Tonight’s Riverdale episode was intense, to say the least. There were breakups, (more) fist-fights, IRL rattlesnakes…even a subtle Taylor Swift reference. Let’s just jump right into the madness. Spoilers ahead.
We open with Betty Permanent-Ponytail Cooper shooketh to her core because she’s currently phoning with the Black Hood. He’s clearly using some cheap-ass software to alter how his voice sounds, like he’s on To Catch a Predator or something. Apparently, the Black Hood was at the town hall—just like Betty and Jughead predicted—but he didn’t hurt anyone.
This is so ridiculous: The Black Hood says he wants to “cleanse” Riverdale of “sinners,” including Betty’s sister, Polly, who he believes has a “sin in her womb.” Somehow, he knows Polly’s living at a farm two hours north of Riverdale, and he tells Betty he’ll “carve” Polly “like a jack-o-lantern” if she tells the police she knows his next move. I should be scared, but I’m cackling.
Minutes later, Alice comes barging in and laments about how Jughead’s showing his “true colors” now that he’s moved to the South Side. To be honest, though, I think Jughead’s the worst no matter where he lives. Alice suggests Jughead is the one responsible for a lot of the fuckery going down in Riverdale, which I wish were true.
Meanwhile, Archie gave into the principal’s demands and issued an apology about the Red Circle. Wah! Bummer, this means no more hot shirtless dudes wearing masks and screaming nonsense.
But he has enough nonsense coming from Betty: Stupidly, she decides to risk Polly’s life and tells Archie the Black Hood called her. They exchange worried, wide-eyed glances, and Archie says he’s not going to let her go through this alone. But being alone is better than having loose-cannon Archie on your team, IMHO.
Veronica’s ex-boyfriend, Nick St. Clair, is coming to Riverdale with his parents to see the SoDale Project Hiram’s working on. The Lodges need investors with deep pockets, and Hiram and Hermione essentially tell Veronica to seduce Nick (and, subsequently, his parents) into giving money to SoDale. Archie’s clearly miffed at the idea of Veronica’s ex coming to town.
Over at South Side High, the Serpents are still salty about the rainy fist fight they had with the Red Circle and the article Alice Cooper wrote condemning the South Side. Their solution to this is to blow up the newspaper office. Jughead, naturally, flips out when he hears this and pleads with them to change their plan. They basically tell Jughead to STFU and that he can’t be half a Serpent. He has to choose between them and Riverdale (read: Betty). Jughead furrows his brows at this like a child. He then goes to a Serpent bar, in his father’s Serpent jacket, and says he’s ready to fully join the gang. He’s obviously lying, but the Serpents buy it and warn him about their “initiation” process. Oof.
Spoiler alert: It’s a dog. The initiation process is literally just Jughead having to take care of a dog. Oh, and then he has to memorize a bunch of Serpent rules and scream them in a bar like a marine. And then he has to stick his hand in a rattlesnake’s cage! OMG?!?
Apparently, Jughead wants to become a Serpent to keep the gang from from waging an all-out war against the North Side. It’s a noble gesture, but does he really think they’re going to listen to him? He wears a beanie! Also, it’s very apparent Toni Topaz is developing feelings for him (which I don’t understand). Bughead drama is on the horizon, tweens.
Wait! The Black Hood calls Betty again! With Archie in the room! He says Alice is a “thorn” they need to get rid of, which is ominous AF. The Black Hood then sends Betty an email and tells her to publish it to prove her “loyalty” to him. If she does this, he’ll answer one question that she has—and she can ask anything, except his name.
But this task is a little tricky, seeing as how what he wants Betty to publish is insane: It’s an old newspaper cover featuring teenage Alice on the cover with the headline, “South Side Teen Arrested and Released on Bail.” Yes, friends, this means Alice Cooper used to be a South Sider—which totally explains her blind hatred for it. Betty doesn’t think they should publish the mugshot, but Rogue Psycho Archie does. Of course.
The St. Clairs blow into Riverdale looking like the most stereotypical rich people alive. Veronica and Nick have some mild flirtation, but, like Archie’s way hotter so I’m not concerned.
