Riverdale: Lil' Crime Stoppers

Jughead informs us that every fairy tale has essentially the same warning: don’t go into the woods because there’s nothing but trouble there. Examples include Little Red Riding Hood meeting a hungry wolf and Goldilocks finding the three bears’ house. Kevin ain’t afraid of no big bad wolf so he heads into the forest to hook up with a bear.

Or perhaps more accurately, a fellow twink.


Kevin is making out with an anonymous hook up in Fox Forest when the two hear gunshots. Kevin investigates where the shots came from, and finds a bloody Midge screaming for help after the Black Hood shot her and Moose. Poor Kevin. All he wants to do is get laid, but every time he goes into the forest, he always finds some dead teenagers.

Well, nearly dead. Despite being able to strangle a grown woman with a cello bow, the Black Hood is incapable of properly shooting two unarmed teens. Both Midge and Moose survive the shooting and live to see another day as background players in Archie’s life.

Despite the lack of evidence, Archie knows the Black Hood’s attempted murder on two minor characters must be related to Ms. Grundy’s death as well. Veronica tries to get everyone’s mind off it by inviting them to her house to watch “The Matchelorette“. Since Veronica has decided to forgive Hiram for being a terrible father and human being, she wants him to meet her friends and watch a dumb reality TV show.

Archie still convinced the Moose’s attempted murder is the Black Hood, so he visits Moose at the hospital to interrogate him about the shooting. Moose reveals the man had green eyes and wore a black hood, just like Fred’s shooter. Midge also adds that the man has “the devil’s eyes.” She also adds that when the man stared at her, she felt a change—time meant nothing and never would again, so let’s do the time warp again.

Speaking of time warps, let’s go back to 1992 to see Jughead at South Side High. The school is every cliché from every movie about a struggling inner city school. There are security checks at the door, budget cuts have eliminated all extracurricular programs, the cafeteria is a war zone where your safety is determined by where you sit, and kids do jingle jangle out in the open.

Toni Topaz, a Serpent, is Jughead’s tour guide and offers him a place with the gang. Toni warns Jughead going it alone makes him vulnerable to the Ghoulies, the other local gang. The Serpents can offer him protection and it goes without saying that with the pretentious way that Jughead talks, he will definitely need protection. Still, Jughead insists on being a one man wolfpack.

Privately, Betty confronts Kevin about his “night jogging” and asks why he doesn’t just use hookup apps. Kevin insists that “nobody is who they say they are online” and it’s better to meet people in person so he knows what he’s getting.

Yeah, it’s so much worse to get catfished than to spend hours wandering around a dark forest at night in the hopes of bumping into the only other gay guy within a fifteen mile radius.

Betty makes Kevin promise not to go cruising until the killer is caught, and to join the gang at Veronica’s for The Matchelorette. Kevin doesn’t show, but I think he made the right decision. Archie spends half the time venting about how his dad won’t encourage Archie’s vigilante tendencies. “My dad says leave it to Sheriff Keller, because he did such a good job of catching Jason’s killer. Oh wait! That was us!” Archie fumes.

He does have a point there.

Hiram’s meet and greet session turns into more of a “hi and bye” thing. He politely introduces himself to the gang and and tells them that he overheard Archie’s frustrations. He tells Archie that the police aren’t always the solution, and sometimes people need to take their protection into their own hands. He invites Archie to dinner and suggests that he come up with a plan to save Riverdale from its increasing crime rate.

For Archie, this means taking inspiration from comic books. He proposes to the football team that they form a “watchdog” group who will patrol and protect Riverdale students and faculty. Reggie suggests they call themselves “The Watchdogs”, but Archie insists that they call themselves “The Red Circle”, after the fictional superhero league from his vintage comics.

At school, Betty confronts Kevin for not showing up at Veronica’s, and demands to know if he went cruising again. Kevin tells Betty to shut up because he just wants to get laid once without finding a dead body and he doesn’t care what he has to do to make that happen! Cheryl, who’s been eavesdropping on Betty and Kevin’s fights, approaches Betty with sage advice on how to keep her sassy gay friend. Cheryl explains that Kevin is very insecure because he used to be ugly and awkward, and now can only feel validation through sex. Cheryl tells Betty to let Kevin have his hoe phase, but Betty is worried about Kevin’s safety.

At Casa Cooper, Alice receives a package from the Black Hood containing Fred’s wallet and Ms. Grundy’s Lolita sunglasses. In his letter, the Black Hood announces that he’s appointed himself to cleanse Riverdale of its sins, which is why he targeted Fred (an adulterer), Ms. Grundy (a child predator), and Midge and Moose (oversexed Pixie Styx addicts). Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller don’t want the Coopers to print the Black Hood’s letter in the paper for fear that it will incite panic, but Alice smugly reveals that the letter is already set to run in the next edition.

