This was a long episode, folks. A lot is going on. Prepare yourselves.
This episode kicks off by bringing us up close and personal with Kevin Keller, a character who’s been on the periphery for quite some time, even though he’s arguably one of the most handsome men in Riverdale—don’t @ me. Kevin dons his tightest tank and mysteriously flattering sweatpants to go on a “jog,” but turns out to be cruising for other gay men in Fox Forest. We’re quite here for the lewk, but the forest is very dark and the reality that the Black Hood could be around any corner is terrifying.
On this particular trips into Fox Forest, Kev hears the gunshots aimed at Midge and Moose (which we saw at the end of the last episode) and goes against all intuition/common sense/fear to run towards the danger. Midge—miraculously fine, other than the definite psychological damage of ascending to a Jingle Jangle high with a gun in her face—runs into Kev’s arms in a rather dramatic slo-mo moment.
The next morning, Veronica tries to sneak a peek at daddy’s forbidden office, but her ever-creepy mom intercepts and says that she and Hiram have “business to discuss.” Kay… *insert puzzled emoji* Amidst all the murderous chaos, Veronica has found the time to care about The Bachelor—absolutely something we can get behind.
At school, Archie is stretching it out in his cute lil football pants when Reggie jogs up and breaks the news about Midge and Moose’s shooting, both of whom miraculously survived, like, several gunshots aimed directly at them from a few feet away. (Is the Black Hood partially blind???). Archie spirals back into his default mood: frantic. And we returned to our default Riverdale viewing mood: rolling our eyes at Archie.
Across town at Southside High, students start their day wide-eyed, bushy-tailed and subject to police pat-downs! Upon passing through the metal detector, Jughead is welcomed by his peer tour guide, cool-girl extraordinaire and Riverdale’s first female Serpent, Toni freakin’ Topaz. She shows him around, explains that the place is “crawling with the JJ” (a.k.a. Jingle Jangle, LOL) and introduces the Ghoulies, the Serpents’ rival gang who, according to Toni, will make Juggie “their bitch faster than you can say .” Will this school turn Jughead into the Serpent he was always meant to be? TBH, we kind of hope so.
Archie returns home after school, and his dad (whose post-shooting life only consists of sitting in his kitchen, it seems) barely bats a freakin’ eye when Archie talks about purchasing a family gun. Fred calmly replies with something along the lines of, “chill out, bro. This is not the wild west.” AND THAT’S IT. Why does no one seem concerned with Archie’s ‘tude? OMG, wait—what if, in trying to take out the Black Hood, Archie becomes the other Black Hood?! K, someone needs to talk some sense into him ASAP.
That night at Veronica’s viewing party, there is an extremely stiff and awkward meet-and-greet between the Lodge parents and Ronnie’s besties. Betty is overly excited, Jughead can’t stop mumbling and Archie fangirls over Hiram’s “we must take care of our own” attitude. It’s like Archie pinned Hiram’s criminal record to the top of his Pinterest “inspo” page. Try to tell me I’m wrong.
The next morning, Hermione calls Veronica “thirsty” for her dad’s attention in what is yet another weird as f-ck Hermione Lodge moment. But who ISN’T thirsty for Mark Consuelos?!
At school, Archie has rallied the troops (read: the football team) to form what he’s calling the Red Circle around Riverdale High. Though he’s not promoting violence (heavens no!), Dilton Doiley, the boy who sold Archie his gun, asks, “What do we do if we run into the killer?” Great question, Dilton. Archie replies, “just call Sheriff Keller, yo.” Or something to that effect. Siiiiiiigh, this will never work.
Sitting on the extremely nice couches in the bougie common area at Riverdale High, Betty again butts into Kev’s business, imploring him to quit it with the cruising. Kevin calmly rebuts that he’s tired of hearing about Betty’s boy probs, and that she has no idea how hard it is to be gay in a place like Riverdale. Can anyone let us know where Kev is right now so we can give him approximately 25 high fives?
Back at the Cooper residence, Betty’s mom is doing some digging of her own. The Black Hood left her a note, saying he wants everyone to know that he shot Fred Andrews, Moose and Midge, and that he murdered Ms. Grundy. While Betty and her mom are talking, we can’t help but feel like her dad’s eyes look a lot like the killer’s. What if the Coopers left themselves this note to cover their asses? So many theories, so little time.
