The Black Mask didn’t kill Moose and Midge, but he’s still at large and he’s got a manifesto: he’s trying to cleanse the towns of its sins. This is a CW town, Black Mask, so you’ve got your work cut out for you. Everyone’s dealing in their own ways: Archie’s creating a vigilante group of teenaged boys, Jughead is restarting SadSide High’s school paper so he can investigate, and Betty’s trying to keep her BFF Kevin from getting murdered in the woods.
Kevin is like one poorly timed target practice away from associating gunshots with sexual arousal, you guys. This time, he’s “night jogging” aka making out with sweaty boys in the woods when he hears the Man with Green Eyes shooting Moose and Midge.
Kevin. My darling, precious, snarky Kevin. I know your options are limited in this weird time-warped town, but there’s got to be a better way to find men than pulling a Salvatore Romano and cruising in the woods. Find yourself a programmer and make a dating app that caters to your needs, because I need you to graduate high school and star in a spinoff with Cheryl where you live in New York and have sexy adventures. We’ll call it CK❤NY and I won’t let Ryan Murphy anywhere near it no matter how much he begs because in this house we respect narrative continuity and character development, young man.
I’m sorry. Anyway. Fashion.
Veronica asks Daddy if she can invite friends over to meet him, and of course it’s a weird thing instead of just being a normal request because the Lodges have to do everything shadily.
She makes the request while wearing the apology pearls Hiram bought her last year, so you know she’s trying extra hard for his approval. Hermione looks on, hair fabulous and face disapproving.
At school the next day, Kevin briefs the gang on his rescue of Moose and Midge while avoiding Betty’s brow furrow.
You can tell how difficult this is for Kevin because he’s dressed like Archie. He must be emotionally devastated – the shirt isn’t even snug.
Betty doesn’t approve of Kevin’s cruising while a serial killer is loose – reasonable – and she asks that he stop at least until the killer is caught.
Because he’s a bigger person than I am, he does not make any comments about taking dating advice from a girl who knows literally one hairstyle. Instead, Kevin placates her with a promise to stop.
Cheryl doesn’t have much plot this week, so she spends her time eavesdropping on other people’s drama while flouncing down hallways.
At least she looks her usual fierce self while eaves-flouncing. I love the scalloped hem on her mini, even if the red/black combo is to be expected for her.
At Southside High, Jughead is given the intro tour by the Vanessa Abrams of Southside, Toni Topaz.
She even has the required wrist full of bracelets, which seem like it would slow her down at the metal detectors. Toni is, of course, a Serpent, and she warns Jughead that it’s dangerous to be a loner. If he’s not a Serpent he’ll be harassed by the rival gang, the Ghoulies. Between the drugs, the gangs, and the vigilantes, Riverdale is making some strange name choices.
The whole gang goes to Veronica’s to watch the Matchelorette and meet her dad. The gang stays in their school clothes because I guess this is a formal screening.
And, of course, Archie makes pained faces while trying to think.
Hiram is emotionally withholding per usual, and he manipulates Archie by suggesting that the best way to deal with the killer is to “take matters into our own hands.”
Archie, being a very dumb teenaged boy, goes home to gaze longingly at the gun he’s hidden in his old comic book collection.
He’s inspired by the vigilante team the Red Circle, so he summons the football team to create a very bro-y neighborhood watch … which he calls the Red Circle, and no one questions because teenaged boys think dumb things are cool.
If Archie is heading down a path of dumb recklessness, then Betty is trying to save Kevin from making equally bad choices.
Kevin, despite looking sharp in his button down, is not super receptive to Betty’s advice. After Kevin leaves, Cheryl takes a moment to impart her wisdom on Betty: namely, that Kevin went from awkward to the fine piece we see today, and the end result is a man who has needs.
It’s just a normal school day for Cheryl, which means a black and navy miniskirt, an off the shoulder top, and a choker. I’m glad she was able to salvage her iconic brooches from the fire that she definitely did not set.
Meanwhile, at the grey hazy school of menace, Jughead is trying to singlehandedly start the school paper. The Serpents try again to convince Jughead to join up with them, but he declines despite the fact that he’s clearly already met the flannel requirement.
Look at these street toughs, with their lipstains and artfully disheveled layers. Jughead clearly wouldn’t fit in with them.
The Black Hood reaches out to intrepid reporter Alice Cooper with his manifesto, which she publishes despite Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller’s orders otherwise.
You can try to tell Alice Cooper what to do, but resistance is futile in the face of her steely glare and practical outerwear.
In case you were wondering, the Black Hood’s motives are your garden variety serial killer reasons: rooting out corruption and sin – which, dude, this is Riverdale, you could raze the whole town and you still wouldn’t get all the branches of the Maple Syrup Sex Cult.
Once Polly gets wind of this, she skips town – what’s more sinful than the unwed mother carrying her cousin’s twins?
