This episode of Riverdale has ventured into real-life horror territory, minus the gore and violence. What was on display this episode was the exploration of Betty’s worst nightmares, and everyday fears that plague some of our heroes.
Chapter Eighteen: When a Stranger Calls Synopsis via Netflix
Jughead takes a stand as the Serpents prepare to strike back, and the Black Hood hits Betty with a bombshell. Veronica hosts a friend from her past.
Last weeks episode revealed that the Black Hood knows Betty and is inspired by her. In this episode the Black Hood puts Betty to the test, and blackmails her into destroying her personal relationships for his benefit. He has decided that her friends, boyfriend, sister, and parents are not good enough for her. It is also revealed that there were two individuals behind the letters sent to Betty and her mother. Either the Black Hood has an accomplice or someone is taking advantage of the Black Hood situation to get to Betty. The latter will be determined after we discover the fate of Nick St. Clair.
Nick is a character from Veronica’s past. He comes to Riverdale with his parents, who Hiram hopes will invest in his Southside project. Nick plays into a fear commonly held by women. He starts off the episode as a typical cocky rich boy, but he pushes it too far when he attempts to get with Veronica and later date-rape Cheryl. On both fronts he fails. When Veronica notices that Cheryl is in potential danger she and the Pussycats come to Cheryl’s aid. They comfort Cheryl and inform Archie and Betty of what happened. Here is where the Black Hood comes in. The Black Hood informed Betty she could not let the authorities or her parents know that the is communication with her, however, she told Archie. The Black Hood has been spying on her (or at least thats what he claims) and tells her that he doesn’t approve of Archie knowing and threatens to kill Polly, but won’t unless she offers a name of someone who needs to be punished. She names Nick. The episode ends with that, and we will see if Nick gets punished by the Black Hood or by Cheryl who is determined to get her own justice.
Between the Black Hood and Nick this episode showcased a dark reality that plagues women. Unwanted advances from men, sexual assault, obsession, and stalking. The show has always stayed in the realm of fictional melodrama, sometimes dipping their toe into real world problems. However, this season the show has started to embrace everyday situations. Two weeks ago the show touched on the difficult situation of being gay in a conservative and closeted town, with Kevin’s cruising placing him in potential danger. It is not entirely new for teen shows to incorporate real life into it’s drama, but the show already deals with such dark subject matter. It may or may not be off-putting to some fans, but it is certainly a welcome addition to the show, because there can never be too much attention placed on these issues.
Aside from these very real horrors, Riverdale still offered us our weekly dose of sweet Riverdale drama. Due to Archies actions last episode, the Southside Serpents are mobilizing for a retaliation. The feud between North and South is close to become a full blown war, Jughead even acknowledges that Archie has set off WWIII. Jughead is now pushed into a corner and is forced to embrace the Serpents. He must to appease the Serpents and protect his Northside friends, and this episode the Serpents put his loyalty to the test. This storyline is dragging at this point. Jughead struggling with his identity has been a running theme from the first episode, and it is time for him to either embrace the Serpents or actually do something about his situation. When the Black Hood forces Betty to end things with Jughead, Betty sends Archie to do it for her. Archie stumbles upon Jughead’s initiation and correctly guess that Jughead is becoming a Serpent. This prompts Archie into using this as an excuse for Betty’s breakup, and this hurts Jughead.
And as speculated last week the Toni-Jughead-Betty love triangle has begun, with Toni right by Jughead’s side after Betty breaks up with him. Of course he is not aware of the reasoning, but the lie that was fed to him are actually very true. If the Black Hood had not interfered, the issue of him being a Serpent would still break them up or at least cause serious problems in their relationship. Jughead rebounding is unusual for the always loyal Juggy, but Toni is good match for him. Toni again in this episode acts as a voice of reason for Jughead, and does not shy away from telling Jughead the realities of being a Serpent. She still hasn’t been given much to do, but she is certainly one of the more compelling characters on the Southside.
Next week will certainly be an explosive episode. Betty has now become an accomplice to a potential crime, and the consequences from that will not be good for Betty. The feud between the Northside and Southside will worsen. Soon everyone will be living in their own worst nightmares, and perhaps many will loose sight-over the fact that the Black Hood walks among them.
Images via Riverdale Wiki.