Riverdale's first season began with what I would call a “slow burn” in the first two episodes, setting the seen for a complex drama to unfold, and season two is just the same. Episode 3 and 4 have me spinning!! Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) came for Betty, there’s a rumble between the Serpents and the Bulldogs, and Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) is going hell's bells at the town meeting.
The general theme of this episode is The North Side vs. The South Side or Bulldogs vs. Serpents as Reggie so keenly points out (is this The Outsiders or West Side Story?) and we definitely see that come to light in a lot of the characters’ journeys, specifically the Toni Topaz vs. Betty (Lili Reinhart) throwdown at FP’s trailer, which quite literally had me shook.
The episode starts out with a quick check-in on our favourite townies in the aftermath of Archie’s (K.J. Apa) Red Circle video, which has seemingly gone viral in Riverdale. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is at the library taking out books to research serial killers, drawing a comparison between the Black Hood and the Zodiac Killer, which we know is the show’s intention. We see Archie doing target practice in the woods with his ill-gotten gun (was anyone else worried about Archie aiming at such a small target on the tree? What if he misses and there’s people nearby?) Hermione (Marisol Nichols) is warning her daughter off Archie and to no surprise Hiram (Mark Consuelos) agrees with his "loyal" wife (umm, didn't Hiram essentially plant the idea in Archie’s head last week?). We see Alice Cooper visibly distraught over Polly (Tiera Skovbye) skipping town and bursting into tears about how she wants to protect her daughters.
Fred (Luke Perry) has seen the video and is shocked by Archie’s behaviour and tells him to take it down and Archie says he has but people keep sharing it (duh, internet). Glad the show was able to slip in that not-so-subtle warning for younger Riverdale viewers: Be careful what you post online.
Over at South Side High there’s growing animosity for The North Side, Sweet Pea (Jordan Connor) leading the pack saying that The Black Hood is a hero for targeting Northsiders and that the Serpents should get the head of The North Side Red Circle.
In the halls of “our fair Riverdale” Veronica (Cami Mendes) grills Archie about the Red Circle video calling him “Teen American Psycho” and Archie tells her that he essentially got the idea from her father, Hiram. “Fight fire with fire, fight terror with terror,” Archie quotes Hiram back to Veronica. She later confronts her father about his influence over Archie during their chat in the study in episode 3 to which Hiram rebuffs his involvement.
Archie then gets sent to ghouly Principal Weatherbee’s (Peter Bryant) office where Archie is swiftly kicked off the football team for his Red Circle video (whatt??) and the football team is disbanded (double WHATTTT?). Archie is instructed to disband the Red Circle or he will be suspended.
Kevin (Casey Cott) and Betty quickly resolve what was actually a big storyline from episode 3 about Kevin cruising in Fox Forrest. He was upset she told his dad, Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins), who then told Kevin’s mum (umm, where has she been?).
Back at the Blue and Gold, Betty sifts through the mail and finds an envelope marked ‘BETTY’ which we find out is from the Black Hood. Enclosed is a cipher that needs decoding and a letter to Betty from The Black Hood stating that he was inspired by Betty’s speech at the Riverdale Jubilee. Remember the speech where Betty told everyone that Jughead was Riverdale (swoon!)? I'm guessing the Black Hood only picked up on the part where she said everyone needs to “do better.” The letter reads: “The town’s sinners must show their contrition” (let the bloodletting begin). Kevin implores Betty to give both the cipher and the letter to his dad and after some serious "woe is me" from Betty about the letter, she decides to give her mum only the cipher, which Alice Cooper promptly prints in the Riverdale Register BEFORE handing it over to Sheriff Keller and the authorities (as one does with sensitive case evidence).
In the locker room, Reggie (Charles Melton) is freaking out because Principal Weatherbee dissolved the football team. Archie doesn’t want to drop the Red Circle because he wants to force The Black Hood’s hand. Archie is convinced the murderer is a Southsider with an axe to grind, so he plans to draw out The Black Hood. Dilton Doiley (Daniel Davis Yang) then tells Archie where he can get supplies to take on the The Black Hood (when did Dilton, the scout, become the go-to for illegal weaponry?) and we later see Archie, with a shopping list for weaponry, buying a gun with a fake ID.
At FP’s trailer, Jughead ignores a call from Betty (NOT OK!) in front of Toni Topaz while they're discussing their mutual love of true crime and the personality traits of the serial killers. Toni, to no one’s surprise, asks Jughead to help her crack the code from The Black Hood, conveniently on the front page of the Register (thanks Alice!). So when Betty drops by the trailer to see if Jughead wants to help her decipher the code, Juggie says he’s already working with Toni (cue token Betty eyebrow-raise moment) to which Betty quickly
inserts invites herself and Kevin along to figure it out together.
