This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 2 Episode 19
“Mom, where’s Dad?”
“He went looking for you, why do you ask?”
And with that, a wave of realization washed over Nancy Drew acolyte Betty Cooper’s face that her father is the Black Hood.
At least that’s my interpretation of that final moment, but really, who else could it be? What other character would know of the young Ms. Cooper’s childhood library habits, observed the secret darkness that lies within her, emotionally blackmailed her into distancing herself from her “sinner” friends, or any of the other clues that this season has laid down suggesting that Betty’s link with Riverdale’s resident masked killer was a personal one.
If this (admittedly a tad obvious) revelation proves to be nothing more than a red herring, so be it. But I suspect that Hal’s way with dealing with his own tumultous inner life is to throw in some green contacts — representing that most egregious of sins, jealousy — and attempt to rid the town of whom he has judged with great vengeance and furious anger.
As for what exactly Hal could be jealous of, well that conveniently leads us into the other big revelation of tonight’s episode: FP is Chic, er, Charles’ father. We learned last season about the infamous homecoming night argument at Riverdale High involving Hal and Alice and supposedly about the latter’s pregnancy, so what would fuel that fire even more than to know the kid was FP’s. One can imagine that by having his girlfriend impregnated by someone he considered a hoodlum from the wrong side of the tracks would be something that would fester within him, on a quiet boil over years of “happy” matrimony like an emotional slow cooker.
Yet to hear Betty’s speech in the fist season finale could have finally been the tipping point for Hal, just as the Hood claims it was, and pushed him into a path of cleansing Riverdale of its sinners. It all makes sense from a storytelling point-of-view, and creates some nice dramatic tension between Betty and her father. (Even moreso if she winds up being the one who finally brings him to justice, one way or another). After all, she still is running around with Fake Ms. Grundy’s gun. Does she name it Ms. Gundy? She should.
The Cooper saga was front and center tonight, with most of the action spawning from the realization that Chic isn’t a Cooper after all, but an imposter pretending to be Chic. So who really was this guy other than a murderous fraud with a middling sex cam operation hustle? We don’t really know. And maybe we never will. Betty seems to think she’s done with him forever, whispering a haunted “Goodbye Chic,” not so much for him as it for the tragic brother she realizes she will never know now. (Although there’s still a fairly solid chance the real Chic isn’t dead, right? I wouldn’t put it past the writers).
Upon learning that the son she never knew, and one she turned away twice, is now dead, Alice snaps like Margaret White on prom night. To the joy of Falice shippers everywhere, she runs to FP, revealing their secret child and his demise. We’ve never seen Alice as emotionally vulnerable as we have over the course of the past two weeks, with Mädchen Amick currently giving Lili Reinhart a run for her money as Riverdale’s greatest performer. The character has transformed from a one-note cartoon to the show’s most sympathetic character in a rather short period of time. Yes, a good chunk of this is due to writing that is forced at times, but she still sells it unbelievably.
Later, Alice lets Hal in on the full details of what Chic really has been up to, which serves no real purpose — especially in light of everyone’s suspicions over the Hood’s true identity — other than for Betty to take Chic to meet his fate.
Much less riveting was the Archie gets kidnapped by Nick St. Clair plotline. With so much happening this season and just three episodes remaining, this is a major waste of time. Other than once again showing off Nick’s serious case of affluenza and providing several cast members to embarrass themselves by saying “make my bones” a lot, this storyline was completely without any dramatic purpose. There was no doubt that Veronica would turn the tables on Nick, and unless shit got really dark here i.e. she actually did ask for a power drill from the Five Seasons’ concierge to exact her revenge, it was just more of Ronnie getting shit done — something that the character has already demonstrated she is more than capable of doing on the series in much more engaging ways. The time spent here would have been much better utilized exploring the Kellers and their conflict, both with Riverdale and at large.
Sigh. Then there’s Archie. During his super awkward conversation with Hiram, he mentions that all he could think about while getting the crap beaten out of him was how he hasn’t yet fully proven himself in front of the man who just one week ago he was standing up to for meddling with his relationship with his father. Huh? So much for the last episode’s revelation that Dark Archie needed to go. Further muddying Archie’s thinking is that he decides the way to best impress Mr. Lodge is to bring down the Black Hood, a character whose impact on the lives of Hermione, Veronica, and Hiram has been considerably minimal in comparison with others on the series. Wouldn’t it make way more sense for him to go after Nick St. Clair, so that this living example of toxic masculinity doesn’t stroll into town in a few months seeking more revenge? Not one of our greatest minds, that Archie. At least he didn’t sing this week.
– Before we get into the odds and ends of this week’s installment, here’s a deleted scene from last week’s episode — a touching reprise of “You Shine” between Cheryl and Toni. Choni 4 Ever!
– The Rivervixens have dress uniforms, such as the funeral black outfits the cheerleaders were wearing this week. Mr. Weatherbee is doing a shitty job on Riverdale High’s budgeting.
– Some other items of note involving Midge’s funeral: Cheryl’s mom and uncle were at the funeral but Fred wasn’t? Huh? And notice how emotionless Hal was during the funeral sequence. Perhaps he only can enjoy the moment of the actual kill…
– Pop was at the funeral. Pop is the best.
– If Sheriff Keller turned in his badge, why did he still have it? Who exactly is policing Riverdale right now? Why doesn’t the law enforcement in that town make any sense.
– The Good Parenting Award of the Week goes to FP Jones, for not wanting Jughead to get Chic’s blood on his hands. Although then he is quick to say that the Jones men will help with whatever Betty and Alice decided to do with Chic, so I guess he has no issue with being an accessory after the fact?
– Veronica mentions she wears Diabolique perfume, which is a real fragrance. This is not as awkwardly handled as the Cover Girl references of seasons past, but still a bit off.
– Nick St. Clair. No. I’d like to say that this will be the last we see of him, but in my heart of hearts I know it isn’t.
– Foreshadowing! This exchange between Betty and Jughead after the Black Hood calls:
“Is that your Mom?”
“No, it was my Dad.”
– Chic’s room at the Centerville flophouse is Room 237, a somewhat unsubtle reference to The Shining but one that is appreciated all the same.
– Another horror movie reference: When Archie thinks he sees the Black Hood in the bushes it references Laurie Strode’s Michael Myers sighting in the original Halloween.
– Speaking of horror movies, is anyone else just really eager for this show to go full-on weird and start ramping up the supernatural elements. I know that’s likely not going to happen now because of Sabrina heading to Netflix, but we still can dream.
– So just who the hell was Chic anyway?
– If he doesn’t appear again, let’s hear it for Hart Denton, whose Chic was a nicely maleovelent force this week. His scene wieldling a knife in the Cooper’s kitchen was especially terrifying. (It should be noted that Serpent Tough Guy Jughead was absolutely useless in this fight).
– Best line of the night? “He OD’d on Jingle Jangle.” Womp womp.
– Where did Veronica get the roofies she used on Nick from?
– Archie, why would Nick St. Clair give a shit about the Black Hood causing chaos in Riverdale. Archie’s like the friend in your life who wants to share vacation snaps while you are lying in a hospital bed. C’mon dude.
– While Archie is back to his usual BS, at least Veronica seems to have learned her lesson and chose not to get involved with her parents’ — the worst characters on the show — scheming. “Now if you’ll excuse me, Boris and Natasha.” Ouch.