The episode opens with the fallout of the Red Circle’s video. The students idolise them, the adults are livid and the Southside Serpents who in admiration of the Black Hood, want Archie dead.
In the Blue and Gold editor lounge, Betty goes through the school mail to find a parcel for her from the Black Hood.
The Hood praises Betty and says the speech she made in the first season finale inspired his killings, and as a ‘test’ for her, he has made a cypher that leads to the next act; a cypher that only Betty can solve.
Fearing the consequences of failing, Betty hides the letter from her parents and Sheriff Keller and only tells them about the cypher. Keller and Alice agree to help her, but not before Alice prints the letter in her paper.
Principal Weatherby calls Archie to his office and gives the boy an ultimatum. If Archie doesn’t deliver a written apology to Riverdale, then not only will Weatherby force the Red Circle and Bulldogs football team to disband, he will have Archie suspended ‘indefinitely’.
Archie delivers the ultimatum to the rest of the Red Circle as well as a plan to shake down the Southside for info on the Black Hood, but everyone walks out, leaving Archie and Dilton to their own devices.
Back at the Lodge apartment, Veronica confronts Hiram about inspiring Archie to create the Red Circle video. Hiram dodges the question, claiming he doesn’t remember any of his conversation with Archie. Veronica storms off.
At Southside High, Jughead and Toni are pouring over some books in an attempt to solve the Black Hood cypher. Jughead is so absorbed in the work he even ignores a call from Betty!
Uh-oh, watch out Bughead shippers!
Meanwhile, Veronica goes to Archie’s house to resolve their argument and announces she plans to help the Red Circle. Archie tells her there isn’t a Red Circle anymore and leaves to the Southside of town, where he purchases ammo, a gun holster and a Kevlar vest, which he claims is for ‘hunting’. Archie is adamant this is his fight but is blown away when he sees everyone in Riverdale High wearing Red Circle t-shirts.
Drunk on his victories, Archie goes to the Southside again and begins tagging walls with a Red Circle decal until he runs into Sweet Pea and his friends. Before the situation escalates, Archie brandishes his gun.
The thugs run off, but Archie is left shaken by the event.
Over at Jughead’s trailer, Betty has somehow convinced Kevin and Toni to come over and help her solve the Black Hood’s cypher. Things go reasonably well between them until Betty deduces that the Black Hood’s attack on Northsiders might mean he’s a Southsider. Toni considers this to be an attack against the Serpents and storms off, followed by Kevin.
style=”text-align: justify;”>Things get worse for Archie the next day when Sheriff Keller and Principal Weatherby interrogate him at school and raid his locker, finding the black hood mask Reggie used to prank him two episodes ago. Archie is sent home to face Fred, who admits he doesn’t know who Archie is anymore and leaves for the town meeting.
Betty and Jughead return to the Cooper household, only for the latter to confront Betty about the Black Hood’s letter to her and his shock that she didn’t trust him with it.
Betty says she does but she’s worried her ‘inspiring’ the Black Hood will cause Archie to lose trust in her.
Jughead calms down and reassures her she can do this, that she’s “Nancy Drew meets The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. All of a sudden, Betty realises how to solve the cypher.
Veronica is sleeping at home until she receives a call from Archie telling her to retrieve his gun from Riverdale High, stashed in a boy’s toilet no less. She lashes out at him for being so reckless without reason, until Archie finally admits his whole reason for doing this is wanting the Black Hood dead, no matter the cost.
Before the argument can get emotional, Reggie and the rest of the football team turn up to the house.
The Bulldogs have had second thoughts about disbanding the Red Circle, but before they can discuss it further, Sweet Pea and his friends turn up on Archie’s doorstep, demanding the team meet them outside town for a brawl.
In the town library, Betty finds a Nancy Drew secret cypher book, a favourite book of hers which she believes can solve the Black Hood’s cypher. She cracks the code in minutes, revealing the message:
“I will strike next where it all began.”
Jughead realises he’s talking about the Town Hall, where Betty spoke the very speech that inspired Black Hood to start his campaign.
The same Town Hall where half of Riverdale is meeting.
Meanwhile, on the Southside, the Red Circle and Southside Serpents have a huge brawl in the rain. They are both evenly matched until Dilton is stabbed in the thigh and Archie is bludgeoned by Sweet Pea. Before the violence can escalate, Veronica arrives and fires Archie’s gun in the air.
The Serpents flee, Dilton is taken to hospital and Archie is taken back to his house, where he makes amends with Veronica and throws his gun away.
Betty and Jughead manage to inform everyone in town about the Black Hood’s attack on the Town Hall, but no such attack happens. When they get home, Betty shows her parents the letter and goes back to bed, where she receives a phone call from the Black Hood himself…
REVIEW: This episode is definitely among the
best of the season so far and served as a sort of cause and effect for the last episode, which was much more of a slow burn.
This episode really highlighted Archie’s descent into darkness and paranoia as he pushed everyone close to him away and started flirting with death and injury.
Although I would have liked to see how far Archie could go, I am a little glad he and Veronica managed to smooth things over. The two of them have been facing problems since the first season, so any further trouble would have made VArchie into yet another toxic TV relationship.
Speaking of relationships, this episode saw the tension between Betty and Jughead reach new heights. Betty didn’t trust Jughead about the letter from the Black Hood, Jughead’s ‘loyalties’ to the Serpents are up in the air and of course his growing friendship with Toni Topaz, who is (please don’t kill me) looking more and more like an ideal girl for Jughead.
Fan or not, it’s clear to any viewers this episode that Bughead is in jeopardy.
But the conflicts this episode didn’t just come from relationships because there was plenty of it to be found in Riverdale. Some were ready to light the witch-hunting torches, while others were either keeping everyone together.
This chaotic element of the show making a strong foundation for season two, but at the same time, seeing the authority figures Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller kowtowing to rabble-rousers like Alice is becoming exceedingly repetitive and irritating. Make Archie and the gang heroic by all means, but it would be better to see some of the supporting characters have more to them than ‘witless bystanders’.
This episode is called ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ and the sun is certainly setting on Riverdale’s former self. We and the characters say farewell to the halcyon days of sleepy Riverdale as we all dread the coming darkness cast by Black Hood’s murderous shadow…
I give this episode 4/5 Black Hood Ciphers.