Veronica comes around after her little chat with ‘daddy’ and has a stand-by-your-man moment, with Archie telling him the Red Circle needs to expand, not contract, so she designs a Red Circle shirt and distributes to all of Riverside High.
Back at FP’s trailer, Jughead, Betty, Kevin, and Toni are trying to work out the code from The Black Hood and Betty is getting frustrated and Toni, offering support (read: sarcasm), says “maybe if you loosened your pony tail.” Kevin swiftly comes to Betty’s defence (Jughead is a little quiet for my liking) and Toni continues, talking about how The North Side’s privilege makes them demonise the South Side (Socs. vs. Greasers anyone?) and accuses Betty of hating the Serpents (well, we know her mother does) and reasoning that is why Jughead has yet to tell Betty that he sits with the Serpents at lunch.
Kevin quickly exits with Toni and leaves Jughead to lightly explain his reasoning for sitting with the Serpents. Betty seemingly lets him off the hook for his omission but that leaves us all wondering if it's because she’s decided to keep the letter from The Black Hood, which accompanied the cipher, a secret. The next morning, Betty and Jughead wake up in the trailer and Betty scrambles to collect her things because her mother is going to freak she stayed out all night.
Meanwhile somewhere on the South Side, Sweet Pea confronts Archie while he’s tagging ‘red circles’ around the neighbourhood. Sweet Pea pulls out a switchblade, to which Archie pulls out a gun (WHAT? Zero to 100 real quick – this will have repercussions).
At school, Archie gets pulled out of class by Sheriff Keller and Principal Weatherbee because someone on the South Side said they saw a Riverdale High Student wielding a gun. Sheriff Keller searches the locker and finds a black hood in his locker; Archie says it’s Reggie's hood but is suspended and barred from school grounds. Later that night, Archie sends Veronica (in the night, by herself, with a killer on the loose!) to the school to pick up his gun (!) which he taped in a bag inside a toilet. Of course Veronica freaks on Archie about the gun and says she “threw it in the river” but not before Archie confesses that he wants to be the one to kill The Black Hood.
At the Lodge residence, Hermione is giving Veronica a speech about loyalty, which is particularly interesting given Hiram’s haunting words to Hermione in episode 1 about her loyalty knowing no bounds. Hermione tells Veronica there is “nothing more honourable than loyalty, but blind loyalty is stupid and careless” (should Hermione be looking in the mirror?).
Jughead finds and confronts Betty about the letter from The Black Hood, asking why she didn’t tell him. Betty reveals she is worried that The Black Hood was inspired by her and that Archie will blame her for Fred’s shooting. Jughead says “Archie is definitely shook” (truer words have never been spoken) but that he wouldn’t blame Betty for The Black Hood. Then Betty has an epiphany that the cipher looks similar to her touchstone (touchstone?) and Betty and Jughead run to the library where they find a Nancy Drew book she must have a connection with, which helps them decode where the next attack of The Black Hood will take place…the mayor’s Town Hall.
Back at Archie’s house, Veronica admonishing him for wanting to take out The Black Hood himself, Reggie appears with “the guys” and pizza to make amends and restart the Red Circle – and not a minute too soon because Sweet Pea, flanked by the Serpents, shows up at the door looking for a rumble (is it 1950?). Reggie says Bulldogs eat Serpents for lunch and Veronica referees the throwdown, saying no weapons (maybe just don’t fight?).
At Mayor McCoy‘s Town Hall, Alice Cooper interrupts and begins a tirade against the South Side. Fred Andrews tries to reason with the town to not let fear take over and says Alice is driving the divide but just as the Town Hall seems to be running amok – The Lodges are whispering up a storm and the rumble is heating up outside – Betty and Jughead barge in, saying they decoded the cipher and The Black Hood will strike at the Town Hall! The lights go out!
We’re back at the rumble, where Dilton has been stabbed by a Serpent and Archie is on the losing side of a fight with Sweet Pea. Veronica, with the gun she “threw in Sweetwater River” fires a warning shot in the air to stop the fighting. Reggie rushes Dilton to the hospital and we later see Veronica and Archie back in his bedroom with V tending to his wounds...an opportune time for a makeout sesh. But first, Veronica takes him to dispose of the gun once and for all in Sweetwater River.
We later see Betty (finally!) share the letter from The Black Hood with her parents and Sheriff Keller. And the episode comes to a close, but not before Betty gets a phone call…from The Black Hood! #Cliffhanger
Thoughts I’m Thinking:
Alice Cooper is from the South Side – is her tirade against the South Side her trying to cover her roots or bury the past? When are we meeting her long lost son?
Is something going to happen between Jughead and TT before something happens between Betty and Jughead to cause a breakup?
Will Betty and Archie get too close because of their connection to The Black Hood?
Where was Josie?
Where was Cheryl? How’s it hanging at Thistle House?
Where’s the JJ?
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