Wow, Riverdale has really gone dark this season, even more than last. This episode in particular just had a feeling of dread running throughout. But at least we can report that we were wrong about the deaths of Moose and Midge, although Moose did get pretty shot up but he protected Midge in the process so that’s one bit of good news this week. But for the rest of our favorite denizens of Riverdale, things weren’t so promising.
Poor Archie is still tormented by his father’s shooting and Miss Grundy’s murder. Things didn’t get any better for him when the news of Moose and Midge spread. On top of all that, he’s got his dad urging him not to do anything stupid — including bringing a gun into the house, which he already has — and he’s got the pressure of meeting Hiram Lodge weighing on him, not only because he’s Veronic’a boyfriend but because he’s also Fred’s business partner. After briefly being introduced at a The Bachelorette season premiere viewing party at the Lodge home, Hiram insists on having Archie over for dinner so they can really get to know each other. Hiram is interested in what Archie wants to do as far as finding the Black Hood killer and protecting Riverdale, because Hiram doesn’t think Sheriff Keller and the Riverdale police are up to the job.
And where does Archie get his inspiration from? Why the Red Circle comic, of course (not so coincidentally a real comic owned by the Archie Comics group … which also just happens to publish the Black Hood comic), featuring a team of Avengers/Justice League heroes known as The Mighty Crusaders. Archie gets Reggie and their football teammates to join the group and patrol the town, a sort of neighborhood watch (and the video Archie produces featuring most of the group buff and shirtless was … odd, particularly since Archie was not shirtless for a change). And the Red Circle has come along just in time as the killer has given himself the name Black Hood and sent his manifesto to Alice Cooper to print in the local paper, which she does against the advice of the mayor and the sheriff.
It seems the Black Hood has annointed himself some sort of avenging angel, ridding Riverdale of its sinners — the adulterer Fred, the child molester Grundy, the druggies Moose and Midge. The manifesto has show shaken up Betty’s sister Polly, who called herself the poster child for since seeing she’s an unwed mother having her cousin’s baby, that she’s fleeing town, heading to the farm where she and Jason were supposed to go together. Alice isn’t too keen on Polly giving birth in a trough, but she is outta there without saying goodbye to anyone but Betty.
But why is Hiram Lodge so interested in Archie’s exploits? First he gives the boy a stern warning about never sneaking into Ronnie’s bedroom ever again, then he offers the underaged teen a glass of rum, and then he’s very interested in Archie’s plans to police Riverdale. It makes one wonder if he has some involvement with the Black Hood. Could the online theories about Smithers be true? I’m not buying it. The actor who plays Smithers has too many freckles around his eyes that don’t correspond with whoever is under the hood, and his eyes don’t appear to be as green as the killer’s. He’s shown nothing but disdain for his employer and if he was the Black Hood and Hiram knew or was in cahoots with him, why send him away and make it even more obvious? (Another theory holds it’s Sheriff Keller, but actor Martin Cummins definitely does not have green eyes, nor does Lochlyn Munroe who plays Betty’s father, so we’re going to have to just keep guessing.)
With the threat of more Black Hood killings, why hasn’t Sheriff Keller imposed a curfew? It’s bad enough his own son is roaming the local woods looking for other guys to hook up with, just a few yards from where Midge and Mooser were shot, but other kids are throwing caution to the wind as well. Just why was Ethel Muggs out at night by herself in the middle of nowhere? Good thing she had Archie’s number so they could get to her before the creepy van did. But was that the Black Hood or just a creeper in a van? You’d think Keller would do something about this situation by now.
Speaking of Kevin, how sad is it that Riverdale has no place for its apparently large LGBT population to gather? Is it really worth risking your life for a few minutes of sexual pleasure? Perhaps instead of being so judgy, Betty could channel her concern into forming an LGBT club at school instead of going to Kevin’s father. Even though Kevin resented what Betty did, at least it gave us a very tender moment between him and his dad who seems to accept Kevin and is only concerned about his well-being. The scene with Kevin visiting Moose at the hospital was also heartbreaking because of the mixed signals he was getting from Moose about “guys like us” in Riverdale. Is Moose ever going to be comfortable enough to admit his feelings for Kevin or is he going to spend his time escaping those feelings with Midge and the J.J. (a term only slightly less ridiculous than Jingle Jangle)?
Outside of the main Black Hood story, Jughead is attempting to fit in to his new school but what a cesspool South Side High is. Given a tour and a few warnings by Serpents member Toni Topaz, who advises him to sit with the Serpents at lunch, Juggie just wants to be left alone to do his own thing. But insisting on answering a question about the novel Fahrenheit 451 and convincing his teacher to reopen the school’s newspaper, Jughead finds himself on the receiving end of some violence to send a message … but was it from the Ghoulies (the Jingle Jangle gang) or the Serpents? Whoever it was, the message was received as Juggie dined with the Serpents the next day. And with Toni working as the paper’s photographer alongside Jughead, will this cause a rift with him and Betty, and will Dark Betty return to boil Toni in a hot tub?
And what is up with Hermione Lodge? Before Hiram arrived, she was like Veronica’s best friend most of the time, or at least a caring mother and loving wife. Now she’s also taken a dark turn, constantly hissing something at Ronnie about Archie and Hiram who, incidentally, can hear everything his wife says to their daughter at one point telling her that he didn’t care if she blew up her own relationship with their daughter but not to ever try to do the same with his. And just what kind of relationship does he have with her? He won’t even allow her into his study, but he brings Archie in, and now Ronnie wants to become more hands on with Lodge Industries just so she can be allowed into that room and get closer to her dad. But will she like what she eventually finds? I’m willing to say she won’t, but perhaps the end result will be a newfound friendship with Cheryl Blossom (who needs more screen time, although he talk with Betty about Kevin and subsequent confrontation with him was one of the episode’s lighter moments).
This week’s episode title is “The Watcher in the Woods” which is the title of a Disney movie from 1981. The plot has no real relation to anything happening in this episode although the movie does feature a character with the last name of Keller. This was also one of the first Disney movies to carry a PG rating.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8:00 PM on The CW.
What did you think of this episode premiere? Is the Black Hood someone we already know? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.