Tonight’s Riverdale episode can be described in three words: Calm. Down. Archie. Seriously, homeboy—as Bella Hadid would call him—is pressed. Here’s why (spoilers ahead)…
To start, everyone in Riverdale is freaking out about the Black Hood. Jughead checks out a zillion books about serial killers; Archie’s shooting bullets into trees; and Queen Cheryl Blossom doesn’t travel anywhere without the River Vixens. It’s tense, but also beautiful because everyone in this town is beautiful. Even when they’re shook.
Hermione’s upset about the threatening video Archie and his “Red Circle” made and wants Veronica to dump him because of it. Hiram pretends to side with Hermione even though he’s the one who convinced Archie to make the video in the first place. What’s his angle here? This is only going to make Veronica hate him more—and that’s a feat, seeing as how he was in jail for insider trading (or one of those other rich-dude crimes). Once Veronica leaves the room, he starts cackling like a Disney villain about all the “chaos” happening in Riverdale.
Meanwhile, Alice Cooper rips Betty a new one for helping Polly run away. She starts crying about how she’s scared for her daughters’ safety, and it’s actually pretty moving. Alice is low-key the best character on this show; Betty’s the worst for treating her the way she does. (Betty’s also just kind of the worst in general.)
There’s definitely a common thread happening, because Fred Andrews is also pissed about Archie’s video. Archie says he took the video down but people keep sharing it, which is why it’s still going viral.
Cut to Jughead moping around South Side High. The Serpents are laughing at the Red Circle’s video and decide they should attack Archie. Jughead deters them, though, and says they should go after the Black Hood. But the Serpents don’t take the bait: They actually like the Black Hood because he’s targeting North Siders.
Speaking of the North Side, Veronica flips out when she realizes Hiram was the one who gave Archie the idea for the Red Circle. She confronts Hiram about this and he plays dumb. Again.
The principal kicks Archie off the football team because of the Red Circle and says he’s suspended until he disbands it; Archie’s response is essentially, “LOL, whatevs” because he’s a petulant child who wants to play Scooby Doo.
But then, whoa, whoa, whoa: Betty receives a creepy letter from the Black Hood that says he’s killing everyone for her. Apparently, her speech at the jubilee from last season is his inspiration. He also gives her a cipher detailing where he’ll strike next. On the one hand, this is shocking; on the other, it’s not. The dominant theory for weeks has been that the Black Hood is tied and/or related to Betty.
Stupidly, she decides not to tell her mom or the police about this letter (but she does tell them about the cipher). Kids on teen shows never go to the police!
Also stupid are these Red Circle jocks who think playing football is more important than catching a serial killer. They want Archie to give into the principal’s demands, but he refuses and instead suggests they “make their presence known” on the South Side (where the Black Hood presumably lives). The guys say no and quit the Red Circle, which is probably the right move. Why would you ever follow clueless Archie?
Ugh, and now we’re back to Jughead: He ignores a call from Betty to hep Toni Topaz and her pink hair solve the Black Hood’s cipher. Betty’s low-key pissed when she finds out about this and suggests she and Kevin join them for a “code-breaking party.” LOL, these teens are so lame.
Naturally, Toni’s shady as hell to Betty at this “party.” She says Betty should “loosen her ponytail” in order to open her mind, and Kevin snaps back with perhaps my favorite line in Riverdale history: “Betty’s ponytail is iconic and beyond reproach.” I want a spinoff starring Cheryl and Kevin.
Yikes, Betty and Toni get in a nasty spat about “North Side privilege.” Toni accuses Betty of hating the Serpents and thinking the Black Hood is one; she denies this, but then is visibly upset when Toni tells her Jughead’s been secretly eating lunch with the Serpents for weeks. He tries to explain it, but Betty just brushes him aside and keeps deciphering the code. Bughead is on thin ice!
Veronica’s pissed, too, at her dad for playing “mind games” with Archie—so she decides to help him expand the Red Circle. Archie uses a fake ID to buy a huge gun. Is he seriously going to…attack this masked serial killer himself?
Update: Veronica essentially convinces every student at Riverdale High to join the Red Circle. She even buys them all T-shirts! Archie’s in shock, but hopefully this means he’ll throw away his damn gun.
Later that night, rich, white, spoiled Archie travels to the South Side of town and starts spray-painting red circles on old buildings. The Serpents who wanted to attack Archie confront him about this, but he just puffs out his chest and tells them to go away. One of the Serpents points a knife at Archie, and he retaliates by sticking a gun in their faces. He’s truly off the rails.
And the hits just keep on coming: Sheriff Keller and the Riverdale High principal search Archie’s locker for a gun and find a black hood in it. Apparently, it’s Reggie’s, from the night he tried to scare Archie. Fred is, understandably, upset by this, and Hermione uses this as more fuel for her “Veronica, dump Archie” campaign.
Jughead finds the letter the Black Hood wrote and confronts Betty about it. She’s still reeling from the fact the Black Hood said her speech at the jubilee inspired his killings, which is why she’s kept mum. She’s also afraid Archie will blame her for Fred’s shooting, which would be insane but plausible given how ridiculous Archie is this season.
Remember that gun Sheriff Keller searched Archie’s locker for? It turns out Archie was hiding it in a toilet in one of the boys’ bathrooms. He makes Veronica go get it for him, which is, honestly, grounds for a breakup. Archie is a paranoid mess this season who makes his girlfriend stick her hands in a toilet! His abs aren’t worth this torture.
Archie says he literally wants to kill the Black Hood, which is not at all surprising but still psychotic. Veronica, clearly sensing Archie coming unhinged, threw his gun into Sweetwater River minutes before learning this.
Archie didn’t tell the principal the black hood found in his locker was Reggie’s; because of this, the dumb Red Circle jocks reassemble and pledge allegiance to the cause. And this couldn’t have happened at a better time: Immediately after, the South Side Serpents come to Archie’s house looking to throw down. (I get why they’re pissed, too. Archie waved a gun in their faces!)
They actually decide to have an organized fight with no weapons. In the soaking rain. Toxic masculinity, my friends. When things got too violent—one of the Riverdale guys was stabbed in the knee—Veronica interferes by shooting a gun in the air. Archie’s gun. Looks like she didn’t toss that thing in Sweetwater River, after all.
As this is happening, Jughead and Betty think they’ve cracked the Black Hood’s cipher. He’s using codes from a Nancy Drew book Betty loved as a kid to spell out, “I will strike next where it all began.” He’s obviously talking about where Betty’s jubilee speech took place: the town hall.
The same town hall that all the Riverdale adults are at right now debating—you guessed it—the Black Hood. Alice and Fred are quarreling about the source of the town’s issue. (Alice thinks it’s the South Side; he thinks it’s the Black Hood.) Hiram and Hermione say some sketchy shit about how they “knew” Fred was going to be a “problem,” which makes me think they have something to do with the Black Hood. The Lodges are sociopaths!
Jughead and Betty storm in and tell everyone to leave because the Black Hood is striking there next. Betty eventually comes clean to her parents about the letter the Black Hood wrote to her.
Veronica goes from mending Archie’s “fight wounds ” (LOL) to jumping his bones in point-five seconds. Ultimately, they decide to chuck the gun into Sweetwater River, but this buildup makes it obvious we haven’t seen the last of it.
OH MY GOD: We end things with Betty receiving a call from the Black Hood…but the episode cuts out before we hear anything more than “hello.” Bahhh! Prediction: The call is coming from inside the house! (Read: It’s her dad.)
Parting thoughts: This is some Pretty Little Liars shit.