Stop right there! If you’re not caught up yet, check out last episode’s recap here.
Finally being a bro for once, this episode kicks off with Jughead Jones narrating Archie Andrews going door-to-door in an ‘Andrews for Mayor’ hoodie, campaigning for his dad… while also looking into the eyes of every man he talks to to ensure they’re not the Black Hood. Meanwhile, Betty Cooper is cautiously suspicious of her dad Hal as the killer, but tells her parents over breakfast her belief that Chic’s appearance was a divine test to strengthen their family. Later, as Veronica Lodge applies makeup to Archie’s bruises a la Nick in The Pembrooke, she warns him that five other mob families are sending ‘suitors’ to try and come ‘court’ her for political and business deals with her family, but ensures him that it’s all a formality. (This plot thread is parts apparently unnecessary, confusing, and inadequately-explained, but let’s ride it out.) Hiram interrupts this makeover to pull Archie into his study, and firstly confronts him over campaigning for Fred. Archie admits that it’s really to see if he can find the Black Hood by their eyes (insane, I know) and Hiram offers a suggestion: reform the Dark Circle with the Bulldogs football team and take him down once and for all — even offering to help coordinate the group above-book with the new sheriff and his friend, Sheriff Michael Minetta. (Fun fact: Michael Minetta is the real name of the Mighty Crusaders superhero ‘Hangman’, published by Archie Comics imprint Dark Circle — previously called Red Circle! Get this: his Mighty Crusader teammate? An antihero called THE BLACK HOOD.)
Later, as Betty Cooper and Jughead walk to school in the rain, she keeps up her lie about taking Chic to the bus station instead of the hands of the Black Hood, and she confesses that she thinks her dad might be the killer — which he laughs off. Meanwhile, Veronica says a quick ‘hello’ to her five suitors before blowing them off to head to school, confounding Hermione. At school, Betty, feeling like she has no one who understands, meets with Cheryl Blossom privately — the only girl in school know shows what it’s like to have a (literally) killer father. She confesses her fears, and, turning down Cheryl’s suggestions to go to the police, they agree to do some investigating — but Cheryl warns to tread lightly, as she’s seen her father kill his own kid before. Elsewhere, Hiram tells Hermione about his devious plan to use Archie’s Dark Circle as a smear to discredit Fred in the election, while Archie meets with Reggie Mantle, Kevin Keller and the Bulldogs in the locker room and plays right into his hands. Before they reform, Moose Mason admits that the night of his girlfriend Midge’s murder they had gotten in a fight over her cheating on him with a Southside Serpent, but he’s unsure which; he hadn’t told the police because he was afraid he’d look guilty. Archie suggests they talk to the new sheriff about the Dark Circle, but Reggie instead wants to hunt down the Serpents for their role in this and make them pay.
As this is happening, Jughead meets with the Serpents in his Swords & Serpents club (still not role-playing) and tells them that his dad’s Shankshaw Prison contact, War Baby, warned him that the rival Ghoulies have been released from jail and want their heads. (I’ll take ‘nonsensical sentences I never expected to type’ for $500, Alex.) This is interrupted by Reggie and the Dark Circle busting in and throwing accusations — mainly at Sweet Pea — and causing a brawl, before Archie and Jughead break their warring factions apart. Later, Betty slyly plants the suggestion that she come help Hal and Alice work at the Riverdale Register, and Hal (being way more pleasant than usual) agrees. Meanwhile, Jug meets with Fangs Fogarty in his trailer, and he confesses that he was the one sleeping with Midge — as confirmed by the footage Jug had gotten of him with her during Carrie: The Musical backstage. He pleads his innocence and begs he delete the footage, but Jughead admits he already turned it over to the sheriff but promises the Serpents have got his back. Elsewhere, Ronnie meets with the suitors at Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe to hear their family’s proposals for Riverdale: a canned meat factory, a boxing arena, a horse racetrack — but she turns them all down until she gets to the handsome Elio, interest piqued by his family’s idea to open a casino in town.
Later, Jug tears a Dark Circle poster off his locker and confronts Archie, but Archie confesses that Reggie made those and his sway in the group is slipping. Without naming names, Jughead tells him that an anonymous-but-innocent Serpent was sleeping with Midge Klump, so to get the Circle to back off — and Archie agrees. Jug heads to meet the new sheriff and get his footage back, and Arch tags along. At Sheriff Minetta’s office, Hiram introduces the two to the man himself, who proves to share similar ideals with Hiram. As Minetta takes Jug to his office to discuss the footage, Hiram expresses disappointment in Arch’s company and requests he accompany Veronica’s meeting with Elio tonight. Later, at the meeting, Elio is interested in talks about the Sweetwater Casino but looks displeased that Veronica isn’t single, and as she excuses herself to the washroom he grills Arch on his allegiances, noting that Papa Poutine’s son Small Fry (oh, for fuck’s sakes… really?) is looking for revenge. Archie argues that no in Riverdale was involved in that hit job, and the two share and awkward stare-down.
