Welcome back all you Riverdale fans. The beginning of the end is here! Or at least that’s what the final song of the episode would have us believe. It’s gotten me fooled. This was one intense episode and with only two left to go in the season, thank God for that. War is here in Riverdale and its architects are laughing. So, let’s jump in and, as always, some spoilers are ahead. (And yes, I do know the article image is from “Afterlife with Archie” #9. Turns out that’s the panel on the script title page. I love this show sometimes.)
Let’s talk the Black Hood because HOLY SHIT AM I PUMPED. Sorry y’all but the Black Hood has been a specter and bringing the mystery and the terror of him back has been a boon for the series and for the characters of Riverdale. Maybe not for Midge (I wish we’d gotten more of her before she was murdered) or for Fangs but on the whole, the Black Hood’s presence has gotten the most diverse reactions from our cast, all which are born out through his past actions.
Archie carries his bat with him, Hiram gets to exploit Reggie’s toxic masculinity for his own gain, Betty gets uber terrified of her own father, and the whole town is suddenly put on edge again. Riverdale has always been a powder keg of a town but while Hiram did his evil corporate takeover thing, it was left to get wet. Now that the Black Hood has lit a match, Hiram has thrown gasoline on the keg. Does that analogy work?
Regardless, there is one other aspect of this mystery murderer that has me excited, and that’s the killer’s identity and motivations. We’ve gotten his motivations as “stated” before as well as the possible motivation of Mr. Svenson, who we know was set up at this point, but we don’t know the true motives or confirmation on the true identity.
As hinted at at the end of the last episode, Betty, and now Cheryl, believe it to be Mr. Cooper. I’m down for this. He’s always been creepy and angry and off and if it is him, man do I want to go back and see if this was hinted at early on. As far as if it actually is Mr. Cooper, well, he’d have to have pulled off a Batman this episode which I totally believe. Which begs the question, who was under that mask and how was that person convinced to do it? It’s enough to get me intrigued and hyped so well done Riverdale, well done.
Betty Cooper and the Ledger of Doom. Sounds like it could be an old Nancy Drew story, couldn’t it? Having grown up on Nancy Drew, having that book be a central plot point made my night. Betty has truly been the Nancy Drew of this series and watching her exploits is endlessly tense. That being said, can we please, PLEASE stop with the “I have a darkness inside me” thing. It’s tiresome, uncomfortable considering the context its framed within, and as far as lines go, is a pretty weak one. Let it die like we’re presuming Chic did…at the hands of Mr. Cooper.
Beyond that, this episode gave us some great drama with Betty as she wrestles with the possibility that her father might be the Black Hood. Consulting Cheryl makes it even better because 1) we get more Cheryl Blossom and 2) it gets Betty doing stuff outside of yelling at her mother about Chic. Betty’s taking some major risks this episode and next episode, I think we’re either going to get a few more bodies or we’re getting some answers. Either way, that gun Betty has is not going to go unfired.
3. Officer Krupkee
Who doesn’t love a bit of corruption in the police force? After Sheriff Keller’s unceremonious ousting last week, it only makes sense we’d meet the new sheriff. Considering Hiram’s, well let’s say, heavy-handed endorsement of him, it should come as no surprise that he’s firmly wrapped around Hiram’s finger. In fact, this seemingly small change in the power dynamic of the show affects a good portion of the episode as well as the Serpent, Dark Circle, and Election storylines.Continued below
It also raises the question of how much of Hiram’s words are bullshit and how much are truthful. Like, he keeps saying he want to go legit to Veronica and while his actions are underhanded and manipulative, he isn’t a true crime boss. Yet he’s still a snake in the grass and every action he takes is one that actively sows unrest and resentment within the community.
I also have to tack on here: WHAT ARE HERMIONIE LODGE’S MOTIVATIONS? Like seriously, she is shot at, visibly rattled and, through what little screen she has, seems to harbor reservations about Hiram’s plans. Yet she sticks with Hiram through thick and thin. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if she had any agency, like she did in season one, or if we got any scenes exploring her thoughts.
Maybe she does agree with Hiram. Maybe she’s just terrified of what he’ll do if she goes against him. Maybe she’s biding her time to stab him in the back. It’s all speculation at this point because we haven’t gotten anything on screen to indicate what’s going on in the character’s head. This was a seriously weak link in the Hiram takes over storyline and would have greatly increased my enjoyment, and the depth, of the pre-Black Hood return episodes.
4. The Dance at the Gym
Speaking of character interactions, Archie and Jug’s journey over this season has been fantastic to watch. These have always been characters that mirror each other and, in this episode, we got some fantastic shots of this being literally true. Both head of competing gangs, they fought for what they believed in and in doing so, learned that their causes are not as perfect as they’d like them to be.
Archie’s was born of anger and a misplaced sense of justice, poisoned by the whisperings of Hiram. Jug’s was born of a righteous fury that was simply not his fight to fight, even if parts of it were well within his purview. Now, Archie learns, through Reggie, just how poisoned his well has become and thus, by the end, we see Archie rushing to stop the man he has enable before he does something he’ll always regret. Archie, even though he still has PTSD over the Black Hood, has grown to recognize what is important to him: his father, Jughead, and Veronica.
As frustrating as it was watching Archie fall deeper and deeper into Hiram’s clutches, this episode wouldn’t have been half as satisfying without it. There was a lot of great character moments to chew on in this episode and ones that have been building for almost the whole season. Good on them.
5. The Rumble
Reggie’s gonna have his day, tonight. Hiram’s gonna have his way, TONIGHT!
Yes, my friends. It’s been building for weeks and weeks but the kettle has finally boiled over. Fang’s storyline was short, yes, but it was mighty impactful. They managed to connect me to this serpent in one episode. I was rooting for the kid! He was almost home free! He was like Johnny crossed with Riff and he got killed like the latter by someone with the attitude of the former. I know I’m mixing my teenage gang media but the parallels are too close to pass up.
The rumble has begun. Who will make it out alive and will Archie ever recover? Will Cheryl be able to fight the Black Hood?
Let me know what you think in the comments and I will see you all in one week for the penultimate episode.