Hey gang, who’s ready for a sexy rain rumble? Tensions are running high in Riverdale thanks to the Black Mask killer. He hasn’t struck again, but he has sent a Zodiac killer-inspired cryptogram to Betty, which Alice published in the paper because everyone knows serial killers hate attention. The south side is angry at the north siders for suspecting they’re responsible, and it all culminates in a town hall meeting cross-cut with a very dramatic brawl between the Red Circle (sigh) and the Serpents.
Jughead is reading up on serial killers the way any normal 16 year old boy would: by going to a dusty library and checking out dozens of books. Nope, nothing suspicious or questionable about that. Way to keep the profile low, Jug.
His trip to the library might not make much sense, but it does give us the chance to get a little sartorial variety. The combination of ruffles and pleating on her blouse are actually pretty cute. And you know it’s a sexy CW show when even the buttoned-up librarian has a notched neckline.
Archie is out in the woods practicing his aim. Honestly, after this week it bummed me out to watch Archie Andrews hold a gun, so I replaced the gun with a Dalmatian puppy.
Better, although it still doesn’t fix the DarkArchie plotline. A lot of messed up things happened on Gossip Girl, but they never ran around with 9mms in their Birkins.
At breakfast, Hermione and Hiram tell Veronica she’s not allowed to date Archie anymore because he’s taunting the Black Hood and/or making homoerotic YouTube videos with the football team.
Veronica isn’t having it, and we get a hint of her shifting alliances in the bright red mini she’s wearing. Normally that would be a Cheryl color, but since Archie’s leaning into the red iconography, Veronica is following.
At the Cooper’s house, Betty is getting scolded by her parents for letting Polly skip town. The whole family is in their requisite blues and creams. Madchen Amick is over-emoting and wearing a cute brooch.
Given that this is the same woman who locked up her pregnant daughter at a Home For Wayward Girls and is currently running a tabloid that’s printing serial killer manifestos, I’m not really buying this whole sobbing routine. Betty, however, looks suitably ashamed.
Her sweater game has definitely stepped up this season. I love the cutout detailing on this sweater – it’s delicate and sweet, but much more interesting than most of her pieces from last year.
At South Side High, Jughead is avoiding Betty and dodging Serpent recruitment. The Serpents are spending their morning watching Archie’s Black Hood video.
They’ve decided that taking out Archie should be Jughead’s way of proving his loyalty. Jughead fast-talks them out of this plan, and no one discusses what lipstain the ringleader of the Serpents, Sweet Pea, is using.
At Riverdale High, Betty freaks out to Kevin about the message she’s just received from the Black Hood. He’s written a letter claiming all the murders are for her, and he’s included a cryptogram that he claims only she can solve.
I’m still trying to solve the Mystery of How Kevin Keller Has to Cruise the Woods When He Looks That Good In a Sweater.
Betty shares the cryptogram (but not the letter) with her mom and Sheriff Keller. Sheriff Keller is like “Okay I’ll get our top cryptologist on it immediately” and Alice is like “LOL no I’m going to put it in the paper next to the Sudoku puzzle because clearly our town is a brain trust.”
Sheriff Keller’s seething disdain for Alice is going to make it even better when Hal is revealed as the killer and then Alice and Sheriff Keller hook up in season 3.
Principal Weatherbee shuts down the football team because Archie won’t disband the Red Circle. Reggie takes this news as expected: by reciting lines from “Rebel Without a Cause” and slamming his fist against juke boxes.
After school, Veronica confronts her father about where Archie got the idea of going after the Black Hood. She basically says that Archie is pretty but dumb and couldn’t have thought of it himself, which proves no one gets Archie as much as she does.
I can’t wait till we find out what’s in the box on Hiram’s desk.
Archie tells Dilton that he wants to go after the Black Hood himself, so Dilton sends Archie to the Army Surplus Store to get the necessary weaponry. In Riverdale, even the Army Surplus store is ominously lit. Can you imagine what their local Wal-mart looks like? There’s probably like, one lone employee who’s constantly backlit with the blue savings light.
Archie uses his fake ID to buy bullets, Kevlar, and a holster. This is fine.
The next day at school, Veronica presents Archie with her new, supportive plan: she’s going to start working at Target!
No, she’s decided the best way to fight the Black Hood is by merchandising. Cheryl is helping hand out the t-shirts, which doesn’t make sense character-wise, unless you know that Cheryl’s one true character trait is that she’s messy and loves drama.
Also messy and full of drama is Jughead’s trailer, because Betty has dropped by unannounced to solve the cryptogram – the only problem being, he’s already agreed to work on it with Toni “Vanessa Abrams” Topaz.
In yet another ringer tee, Betty’s not exactly dressed to face off against the other leg of this season’s triangle. Betty calls in backup in the form of Kevin, which is a good thing because Toni’s coming at Betty hard. When Betty struggles to place where she’s seen the symbols before, Toni suggests Betty loosen her ponytail.
