Holy crap, everyone. Riverdale didn’t just flip everything on its head tonight, it crashed the entire show like a kamikaze plane. SPOILERS follow.
Riverdale just moved every piece it had tonight. No stone was left unturned and every card was played. What I mean is, that was insane. Riverdale became the Purge. If you need to catch up on last week’s review first, check it out here. But personally, this episode was so packed I have a hard time remembering everything I just watched.
This episode picked up immediately after last week’s, as riots broke out across Riverdale. Fangs, Midge’s supposed murderer, was freed, only to be shot himself. Evidently, Reggie didn’t do it and Archie really did stop him just in time. But that didn’t stop the Serpents from assuming he did it. They started tearing up the town looking for Reggie, while Archie and the Bulldogs went out trying to save him. Before they could clash one last time, Veronica happened to notice a familiar face in the riots when driving home: Midge’s mother. She was in shock, barely able to speak to Veronica. But when she did speak, she confessed to shooting Fangs and turned herself in. This news reached Archie just before he and the Bulldogs, armed with Archie’s choice weapon- baseball bats, had to stop the Serpents from burning down Riverdale High. The Serpents wouldn’t let Reggie’s innocence stop them from lashing out at North-siders, until Principal Weatherbee himself, armed with his own apocalyptic defenses, came to put a stop to it. The school confrontation was reminiscent of some of this season’s better scenes, and really helped set the tone for how everything would come to a head in this episode.
That would be enough plot to fill an hour on its own, but it didn’t even take up the first half. Right around the time that Fangs was shot, Cheryl had been greeted at her front door by the Black Hood. But like I said, the show would never let the Black Hood claim a main cast member. Cheryl somehow evaded the Black Hood until she could find her bow and arrow (and archery cape, an essential when stopping serial killers) and shoot him through the shoulder. He fled into the woods, and the next that would be heard of him was a call Betty received from FP Jones saying her father had been checked into the hospital. At this point, there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt in Betty’s mind that her father was the Black Hood. She rushed to the hospital, but in her father’s room, rather than confronting the man she now knew to be a killer, she found the body of a doctor in his place. She then got a call telling her to come home for the final confrontation.
But before that was resolved, there was more crime to be dealt with elsewhere. Archie and the Bulldogs found Reggie, who had been denied help by Hiram Lodge, taking shelter at Pop’s. When they went to get him, some uninvited guests followed. First thought to be the Serpents, the Ghoulies, nastier of the two gangs, had appeared to wreak havoc on Pop’s. Archie took to the roof with several Molotov cocktails in an attempt at defense, but his noble teen efforts weren’t enough. Luckily, the trio of great dads showed up in the nick of time. FP Jones, Fred Andrews, and (former) Sheriff Keller all appeared and successfully scared off the Ghoulies.
And the gang violence sure didn’t stop there! Jughead got a call from Penny Peabody, the Snake Charmer. Ready to strike at a moment of critical weakness, she had kidnapped Toni and was holding her hostage. Jughead showed up to rescue her, but Penny had the backup of the entire Ghoulies gang. She demanded the entire Serpent gang either high-tail it out of Riverdale, leaving the territory and drug trade for the Ghoulies’ taking, or there would be a war at dawn. Jughead managed to rescue Toni with the help of his own backup, Cheryl, and they escaped. Lucky for them, every gang member in Riverdale has some aversion to guns, so Cheryl’s bow and arrow trumped their tasers. Upon returning to the Serpents’ headquarters, FP brought news of Fangs’ passing and led the gang in a vote, agreeing to go to war with the Ghoulies.
That itself was very interesting, but Betty was about to confront her father for killing people, so let’s hop back over there. When Betty arrived at home, her mother was peacefully enjoying a glass of wine. Her father, no longer really trying to hide anything, played them an old home video. There sat young Hal Cooper, being instructed by his mother. She said they couldn’t let his father be taken away from him. Here, laying it all out in front of his family, Hal Cooper finally confessed to being the Black Hood and told his story:
A long time ago, Hal’s grandfather, at that point still bearing the last name of Blossom, had killed his brother. He changed his name to shake off the crime, but one family still knew. So Hal’s father killed the entire family to protect his own father’s secret. Well, the whole family but one of the children. That one child was of course Mr. Svenson. The young Hal Cooper, told by his mother that all sinners must be purged, convinced Svenson that someone else had committed the crime. Hal lived with the same murderous darkness growing inside him until Betty’s speech from earlier that year brought back the memory of his mother’s attitude towards sinners. He was inspired to take up the old family business: MURDER. And he became the Black Hood. Now he wanted his family to know before he claimed all three of them as his final victims. But Alice summoned a burst of boldness and taunted him, buying enough time for Betty to club him over the head with an iron fire poker.
