This review contains spoilers.
3.20 Prom Night
“It’s him. He’s back. The Black Hood”
After months of interminable waiting, the narrative threads of this season of Riverdale are finally being woven together. As this episode came to its shocking conclusion, the Black Hood was back on the scene – apparently in league with the Gargoyle King – and Betty was staying with The Farm for her protection. It’s a fun turn of events that marks the season’s endgame. There are just two episodes left, and shit has most definitely gotten real.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, and it’s hard not to in an instalment packed with so many gleeful moments, so let’s go back to the start. Betty arrives at the crime scene already painfully aware of the truth that the Black Hood has returned, and absolutely manipulated her into helping him escape. She feels a mixture of guilt and terror. What will he want now? And how many people will suffer at his hands? While grappling with these questions (and brushing up on her shooting skills), she learns more about the Gargoyle King when Jughead finds a sort of bible espousing the gospel of the character hidden in the bus Kurtz was sleeping in.
Betty doesn’t buy that the King is a ‘supernatural creature,’ but rather an ordinary person who is using the guise of the figure for his or her own gain. When she and Jughead learn that Kurtz had tattoos of the G&G iconography, they soon discover that a sandy haired man with blue eyes and a magnetic personality also had similar ink. This sends Betty straight to The Farm, convinced that none other than Edgar Evernever is the Gargoyle King. After the quick and seismic revelation that, oh yeah, Farmies eat people, Betty has the incredibly jacked Edgar take his shirt off. But he doesn’t have the tats in question. Womp womp.
The Gospel of the Gargoyle King declares that His Stickness can be summoned in a Renaissance-type setting, so Jug and Betty convince Cheryl, super bummed that The Farm’s rules won’t let her and Toni be joint prom queens, to transform the dance into such an affair. While waiting for the King to make his appearance, Gryphon Queen Betty is summoned into the bathroom that played such a crucial role in Ascension Night all those years ago. But she refuses to play the “flip for your fate” game and drink from a chalice, and is about to confront the Gargoyle King when she is attacked by the Black Hood. Family reunions are always awkward.
To complete the ruse that he was killed in the accident while being transferred to Mr Lodge’s new prison, Hal cut off his own hand and replaced it with a hook. He’s already killed three people at Riverdale High and seems intent on killing Betty too when he suddenly calls off his attack. Jughead comes to find her and she is safe, for now. Betty immediately races to The Farm to tell Alice that Hal is on another killing spree and they need to get to safety. But Edgar manages to convince her that there is nowhere she will be more protected at than Farm HQ. In a shock move, Betty agrees.
While Betty is finding unexpected comfort at The Farm, Cheryl is seeing cracks in its facade. After being emotionally blackmailed by Edgar that she won’t be able to ‘see’ Jason anymore if she continues her pursuit of prom glory, she starts to doubt exactly what she is getting from the organisation. This shift in confidence will doubtlessly play a role in the last two episodes of the season … and maybe even The Farm’s downfall? After all, Choni is not to be trifled with.
While all this is going on, Archie is dealing with wanting to see “how far these fists can take me” in his burgeoning boxing career. He doesn’t want to go to college, or into the Navy, just to find himself in the ring. This whole subplot remains an absolute snore, but at least its disconnectedness from the main action in the show remains on brand for the character. He and Veronica once again begin to grow close, united by their shared desire to turn the tables on Hiram who, as it unsurprisingly turns out, still owns Pop’s and Veronica’s speakeasy. (Given Veronica’s erratic behavior when it comes to her father, her willingness and/or ability to follow through on her threats towards him are clearly in question).
It’s been an uneven season, but with the finish line in sight I’m eager to see how the momentum built by this episode brings everything together in the next two weeks.