Riverdale: Season 1 Episode 12 review – Chapter Twelve: Anatomy of a Murder
This review contains spoilers.
Here it is – the most powerful tool in a murder mystery’s kit: the big whodunnit reveal. The question on every fan’s mind this week was: will we be impressed with the killer choice? When murder mysteries choose someone obvious as the killer it is extremely tedious. Equally when they choose someone overly complex (to the point of choosing someone out of the box for the sake of being out of the box) it can seem contrived.
One final spoiler warning before I discuss the name of the killer. As I speculated last week, the person selected was someone who had a vested interest in Jason and Polly’s relationship. To choose a killer who was indifferent about this romance would have been foolish, because the entire season has hinged upon their unpopular coupling.
Delivered during an effectively emotional scene in which our core gang watch video footage that was stored on a USB device, we watched as Jason and Cheryl’s father, Clifford Blossom, murdered his own son with a handgun. He also took Jason’s ring, which further reinforces that his is motive being angry at his son for wishing to run off with Polly Cooper. This is due to Clifford’s own status bigotry, but also because he knows Jason and Polly are related.
Not only are they very loosely related (third cousins), but they weren’t even aware of this relation. Much worse incest occurs on popular television shows regularly, yet often goes unpunished in those shows. So to say Clifford is overreacting here is an understatement. And even if you place the incest component aside, it doesn’t make much sense that Clifford would choose to kill his own son – even as a last resort.
The show demonised Clifford a couple of episodes back when Polly stumbled in on his collection of wigs and he slammed the door closed. At the time, this felt a little like they were presenting him as some kind of cheesy bond villain. Looking back at this now, the heavy-handedness is even more obvious.
When the killer turns out to be family in these whodunnits, unless the two family members have a history of loathing one another then it is often a poor choice. The Blossoms are proud to the extreme – putting their family and status before all else. So it seems too far outside of his character for Clifford to kill his own son, who – according to how they put Cheryl as second best – both parents revered and adored.
I understand that the writers are trying to show that Clifford favours his status over even his own flesh and blood. He would rather murder his own child than be shamed by his son’s escape and incestuous betrothal to a Cooper. Although, unfortunately, such murders do happen in real life (I can recall one particular instance in the news not long ago), to me this seems too outside the bounds of realism.
And to have Cheryl take the news on the chin and seemingly side with her parents is all the more bizarre. She simply hasn’t been depicted as evil like her parents, so why she would do that is confusing. Hopefully the finale will clear up a little of the Blossoms’ nonchalance about the death of one of their own, by the hand of their head patriarch.
The rest of the episode toyed with FP’s confession and FP choosing to push Jughead away (which was to protect him, as we later found out). The stylistic delivery of the show was as refined as ever, with even the opening title letters sizzling with electric anticipation over the reveal.
The killer choice – after having waited a whole season to find out – simply wasn’t strong enough for me. I would much rather the writers had chosen someone more unpredictable; more on the sidelines and more surprising. Even if they had gone as wild as having “Dark Betty” be the killer, that would have been far bolder and more interesting than this.
Image credits: The CW