Riverdale: Let's get ready to rumble!

In real life, if a dumb but well-meaning 16 year old kid posed shirtless with a bunch of his friends bragging about how he was going to take down a local murderer, he would have been laughed out town. In Riverdale, Archie is treated like the second coming of the Unabomber.

To be fair, Archie’s actions are getting increasingly worrisome. He’s doing target practice in the woods and is fiercely committed to the Red Circle idea. Archie explains to Veronica that he was trying to fight terror with terror, and to make the Black Hood afraid of Archie like how the town is afraid of the Black Hood. However, no one is impressed with this video. Hermione thinks Archie is unstable and wants Veronica to dump him. The Coopers are the only family who don’t care, and that’s because they’re embroiled in their own domestic drama… again. Alice is furious at Betty for not telling her that Polly skipped town and made a tearful speech about how she’s worried sick about her daughters but is always made to feel like a monster over it. Aw, I actually understand Alice on this. Betty seems to finally understand that running around and getting into dangerous situations can be terrifying for parents, which is a lesson Archie needs to learn soon.

Fred demands Archie take the video down, but Archie explains that the video’s gone viral and there’s nothing he can do about it. All they can do is hope Ellen sees it and they get a free car for their troubles.

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Over on the South Side, the Serpents are watching Archie’s video but not making fun of it as much as I thought they would. They are, however, eager to beat up Archie. Jughead tries to talk them out of it, saying they should go after a real threat like the Black Hood. However, the Serpents think of the Black Hood as a hero who’s putting the snotty North Siders in their place.

At school, Archie walks down the hallway with a remix of his videotaped threat playing. At first, I thought someone made a remix to make fun of Archie, but Archie walks all tough and cool like the bad-ass he most certainly isn’t. Principal Weatherbee tries to cut Archie down to size by disbanding the football team until Archie signs a letter to the community apologizing for that cringe-worthy video, and dissolves the Red Circle.

Reggie yells at Archie to sign the damn letter so football can come back. Archie refuses. The exchange is glorious. Observe:

Since the current theory is that the Black Hood is from the South Side, Archie suggests  they go to the South Side to draw the Black Hood out. Reggie and the rest of the team thinks this is a terrible idea, so they leave the Red Circle. Only Dilton stays, but that’s only to make the observation that maybe this is what Archie has wanted all along: to stand alone so he could fight the Black Hood “mano a mano.”

Meanwhile, Betty is the next Cooper to receive a letter from the Black Hood. He claims that he was inspired by her speech at the Riverdale Jubilee and now wants to rid the town of all its “sinners.” I’m not sure how the Black Hood took Betty’s “Why can’t we all just get along?” speech and turned it into “KILL EVERYONE”, but serial killers have never been well-known for their rational responses.

The Black Hood gives Betty a cipher that serves as a test and a clue to where he’ll take his next victim. Betty confides all this to Kevin, who’s no longer mad at her despite the way last week’s episode ended. Kevin wants Betty to immediately turn over both letters to the police, but Betty insists on only handing over the cipher to Sheriff Keller and her mother.

Alice publishes the cipher in the paper to crowdsource the solution from the townspeople. Toni impresses Jughead with her knowledge of serial killers, and he proposes working together to decode the cipher. Betty also asks Jughead to join her code crackers team, and pretends not to be dismayed at how chummy he’s gotten with Toni. Nevertheless, she proposes they all combine their resources to work together, but she and Toni do not get along. First, Toni makes a joke about how Betty should pull out her ponytail and Kevin snaps at Toni that Betty’s ponytail is “iconic and beyond reproach.”

Betty wonders aloud if there’s some truth to the whole “The Black Hood is a South Sider” theory, and Toni snaps that she’s sick of North Siders painting the South Side with a bad brush when the North Siders are the ones buying all the drugs and starting weird vigilante groups led by half-naked teenage boys. Toni also reveals that Jughead is hanging with the Serpents, but Betty isn’t upset by this revelation. She’s so focused on cracking the code that she falls asleep at Jughead’s, and then has to rush home in the morning.

Meanwhile, Veronica tries to slyly interrogate Hiram to find out exactly what he said to Archie that would have inspired the Red Circle. Hiram plays dumb and pretends not to remember exactly what he said, which lets Veronica know something’s up. She’s not exactly sure what her dad’s game plan is, but she decides to stand by her man no matter what. Veronica’s idea of support is to create some Red Circle T-shirts and have the Vixens pass them out. The goal is to prove that the Red Circle isn’t a fringe group, but now a social movement with “panache and style”.

Archie isn’t content with T-shirts and viral videos anymore. With help from Dilton, he goes to a shady part of town and buys a gun with a fake ID and then heads over to the South Side to spray-paint the Red Circle’s logo on random walls. Some South Side Serpents see Archie doing this and head over to stop this wannabe Banksy. One of the Serpents, Sweet Pea (yeah, that’s his name) pulls out a knife to threaten Archie. Sweet Pea realizes he made a bad choice when he sees Archie is packing heat.

