Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) isn’t actually named Jughead, his full name is Forsythe Pendleton Jones III. FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich) is actually named Forsythe Pendleton Jones II. And though it hasn’t been confirmed on the show, Jellybean Jones (Trinity Likins) is named Forsythia Jones in the comics. I am sorry to that girl.
But it all started with one mystery man, Jughead’s grandfather, FP’s father, Forsythe Pendleton Jones. And as of Riverdale‘s latest episode, “Chapter Fifty-Nine: Fast Times At Riverdale High,” it looks like FPJ the First is poised to be a big player in the Town With Pep.
Spoilers for Riverdale Season 4, Episode 2 “Chapter Fifty-Nine: Fast Times At Riverdale High” past this point.
In the episode, Jughead is wrestling with a big decision: attend the exclusive Stonewall Prep school and challenge his intellect, or stay at Riverdale High with his girlfriend, Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart). Ultimately, Betty encourages him to choose the former, knowing that they’ll be fine as a couple. But in a surprising twist, when Jughead shows off his prep school uniform to FP and Jellybean, Jughead’s Dad reveals that Forsythe Pendleton Jones I briefly attended Stonewall, himself.
“You’re sort of a legacy there, you know,” FP says to a confused Jughead. “Your grandfather, Forsythe the First, went to Stonewall Prep for a couple of months, until he dropped out.”
“What happened?” Jughead asks. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“That’s ancient history,” continues FP. “But he quitted everything, including me. Went out for a pack of smokes and he never came back. Anyway.”
Yeah, anyway. No big deal. MOVING ON.
…Except not moving on at all, because this is a big deal not just for the history of the Jones family, but also the rest of Riverdale Season 4. Back at New York Comic Con, Ulrich confirmed that Grandpa Jones will be turning up in the show’s midseason finale, and when it comes to the character, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Before this, we haven’t heard a lot about FP’s Dad other than what he mentions above. According to the sheriff, FP1 kicked FP2 out when he was 16. And in the brain-breaking “Chapter Fifty: American Dreams,” FP told his son that he couldn’t believe he lived to see his fiftieth birthday, and in fact expected he would die “getting myself killed or drinking myself to death, like my old man.”
I also can’t believe he lived to fifty because FP is late 40s at best, but I digress. Point being, as far as we previously knew, Forsythe Pendleton died an alcoholic, with the implication that he died before age 50. Though the new info in “Fast Times At Riverdale High” doesn’t necessarily contradict this, the fact that he’s showing up later in the season definitely does.
Which raises (at least) two questions: 1) What’s the deal with Forsythe Pendleton Jones, and 2) Who will play Jughead’s grandfather on Riverdale?
The answer to both of these questions is pure speculation at this point, but — going out on a limb here — not all is right at Stonewall Prep. The school is pretentious, for sure, but between teacher Mr. Chipping (Sam Witwer) accepting Jughead for extremely specious reasons (he lost a writing contest but his story was so good he’s getting a full ride at a prep school?) and the revelation that his grandfather briefly attended the school, there’s definitely a connection. Whether Forsythe is an antagonist for Stonewall Prep, given his short stay, or working with them in some way remains to be seen, though I’d err on the side of him being a potential villain.
Then there’s the casting question. Riverdale loves nothing more than mining hot teens past for their adult cast, and we’d expect nothing different for Forsythe Pendleton Jones I. The tricky thing is that there aren’t a lot of formerly teen idols in their seventies hanging around; but given the show’s weird, sliding timeline, we can probably look more towards stars of ’80s movies and shows, versus going back to the ’70s.
With that in mind, how about Judd Nelson? As suggested by my co-worker Josh Sorokach, Nelson is a former rebel without a cause in ’80s classics like The Breakfast Club, so would fit in perfectly with the Jones family. He’s also a decade older than Skeet Ulrich in real life, which in Riverdale time is at least double that. He also doesn’t seem to be working on any projects currently, so it could work out in his schedule. The only real weirdness here is that Nelson co-starred with Molly Ringwald in Breakfast Club, and Ringwald is joining Riverdale in a more recurring capacity this season as Mary Andrews, meaning she would be one generation down than Nelson’s potential character. That said, again, Nelson is actually 8 years older than Ringwald, and also, nothing matters.
Another Breakfast Club co-star who might work? Emilio Estevez. He’s a little younger than Nelson, but he can channel both the jock and gang-member sides of FP effectively.
If they want to skew a little older, Riverdale could go for someone like Peter Gallagher. He’s TV royalty at this point, and has appeared on complicated teen shows before as Sandy Cohen on The O.C. On the same note, I’d suggest John Wesley Shipp, who played Dawson’s dad on Dawson’s Creek, but he’s already guesting over on The Flash.
Hey, here’s an even crazier possibility that’s definitely not going to happen: what if FP The First is someone we’ve already met? It’s definitely not Mr. Chipping, since he met FP and you’d think that would be the sort of thing he would remark on, i.e., “Hey dad, you’re alive and look younger than me.” So what about new school principal, Mr. Honey (Kerr Smith), who got introduced this episode? We don’t know a lot about him yet other than him being a hard-ass, so maybe he’s also connected to Stonewall Prep which has some sort of… Vampire type thing going on? I don’t know.
Regardless of who plays Forsythe, it’s clear that by midseason the dynamic of the Jones family is going to be changed forever. That’s assuming, of course, that Jughead survives the experience.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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