Riverdale Season 2 Episode 20 – TV Review
Well, if we’re going to have murdered teens, we might as well have murderer teens.
TL;DR Fangs gets fingered as Midge’s killer, leading to a Reggie-led lynch mob and a looks-to-be fatal shooting; Archie pulls away from his vigilantism and away from Hiram; Veronica also forsakes Hiram after he poo-poos her business ideas; Jughead tries, and fails, to stop Riverdale from descending into anarchy over Fangs; Betty teams up with Cheryl to prove Hal is the Black Hood.
Results are to be determined.
So good on Fangs, as he gets to be the centre of attention this episode. Unfortunately, it’s because he’s arrested as Midge’s murderer by the new sheriff Hiram has installed, clearly in a scheme to continue to demonise the South Side so the prison plans can move forward. Hiram also goes behind Archie’s back, following Archie’s refusal, to pay the Dark Circle to get back together and antagonise the South Side. He really wants that prison, yo. As a result of this, Archie’s eyes seem to finally be opening to Hiram’s badness, and he recommits himself to Fred. As does Veronica, who spends her episode entertaining (and dismissing) the sons of some mafia families, who have been sent to town to court her now that she’s known as a ruthless ransomer. One of them, though, inspires her to propose to build a casino in Riverdale, but Hiram not only shoots the idea down, but secretly steals and invests her ransom money so she can’t touch it. Yeah, Team Fred is seeming like a better option. Veronica is also unimpressed with Hiram’s callousness towards Hermione after the Black Hood opens fire at the mayoral debate, scaring the fuck out of everyone. Meanwhile, Jughead tries his darndest to keep Riverdale from erupting into open class warfare over Fangs’ arrest, but that Carrie BTS footage he turned in doesn’t help. He seeks legal advice from the former Mayor McCoy, and Fangs does end up being let free due to a lack of evidence. But the Serpents are unable to escort Fangs through a lynch mob outside of the station, and although Archie, joining the fight at Jughead’s begging, manages to tackle a gun-wielding Reggie, a gunshot does still ring out, and Fangs is hit. Meanwhile, Betty calls on her cousin Cheryl, who is no stranger to having a murderous father, to help her prove her suspicions that Hal is the Black Hood. Betty’s world is further rocked by news of a dead body being found, but it is sadly not Chic. And in the face of her own dawning self-awareness of just how deep she is in this thing, Betty still forges ahead to seek out the truth, baiting Hal about what she did to Chic, and setting up a rendezvous with him. But this is Riverdale, baby, and the episode ends as the Black Hood instead shows up on Cheryl’s doorstep.
I’d like to imagine that Riverdale knows better than to kill off Cheryl.
This episode doesn’t have the strength of the past two weeks. And it’s no surprise, as some of the plot threads revolve around my two least favourite things about this season: Lodge mafia bullshit, and the North Side/South Side class struggle bullshit.
With the season finale on the horizon, I do hope that the people who make Riverdale will do us the mercy of tying these threads up so that they don’t continue to weigh us down in Season 3.
But I’d also be happy solely with Hiram’s death. He’s gotta go.
Why I hate this episode:
I’ve given up caring about Hiram and his stupid for-profit prison plans. The show itself seems to have completely backed off this for several episodes, now. I don’t believe that it in any way will actually happen. Which makes all this posturing and cruelty from him with his treatment of Archie, and Veronica, and Hermione, and the inciting of the Dark Circle utterly wasteful. I don’t care, and you’re not gonna do it, show. Just kill him. He’s done.
Why does Veronica become so invested in the idea of opening up a casino (and a legitimate one, at that) all of a sudden? Isn’t Riverdale supposed to be some podunk small town? How could it support a casino? Also, you’re in high school, Veronica. Calm down.
The North Side/South Side stuff was almost palatable when it was only stupid kids involved. Like, that scene when the South Side High kids first showed up at Riverdale High and Cheryl and Reggie were persnickety at them was kind of cute. But it’s far less believable and far less enjoyable to see swaths of adults forming a lynch mob outside of the police station when there is literally no evidence against Fangs. The scene could have been saved (and I thought they were going there) with a Lee Harvey Oswald/Jack Ruby allusion. But no, it’s just overblown and weird to see the whole town turn out to rabble about something with no basis.
