Last night on Riverdale, there were big, terrible things happening to Betty. She’s become the obsession of someone claiming to the be the Black Hood, and this deep-voiced villain is steadily isolating her from her crew. By threatening to kill her in-hiding sinful sister, this creepy caller pushed Betty to brutally break off her friendship with Veronica, bust up Bughead, and go on a wild goose chase in the dark of night, when her Scoobies really could have used her. But the most awful thing in an episode—that included so much Betty drama and a violent hazing ritual—happened to queen bee Cheryl Blossom, who was nearly raped.
Veronica’s bad girl past came back to haunt her when her old flirty friend Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips) rolled into Riverdale. He oozed with an ominous entitlement as he mocked Archie as a “hayseed yokel” and urged all his goody-goodies to dabble in jingle jangle. Later, he tried to manipulate Veronica into sex by threatening her dear old daddy’s business plans. And then after an abrupt confession that he’s been struggling with addiction, nasty Nick promptly slipped a pill into Cheryl’s ginger ale then steered her stumbling, compromised body to his hotel room’s bed.
Thankfully, even when performing with Josie and the Pussycats, Veronica had one eye on her untrustworthy friend. With Cheryl lay passed out and helpless and Nick hovering over her disrobing, Veronica and the band raced through the Five Seasons, barged into his room, and used their stylish heels to stomp his smug face into the ground. Cheryl was saved from her would-be rapist, and her friends rallied around to be sure she was okay.
Once Nick had fled, Cheryl seethed that she wants to press charges, adding, “I want Nick to pay, to suffer, to burn in hell.” Now, the first bit about actually getting the police involved is very un-Riverdale. Even the most upstanding of this town with pep’s citizens prefers handling things on their own, even when it comes to their son being molested by his music teacher. And the Blossoms don’t have a great relationship with the police ever since it was discovered Clifford killed Jason, and then ducked questioning by seemingly committing suicide in the family maple syrup barn. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I began to hope that Madelaine Petsch’s intensifying delivery implied Cheryl’s not really interested in justice by trial, but rather this fire starter has something darker and more ruthless in mind.
After the season premiere, a theory arose that maybe Cheryl Blossom is actually a witch. After all, she did have a semi-psychic “gypsy-blooded” grandmother. Her forehead kiss to Fred Andrews did precede his uptick in health, and her curious (and fabulous) costume notably included a red bit of flare right where Fred was shot. But no sooner did I begin to wish for Cheryl’s rise of witchy powers in a Dark Willow revenge arc—except better because casual Cheryl is already pretty damn dark—than a new revenge twist was introduced. And this one will test my my Black Hood theory.
I’d recommend re-reading last week’s recap, but in short: I believe the person writing/calling Betty is her mom, not actually the killer of Miss Grundy and shooter of Moose. Admittedly, my theory hit a seeming snag in “Chapter Eighteen: When a Stranger Calls” as this so-called Black Hood unearthed Alice Cooper’s Southside Serpent past. Plus, Betty was on the phone for about five seconds with the caller while her mom entered the room. Still, I remain confident I’m right. Alice might have an accomplice, or perhaps she finds her daughter predictable enough that she can use a recorder with her Scream-like voice manipulator.
But this caller’s histrionics are very Alice:
Betty: What do you want?
The Black Hood: The same as you: to set Riverdale on the righteous path again. To cleanse it of sinners. Isn’t that what you want?
Betty: Not by killing people.
The Black Hood: Only the ones who deserve it. Like your sister.
Who but the Coopers know where Polly fled to avoid the self-righteous shooter? And who knows the loyalty that Betty has for her sister, so deep it outstrips even that to her friends? But why would Alice push her daughter to publish her mugshot? I suspect to throw us off her scent. Besides, Alice’s Serpent past was destined to come out now that she’s declared war on the Southside. At least this way, she controls the narrative (if we assume she is the caller claiming to be the Black Hood). Besides, Alice doesn’t seem shamed when she enters the Lodge gala all Alice from the block, complete with her gold serpent choker.
But back to Betty. Because of the caller’s threats against her family, she could not rush to Cheryl’s side when Archie called declaring, “something bad happened.” But when her creepy caller demands a name for his kill list, Betty has only one on her mind: Nick St. Clair. Aside from a hell of a cliffhanger, Riverdale offered a pivotal moment here, Betty becomes potentially complicit in these crimes. If Nick St. Clair is the next to be attacked by The Black Hood, that could mean I’m way off and the calls are not coming from inside the Cooper clan. But if all of a sudden Alice has a scoop about the criminal behavior of a teen associate of the Lodges? Well, then she’d be showing her hand.
Blame it on the IRL headlines of late, but I’m rooting for Nick to suffer a comeuppance far greater than high heels to his pretty boy face. And frankly, with the promise of Sabrina in the air, I’m still pulling for Cheryl to go full-on Nancy (a la The Craft) and send that posh monster through a glass window.
For those keeping track, this article contains references to three Skeet Ulrich titles. I miss you, FP!