Holy crap, Archie! Was he really going to shoot another kid over a red spray-painted circle? I’m getting seriously worried for this kid; someone needs to stop him. Principal Weatherbee calls Archie out of class to inform him that someone reported seeing him waving a gun around on the South Side, so they’re going to search his locker for weapons. Unfortunately, for once, Archie was smart enough to cover his tracks and the authorities are only able to nail him for having the black hood mask that Reggie used to scare Archie. I guess it’s illegal to own black ski masks in Riverdale now or something.

Fred gives Archie a stern talking to at home, and admits to Archie that he’s also afraid of the Black Hood, but Archie needs to stop trying to go after him. What does Archie do? He ignores this reasonable advice and asks Veronica to pick up the loaded gun he hid behind a toilet at school. Veronica is horrified and outraged that Archie asked her to do this and that he even has a gun in the first place. Earlier, Hermione warned Veronica that blind loyalty is a terrible thing, and it seems like Veronica is finally realizing what her mother meant. Archie admits that he wants to kill the Black Hood himself, so he’s trying to make himself the next target to have an opportunity to confront him. Veronica appropriately freaks out on him.

Reggie and the other Bulldogs arrive, ready to rejoin the Red Circle since Archie didn’t rat Reggie out for having the black hood. Perfect timing, because the South Side Serpents have showed up at Archie’s doorstep.

Jughead returns the stuff Betty left at his place when she rushed off, and confronts her about the Black Hood’s letter, which he just found. Betty admits that she’s afraid Archie will blame her for his dad getting shot, since the Black Hood was inspired by her speech. Jughead assures Betty that Archie wouldn’t be mad at her, and that she’ll figure out the cipher because she’s “Nancy Drew meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Jughead’s Nancy Drew comment sparks something in Betty and she realizes the key to the cipher is in an old Nancy Drew book she used to love as a kid. She and Jughead head to the library and decode the cipher to find that the Black Hood is planning on striking at the town hall, where a meeting is currently taking place.

Betty and Jughead rush over to the meeting and interrupt Alice’s speech denouncing the South Side. Alice proposes that South Side High be defunded so there can be an increased police presence on the North Side. So Alice is going to flat out take away education for half of the town’s kids just to hire a few more cops? Thankfully, Fred stands up to her and points how ridiculous this all is and how they shouldn’t turn on each other. Before the town erupts into a civil war, Betty pulls the fire alarm to evacuate the townspeople from the meeting to keep everyone safe.

Meanwhile,  the Red Circle and the Serpents face off in an overly dramatic slo-mo rumble in the rain. Veronica talked them out of using weapons, but a Serpent still pulls out a knife and stabs Dilton in the leg. Veronica fires Archie’s gun in the air to end the madness, and as Veronica patches up his cuts and bruises, Archie finally realizes that violence is not the answer.

He and Veronica dump the gun in Sweetwater River. Hot damn, that river must be filled with more dead bodies and guns than fish.

Betty finally turns in the Black Hood’s letter to the police and Alice. Whew! So the adults are on the case and the kids can relax? Not so fast. The episode ends with Betty getting a call from the Black Hood himself.

The Real Archie’s Weird Mysteries I Want Solved:

  • What’s the deal with Alice’s anti-South Side agenda? Mr. Jughead made a vague reference about Alice being from the South Side herself.
  • What’s Hiram’s plan here? He wanted Archie to start the Red Circle, and Hermione mentioned that Fred might be a “problem” during his “let’s stay together” speech at the town meeting. Is he planning to divide and conquer Riverdale?

Did Jughead Get a Burger?

Sadly, no. There didn’t even appear to be snacks at the code cracker’s party.

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

TV Show: Riverdale

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  • I’m still trying to wrap my mind around Hiram’s end game. Like if the town’s in chaos, he can buy up properties, but he owns the drive-in theater lot and Pop’s. Can he buy the school, the 1950s insane asylum style police station, and the place they stashed Polly last season? What else is there to own in this small town?

    • Greenhornet

      He’s an “EEEVIL!” businessman. His plans don’t have to make sense, or even a profit.
      You want to shock your audience? Make your multi-millionaire, tough businessman character a decent, good sort of guy. That hasn’t been done for God know how many decades.
      And Batman doesn’t count.

      Seriously, this has got to have been a comedy at some point, it’s so over-the-top.

      PS: TURN ON THE LIGHTS, RIVERDALE! Your show being “dark” doesn’t mean LITERALLY!

      • I’d love it if that is the final reveal. He’s been a good guy all season and was framed for the iail time in the first season.

        • Greenhornet

          Polly Cooper is the Black Hood.
          It fits. Mailing stuff to the Coopers. The victims are associated with Betty as well as Archie. Knowing that Betty has a Nancy Drew book with a cypher in it*. The fact that she’s “out of town” and all but forgotten.

          *I’m pissed that a beloved character like Nancy Drew (Who deserves better, check out the early, 1930’s books) is associated with this drek.