Spoilers for Riverdale Season 5 Episode 2, “Chapter Seventy-Eight: The Preppy Murders” past this point.
Even if you figured out the identity of The Auteur on Riverdale — and hey, not to toot my own horn, but we did right here on Decider — you may not have been able to predict the exact motivations of the perpetrator. Or who else was behind the weird video tapes. Or that it wasn’t the only mystery solved in this week’s episode.
So who was The Auteur on Riverdale? The answer, as Upworthy said back in 2015, might surprise you: Jellybean Jones (Trinity Likins).
Actually, again, the answer is not that surprising, but the execution of the reveal still had plenty of twists and turns to it. So let’s break it all down in case you were confused.
Going all the way back to the beginning of Season 4, Jellybean had just found a steady home life in Riverdale thanks to her mother Gladys (Gina Gershon) leaving her in the capable hands of the joint Cooper/Jones/Smith household. She had her Dad, FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich), a Mom in Alice Smith (Mädchen Amick), a brother in Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) and a big sister in Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart).
…And it all came crashing down, thanks to Jughead getting accepted into the prestigious Stonewall Prep school. Granted, that was a whole thing in and of itself, as he was being invited there only so the students could manipulate him into getting the full rights to the Hardy Boys-esque Baxter Brothers novels (it’s a little more complicated than that, but we’ll let it slide). But for Jellybean, it meant breaking up the precious family unit she had been denied for so long.
So she did what anyone tween in Riverdale would do: started making VHS tapes of doors. Specifically, the Cooper/Jones/Smith house door, in order to creep Jughead out and keep him engaged in what was happening in Riverdale proper. It even sort of worked, with him splitting his time between the Stonewall mystery, and the Voyeur one.
The plan was at least in part hatched along with Ricky DeSantos (Nico Bustamante), the creepy kid who was super into Gryphons & Gargoyles in Season 3, and became friends with Jellybean. Since then, JB clearly gained a few more friends, and together they started making the Voyeur tapes together.
There’s another element here, which is that they met a true voyeur in David (Kett Turton), the owner of the Blue Velvet video store which also hosted a bunch of “red band” screenings; basically a rave that featured snuff films, tickle tapes and more illicit material. Thanks in part to his coaching, Jellybean and company amped things up considerably, creating videos that recreated some of the most traumatic events in Riverdale history: Jason Blossom’s murder, the Black Hood attacking Archie, etc.
But, and this is the key: nobody died making those Auteur tapes. The one from Season 4’s “Killing Mr. Honey” where it looked liked cartoon masked versions of the Riverdale characters killed their principal Mr. Honey (Kerr Smith) didn’t actually lead to his death. And from last week’s prom episode, “Climax,” the video of “prom” guests killing what looked like The Voyeur dressed as an owl was actually a video of David dressed in the owl suit, pretending to die.
Every video, in fact, was copied either from actual video taken from David’s shop — and there’s plenty of “real” video of horrific events in Riverdale, like Midge dying during the school musical in Season 2 — or from Jellybean spying on Betty and Jughead. The “Killing Mr. Honey” one, for example, came from Jellybean breaking into Jughead’s laptop.
…Which is all a way of explaining Jellybean’s punishment: nothing. For now. Betty and Jughead confront Jellybean, get the whole truth from her, and Jughead sits down with FP in La Bonne Nuit to tell him the truth about his daughter. When he returns home, she says “sorry” and he hugs her tight. Chances are this leads directly into Skeet Ulrich’s exit from the series next episode, as he presumably takes Jellybean out of town to keep her safe. Was what Jellybean did wrong? Yes. Did it terrorize the town? Sure. But illegal? We’ll leave that to lawyers like Mary Andrews (Molly Ringwald) to decide.
The twist here is that Jellybean isn’t the only member of the family committing crimes. In fact, the other major suspects in The Auteur mystery were bad guys all along, just in a different way than you might have expected. They would be Charles Smith (Wyatt Nash) and Chic (Hart Denton).
It’s a little convoluted, as all things are in Riverdale, but the short version is: Chic and Charles were lovers living together in a hotel; Charles joined the FBI, while Chic pretended to be Charles and moved in with the Coopers for a little while; then Chic went to prison, and Charles returned (not exactly in that order) to help Betty and Jughead investigate mysteries.
There’s a lot more to it, but the important part here is that Chic and Charles kept in touch because they’re in love, and were working as the true heroes of Riverdale to keep everyone safe. You know, by murdering people. Since Charles has the serial killer gene (a real thing, sort of), just like Betty, rather than keep it in check he indulged his impulses by becoming a dark avenger, a la Dexter. Though there are probably plenty more bodies stacked up, the ones we know about this episode alone are Stonewall students Bret Weston Wallis (Sean Depner) and Joan Berkeley (Doralynn Mui), who really deserve a break after getting murdered on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Also David, who Charles thought was too much of a pervert to live, and honestly, he’s not wrong.
The end result is sort of positive for Charles. His secret — that he was bugging (bugheading?) Betty and Jughead for their protection is out, and he’s most likely in jail with Chic, which is a net positive for him. He’ll probably have a hard time working for the FBI if he gets out, but as someone who mostly relied on children for clues he probably wasn’t doing a great job, anyway.
So there you go! Case closed, and now the deck is cleared for next week’s episode, which finds the kids graduating, and promises to be fraught with emotion. Until then, though, the show certainly seems to be running out of potential villains in the Cooper/Jones/Smith family.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c.