This Riverdale review contains spoilers.
Riverdale Season 2 Episode 20
Who is the Black Hood?
That’s the driving question behind this entire second season of Riverdale, and it’s one that most viewers — this writer included — have dismissed with a simple “duh, it’s Betty’s dad.” And while Hal Cooper is doubtlessly and deeply involved in the Hood’s murderous antics, tonight’s events have illustrated that there is likely more than one Hood terrorizing the town. The town’s debate was always going to be bloodbath for Fred, with Hermione’s using Archie’s formation of the Black Circle vigilante group as her secret weapon to prove that the elder Andrews can’t control his son, so there’s no way he can keep Riverdale safe. So maybe the Black Hood’s attack actually helped Fred in the long run. By the time the episode ends, Archie has finally realized how devious Hiram is and blown him off (hopefully for good). Meanwhile, Veronica is now fully on the side of Team Fred, and with Hermione left shaken by the chaos at the debate maybe she will finally truly see how dangerous her husband is in the remaining two episodes this season.
Yes friends, all of this season’s plots are rapidly becoming tied in to the Black Hood and his plans to punish sinners and cleanse the town. The question that should be asked at this point then is just how many Black Hoods are there, are what are their ultimate goal? At the midseason finale, Svenson was revealed to be the Hood…something that has been pushed aside recently but could still be true. Think about it, there could be several Hoods, all bound together for the common goal of bringing “order” to Riverdale. And for that they would need a mastermind, and that’s where Hal comes in. I believe that the Hood was indeed inspired by Betty’s talk in front of the town during the first season finale, and this combined with his knowledge of Riverdale’s original sin of killing an innocent man (an unresolved plot point that the writers of this show are too smart to let dangling out there) could easily kickstart the masked man’s mission to bring biblical justice to town.
Chic probably has something to do with all of this as well, because somehow the Hood knew about the Shady Man’s death in the Cooper kitchen. If Hal/Black Hood had an inside man staying with the Coopers, he’d know everything happening there in his absence. Which leads many viewers to the probably accurate deduction that Chic was an imposter and an informant. Sounds solid, but we will know for sure in a few weeks. Again, we probably haven’t seen the last of Chic. And remember, there’s a mysterious new body lying in Dr. Curdle’s morgue. One that could very easily be the corpse of Charles Jones, Alice and FP’s doomed son.
Early in the episode Cheryl warns Betty that she’s “playing a very dangerous game,” and truer words are rarely stated on this show. Betty feels that Hal wouldn’t harm her, and has been using her in the Hood’s game to teach her something about the darkness that binds them both. Yet Cheryl is quick to point out that there was a time when she never thought her father would shoot Jason, and here we are.
Continuing to prove that Lili Reinhart is Riverdale‘s MVP, the Betty storyline has been the strongest aspect of this season. We’ve seen Betty confront her inner demons with a stoicism and determination that is beyond the character’s years. She is one of the strongest characters on television, and tonight she was willing to lay it on all the line for her father in pursuit of the truth. But did Hal actually show? I’ve watched the episode twice prior to this review, and while we never see Betty interacting with him at the town hall, she does seem to address him directly, saying “okay Dad, let’s talk.” (But then as the episode ends she acts despondent, as if he didn’t arrive just before the action cuts to the Black Hood’s arrival at Thistlehouse). This misdirection adds to the building tension, which is thrilling from an audience POV, if a bit frustrating given the desire for truth about the Black Hood and what he is up to.
While all the Black Hood antics are happening, the Black Circle vs. Southside Serpents war is heating up thanks to the ever shitty machinations of Hiram Lodge. Tonight Archie leaves the group he founded for good, leaving Reggie — whose intense anger with the South Side still seems unfounded — in charge and allowing himself to be manipulated by Hiram. As Hiram himself states, he now controls the Riverdale Register and the town’s police, and with the mayoral race is sight he is on the path to fully owning this town. Something that I’d say the show definitely won’t allow to happen, but then again look at our current presidential situation. And there was a “Drain the Southside Swamp” sign spotted at the protest of Fangs’ release, so maybe Riverdale will get political in its third season and have Hiram in charge? Oh man, I am giddy at the possibilities this could open up even though, and this is once again important to point out, Hiram Lodge is just the worst.
Other questions raised tonight: How will Veronica’s burgeoning independence impact her relationship with her parents? Will Papa Poutine’s hilariously named son, Small Fry, come to Riverdale to take revenge against Archie for a crime the oft-shirtless ginger didn’t commit? Where did Jughead get the money to keep Sierra McCoy on retainer as Fangs’ attorney? Did Reggie fire the shot that (probably) killed Fangs? Or did Archie accidentally shoot him during a struggle to get the gun out of the hands of his underdeveloped classmate? Worse yet, could the just-out-of-prison Ghoulies have shot Fangs? What does the Black Hood want at Thistlehouse? And where the hell are Vegas and Hot Dog? Tune in next week, something tells me things are going to get so much crazier before this season wraps up.
– Hal’s eyes are looking greener than ever tonight, wouldn’t you agree?
– It was just announced that Vanessa Morgan and Charles Melton will be series regulars — as Toni and Reggie, respectively — for Riverdale‘s third season. This is a welcome development, as Toni and Cheryl’s burgeoning relationship has given this often-ridiculous show some much needed emotional development. They also are the best couple on the show, given how Varchie and Bughead are always deceiving and/or manipulating each other. As for more Reggie Mantle, that is always a good thing. As a lifelong Archie Comics fan, it has always bothered me how the show hasn’t used the storytelling gift that is the Reggie character. He’s a vain and entitled jerk to be sure, but recent years have seen an added complexity to the character. (Just check out Tom DeFalco’s excellent Reggie and Me graphic novel to see this in action). Having Reggie more in the mix for season three opens up countless narrative threads the writers can tug on. Melton is really good in what has so far been a thankless part, it will be fantastic to get the opportunity to see him actually get to do something.
– Bughead lovers didn’t get too much of their beloved couple tonight, although this exchange was pretty golden:
“It can’t get any worse, now could it?”
“My Dad could be the Black Hood”
– This week’s best line is a tie between Veronica’s declaring that “I want ships named after me, not horses” and Cheryl’s declaration that Hal Cooper has “all the stealth of a marshmallow man.”
– Archie Andrews fun facts: He has the default iPhone ring, and new to his bedroom is a Caddyshack poster.
– Joaquin reappeared tonight with hopes of taking Fangs back with him to his home in San Junipero, a town that shares its name with the best Black Mirror episode ever.
– It’s nice to see that even though Archie and Jughead are on separate sides right now, they still are friends when it counts. Aww.
– Am I going crazy or is there a Serpent who looks just like Walter White?
– The oft-mentioned The Nancy Drew Secret Code Activity Book is in fact a real publication. It was written by Tony Tallarico and Nancy T. Rockwell and was originally printed back in 1978 (which makes this considerably before Betty’s time). Due to it being long out-of-print and now in demand from lovers of this show such as yours truly, it now commands a hefty price on the secondary market. Amazon is currently selling it used for $500. Ouch. Unless your surname is Lodge you probably won’t be getting one anytime soon.
– We mentioned it earlier, but the body found in a men’s room at a rest stop outside of Greendale is probably going to be important later…as is the fact that it was mutilated.
– Here’s a closer look at Hal’s credit card statement. Joining American Excess and Spiffany’s is Riverdale‘s latest inspired by reality fake brand, Share B&B!