I need confirmation that Chic is dead. We don’t need him back for Season 3, either.
There’s a throwaway line about the Ghoulies having been released from prison, but then they don’t show up. They better be back, sex robes and all, before the end.
The mob prince who gives Veronica the casino idea is named Elio, and there was not a Call Me By Your Name reference. Inconceivable.
Oh, and does Cheryl seem like the kind of person who would open their door in the middle of the night without checking who it is first when there’s a serial killer going around?
But it’s not all bad:
Her epic scream to close out the episode is perfection.
Betty and Cheryl are the highlights of the episode. Which isn’t much of a surprise, is it? I’ll give my first points to Cheryl, though, as she’s basically Betty’s sidekick/sounding board, but she is (as always) still a fabulous presence. I know I’ve been campaigning for Cheryl to get a long-overdue bottle episode (with Kevin. Please), but her power is most effective as a supporting character. And when Riverdale remembers to use her, she shines. Just like in this episode.
And the fact that Betty goes to her for help because she is also the daughter of a murderer makes sense. And they’re also cousins, which I had kind of forgotten about. So thank you for the reminder, show.
Their investigation firstly sees them digging around in Hal’s day planner, and they do discover that the Black Hood’s attacks match up with times Hal was working late or away for business etc. But then the real smoking gun is when they break into his apartment he rented while he was separated from Alice, and is apparently still paying for, and they find the Nancy Drew book that the Black Hood used as a cipher. Hal hand waves this away as a future birthday present for Betty, but she’s not convinced.
To solidify her theory, she needles him by revealing to him and Alice that she had been in contact with the Black Hood, and she led Chic to him. Hal doesn’t openly take the bait, but he does empathise with her by explaining, he, too, has an inner darkness. Following this, though, Betty clearly gets impatient and calls Hal to arrange a rendezvous with him at city hall, while cryptically implying she knows who he is. By the end of the episode, Betty is still waiting, and the Black Hood is on the doorstep of Thistle House, so we’ll see how it shakes out.
Speaking of Thistle House, Cheryl remarks that she doesn’t think Hal could be the Black Hood because he was really bad at sneaking around Thistle House when he was boinking Penelope. We’ll take it under consideration, Cheryl. Thanks for the heads up.
Next to Betty and Cheryl, I’ve also got to award some points to Archie this episode, as Hiram’s spell seems to be lifting. It’s still bad enough that Hiram is actively opposing Fred for the mayoral campaign, but Archie is aghast when he discovers Hiram has been funding the Dark Circle to operate, despite Archie’s refusal to lead them.
And now Veronica has switched teams, too, so there’s no reason for Archie to keep falling for Hiram’s bullshit. When his own, villainous daughter thinks he’s no good, that’s a red flag, Archie.
Veronica’s subplot about wanting to build a casino is stupid, but I appreciated when she tried to give Hermione a wake up call following Hiram’s refusal to let her out of the mayoral campaign over something so trivial as a near-mass shooting at the debate. Hermione and Veronica were both much better people, and much more compelling characters, before Hiram got here. So let’s get him outta here.
Jughead is saddled with doing plot work, but I did get a kick out of him and the Serpents calling in Mayor McCoy as their legal counsel. And that she was gracious enough to do it. Anything to spite Hiram, hey? I feel that.
Although Hal is obviously not the Black Hood when he opens fire on the mayoral debate, the fact that this Black Hood didn’t manage to hit anyone makes it pretty clear that it was a decoy.
Archie dives to protect Fred when this happens. It’s progress.
Joaquin makes a cameo appearance when Skeet asks him to help Fangs disappear from Riverdale after his release.
Oh, and Veronica roasts the mafia princes who come to court her with a delightful disinterest. She even brings Archie along for her dinner with Elio. She’s got the power.