Polly reads the manifesto in a baby blue turtleneck and a headband not even Blair Waldorf could love. She cuts and runs while wearing her best virginal Cooper whites and a much better headband. It looks like she didn’t keep any of her Blossom gothicwear, which is a bummer given that Polly’s wardrobe is somehow even more bland and infantile than Betty’s.
Veronica is high on the success of her Matchelorette night, so she invites Archie over to have dinner with her parents. Then, like any teenager, she comes home from school and polishes the good silver.
Veronica’s menswear-inspired suiting is less than ideal for the task, but it is a cute shape for her. Less cute is the weird bitter vibes Hermione is giving off, even as she looks flawless in cream.
And look, I know Veronica is low-key threatening her mother, but really, H? Is this level of anger necessary? Even Veronica is thinking this is overkill.
Betty visits Jughead at Jingle Jangle High School and gets to meet the other corner of this season’s triangle.
In one corner: the girl next door, wearing the only color palette she knows. In the other corner, Tonessa Abrams, midriff exposed and closet filled with flannel. It’s too bad both leave him alone and he gets jumped by the Ghoulies, but that does allow for an awkward second meeting of the two girls.
The first night of the Red Circle patrol is a success – Ethel is walking late at night in the fog near a cornfield, as one does when they have no survival skills, when she notices a van following her.
Fortunately, Ethel survives, which is a good thing because her schoolgirl chic style would be sorely missed. How cute is the bow detailing on her top and skirt?
Also out in the dark is Kevin, who first has a heart to heart with Moose then goes out for another “run.” Cheryl narcs him out to Betty because Cheryl literally cannot live without drama. Like a plant photosynthesizes light for sustenance, Cheryl metabolizes drama until it sprouts from her head in perfect waves of red silk.
That’s why her food was untouched in Pop’s. She doesn’t need food to survive, she feasts on the pain of others.
Betty is less than pleased to find out Kevin’s been lying to her about his night jogs. She ultimately rats him out to Sheriff Keller, who responds like the most supportive tv dad ever – with a hug and a promise that they should talk more. Credit where credit is due: pretty much all the parents on this show have been wildly inconsistent (remember when Alice was crazy conservative?) but Sheriff Keller has always been awesome. It’s going to be such a bummer when he ends up being the Jingle Jangle kingpin.
Archie joins the Lodges for the weirdest, most awkward family dinner ever. For starters, the most inappropriate thing at the table isn’t Veronica’s mesh top with sternum cutouts.
This looks like what Serena Van der Woodsen would wear to a funeral. I have had anxiety dreams where I’m suddenly wearing this outfit.
After the men retire to Hiram’s study for rum (no, seriously, Hiram offers a 16 year old rum), Hermione decides to torment her daughter over her desperate need for her father’s approval.
Remember when Hermione was just the plucky, fallen-from-grace mother who had to take a job working at Pop’s to make ends meet? Well, the old Hermione can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because she’s dead and has been replaced by a drunk woman engaged in psychological warfare with her teenaged daughter.
Hiram has a one-on-one talk with Archie where he basically encourages Archie to become a masked vigilante. Honestly, it seems like there are easier ways to get rid of your daughter’s new boyfriend, but I guess “trick him into getting himself killed” works too.
They have this conversation in Hiram’s study, which features a giant portrait of Veronica. This has inspired me: If I ever get a house, I’m going to decorate exclusively with giant oil portraits of actresses from teen dramas.
Kevin goes for another run in the woods, which like, dude, I know you’re a teenaged boy with raging hormones, but don’t you have homework? Do you ever take a night off?
He meets a very creepy man who wants Kevin to get in his car. Before Kevin does, though, he has a vision of the creepy guy stabbing him in the stomach, so Kevin takes off running instead while creepy guy yells horrible things at him.
Kevin goes home and has a sweet heart to heart with his dad, but does not make any plans to take up coding to make a dating app for rural boys in towns where every family is limited to a strict color palette.
Back at the Lodge Manor, Veronica is trying to prove Hermione wrong – she wants to be invited to have rum with her father, dammit, so she’s going to take a more active role in Lodge Enterprises. I’m not sure what a teenager can contribute to a company whose sole purpose is to conduct shady business deals in small towns, but I can’t wait to find out.
Veronica does her best adult impression in a very cute mustard-colored top. It’s always a welcome change to see her in something other than black, navy, or plum.
The episode ends with Archie and the Red Circle making a very menacing video, if you consider a bunch of shirtless, lithe teenaged boys to be menacing.
Will this draw out the Black Mask? Will it end his reign of terror? Does all the gratuitous male shirtlessness make up for the total lack of ArchieAbs? These answers, and more, next week on Riverdale … or, in fact, last week. But you only have to wait a few more minutes to see our coverage on YKYLF.