing, Mr. Honey arrived at the school at the beginning of the year, right around when the tapes showed up on everyone’s front stoop. At first, the tapes were merely footage of everyone’s houses, taken from across the street. However, recently, the tapes got weirder, and more specific...just as Mr. Honey was losing total control over the Riverdale High students.
In the musical episode “Wicked Little Town,” Jughead received a tape of someone in a Betty mask bashing a guy in a Jughead mask’s head in — and it’s unclear if it’s a snuff film, or a cleverly edited video. Later, in “Lynchian,” Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is sent a reenactment of Jason’s murder, with people in masks portraying her brother and father. It definitely seems like whoever made this video really shot the person dressed as Jason, just as it appears that the person playing Betty actually killed the one portraying Jughead. Yikes.
The real incidents that these tapes are reenacting prove that the town of Riverdale isn’t as “good” as it appears on the surface. It’s a recurring theme on the show, which is based on the wholesome Archie Comics and subverts them with a dark twist. One of the reasons why serial killer the Black Hood (Lochlyn Munro) went through with his murder spree was because he wanted to show that the town of Riverdale was full of sinners. He killed people who did not live up to the perfect facade.
We already know that Mr. Honey is an authoritarian principal: He shut down the student variety show based on Hedwig and the Angry Inch because he deemed it inappropriate. Earlier in the season, he called the cops on Cheryl’s party (hmm...how did he know about that anyway, if he wasn’t watching the students carefully?) which she held after he cancelled the school dance due to the Black Hood tragedy at a dance the year prior. It seems like Mr. Honey is trying to get the students of Riverdale to behave at any cost — he even (seemingly) smashed up Reggie’s (Charles Melton) car after Reggie TPed his office.
If Mr. Honey is behind these tapes, perhaps his motive is simple. Much like the Black Hood, he wants to show Riverdale what it really is. Unlike the Black Hood, however, Mr. Honey may not want Riverdale to embrace its dark side, but run from it. After all, one way to shut down any bad behavior is to prove that someone is always watching...like, say, your high school principal.
In an ideal world, the season 4 finale will reveal the truth behind the videotape drama satisfactorily. Unfortunately, given the little notice before production on Riverdale was halted due to the coronavirus, it’s likely this will be a dangling thread that leads us into season 5. Still, if Mr. Honey is a villain, that only means we’ll have him in our midst come the next season...and there could be plenty more tapes to come.