Riverdale: “The Watcher in the Woods”

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Things are really starting to get going on Riverdale this week. The Black Hood reveals himself and his motives, but Archie and the Red Circle are ready to fight back. No one is safe in Riverdale right now. The town is divided into those who are scared, and those who want to fight back.

Returning to last week’s cliffhanger ending, Kevin is out in the woods for a romantic interlude when he hears gunshots. He finds a frantic Midge, covered in Moose’s blood.

The next day Reggie shows up at football practice to tell everyone that Moose has been shot. The school is shocked, but the violence against fellow students doesn’t sway Veronica from her plan to have everyone come over and meet her dad that night.

Once everyone has gone their separate ways, Betty prods Kevin about his reasons for being in Fox Forest at night and expresses concern about Kevin meeting men in the forest.

At the hospital, Archie questions Moose about the shooter, and a clearly shaken Midge describes the gunman, reviving Archie’s fears. That night at Veronica’s, everyone finally meets Hiram Lodge, who encourages Archie’s urge towards vigilante justice. But Hermione has concerns about Veronica trying to get closer to her father.

Archie approaches the football team about creating a watch group to keep an eye on Riverdale High, and the Red Circle is formed.

Sweet Pea (Jordan Conner), Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan), and Jughead (Cole Sprouse). Photo by the CW.

Jughead is adjusting to life at Southside High, with the help of Toni Topaz who fills him in on the good and the bad…mostly bad. When she invites him to hang out with the Serpents, Jughead tries to go it alone, but Toni makes it clear that that is a dangerous prospect. Jughead still tries to find his place by asking the English teacher about reviving the school paper.

Betty asks Kevin about his absence from the previous night’s get-together and his risky behavior, but when he brushes her off, Cheryl steps in to give Betty some insight into the reality of life for Kevin, an insecure gay man in a small town.

Betty arrives home to find out that her parents have received a package from the killer, including proof that links the crimes. They go to the Sheriff, who reveals that the Black Hood has given a motive. Fred is an adulterer, Mrs. Grundy is a child predator, and Moose and Midge are drug users. His wrath is aimed at those he believes are corrupting Riverdale. The killer has sent a letter he wants printed in the paper, and Mrs. Cooper is running it, despite the Sheriff and Mayor’s requests not to.

Jughead gets the go-ahead to restart the school paper , but he’s got to avoid gangs and Jingle-Jangle, or JJ, the drug of choice at Southside (and Riverdale) High.

The Sheriff confronts Archie about creating a militant group, but the Principle Weatherbee backs up Archie and his group, defending their right to protect each other.

Jughead and Toni check out the school newspaper office, when the other Southside High Serpents arrive. When Jughead turns down their invitation to hangout, they warn him that they won’t be there to protect him if he turns his back on them.

Kevin visits Moose in the hospital, and Moose is worried about Kevin. Kevin himself is worried about his risky behavior. But Moose can sympathize with Kevin’s risk-taking, because he understands Kevin’s feelings, more than Kevin seems to realize. Moose is trying to connect with Kevin, but Kevin either doesn’t notice or isn’t ready to face up to some things.

Hermione repeatedly tries to warn Veronica about Hiram, but Veronica calls her out on it, reminding her mother that Hermione was the one who choose to allow Hiram back into their lives. Later Hiram lets Hermione know that he’s overheard her attempted warning to Veronica, and warns her against attempting to poison Veronica against him.

Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) Photo by Bettina Strauss /The CW

Reggie and Archie head out on patrol, and Betty makes a surprise visit to Jughead at the Southside High newspaper office. Jughead warns Betty of the danger of arriving at Southside High at night, but she turns the warning back on him when he starts to tell her what he’s learned about the drug dealing at Southside High. When Toni arrives, Betty learns that great minds think alike, perhaps too alike for Betty’s taste. Soon Jughead finds out that he should have headed his own warning about the dangers of Southside.

Ethel learns that walking alone at night might not be a good idea, and reaches out to Archie and the Red Circle, who show up just in the nick of time.

After seeing Kevin head out for another run, Cheryl calls Betty and they confront Kevin in the woods. But Kevin calls Betty out on her candy coated life and for being blind to what life is like for Kevin in Riverdale. If Betty can’t accept Kevin and his lifestyle, he’s not interested in being her friend any more.

Later Jughead hides from Betty the fact that he got jumped , and Toni covers for him, but reminds him not to take the Ghoulies lightly again. Jughead has to resign himself to his dependency on the Serpents.

At the Lodge’s, Hiram bonds with Archie, but Hermione mocks Veronica when she is excluded from the bonding. Hiram threatens Archie against sneaking into Veronica’s room again, or hurting her, but then he encourages Archie to be more aggressive and terrifying with his Red Circle.

Polly sneaks off to safety, with only Betty knowing, concerned that she and the babies are at risk, due to the illegitimacy of her pregnancy…from her cousin. Betty then tries to contact Kevin, but he’s not answering. Kevin has gone back to the woods, but Betty’s words have scared him from taking risks like before. When he gets home, he finds out that his father is worried too, and that Betty has told his father what he’s doing. His father tries to open the door for communication and show his son that he loves him.

After overhearing her father’s desire to protect her, Veronica is feeling good about things , and tells her father that she wants to “get her hands dirty” and be more involved in Lodge Industries.

Archie and the Red Circle make a video to tell the Black Hood that they’re looking for him, and for some reason a lot of them aren’t wearing shirts. I’m not complaining, but…it’s weird. The video pleases Hiram though. Let’s hope Veronica, and Archie for that matter, aren’t about to get burned.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

Cara spends way too much time thinking about subtext and, when not watching TV, can generally be found with her nose in a book.