Warning: This contains mild spoilers for Episode 19 of Riverdale Season 2. Not seen Riverdale? Catch up with spoiler-free review of the first three episodes.
As Season 2 heads to a close, the residents of Riverdale are scrambling to find and expose the maniacal Black Hood once and for all.
Episode 19 attempts in its early scenes to go for a 1980s indie movie mood, like something right out of Tim Hunter’s River’s Edge (1986). Okay, so it begins with another show tune – Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) belting out You’ll Never Walk Alone at Midge’s funeral, like she was standing on the Kop at Anfield – but the dour atmosphere, stylish camerawork and gloomy lighting is very well crafted by this week’s director, Jennifer Phang.
If last episode was all about reconciliations, this focuses on several key revelations. Namely, the Chic Cooper (Hart Denton) storyline appears to come to an intense close, with the duplicitous lad revealed not only as a Chic imposter, but he might well have murdered the real Chic. While tied up and tortured in the Cooper’s basement – that family is so weird, despite the ‘American as apple pie’ appearance – he tells Betty (Lili Reinhardt) and Jug (Cole Sprouse, aka. little Ben from Friends) the real Chic Cooper overdosed on blasted Jingle Jangle (yeah, the show is still trying to make its ludicrously named party drug happen). Alice (Mädchen Amick) also tells FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich) he‘s Chic’s father. Now, before you scream ‘Spoilers, Will Robinson!’, let’s just say all of this was known in advance. How so? Well, call it fan theory if you want to, but it was just very obvious this was the way things were headed. Riverdale’s writing is hinged on classic melodrama dynamics and soap opera plotting.
With the Black Hood on the scene again, exposing the fact Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) gunned down an innocent man, Dark Betty returns sans wig and decides to use the maniac to run Chic out of town. Their peculiarly symbiotic relationship has been fascinating and extraordinarily transgressive at times. The monster has Betty on speed dial and, while he’s often taunted her and threatened her, it’s like the Black Hood is a manifestation of Miss Prim and Proper’s darkest, conservative leanings and her kinky side. Is Hal the Black Hood? It would explain a lot, right? The end of the episode at least makes us want to think it‘s him. After she returns home from setting the serial killer on Chic, like a hunting dog chasing a rabbit or fox, she notices Hal isn’t there. If we look at the Black Hood, he is stocky like Hal, he is roughly the same height and Hal has got a lot of grievances – plus he’s part Blossom and criminality runs in that family, as we all know. But Barclay Hope’s return as twin brother Claudius Blossom is another candidate. Especially because things have gone very quiet on that front – as if the writers want us to forget he’s around.
What was Archie seeing, when he looked at the Black Hood in Pop’s diner? The eyes. The secret is in the eyes. Was it confused recognition? Like, how in countless giallo flicks, the protagonist knows the answer to the murder mystery all along, but they’ve suppressed it mentally and must work backwards and go through mental hell to retrieve this buried info? Archie might have been so astounded by the fact he knew the assassin, he’s refused to accept it and pushed it so far down that he’s able to ignore it and play dumb. It would take a lot to accept Hal – a guy he’s known since forever – is a serial killer. Series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is hugely inspired by Italian horror cinema, too, remember. The lighting style of the show – those gorgeous neon primary colours and cooler tones – is indebted to the films of Dario Argento, Mario Bava and others. This episode, director Phang throws in a nice reference to John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), when Archie thought he saw the Black Hood lurking on a quiet avenue. The horror genre is all over Riverdale like a rash.
With three episodes left to go, matters are definitely coming to a crunch and the big reveal is right around the corner. Who is the Black Hood? Who in Riverdale will survive his deadly intentions and what will become of them? Will Sabrina the teenage witch make a cameo appearance in the final episode? Season 2 has been running far too long – 13 episodes is more than enough – and the series‘ lengthy run has been exacerbated by several breaks, but it will certainly boast a thrilling conclusion and leave us wanting more. Which is good, because the CW has already commissioned Season 3.
Riverdale is available exclusively on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Thursday, within 24 hours of their US broadcast.
Photos: The CW Network