Polly immediately skips town, pointing out that as an unwed teenage mother carrying her distant cousin’s babies, she’s a prime target for the Black Hood. The Black Hood’s letter serves as fuel for Archie’s watchdog group, and Sheriff Keller tries to put a stop to it. He’ll be damned if a group of kids scoop him for this killer, too and he tattles to Principal Weatherbee that Archie is building a private army.

At South Side High, Jughead impresses the local English teacher by being the only student intelligent enough to offer a basic analysis of Fahrenheit 451 before the period is over, so the teacher allows Jughead and Toni to resurrect the school paper. Betty visits Jughead while he’s staying late working on a hard-hitting expose about how the Ghoulies are responsible for the jingle jangle trafficking created by Clifford Blossom. Betty worries that Jughead will face retaliation from the Ghoulies for his story, but Jughead brushes her off. He does get beat up by the Ghoulies, but Jughead claims his bruises are from a bad fall off of his motorcycle. Toni backs up his lie, much to Jughead’s relief. Now realizing he literally can’t survive high school alone, Jughead starts sitting with the Serpents at lunch.

Meanwhile, Archie and Reggie head out on their Red Circle patrol. They rescue Ethel from being run off the road by a suspicious van, vowing to protect her until the end of time, since Stranger Things dropped the ball on that.

At Chez Lodge, Veronica is so excited to have Archie come to dinner and meet her parents that she’s the one polishing the silver instead of a servant. Repeatedly throughout the episode, Hermione tries to steer Veronica away from getting Hiram involved in her personal life, even going as far as to call her own daughter “thirsty” for Daddy’s attention. After another round of vague warnings, Veronica drops the silverware so she can cut through the bullshit. Veronica tells Hermione that she’s making an effort to repair her relationship with Hiram, which is what they were literally begging her to do last episode, and if Hermione has such a problem with Hiram, maybe she shouldn’t have taken him back.

Privately, Hiram tells Hermione that he heard her trying to bad mouth him, and creepily warns her not to poison Veronica against him. Hermione finally realizes that she may not have picked a winner here.

Other than the thinly veiled family tensions, dinner at Chez Lodge goes well. Hiram takes an active interest in Archie after he hears about how he saved Ethel, and offers to share his rum in his study. Veronica accepts on Archie’s behalf, but is disappointed that drinks in the study are a “no girls allowed” type of thing. If it makes her feel any better, her creepy portrait is there.

Hiram gives the traditional dad talk to Archie—no sex with his daughter, don’t break her heart, yadda yadda—and then interestingly, encourages Archie to take his Red Circle group to the next level. He tells Archie that he needs to go on the offensive against the Black Hood, a suggestion Archie eagerly takes to heart. Hurt after being excluded from the boys’ club, Veronica asks Hiram to let her become a more active part of Lodge Industries, much to Hermione’s dismay.

Meanwhile, Betty and Kevin have another argument about his cruising in the woods. Kevin yells at Betty that she lives in a “bubblegum pink world filled with milkshakes and first kisses”, and she has a place to explore her sexual desires but he doesn’t. All the gay kids at school are still closeted, and as Moose says in his hospital bed, sometimes the hookups in the woods are the only place where he feels like he belongs. Still, Betty’s worries finally get through to Kevin, and he imagines his hookup stabbing him in the chest. Kevin runs back home like a good little boy, where his dad is waiting for him. Thanks to Betty, Sheriff Keller knows where Kevin has been. He tells Kevin that he wants him to be safe, and they should talk more about navigating Kevin’s sexuality. The two cry it out and hug. Despite Betty being right about the safety issue, Kevin still ignores her at school the next day.

Finally, Archie reveals his grand plan for taking the Red Circle to the next level. In a YouTube video surrounded by members of the Red Circle wearing hats left over from the Women’s March, Archie announces to the Black Hood that they’re coming for him, and he will be defeated.

In his study, Hiram watches the video with a smug smile. Is Archie’s Red Circle part of a grand master plan he’s working on? Or is he just smiling at the potential embarrassment Archie is going to suffer for years to come?

The Real Archie’s Weird Mysteries I Want Solved:

  • So the Black Hood is targeting “sinners”. Shouldn’t he be going after people like Hermione and Hiram, who embezzled money and lied about it? Or the Ghoulies, who are trafficking drugs? Just admit you’ve got a weird vendetta against a certain red-haired high school kid and be done with it, man.
  • Did Hiram hire the Black Hood so he could run down Riverdale’s property values, buy up land cheap, and then flip it for a ridiculous profit? If so, this is one long real estate con.
  • Why did Archie think that a bunch of high school boys posing topless would look tough? Why?

Did Jughead Get a Burger?

Not this episode, guys. He did enjoy some tasty popcorn, though.

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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