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    Five Thoughts on Riverdale‘s “When a Stranger Calls”

    By | November 9th, 2017
    Posted in Television | % Comments

    Welcome back all you Riverdale fans to the third installment of my two-part cover of Betty Cooper and the Secret of the Black Hood by Carolyn Keene. Ken unfortunately had to miss another week so I return to look at the lowest point in these characters’ arcs we’ve seen to date. This was quite the doozy folks. So, let’s get on with the thoughts. Oh, and as always, some spoilers are ahead.

    1. Nicholas St. Go Die in a Hole Filled with Lava

    When they introduced rich socialite and resident douchebag Nick, I was wondering what type of character he was going to be. Was he going to be like Oliver Queen, harmless but privileged party boy, or was he more like Hiram Lodge, schemer extraordinaire? As the episode progresses, he seems to fall into the former category but with some more sleazy, pretentious vibes.

    Then we get to the party and he starts to make advances on Veronica, which, thank God, she refuses. I was afraid the writers would throw away bits of her character for the sake of some cheap conflict by having her return his creepy advances for the sake of her father’s (whom she doesn’t like) deal. They don’t and the show is all the better for it.

    But Nick keeps going and gets rightly socked in the face and left alone. At this point, I’m pretty done with Nick. Then, later, it seems he’s actually turned over a new leaf and that this was just a relapse into drugs and his addiction. Huh. I mean, sure, I still hope he gets punched again but this is nice. He’s not a total asshole and is trying to grow and . . . .

    If you’ve seen the episode, you know what happens next. For those who haven’t, I’m going to try to be tasteful because what Nick attempted to do was just deplorable and is something I never in a million years thought I would see from an Archie Comics property.

    He drugs Cheryl and brings her to his room with the intent to rape her. Yeah. It’s a small part of the episode and shot in the least exploitative light I can think of (I’m no expert in social critique) but it leaves a massive impact considering its placement in the episode.

    The choices the creators made in presenting this scene are also interesting. Nick has one speaking line from the time he drops the drugs into the alcohol and we spend more time watching Veronica and the Pussycats beat the living shit out of him than anything else he does. We, as the audience, get the catharsis of watching him get part of his comeuppance without ever having the voyeuristic camera on the act he was about to take.

    I wanted to start with this because, as I said, it left a big impact on me watching this. I did not expect it and I still don’t know how I feel about its occurrence or how its fallout will be handled. I hope it’s handled correctly and, considering Riverdale’s track record with hard topics, I’m still wary.

    2. Betty Through the Ringer

    Moving away from one difficult topic to another of a different sort: this was a tough episode for Betty. Her sister is threatened, she has to cut Jughead and Veronica out of her life (which she kind of fails at, for Veronica based on her being in the hotel room) and then, even after doing all that, she keeps being taunted by the Black Hood and is told to pick someone to kill instead of her sister. That’s pretty messed up. Thankfully she’d just been given an easy target, Nick, but it still is worrisome.

    Betty made that decision without a second thought. Even for someone as despicable as Nick, that was a quick decision to consign him to death by crazy vigilante(?). Still, it brings up the question that Betty will have to think about for a long time, how much is she like the Black Hood?

    Think about it. The only person he has actually killed (the only one he attacked with something other than a gun) was Ms. Grundy, the serial seducer of high school children. Everyone else survived and they are all good people who made stupid decisions (jingle jangle & Fred’s dealings with Hiram). For someone as straight-laced as Betty, this is a decision that will haunt her for a while, even if the guy she gave up deserves it.

    Continued below

    3. Just Tell the Truth, Dammit

    Why is it that everyone thinks keeping secrets are the only decision in situations like these? Every superhero under the sun does it, hell it’s happened at least 30 times on The Flash alone. I’m very tired of this trope. Why do I bring this up? Because I don’t get why Betty doesn’t say anything to Jughead. Tell him that the Black Hood is threating her sister or, I don’t know, anything! Same goes for Veronica. Slip her a note, tell her to keep it a secret.

    On the other hand, this is a very different situation than superhero lying and Betty has no good options. Oh well.

    4. Black Hood, who is it?

    I have multiple theories on who the Black Hood is at this point. One is that there are two of them: the first being the killer and the second being the guy on the phone. They have two very different MOs as the people that were first attacked all were connected to Archie more than Betty. They were “morally impure” while what the Black Hood is doing now is psychologically torturing Betty in order to be close to her? These feel like very different motivations.

    The second theory is that he has ties to Hiram Lodge and is targeting people who have crossed him (Betty’s mom, Veronica, and Archie all have conspired against him) but this feels too impersonal for it to be him.

    The third, and probably most out-there theory, is that the Black Hood has some connection to Dilton Doily. I don’t know why but I get this gut feeling that he has something to do with this.

    5. Are You Trying to Seduce Me, Mrs. Cooper?

    Okay, but all jokes about her entrance at the party aside, Mrs. Cooper’s storyline is (finally) getting going and I can’t wait to see where they take her. I’ve felt like she’s lost a little of the nuance she had during season one, being reduced to angry newspaper writer and all around crappy mother, but now that we’re actually moving forwards on her ties to the southside that were teased last season, I’m hopeful that she’ll start to redevelop again.

    At least, I really hope that she does.

    So, there you have it. But what did you all think of the episode? Let us know in the comments and Ken will be back next time to pick up the pieces of whatever this episode left for us.

    //TAGS | Riverdale

    Elias Rosner

    Elias is a lover of stories who, when he isn't writing reviews for Mulitversity, is hiding in the stacks of his library. He can be found on twitter (for mostly comics stuff) here and has finally updated his photo to be a hair nicer than before.


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