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.
Viewers will recall that Miss Grundy was chased out of Riverdale after the fourth episode of the season — when Betty revealed Grundy’s affair with Archie — and Betty’s mother forced Mss Grundy to leave town or else risk being exposed (and imprisoned). Before Grundy left town, however, recall that Betty had found out that her real name was Jennifer Gibson. According to Grundy, she had been forced to change her name and move from town to town to dodge her abusive ex-husband. Grundy, at the time, was a popular suspect in the murder of Jason Blossom by Riverdale viewers. Miss Grundy also had a gun, and while I don’t know if it was the murder weapon, no one has ruled out Grundy’s ex-husband.
Why would Grundy’s abusive ex-husband — who had forced Grundy to relocate on several other occasions — be behind Jason Blossom’s murder? It could be a simple case of mistaken identity: Grundy’s ex-husband found out about Archie and, determined to kill his wife’s lover, he killed the wrong man — someone who looks similar to Archie (the likeness between Archie and Jason has been remarked upon several times this season).
More likely, however, Miss Grundy had a “type.” Recall that we also learned from Betty that Miss Grundy had been teaching Jason Blossom the year before she gave Archie “music lessons,” which means she could have had an affair with Jason, too. Grundy clearly had a lengthy fascination with high school boys. After all, even as she was leaving town, she was ogling other students at Riverdale High. Perhaps her ex-husband had found out about her affair with Jason, followed him out to the river, and killed him as a simple act of revenge.
Revealing Grundy’s ex might feel like a cheat because he is so unrelated to the events of the last five episodes, but there’s also something to be said for the Blossom family tangling themselves up in knots and potentially destroying themselves while chasing the wrong motive. Moreover, with four episodes left, we may not have seen the last of Miss Grundy. In a recent Reddit AMA, Sarah Haben — who plays Grundy — was asked if she would return this season. “I’d just say that Grundy has a lot of complicated feelings surrounding her departure from Riverdale. And old habits…….weeeeeelllll they die hard.”
“Complicated feelings” suggests that Grundy may return to resolve them, and the “old habit die hard” line suggests that Grundy has had a history of sleeping with high-school students, including potentially Jason Blossom.
Ultimately, Grundy’s ex may not be the most satisfying reveal, but it would be the one most befitting a police procedural. For all the family drama, feuds, and complicated land deals thrown at us during this season of Riverdale, maybe it really is as uncomplicated as an angry ex-lover.