The entire season had been building up to this one reveal, and it certainly wasn’t underwhelming. I loved how a small circle of blood gradually appeared on Hal’s shoulder as the scene went on. And Betty’s conversation with him was incredibly tense and chilling. It really tied every part of the season-long arc together and finally made Svenson’s past and the way the Black Hood taunted Betty make sense. In fact, Is ouldn’t be surprise if Betty herself starts struggling with homocidal tendencies later. But I did have one complaint with this reveal: Alice was right, Hal was a bad serial killer. While he successfully pulled off the killer vibe, he never shook off the dad vibe. It would’ve been perfect if his whole dad persona had been a facade all along, but he came off as a very calm, controlled serial killer and an angry dad.
So the Black Hood had been caught. But if you remember last week’s episode, there was a point where he and Hal had been seen in the same room, separately. Hal admitted he had no idea who the apparent copycat was. While one Black Hood was meeting his end, another was just getting started next door. Fred and Archie got home that night, relieved to be free of the gangs and riots. Unfortunately, they had an unexpected house guest. The second Black Hood leaped from the shadows and attacked Archie, who struggled until he was held at gunpoint. Archie probably would’ve died if it weren’t for Fred, the best dad of all time. Fred took two bullets to the chest for his son before the killer escaped. But Fred had come prepared (bless up) with a bullet-proof vest he had put on earlier to help with the riots.
The scene of Archie exploring his house was my personal favorite this episode. This season has had more than its fair share of horror homages, but this was when it truly felt like its own, independent, fully-fledged horror show. I’m certainly down with the idea of a copycat Black Hood, I just really hope it gets resolved next episode instead of being stretched out into next season. It could be good, as long as the writers know when to quit. My current theory for his identity: Hiram. He definitely has motives to kill Fred, and has ties to the mayoral race, where the copycat first appeared. It would even give the show a nice, even way to lock him up in the end.
But more than just the saga of the Black Hood was reaching a climax in Riverdale that night. Some time ago, a mob affiliate of Hiram’s had been murdered. Hiram said he didn’t do it, but he totally did. No one was fooled, including the dead man’s son. He showed up seeking revenge not on Hiram, but on his family. This massive hulk of a man killed the Lodges’ butler and made his way into their suite. He almost got them, but Hermione was quicker. She swiped the handgun from the study and gunned him down in self-defense. They were safe for the moment, but it made Veronica realize they would never be done taking the fallout for Hiram’s power plays. Veronica has said that she’s done with her parents a lot, but this time I felt it really landed. It had good, appropriate build up and payoff and left behind real consequences.
Speaking of Hiram! Sure the Black Hood may have been the one murdering teenagers, but Hiram Lodge was the true villain more so than anyone. He had been the one to hire the Ghoulies and Penny Peabody to wreck Pop’s and drive the Serpents out of town, inciting the riots and violence to clear away the last of his resistors. Jughead realized this and decided it was up to him to prevent the impending war. He offered himself to Hiram and Peabody as a sacrifice, letting them take him so the other Serpents would be spared. Dozens of Ghoulies then viciously beat Jughead into a bloody pulp, while Peabody assured him he would die in vain and Riverdale would be hers. FP figured out what Jughead had done and came to the rescue… but was he too late? I really don’t believe they would kill off their most popular character, but he sure as heck looked dead. We’ll have to wait to find out…
I have no reservations saying that this episode was the series’ best. Dark, suspenseful, shocking, engrossing, and boldly presenting its unique style, this episode was a cinematic tour de force. It felt like four compelling shows weaved seamlessly into one, and I easily rate “Judgement Night” 10 hero dads out of 10.
How’d you like tonight’s episode? Do you agree or disagree with my score? How do you think this season will wrap up? Let us know in the comments below or @SuperBroMovies.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 on The CW.