With the Riverdale gang's high school years rapidly drawing to a close, time is running out for Jughead and Betty to unmask its latest enemy: a masked villain called the Auteur, who's responsible for distributing some seriously disturbing videotapes around town. Although one suspected culprit (David Lynch, the video store clerk) was supposedly killed in the Season 5 premiere, fans still have lots of theories about who Riverdale's Auteur is.
The mysterious figure originally left creepy surveillance footage behind at the beginning of Season 4 before eventually graduating to recreating disturbing murders like Clifford Blossom killing Cheryl's twin brother, Jason. Things became even more haunting in the season's final episodes, when the Auteur began creating snuff films featuring actors wearing cartoon masks modeled after the Riverdale characters' original Archie Comics counterparts. The new tapes also featured them recreating scenes that no one else should know about, such as Betty pretending to kill Jughead or a scene from a short story Jughead wrote about the gang "killing" loathsome principal Mr. Honey.
Betty and Jughead uncovered more details about the criminal in the Season 5 premiere, namely that he often wears an owl mask. Viewers are bound to finally find out who the secret villain really is before Riverdale jumps seven years into the future in just a few weeks. But for now, here are 7 suspects who could be the Auteur:
1. Charles & Chic
Since Betty and Jughead's shared half-brother Charles is helping them investigate the tapes in the first place, it would be especially easy for him to spread them around town and avoid getting caught in the process. After all, the first tapes showed up during the Season 4 premiere, just after Charles came to town.
He also just happens to have a secret relationship with Chic, the imprisoned former Gargoyle King who tried to trick the Coopers into thinking that he was actually Charles back in Season 2. Since the couple were shown conspiring together last season, it seems possible they're behind Riverdale's latest mystery.
2. Bret Weston Wallis
Bret is no stranger recording creepy VHS tapes, since he illegally filmed a sex tape of Betty and Jughead in Season 4. He may currently be in prison, but that doesn't mean his fellow Stonewall Prep cronies aren't continuing his work in the meantime.
At the beginning of Season 5, Betty, Jughead, and Charles suspected Riverdale's video store clerk David was the Auteur, because he hosts underground parties showing snuff films not unlike the Auteur's own creations. He does seem dead after a new tape was released showing people dressed like Riverdale High students killing a man in a David mask, but he could also just be faking his own death to steer clear of the teen detectives' investigation.
4. Jellybean Jones
Jughead's kid sister is often left out by the Core Four and the rest of her family, so one major Reddit theory argues that she could be rebelling by working as the Auteur. Although she told her older brother that she accompanied a friend to the film rave in the Season 5 premiere, it is pretty suspicious that Jellybean just happened to show up at the same party as the Auteur.
She's also good at special effects makeup, like when she pulled a Halloween prank on Betty in Season 4, indicating she has the technical prowess to make the tapes.
5. Pop Tate
One of the Auteur's disturbing videos recreates the end of the Season 1 finale, in which the Black Hood shot Archie's dad, Fred, in Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe. The video was super accurate, down to the bandage that Archie was wearing on his hand when it all went down, so it seems like the Auteur may have actually been in the diner that day.
Fred tragically passed away in Season 4 and it's pretty impossible that Archie is the bad guy here, which means the only other suspects would be Pop Tate, the lovable diner owner, or Betty's dead father, the Black Hood. I refuse to believe kind-hearted Pop would ever do something like this, but since his granddaughter Tabitha is coming to town after the Season 5 time jump, his potential crimes could explain the new character's entrance.
6. The Black Hood
OK, so the Black Hood (aka Hal Cooper) is technically dead, but a villain seemingly coming back to life wouldn't be the strangest thing to happen on Riverdale. The former villain was mentioned twice in the Season 5 premiere — first when Betty showed David a disturbing home video of her dad as a kid, and again when Archie got the reenactment tape of the Black Hood attacking his dad. Unless Hal told Chic about shooting Fred before his death, there's a good chance that only he knows this information.
Whoever the Auteur is, fans won't have to wait long to finally get some answers before the show jumps ahead into a brand-new mystery.
Riverdale Season 5, Episode 2 will air on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.