As news of the Black Hood’s letter whips across town, some people’s lives change drastically and others continue as normal. Veronica asks Archie for dinner with her parents, Archie and the Red Circle pass out fliers about their group, the Coopers print the Black Hood’s words in the newspaper and Jughead and Toni work to revive Southside High’s newspaper, The Red and Black. It’s a lot, we know.
In the Cooper family living room (a place we’ve never seen them all at once), Polly Cooper is screaming her head off about being next on the Black Hood’s kill list. The soon-to-be mom is terrified that her incestuous pregnancy out of wedlock means she’s on the chopping block, so she tells her whole family she’s leaving, and she ain’t kidding. A few scenes later, she leaves in the middle of the night for the farm she and Jason had planned to go to all along. And we don’t… really… care?
Cut to Moose at the hospital, recovering from his gunshot wound to his… where? We don’t know. His face and body both seem totally fine. Anyway, he and Kevin are chatting and it seems romantically charged. Moose says, “Guys like us… in a town like Riverdale… we don’t have a lot of options.” Will Moose and Kevin end up together?! We’re here for it.
At night, Archie and Reggie go out on a “watch” around town, complete with several weapons. We are very confused about what the Red Circle actually does. As the dudes are driving around, Ethel calls Archie in a full panic, saying someone is following her and that she needs his help. The boys speed over to Ethel and she’s OK, but a sketchy car zooms away into the night. Was that the Black Hood?!
Across town, Betty shows up at the Red and Black office to gift Jughead a kettle… just as Toni also brings one to the office, leading to a very awkward encounter between ladies. After Betty and Toni leave, Jughead finishes up for the night and, in trying to leave campus, gets jumped by the Ghoulies. BUT he tells Betty his injuries were from falling off his motorcycle. Will his new Serpent life be something only Toni can understand? Is Toni gonna come between Bughead? Because if so, we’re OUT.
At the Lodge residence, Hiram is zipping up Hermione when he threatens her (again), saying that if she comes between he and Veronica, there will be consequences. Aaaaand we’re spooked.
That same night, Kevin departs for another “jog” and Cheryl alerts Betty of his continued risky behaviour. Cheryl and Betty bump into Kev in Fox Forest, and Kevin erupts. He speaks about how frustrated he is that he can’t meet other men in socially acceptable ways, while Betty is allowed to explore her “BDSM sexuality” because she’s a heterosexual woman. We’re thinking that’s the last we’ll see Kevin and Betty speak in awhile…
At dinner with the Lodges, Archie is invited into Hiram’s private office for a “little chat, man to man” (love the archaic gender-based values here) and we’re quite sure Hermione is trashed. She says the weirdest thing about Hiram never letting Veronica get close, and then she kisses the air and chugs her wine. WTF?
In his study, Hiram gives Archie advice about how to make the Red Circle more effective. Namely, he tells Archie to go on the offensive. We don’t like the sound of that.
Back in Fox Forest for the bajillionth time, Kevin leans into a car window to see if this dude is of any interest. IMPORTANT NOTE: He’s wearing a baseball cap, so we can’t see his eyes, but we’re quite sure he’s the Black Hood. The man practically begs Kevin to get into the passenger seat, but Kevin has a terrifying vision of himself being stabbed (it’s not real, DW) and declines. The man gets angry and snaps, and Kevin runs away towards home. When he gets there, his dad is sitting at the kitchen table with information about Kev’s cruising, provided by Betty (who is now a literal tattletale). While Kev’s mad at Betty (evidenced by his silent treatment the next day at school), he seems relieved that his dad knows what’s been going on. The two men—who could not be more different, BTW—share a really sweet moment and a hug.
The next day, Veronica asks her dad if she can work for Lodge Industries, for reals. Hermione seems pissed but Hiram is into it, so he says yes. Post-beating, Jughead sits with the Serpents in the cafeteria, presumably to benefit from their protection against the Ghoulies. And finally, Archie shares a video of him with a bunch of his buff friends, sans shirts, warning the Black Hood that “we will find you, we will hunt you, and we will end you.” It’s all very Taken-esque, non?