Throughout all of the second season of Riverdale, one central mystery carried on: who is the Black Hood? However, despite being given three different answers over the course of the season, none of them really landed for me. Here’s why:
*MAJOR RIVERDALE SEASON 2 SPOILERS BELOW.*
Though I did an entire article about this in the past, it deserves a mention here in the context of the others. We now know (as I had predicted, hey-oh) that Svenson was a pawn manipulated by the real Black Hood, Hal Cooper, but the motivations there are vague; in fact, we’re given this detail in one throwaway line: “He was as easy to manipulate as a man as he was a boy.”
This begs a few questions, with answers only open for speculation. Firstly, why? Not only why was he sought out after decades to be re-manipulated, but why did Hal need or want a second Black Hood? To throw others off his scent? If so, then why start killing again and ruin your own chances at getting away scot-free? And why Svenson? His only known ‘sin’ was being manipulated by Hal in the first place. Doesn’t that go against the Hood’s (admittedly inconsistent) modus operandi?
Despite the subsequent fleshing-out of the backstory, it still feels to me like Svenson was a character written way too creepy and sinister to be a shocking reveal, and then was later retconned hastily by writers due to lukewarm fan response. To me it feels like there’s a lot of untold Hal/Svenson history that will never make its way to the screen, and as a result the fact that they even knew each other at all came across as rushed.
Gerald ‘Tall Boy’ Petite
Hoo, boy. Where to begin?
First off, how do you wrap up one of the more pressing remaining mysteries of a season off-screen? While I was personally a supporter of the ‘Hiram is hiring Tall Boy to impersonate the Black Hood’ theory prior to the reveal, the resolution also felt bizarrely rushed and inconclusive — almost to the point where I was /am?) unsure if it was even legitimately true.
I’ve heard that the reason for the off-screen reveal is due to the fact that the actor of Tall Boy, Scott McNeil, broke his neck and was unable for shooting. However, the entire episode of his reveal revolved around accusing different men who looked the part of being the Black Hood. Surely, if option #1 is unavailable, they could have changed the part to someone more like Claudius Blossom?
It’s true I’m unaware of the plans of the writers for next season, and perhaps this was the only route last-second that jived with their plans for Season 3. However, regardless of the stress in the writers’ room, it did not make it a satisfying or conclusive revelation.\
Finally, the OG himself. ‘Hal Cooper is the Black Hood’ was a theory that I never could stand behind, and still after the reveal I’ve been having a difficult time absorbing it, so please forgive my biased. After mulling it over, I think I’ve more or less narrowed down my concerns with this.
Firstly, early-season Hal initially ticked none of the boxes that match the MO or level of menace of the Black Hood, other than the fact that he had greenish eyes and the approximate body shape of the initial body double. The only time they dropped any hint that Hal might be the killer was when they were dropping too many hints last second, to the point where it felt so obvious that it had to be a fake-out.
He never had any notable ties to religion (let alone obsessive murder-y ones), he never had any ties to his parents despite them apparently controlling his thoughts and conscience through brainwashing, and he never had any known access or knowledge of half of his victims’ ‘sins’ he went after anyway — not to mention the fact that he openly avoided killing many sinners that he did know about.
However, I think one of my biggest problems here was not only that Hal has never had any qualms about sinning previously (in fact, it’s practically his middle name), it’s that even after he started his killing he was a sinner himself, by cheating with Penelope Blossom among other questionable acts. Sure, the show called attention to this — but they never explained it. Lampshade-hanging doesn’t fill plot holes, it just acknowledges their existence. And what about the clues never found that could have been? We know the Black Hood used a voice changer and had a burner cell phone. Where was that?
This huge reveal felt like a big bow to wrap up the show’s vague ‘Betty has a darkness’ pseudoplot they’ve been playing with since Season 1, even retconning the Cooper family history to make it an apparently hereditary thing. The writers of the show admitted fairly late in the airing of the season that they did not yet have any definitive plans for the true identity of the Black Hood, and I think that’s unfortunately very noticeable; the only breadcrumbs that tie it all together were either freshly-introduced, altered facts, or incredibly minor plot details that were clearly never meant to be supporting strands in a larger story.
In conclusion, what makes or breaks a good mystery is a good payoff, where all the unexplained clues from earlier in the story are finally given an explanation in the context of the solution — or when all the suspects, each with credible alibis and incriminating evidence are narrowed down to one. In that regard, Riverdale failed us thrice this season.
For more Riverdale fun stuff between seasons, check out The Game of Nerds!