‘Riverdale’: Skeet Ulrich’s Goodbye Was Perfect — Except for One Thing

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We’ve known for almost a year at this point that Skeet Ulrich, who plays FP Jones on the show, is leaving The CW’s Riverdale. And in fact, due to delays caused by COVID, the actor actually came back to finish off the last three episodes of the “season” (now the first three episodes of Season 5) in order to give his iconic character closure.

And as of this week’s episode, we officially know why and how Skeet Ulrich is leaving Riverdale, as well as whether the door is open for his character to return. The goodbye was emotional, heartbreaking, tear-inducing, whatever you want to call it. And it was pretty much perfect… Except for one, tiny, dangling little plot point.

Spoilers for Riverdale Season 5, Episode 3 “Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation” past this point.

Picking up where last week’s “The Preppy Murders” left off, the Jones/Cooper/Smith family is reeling from the revelation that Jellybean Jones (Trinity Likins) was the mastermind behind the weird Voyeur/Auteur tapes that creeped out the residents of Riverdale throughout Season 4 and the beginning of Season 5.

In the interest of tying up loose ends, former sheriff FP grabs his son Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and Tom Keller (Martin Cummins) and demands that Mayor Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) reinstate Tom as sheriff. You can almost hear “The Boys Are Back in Town” blaring on the soundtrack as the group storms into Archie’s gym, El Royale, and discovers the rest of Jellybean’s tween gang sleeping under the boxing ring.

The realization here, and the whole theme of the episode, is that the utter insanity of the last four years (technically three years in Riverdale time, but we’ll let it slide) hasn’t just impacted the teens at Riverdale High, but is seeping down to the younger generation, as well.

FP makes the decision earlier in the episode, but discovering a veritable BTS convention living under the boxing ring seals the deal: FP is leaving town with Jellybean, and heading back to Toledo. There, he’ll raise her with Gladys Jones (Gina Gershon), the absent mom who left Riverdale because [checks notes] FP could give Jellybean a better, more stable home life. Oops.

Anyway, though Alice (Mädchen Amick) initially bristles at the idea — she’s got a good therapist for Jellybean in town, which I might recommend sending every single other character on the show to — she asks that at least the star cross’d lovers have a conversation about FP’s seemingly unilateral decision. We never get to see this conversation on screen (Alice instead sobs to Betty about being alone at Thanksgiving), yet by the time FP is ready to leave from the Riverdale High parking lot post-graduation Alice seems to not only be resigned to him leaving, but also understanding.

“So is this it?” Alice asks, gazing searchingly into FP’s eyes. “The end of our story?”

“God, I hope not,” FP says, conflicted. “At least I know–”

“I know,” Alice says, cutting him off. “I know what you have to do. And I love you for it.”

There have been a lot of epic romances in Riverdale history, but FP and Alice is one that spans decades, back to their high school days (as seen in the classic Season 3 episode “The Midnight Club”). Every time they thought they could be together, they were torn apart — either by circumstance, or their own emotions. And every time, they’ve come back together. That’s the promise here in this conversation, that even with the episode-ending seven year time jump, eventually FP Jones (and Skeet Ulrich) will come back for Alice.

…And hopefully he does, because there’s still one bit of plot that has been, perhaps outsized to its importance, hanging over fans’ heads for years: a letter FP wrote for Alice in Season 2. Further complicating matters, the scene that launched the letter wasn’t even included in the series; it’s from a deleted scene.

Way back in Season 2’s musical episode “A Night to Remember,” FP and Alice are weirdly at odds. FP is working at Pop’s, Alice invites him to the school musical (she’s performing in it because anything goes in Riverdale), he brusquely shoves her off. In a deleted scene, however, we find out that the feelings FP could not express to Alice in person lie in a letter he’s written for her. When FP arrives at the musical in the final cut of the episode, he’s holding the otherwise unexplained letter for Alice; but thanks to his bad attitude earlier, she’s already reconciled with her husband, Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro). Bad choice because he’s actually a serial killer, but whatever.

Point being, that letter has loomed large in the collective conscious of Riverdale fans — and Falice (a.k.a., FP and Alice) ‘shippers in particular — for nearly three years. Things were further exacerbated when showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa dropped a tease on Instagram on February 24, 2020, the same day Ulrich’s exit was announced, with a picture of FP holding the letter from “A Night to Remember” and a caption stating: “All will be revealed before this season of #Riverdale ends.” The implication being, don’t worry, you’re going to find out what’s going on in that deleted scene letter before the end of Season 4.

So with that all said: [extremely Jennifer Lawrence saying “Where’s the pizza?” voice] Where’s the letter???

Look, chances are that the letter said some variation on what is stated out loud in that short post-graduation scene, particularly given Aguirre-Sacasa wrote this week’s episode: that FP and Alice’s story will never be over (at least until the show ends, of course). And for fans frustrated about the letter not showing up after the seeming promise of that Instagram post: a little over two weeks later, on March 11, 2020, production shut down because of COVID. Since then, the final three episodes of Season 4 were pushed over to Season 5 and scripts/whole plots were reportedly rejiggered to fit with the revised Season 5 plot, as well as to comply with new COVID shooting protocols.

Does that mean they couldn’t find a few seconds for FP to even hand Alice the letter before he and the rest of the Serpents rode off into the sunset? I mean, I’d say they could have, but then I don’t work on the hit TV show Riverdale. It’s arguable, too, that a face to face goodbye is more impactful than a letter read in voiceover; a drama convention, but one that takes up a fair amount of screentime that was otherwise spent on extensive, emotionally charged goodbyes from the teens.

Still, that letter is out there, and until Riverdale in some fashion addresses its contents, fans will become even more obsessed with what’s inside. Hey, maybe FP can bring it back to Alice when he comes to sweep her off her feet in the series finale? Until we do find out, though, to answer Alice’s question: no, their story is not over.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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