Happy Holidays from Riverdale! In the last episode before the holiday break, this beyond bonkers teen drama gave us gift after gift: the return of vicious crone Nana Rose Blossom, Jughead maiming a drug “queenpin,” Betty blackmailed a nun, and later she buried Archie alive! But the biggest news is the identity of the Black Hood has been uncovered. And is anyone else disappointed?
Season two had set up the Black Hood as Riverdale’s own Phantom Killer, with a Zodiac twist. Here was a self-proclaimed avenging angel who was shooting drug users and adulterers, and murdering child molesters and drug dealers. I had suspicions that he wasn’t one masked man, but two. And then I thought that the creep reaching out to Betty wasn’t the Black Hood at all, but rather her domineering and often unhinged mother, Alice. But not according to “Chapter Twenty-Two: Silent Night, Deadly Night.”
After much running around and the unearthing of the grisly tale of the Riverdale Reaper, last night’s episode would have you believe the Black Hood was Joseph Conway, A.K.A. the creepy janitor Svenson whose been lurking in the high school’s hallways all season. See, as a boy, he was the only witness to the senseless slaying of his entire family. When questioned by the good folk of the town—including Betty’s grandfather and Nana Rose—little traumatized Joseph hastily pointed the finger. In the name of Riverdale justice, a possibly/probably innocent man was captured and buried alive. And naturally all those involved took a group photo to celebrate.
Considering Sheriff Keller is unrelentingly bad at his job, he shot Svenson to death before they could be questioned. So Betty and the gang are left to speculate about his motivations: “Maybe in some backwards way he thought targeting sinners would balance the scales.”
A close-up of Svenson’s bleeding hand revealed he’d chopped off his own finger, which was gift-wrapped and sent to Betty. The gang reasons that Svenson worked nights, so could have spied Miss Grundy molesting Archie in the music room, and could have seen Moose buy drugs from Reggie on school grounds. Perhaps he could have overheard Alice Cooper throwing shade to Mary Andrews about her estranged husband hooking up with Hermione Lodge. But are we to also believe Svenson has been spying on Betty was she was a child repeatedly checking Nancy Drew out of the library as well? It seems a stretch, right? Or at the very least pretty damn lame? I mean, aside from this hasty explanation, how many times is this show going to identify a killer only to have them die before the police can actually interrogate them?
My hope is this is a false ending. At episode’s end, Betty stops burning the evidence in her possession to ponder over the Black Hood that was left for her in the Devil’s House. And Jughead’s ominous voiceover teases, “This isn’t over.” Now, that definitely applies to the mystery of the man buried alive, and who else is in that photo besides representatives from the Cooper and Blossom clans. But I’m holding out hope that there’s a more satisfying answer to this Black Hood business. I mean, with all the wild twists and turns this show deals out with a ponytail flip, how can this basic bitch villain be all there is?!?
Alas, as last night’s ep was the mid-season finale, we won’t know until January 17th, when “Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle” airs.