But maybe I should be: After Nick and Archie have dinner at the Lodge’s, Nick offers them cocaine, which they turn down. Nick compares the Riverdale teens to “country mice” and essentially sticks his nose up at their entire existence. Nick does like the Pussycats, though, and he invites them (and Veronica) to a party he’s hosting. Cheryl invites herself because she’s iconic.
A quick detour: Sheriff Keller (a.k.a the salt-and-pepper snack) says the handwriting from the letter the Black Hood sent Betty and the one he sent Alice aren’t a match. This fuels Alice’s hatred for the South Side and her belief that Jughead is the one behind Betty’s letter. However, this is just a ruse: The Black Hood is so obviously behind both. Anyway, Alice’s resentment toward Jughead bites her in the bum: It gives Betty the motivation to publish the mugshot of her the Black Hood sent.
And in return, as promised, Betty gets to ask the Black Hood one question: Would she recognize his face? He says, “yes,” and then he creepily goes on a rant about how he wants Betty all to himself. He wants her to cut everyone else out of her life…or he will. And the first victim is Veronica, or as he calls her, “the daughter of an embezzler.” Rude!
This drama is put on hold so Bughead can make out and lie to each other about their problems. Betty also lies to Archie about the Black Hood calling her again, and she pretends everything is OK between her and Veronica at Nick’s party later that night.
Which is nuts, by the way, because Nick brings Jingle Jangle, that crazy drug that looks like Pixy Stix. And they all do it! Well, except Betty. Fearful of the Black Hood’s wrath, she intentionally starts a fight with Veronica, branding her a fake and a crook, just like her father. She then leaves the party, abruptly, and Veronica’s visibly upset.
Cut back to Jughead: Toni Topaz warns him that the final test to become a Serpent, the Gauntlet, is intense as hell and he needs to prepare himself to lose his North Side friends and Betty. Jughead’s not fazed, but he should be. Your laptop can’t get you out of this, bud!
Oh my God, Nick is garbage: He says Veronica was “teasing” him all night at the party and attempts to make out with her. She literally has to force him off. He gets angry at this and tells Veronica he has the power to “implode” Hiram’s SoDale deal. This is 100 percent an attempt to coerce Veronica into sleeping with him, but she doesn’t fall for it: She slaps him in the face and walks away.
God, the Black Hood’s demands just don’t stop: Now, he wants Betty to cut out Jughead…and she asks Archie to do it for her. He goes to Jughead’s trailer to deliver the news minutes before the Serpents show up. They all clash. Archie’s pissed Jughead’s joining the gang. Jughead’s pissed at Archie for being Betty’s messenger. It’s all a mess, and it ends with Jughead jumping head first into his final Serpent challenge. (Which is essentially just the Serpents beating the shit out of him.)
Goddess Alice certainly isn’t letting that mugshot bring her down: She shows up to the SoDale open house with a snake around her neck, just like New Taylor Swift, and tells her husband (Hal) to “shove it.” Meanwhile, Nick thinks a simple, “I’m sorry” rectifies sexually assaulting Veronica. He says he’s been in and out of rehab. Veronica doesn’t want to play nice, but she knows her parents are counting on her—so she appeases him.
And, yup, Nick is a monster: Cheryl shows up to the SoDale benefit, and he slips some type of pill in her drink. He attempts to sexually assault her, but Veronica and Josie and the Pussycats intervene before he does anything. And then they beat the shit out of him. It’s glorious.
Betty gets yet another call from the Black Hood after she dumps Jughead. He says his identity is hidden in some abandoned farmhouse, so of course she runs there to find it.
There’s a present in the middle of the house, and the Black Hood tells Betty to open it. Inside there’s—wait for it—a black hood, and he instructs her to put it on and look in the mirror. That’s the answer: He says they’re the same person. So…does this mean the Black Hood is a Cooper? Hal? Betty’s brother? Dark Betty?!? WTF!?
Oh, and WTF, part two: Toni takes Jughead and Betty’s “breakup” as an opportunity to kiss him. Does this mean they’re a couple now?! His beanie is still warm, girl!
Holy crap. It’s not over yet. The Black Hood calls Betty one last time and says he knows she’s been telling Archie about their chats—and now Polly’s going to pay for it. However, he says he won’t kill Polly if Betty tells him another person to kill. She hesitates and finally gives him a name: Nick St. Clair.
Parting thoughts: This show is woefully underusing Cheryl Blossom.