Despite going Dark Betty on Cheryl recently, Betty only shakes out her hair instead of snarling at Toni and insulting her washed-out dye job. Oh, you’re interested in serial killers? That’s so dark and edgy. You think you’re hard, Toni? Have you ever held a football player’s head under water while cosplaying your missing sister?
Much like Toni, Archie is also way out of his league. He’s running a round the south side spray painting Red Circles on things to draw out the Black Hood.
It doesn’t work, but he does run into Sweet Pea and company. They pull a knife on him, so Archie breaks out his gun, and the street toughs run because they’re in a local production of West Side Story and the only one with a gun in their crew is Chino.
Betty and Jughead wake up the next morning and Betty dashes, worried that her mother is freaking out.
You know, her mother. The one who had a breakdown over breakfast the other day about keeping one daughter safe …
… but who didn’t even stop by the trailer when her daughter didn’t come home last night.
At school, Sheriff Keller and Principal Weatherbee pull Archie out of class because someone reported seeing a redhead pull a gun during the dress rehearsal of “Grease!”
The locker search doesn’t turn up a gun, but they do find Reggie’s ski mask from the night he brought Archie jingle-jangle. Archie doesn’t explain where he got it, and he’s in trouble.
After the failed decryption session, Jughead finds the original letter the Black Mask sent Betty. Jughead confronts Betty about it, and she admits that the Black Mask claims he’s doing this for her.
Betty’s wearing another sweater and lace collar combination. I love how delicate this one is – it’s feels like a vintage handkerchief.
In another rehash of the same fight, Hermione doesn’t want Veronica associating with Archie at all, because her daughter is running around with a literal target on her chest.
Veronica and her sassy glasses aren’t having it, because have you seen Archie’s abs.
Archie calls Veronica – he needs her help. Archie is so concerned with the safety of his loved ones that he’s bought a gun an created a vigilante squad, but also he’s asking his girlfriend to go to the dark, abandoned school while that same serial killer is loose.
I’m not saying Archie is trying to get Veronica killed, but this isn’t a great way to keep your girlfriend alive.
After retrieving the gun, Veronica goes to Archie’s house to tell him she’s thrown the gun in Sweetwater River. While she’s there, the Red Circle gang comes by … with pizzas!
The guys think it’s pretty cool that Archie didn’t snitch on Reggie, so they’re ready to take off their shirts, grease up, and make another YouTube video. Veronica is, naturally, bewildered by Reggie’s acting choices.
It’s a good thing the rest of the team showed up, because the Serpents are at Archie’s door looking for a rumble. Veronica intercedes and sets the terms: no weapons, and Sweet Pea has to tell her what finishing products he uses to get his bangs like that.
At the town hall meeting, the Mayor is looking suitably fabulous, as always, although she’s put away the bright colors for this somber occasion.
She goes up against Alice, who wants to disband South Side high school and put the money toward the police, because that’s absolutely a thing that can be done without consequences.
Fred, of course, goes toe-to-toe with Alice on the issue as Hermione and Hiram look on disapprovingly – not because they recognize how messed up it would be to shut down a low-income high school, but because they’re ambiguously evil.
Honestly, the only truly important part of this scene is the reveal that Penelope Blossom is fully healed and able to leave the house.
Betty’s finally figured out where she’s seen the cryptogram before – a Nancy Drew codebook.
She and Jughead decode that the cipher says the Black Mask is going to strike again at the town hall meeting.
Naturally, they run to the meeting to send everyone … outside, into the rain, where the residents won’t have safety in numbers. Betty warns everyone to run, and when Sheriff Keller urges everyone to be calm, Betty pulls the fire alarm in full view of everyone. For some reason, everyone stands up and leaves because these are the geniuses Alice thought could solve the cryptogram.
In the rain on the other side of town, the Sharks and Jets meet for their rumble, which is every bit as filled with slow-motion punches as we could hope.
It’s all very artful, and very little is being accomplished but everyone looks pretty while doing it. Before any real damage can be done, though, Veronica breaks up the fight with a gunshot and her very dramatic cape.
Her timing is good, but not good enough – Dilton gets stabbed in the thigh by a Serpent who didn’t follow the “no weapons” rule.
Betty comes clean to her mother, Sheriff McCoy, and the mayor about the letter. The adults all look suitably concerned but let’s be real, they’re going to let a high school student in a ponytail solve this crime for them.
After breaking up her boyfriend’s street fight, Veronica needs to be reminded of what she sees in him: a smooth torso and abs for weeks.
Veronica and Archie throw the gun in Sweetwater River, so hopefully that’s the last we see of Archie with actual weaponry.
Back at home, Betty gets a late-night call. It’s the Black Mask, and he wants to talk.
It looks like Betty passed the first test.