That evening, as Betty is helping her dad at the Register, she takes him stepping out for snacks as an opportunity to lockpick and rummage through his private planner. Bringing Cheryl in to show her this info, she cross-referenced his schedule with the Black Hood attacks and they always occur when he’s ‘out of town’ or ‘working late’. This chat is interrupted by a call from the coroner, Dr. Curdle. Assuming she’s her mother, he tells her he’s got a new body for her — an unidentified male murdered in his mid-20s — making Betty’s heart drop. After she hangs up, Bets quickly tells Cheryl what she did to Chic and they rush to the morgue. Meanwhile, as Jug and FP complain in Pop’s about Minetta’s refusal to return the tapes and vow to fight back, Archie comes home to his dad staring horrified at a scribbled note he had received: “You’re next, sinner!” Later, as Archie calls the sheriff and Lodges over to discuss it, the Lodges offer to cancel the mayoral debate but Fred instead suggests they need up security at town hall and show they won’t give into fear — much to Archie’s worry.
Elsewhere, Betty and Cheryl show up at the morgue and pay Curdle to unzip the bag — only to find that it’s not Chic. Nonetheless, Betty has a sobbing breakdown that it could have been and brands herself a murderer, while Cheryl comforts her and convinced her to speak up and say something so she doesn’t have to worry about holding all these secrets inside. Later, at dinner, Betty does just that; she tells her parents about the Black Hood phone calls and what she did to Chic, and tells them about the vague ‘darkness’ inside of her. Alice is speechless, but Hal, with a closeup showing that his eyes are Black Hood-green, holds Betty’s hand and tells her that he experiences the same. The next day, at school, Toni Topaz approaches Jug in the hall with gossip, showing him his Fangs+Midge footage on her phone, which apparently had been leaked and is available on the Riv Reg website. At that moment, Principal Weatherbee calls Fangs — apparently his actual first name — to the office, and Jug and Toni run to find him before the Dark Circle does. With Reggie and the gang rushing in on one side and Sheriff Minetta and his deputies rushing in on the other, Fangs tries to make a break for it before being slammed against a wall by the police — with his admittedly suspicious switchblade falling out of his pocket.
That evening, Ronnie sits by the fire with her dad and asks him about her proposal for Elio’s casino, but he blasts the family as crooks running casinos as fronts for nefarious businesses, and he rejects the deal despite his daughter’s reassurance that it’s all legal. Meanwhile, Archie is back at it — waiting by the door with a bat. Fred tries to convince him they’re safe, but Arch opens up about feeling helpless and how broken he’s felt since the Black Hood’s first attack, and Fred hugs him, guessing that this is at least partially about his guilt over backing Hiram. In the south, Reggie and the Bulldogs — rebranded as War Dogs — storm the Serpent’s Whyte Wyrm bar and hangout with balaclavas and knives. Archie wakes up in the morning to an angry call from Jughead about it, claiming they lit dumpsters and slashed tires, but he (honestly) claims ignorance to the whole plot. Jughead hangs up when now-attorney Sierra McCoy arrives, and together they interrupt Minetta’s angry interrogation of Fangs, stating that he’s now her client pro bono. Later, she instructs him in his holding cell to remain silent, because they have to release him in 24 hours if they can’t find reasonable grounds for charges, and the knife isn’t evidence in itself.
Later, Archie gathers the Dark Circle and scolds them for their little excursion, and disbands the group — but Reggie drops the bombshell (to the facepalming of the other members) that he can’t pull the plug, because Hiram is paying them to do this and he’s the leader now. (Is anyone else supremely disappointed that Kevin Keller is a part of this? YOU’RE BETTER THAN THIS, KEV.) Elsewhwre, Ronnie meets with Attorney McCoy for legal advice on how to legally obtain a gaming license and start a casino against her dad’s wishes, as Betty calls Cheryl with updates: checking her dad’s credit card statement, it looks like he’s still paying rent on his temp place he had when he was kicked out. Thinking it may be his serial killer lair, the two break in to find a fairly standard bachelor pad… except for a copy of Nancy Drew’s Secret Codebook — the same that the Black Hood used to write his cipher to Betty. Hal calls Betty to see if she needs a ride to the debate, but she plays normal while the gears whir in her head.
