Cheryl becomes a vigilante just in time for the Black Hood to confess

By Samantha Highfill
May 09, 2018 at 09:00 PM EDT
Photo: Katie Yu/The CW
S2 E21
  • TV Show

Have you ever thought of Riverdale as some kind of weird GothamMad MaxArrow combination? No? WELL I BET YOU DO NOW. I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this episode…perhaps we should start in the moment that Cheryl Blossom became a literal vigilante? Cool. Let’s start there.

So the Black Hood arrives at Cheryl’s house and goes full Shining as he chases her through the house with an axe. But thankfully, as Cheryl later tells Betty, she was able to “get to my archery set and hunting cape.” I’m sorry. WHAT. But Cheryl’s not kidding. Little Red Riding Hood over here climbs out a window, grabs her bow and arrow and a hooded red cape and shoots the Black Hood in the shoulder. Why she chose to only shoot him once is something I’ll never understand. Maybe because she’s new to this whole vigilante business?

By the time she calls Betty, she’s busy TRACKING THE BLACK HOOD THROUGH THE WOODS. So maybe she’s not new to this vigilante business? She warns Betty that, if this is her father, he’s a maimed animal which means he’s ready to lash out and kill. Then again, this is the Black Hood, a literal serial killer, so I’d say he’s pretty much always been ready to lash out and kill?

But the Hood isn’t the only person feeling riled up. Clearly someone put something in the water in Riverdale because everyone has lost their damn minds. The Serpents are rioting because someone shot Fangs while the Bulldogs are trying to find Reggie who swears he didn’t shoot Fangs and suddenly everyone’s holding a baseball bat and trashing the town?! If you think I’m exaggerating, you are sorely mistaken.

While all of this is going on, Veronica discovers Midge Clump’s mother out on the streets and takes her to the police station after she confesses that SHE was the one who shot Fangs. It’s at the police station where Veronica runs into her mother, who has decided that the thing this fire needs is more gasoline: She’s putting a $1 million reward out for anyone who can turn in the Black Hood, preferably dead. In other words, this show is about to turn into The Purge. Or, as Veronica tells her mom, “Are you and daddy trying to turn Riverdale into Gotham City?” And now I can’t help but view Hiram as the Penguin for some reason.

While Principal Weatherby breaks up a Bulldogs-Serpents showdown at the high school — even Weatherby is carrying a baseball bat! — Betty returns home in the hopes of finding her father. Instead, all she gets is a phone call from FP who’s looking for Jughead. FP also has some news about Hal: He was just checked into the hospital, and he was bleeding.

Kevin, Archie, and Moose eventually find Reggie at Pop’s, so he apparently thinks that the most popular hangout in Riverdale is a good hiding spot? Way to use that brilliant mind, Reg. AND HERE’S WHERE THINGS GET EVEN CRAZIER. The Ghoulies show up looking like the War Boys from Mad Max. I’m talking painted faces. I’m talking bats with nails sticking out of them. WHAT IS THIS?!

It’s Pop Tate who comes up with a plan: Archie lights some bottles of liquor on fire and tosses them at the Ghoulies to keep them back. He does it long enough for the real heroes to arrive: Fred, FP, and Sheriff Keller roll-up in Keller’s old squad car — What? These cops couldn’t keep Fangs safe, you think they remembered to ask for his car back?! — and save the day. Leave it to Kevin to title the spinoff we all want: Hot Riverdale Dads to the Rescue.

Back at the penthouse, Veronica breaks into her father’s office and discovers a file he has labeled “October Surprise,” which I honestly think is embarrassing enough for him to have his gangster card revoked. In the file are photos of Hermione and Fred kissing, along with a story Hiram wrote about the affair. And guess what? Sad little Hermione knew about it. Seeing as how Fred’s campaign is all about family values, they were planning to use it against him. It might hurt Hermione, but it would destroy Fred.

