Watch enough murder procedurals and a formula begins to emerge. Whether it is Castle, CSI, NCIS, or even iZombie, there is a familiar pattern to many procedural episodes: There’s the murder, the crime scene, the interview with the first suspect, the meeting with the medical examiner at the police morgue, the interviews with suspects two through six, the chase, the initial reveal, and the twist. In probably 60 percent of crime procedural episodes, the murderer often ends up being the first or second person suspect interviewed. After the first interview, detectives dismiss that person — usually someone close to the victim, like an assistant or a spouse — as a suspect and then subsequent interviews take the case in a completely different direction that, in the end, very often circles back to the beginning, to the assistant or the spouse first interviewed.
It’s a smart setup for a whodunnit: It allows writers to introduce the murderer early on but spend the next 35 minutes misdirecting the viewer before bringing it back to the original suspect. The surprise remains, but because the murderer is already someone who has been considered, it also doesn’t come completely out of left field.
If one were to apply this framework to an entire season of television, the final season of Riverdale — which this week completed its 9th episode — would be interviewing its final suspects before embarking on the “chase.” Right now, the chief suspects in the murder of Jason Blossom are Hiram Lodge — the father of Veronica — and Jason Blossom’s own family, and while either one of those suspects makes sense if one follows the money, the “procedural” answer takes us back to the beginning to Jennifer Gibson, aka Miss Grundy. Or more precisely, Miss Grundy’s ex-husband.