This was a gripping week for Riverdale as the Black Hood played terrible games with Betty and a new monster arrived in town in the form of Veronica’s old friend Nick St. Clair, whose father Hiram was hoping to do business with. But we have to take a look at the episode’s title, “When a Stranger Calls”, and ponder how much of a clue this might be to the identity of the Black Hood, or if it’s just another clever use of a movie title for the episode title.
Even if you’ve never seen or heard something about the movie When a Stranger Calls, you are probably still aware of one of the movie’s catchphrases – “The call is coming from inside the house!” Last week I posed the notion that Betty’s father Hal is the Black Hood simply because who else would know Betty could solve his puzzle using a Nancy Drew book? This week it seems even more likely that it is Hal as the Black Hood played some terrible mind games with Betty.
Calling Betty on her cell phone — and using the ringtone of the song “Lollipop” was a smart move on Betty’s part because who’s going to suspect she’s chatting with a killer with that ringtone — the Hood seems to know a lot about Betty’s personal life, including the whereabouts of her sister Polly. Outside of the Cooper household, who else knows that Polly went to a farm to have her baby? Even if she told anyone else, the only other person she would have told is Jughead, and he’s certainly not going to blab that information.
But the Hood gave Betty a choice: follow his orders or he would kill Polly. Betty agreed, reluctantly, but only if she could ask him one question after each directive. He agreed with one condition — she couldn’t ask his name. Following his playbook of punishing those he deems sinners, the Hood first tells Betty she must end her friendship with Veronica. And at a party she does so in the harshest way possible, leaving the rubble of their relationship behind her as she left. But Ronnie seems to know that there’s something behind her actions. But why cut out Veronica? We know that there is a connection between the Blossoms and Hiram Lodge, and the Coopers are related to the Blossoms but have never benefited from that relationship. The Hood must assume that cutting Betty out of that relationship will hurt Veronica just as much, sort of like making her pay for the sins of her father.
The killer has major disdain for the South Side Serpents as well. First he made Betty publish an old mug shot of her mother as a teen when she was a resident of the wrong side of the tracks. Hal’s relationship with Alice could still be rocky, so why not do something to humiliate her? But the hardest part for Betty — and she really didn’t have a problem exposing her judgmental mother — was breaking up with Jughead. In fact, she asked Archie to do it for her. Being the good friend he is, and he knows about the phone calls, he goes to break the news to Juggie, and he might have actually told him in a way that let him know this was not for real. But he happened to get to Jughead’s trailer at the wrong time as he was preparing to get himself initiated into the Serpents. Totally not okay with this turn of events, Archie told Jughead in the harshest way possible that Betty was breaking up with him and she’d been planning to do it for quite some time. Ouch. But that news only made Jughead’s resolve to join the Serpents even stronger and Toni found herself an opportunity to swoop in and pick up the pieces of his heart. This turn of events was all the more heartbreaking since the pair had just had a moment together at Pop’s the day before, Betty comparing them to Romeo and Juliet but with a happy ending. Well, so much for that … at least for the time being.
We’ll get back to Betty in a minute, but let’s talk about Nick St. Clair. What a tool. While Veronica attempts to remind him that they both reside in the Friend Zone, he’s very unsubtle in his attraction to her. At one group get-together, he’s just a bit too handsy for Archie’s taste but Nick tries to lighten and liven things up by bringing out the Jingle Jangle. At first refusing, Archie imbibes as do Kevin, Cheryl, Reggie, and the Pussycats. Watching this unfold gives Betty the perfect moment to lash out at Veronica to “end” their friendship, and as a result Veronica jumps on the Jingle Jangle train.
Nick does try again with Veronica after some partying to which she answers him with a hard slap to the face. Later at a launch event for the Lodge/Andrews venture SoDale (and who didn’t love Alice’s grand entrance … and the way she waved Hal off?), Ronnie is expecting that her father has heard about the slap and has perhaps put the deal with Nick’s father in jeopardy. But Hiram appears unaware, and Nick shows up to apologize to Veronica, saying he’s been on the wagon for a while and just fell off. She seems ready to forgive him. And in walks Cheryl, Riverdale’s self-appointed “It Girl,” and Nick scurries off to chat her up … and then slips a rufie into her drink! Suddenly becoming dizzy, Nick offers to take Cheryl to lie down (while the Pussycats are performing … and watching), but takes her to his room where it looks like he’s about to rape her. Luckily, Ronnie and the girls get there just in time and kick the crap out of Nick. It’s pretty brutal but he deserved it, but what repercussions will this have for her father’s business?
Interestingly, while everyone rallied ’round Cheryl (back at the Lodge’s?), Betty was there too and Veronica didn’t seem to have a problem with that. Afterwards, the Black Hood had one more surprise for Betty. She was allowed to ask him one more question, and that question was would she recognize him without the hood. The answer was yes. He then told her she’d get more information by going to an old abandoned house at the edge of Fox Woods. There she found a gift wrapped box, and while on the phone with the Hood, he told her to open it. Inside was a hood, and she was instructed to put it on, and then look around the room to find the answer she was looking for. Turning to what at first appeared to be a mirror, it was actually a hole in the wall with the Black Hood looking Betty right in the eyes, saying that they’re basically the same. Well, yeah, if that’s her father under that hood.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8:00 PM on The CW.
What did you think of this episode? Is the evidence mounting against Hal Copoer? Will Betty be able to mend her relationsips? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.