Because centering a creepy, ritualistic murder mystery around a board game apparently wasn't enough to ruin your childhood, Riverdale has now turned its focus to The Baxter Brothers books — which no, in case you were wondering, are not real. They do, however, feel like an obvious nod to the classic Hardy Boys mystery tales. And more importantly, seem like the key to figuring out what in the world is going on at Stonewall prep.
As we learned in the Nov. 6 episode, Jughead grew up reading The Baxter Brothers books, believing them to be gifts from his father. However, they were actually from his grandfather, Forsythe Pendleton Jones the first, who briefly went to Stonewall Prep and showed a knack for writing.
Much like The Hardy Boys had ghostwriters pen novels under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon and Nancy Drew's ghostwriters' pseudonym was Carolyn Keene, The Baxter Brothers main author has just been a collection of writers over the years — all of whom went to Stonewall Prep. Francis DuPont started the series under the pseudonym Franklin P. Paxton, and has since passed the torch to other Stonewall students.
Now, Jughead is in a competition with his classmates (including the terrible Bret Weston Wallis) to become the next Franklin P. Paxton. (In case you had any doubt that The Baxter Brothers is a reference to The Hardy Boys, the pseudonyms make it clear.)
The contest to determine the next author requires Jughead and the other students to write the first three chapters and a complete outline of the next Baxter Brothers novel. The theme? The perfect murder — which is likely how the books tie into this central mystery of Jughead's (supposed) death. The obvious conclusion is that Bret, desperate to win the contest, kills Jughead and stages the "perfect murder" to frame Betty, Archie, and Veronica. It's also possible that Jughead will fake his own death as the "perfect murder" to illustrate his novel idea in a grander sense. That would help explain why none of his friends seem very concerned that Jughead is supposedly dead and that they're the suspects for the murder. They could be in on his ruse.
Riverdale's Nov. 13 episode will likely offer some more context, with the synopsis saying that Jughead, "uncovers a mystery surrounding the author of the Baxter Brothers books." Now, that could mean any one of the many authors who have ghostwritten the books over the years. The only ones we really know about are Mr. Chipping and Francis DuPont, but maybe Jughead's grandfather was one of the ghostwriters and that's why he sent so many of the books to Jughead. Up until now, Jughead (and viewers) have been led to believe that Forsythe the first drank himself to death, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
Decider reported in October that Canadian actor Timothy Webber has been cast to play Forsythe the first and that he'll show up in the midseason finale, so he's clearly still alive. His character is described by the outlet as a "grizzled hermit who lives alone in the woods" and is "ashamed of himself, riddled with guilt over his lack of achievement and his descent into the bottle." When Jughead shows up on his doorstep, the site teases, "Forsythe invites him in to discuss his long-ago involvement with the Baxter Brothers franchise."
Well, well, well. This sounds like a mystery that would actully make for a great Baxter Brothers novel. Hopefully Jughead can make it out of the season alive, having faked his own death to win a competition. You know, the kind of thing any normal aspiring author would do in high school.