As they’re prepping for the debate, Veronica approaches her dad and lets him know that she found out how to make the casino sans Elio’s family’s involvement, but the bushes her aside as the debate begins. Alice Cooper, moderating, jumps into some hard-hitting questions about keeping the streets safe, and Hermione, without hesitating, points out how they personally recruited Sheriff Minetta from Centerville and how he’s already caught Midge’s killer. Fred rebuts with logic — that they don’t know that he’s guilty — but loses the audience favour with boos. Sensing the tide against him (and with the signal from Hiram), Hermione lets everyone know that Fred’s own son is the one behind the vigilante group known as the Dark Circle, painting him as a hypocrite. Before anything else can happen, Veronica spies a hooded figure in the balcony and cries out, causing Archie to tackle his dad as the Black Hood takes a shot with a sniper rifle. Throughout all the pandemonium and fleeing people as more shots are fired, Betty finds her dad in the crowd (clearly not the Black Hood), as everyone takes cover from multiple shots — with surprisingly no one harmed.
Later, Fred chides Minetta for both failing to secure the building and catch the Black Hood, and Hiram suggests that maybe Archie come along for a ride-along to help identifying the fleeing killer. However, Arch, knowing how much his dad needs him, declines — signifying a steady change in allegiances. (Finally!) Hiram, disappointed, whispers something in Minetta’s ear before they leave. Elsewhere, Jughead asks McCoy why they’re still holding Fangs when the Black Hood was clearly elsewhere, but she states that they’re treated as separate incidents and he’ll be out within the hour… but she warns of the angry mob of protesters outside awaiting the release. Meanwhile, Veronica, noticing her mom shaking uncontrollably, gently asks her mom to consider dropping out of the race for her own safety, but before she can answer, Hiram refuses on her behalf. Veronica starts confronting him about how everything is always done for his greater good, and how he’s been using them all (Hermione’s mayoral race, Veronica’s entertaining enemies’ sons, etc.) and blasts that she’s going ahead with the casino with her own money. However, he coldly counters that he put the money in a trust that she can’t touch, and she storms off.
Elsewhere, Betty confronts her dad about the Nancy Drew book, but he is confused as to her actions and states that it was intended as a nostalgic present for her birthday; he had no idea the Black Hood used the book. Working out her suspicions, he hugs her and assures her that that’s all it was, but she’s shocked and unconvinced. Later, Jughead rushes home and tells his dad about the pending riot, but JOAQUIN FRICKIN’ DESANTOS steps from the shadows — FP called in a favour from him to help Fangs disappear to San Junipero. (Doubling down on that Black Mirror reference from Season 1, I DIG IT) However, as this is happening, Hiram is meeting with Reggie and planting seeds that there’s nothing he can do about Fangs’s release… short of taking justice into his own hands. Elsewhere, Veronica shows up at the Andrews house with a declaration: she is switching parties and is now supporting Fred’s campaign. To celebrate this, Veronica takes Arch to the bedroom strips down to her freakay lingerie and the two get funky. Meanwhile, Betty, gazing solemnly at her Nancy Drew book and Black Hood mask, calls her dad and asks him to finish the conversation they started earlier. He understands, and they agree to meet where it began with her speech — the town hall.
Later, Archie’s postcoital snooze with Ronnie is interrupted by a frantic call with Jughead, begging for help controlling the Dark Circle; they’re leading a riot at Fangs’s midnight release, and it’s chaos outside the sheriff’s office, where warring halves are chanting ‘Justice for Midge’ or ‘Free Fangs’. As Betty lays out her evidence in the darkened town hall, the Serpents make a vow to protect the terrified Fangs before pushing through the sheriff’s doors and into the mob, circling him for protection. As Jughead and FP and the southsiders push back against the angry crowd, Archie pushes through to get to them — before seeing Reggie, furiously cutting a path and drawing a pistol from his pocket. Horrified, he races to Reggie and tackles him… before the crowd disperses in a din of screams as a shot is discharged accidentally. As a shocked Archie and Reggie continue to hold the gun together on the ground, Fangs stares ahead in confusion… before dropping to the ground, blood pooling around the fresh bullet wound in his torso. Jughead and Sweet Pea try and staunch the bleeding, screaming for help, as a full-on brawl breaks out in the crowd between the two sides. Meanwhile, Betty waits and waits late into the night at the town hall — but the knock comes on the door of Thistlehouse instead. Cheryl Blossom answers the door… and screams right into the face of the Black Hood on the other side.
What a ride! With two episodes left this season, are we finally going to find out the Black Hood’s identity? Check Riverdale on The CW and international Netflix every Wednesday and Thursday respectively, and don’t forget to peep The Game of Nerds for all your fandom fun stuff!