That’s the final straw for Veronica, who’s sick of her father always letting someone else take the risk. Hermione is still convinced that Hiram would never put them in harm’s way but that’s only going to last another 10 minutes or so until Small Fry, Papa Poutine’s Andre the Giant-sized son, busts down their door and nearly kills them. Thankfully, Hermione grabs Hiram’s gun and beats Small Fry to it. As for the rest of the hour, they say “October Surprise” — this week’s “make my bones” — approximately 1000 times. (Next: The Black Hood reveals himself)

But guess what? The Lodges aren’t even the most dramatic family in this hour. After Betty races to the hospital, all she discovers is a dead doctor. Then, her phone rings. The Black Hood wants to meet at home, and if she’s not there in 10 minutes, he’ll kill her mom.

Spoiler: It’s Hal!!! Hal sits Betty and Alice down to show them some home movies of him when he was a boy. (Talk about torture.) Long story short, after Hal’s father killed the Conway family, a very tiny Hal was the one who convinced Mr. Svenson to point his finger at the wrong man. In the video, his mother calls the Conways “sinners” and explains that “sinners have to die.” So while other kids were learning how to read, Hal was learning about murder and manipulation. After all, innocence is overrated!

Hal forces Alice to take out her recorder, at which point he explains that Great Grandpappy Cooper wasn’t murdered by his brother. He was the murderer. He killed Great Grandpappy Blossom and then took on the Cooper name to create a new identity for himself. The Conways knew their secret, which is why Betty’s grandpa killed them. Mr. Svenson was the only survivor, and Hal convinced him to keep his mouth shut. See, Hal has the same Cooper Darkness in him that his father and grandfather had, the same darkness Betty has. (But do any of you have a fun wig?!)

He makes Betty say that he’s the Black Hood, at which point Hal confesses to shooting Fred, killing Ms. Grundy, killing the Sugar Man, and even the doctor at the hospital. But he won’t confess to the shooting at the debate. That wasn’t him. So who was it?

Well, perhaps it’s the guy who just showed up at the Andrews house and shot Fred. Don’t worry — Keller has him wearing a vest now. He’s fine.

Back to Hal; he explains how Betty’s speech reminded him of what his mother used to tell him, and the promise that he made to his mother to make this town better. He wants to purge the town of sin. As for why he’s saying this all on record, he says it’s because “I want everyone to understand when they find us.” As in…find all your dead bodies?!

That’s the idea, but Alice has never been one to go down without a fight. So, she distracts Hal by attacking his ego while Betty grabs the spade from the fireplace tool set and knocks him out from behind.

The episode ends with Hal being escorted to a squad car while in handcuffs, at which point Archie arrives just in time to see it all unfold. But I have some bad news, guys: Archie does NOT look the Black Hood in the eyes so we’ll never know for sure if Hal is the Black Hood!!!!

While all of this is going on, Penny Peabody returns. She has now partnered with the Ghoulies and decides to kidnap Toni. But the joke is on her when the Red Hood shows up and saves the day! Honestly, did Jug know about Cheryl’s secret identity?! And have I ever laughed so hard at a moment on Riverdale? The answer to the latter is definitely no. I’m not sure at what point Cheryl started to be considered “back-up,” but this is so, so strange. And also magical.

Penny’s request is simple: She wants the Southside so that she can sell drugs and all that fun stuff. The Serpents vote to go to war with the Ghoulies, but Jug doesn’t want that to happen, and when Fangs dies, Jug loses his mind. (20 bucks says he couldn’t tell you Fangs’ last name.)

First up, Jug calls Hiram: He’s realized that Hiram has been behind all of this. As soon as Hiram figured out that the Serpents couldn’t be bought, he paid the Ghoulies and Penny to start a war and get rid of the Serpents once and for all. But Jug has a counteroffer…the Ghoulies get Jughead. (To kill, if that part wasn’t clear.)

Jug calls Betty to tell her that he’ll never stop loving her before sacrificing himself to the Ghoulies, who beat the crap out of him. When FP realizes where his son is, he races after him, which results in the hour ending with Betty and Archie, among others, watching as FP emerges from the woods carrying a near-dead-if-not-dead Jughead. Let’s be real, I’m not actually worried that he’s dead. To be honest, the moment would be a bit more impactful if I believed they’d really kill him.

So as this insane hour comes to a close, we have a copy cat killer on the loose, a very wounded Jug, and a divided Lodge family as Hermione and Veronica are SO over Hiram now. Let’s just hope that Cheryl and her red hunting cape can save us all. (Although they couldn’t save this episode from itself, so it’s not looking good.)

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