I’ve had many people ask me why I watch Riverdale, people that assume it’s ‘just another teen drama’. But for any who watch the show, you’ll know that there’s something much darker that lurks in its heart, and that darkness is growing. Chapter Seventeen brings the North and South Sides head to head while the Black Hood continues to reign terror over Riverdale’s residents. And it turns out he has a fascination with one of our favourites. This was one of the most intense episodes of the series yet, so sit back, relax, and let’s recap.
Betty Is Contacted By The Black Hood
When Betty arrives at school and checks the Blue and Gold’s mail, she finds an envelope almost identical to the one her mother received, with her name sprawled across the front of it. The envelope contains two things. The first, a letter.
Your words at the jubilee inspired me. The town’s sinners must show their contrition. If not, there will be more suffering and bloodshed. Enclosed is a cipher that details where I will punish the next sinner. It is a test, only you may solve it, Betty.
Betty was understandably horrified. Not at the killer, however, but at herself. She, at least partially, now blames herself for violence in Riverdale. But she’s determined to make up for it by solving the cipher. She agrees to show it to both her mother and Sheriff Keller, but not the letter. That’s staying between her and Kevin.
Jughead and Toni Grow Closer
I really wanted to root for Toni when we first met her. I really wanted her to be a decent person, but the more we see of her, the less I get that impression. Betty also suspects something, but instead of playing the part of the jealous girlfriend, she suggests that they all team up together to try and decipher the code. And so Betty, Toni, Kevin, and Jughead all meet at Jug’s place to solve the unsolvable. But things quickly turn sour, especially once Toni tells Betty to loosen her ponytail.
But kudos to Betty, who plays it off for what it (hopefully) is, a joke. They’re all getting pretty frustrated, especially Betty. She swears she’s seen the cipher before, she just can’t remember where. So, they go back to the basics. They know that the Black Hood wants to cleanse Riverdale, and so far, all of the victims have ties to the North Side. And that’s something Toni doesn’t like hearing, especially from Betty. She calls her privileged and accuses her of demonizing the South Side. And after laughing at the ‘psychos’ of The Red Circle, she accuses Betty of thinking the Black Hood is actually a South Side Serpent. After all, why else would Jughead lie about sitting with them at lunch?
With all that tension in one living room, Kevin decides to take off and Toni leaves with him. Jughead tells Betty that he’s sitting with them for survival, and she just shrugs it off, telling him it’s okay, that they should just get back to the cipher. Jughead’s surprised and honestly, he should be. Betty doesn’t know this, but earlier he ignored her call to keep talking to Toni. It may seem small, but what if Toni is trying to poison Jug against Betty? Maybe Toni likes Jughead, or maybe it’s just more of the North/South Side hate but either way, Toni definitely seems to be up to no good.
Meanwhile, Archie Faces The Consequences Of That Threatening Video
At the end of Chapter Sixteen, Archie released a video threatening the Black Hood, telling him that The Red Circle would hunt him, find him, and end him. Every member wore a red mask, save for Archie. And that, as he admits later to Ronnie, was for a specific reason. He wants to be the one to find the Black Hood. In the end, he wants it to be personal. He wants to be the one to kill him, to be the last thing that he ever sees.
Archie hasn’t gone that far, not quite yet anyway. But he’s gotten closer to it than he ever thought possible. After picking up a few necessary things (clip, holster, bulletproof vest, you know, normal teen stuff), Archie takes a trip to the South Side and starts to spray paint red circles on blank walls and doors. A few of the Serpents see him and threaten him, telling him to leave before he gets hurt. When Archie refuses, one of them, Sweet Pea, pulls a knife. And then Archie pulls a gun. The Serpents are gone within seconds, but Archie isn’t okay. His hand is visibly shaking and he looks like he’s going to be sick. Physical evidence that he can’t be the killer he thought.
Everyone sees the anger in Archie, even if most don’t know how far it goes. Fred certainly suspects something, but the school takes a more drastic action. With everything that’s going on, and after searching his locker and finding a black hood (Reggie’s from a prank), they suspend Archie, effective immediately. Archie feels alone, but he has more people in his corner than he realizes.
Veronica Lodge Is Nothing If Not Loyal
At first, Ronnie is severely unimpressed with The Red Circle video. But after seeing how much it means to Archie, that deep down it’s coming from a place of love and hurt, not of hate, she decides to use her powers of persuasion to help his cause. Not only does she show up to school wearing a shirt with a red circle on it, but Archie sees the shirts being handed out by Cheryl and the cheerleading team to almost everyone in the school. And that isn’t the extent of Ronnie’s help.
When Archie asks her to get something from the school after dark, she does so without hesitation. She goes into the locker room, removes the lid of the toilet, and sticks her hand in that disgusting water only to find a gun. And she makes her feelings on that quite clear. Maybe Archie doesn’t care, but she does. His father does. If he shoots the Black Hood, he goes to jail and they lose him. But worse, what if the Black Hood kills him? Archie wasn’t thinking straight, but thanks to Ronnie, he’s starting to see sense.
The Red Circle Has Archie’s Back When The Serpents Come Knocking
Though the Football team looked like they were going to sever ties with Archie, it was when he took the fall for Reggie’s black hood that their relationship strengthened. Archie, like Veronica, is nothing if not loyal. And the Bulldogs are all about loyalty. Thankfully, their timing is perfect, because the Serpents are at Archie’s door, and they’re here for payback.
Veronica isn’t going to sit behind closed doors and pretend this isn’t happening. She acts as the referee, making it clear that they either handle this without weapons or the police are getting involved. She stays in the house to make sure no Serpents trash it while the North Side and South Side meet in the street, ready to deliver the showdown that’s been teased for over a season now. And as we see, Archie packs one hell of a punch.
Veronica Saves The Day
The fight is brutal for both sides. Archie knows how to hit, but he also knows how to get hit. It’s pretty even on both sides until one of the Serpents pulls a knife and stabs Dilton in the leg. Archie tries to stop him but its too late. He’s thrown to the ground and before he can get up, a shot rings out. Most of the Serpents scatter, but when Archie looks up he sees that it’s Ronnie holding the gun. She shot into the air, knowing it would spook the Serpents. And because of her, they’re able to get Dilton to the hospital in time. Because of her, the fight didn’t get worse. And because she refused to give Archie the gun back, she ensured that he wouldn’t do something he regretted.
She bandages him up in his bedroom while he thanks her for saving him, for saving all of them. And it’s this intimate and yet passionate moment between them that reminds us why we love Archie and Ronnie together. There’s such an intense spark between them, something that occasionally borders on dangerous. They bring out a powerful heat in each other. But at the end of the day, they know who they are, and will protect their goodness at all costs. Which is why at the end of the episode they return to Sweetwater river. Archie tosses the gun into it, knowing now that isn’t the answer.
Betty Solves The Cipher Just In Time
While all of this is going down, Betty and Jughead are still working at the cipher, and now Jughead is fully informed of the situation. He found the Black Hood’s letter in Betty’s books and he soothes her, telling her that no one would think of her as the bad guy. Archie wouldn’t blame her for any of this. She’s good, she’s like Nancy Drew, he jokes. And that sparks Betty’s memory. The cipher is from a book she used to check out all the time as a kid – a Nancy Drew story.
They rush to the library and uncover the message, where the Black Hood warns that his next victim will be where it all began. The Town Hall. When they get there and warn everyone, the Mayor and Sheriff try to brush it off, telling everyone to remain calm and that they’ll get to the bottom of it. But Betty knows there isn’t enough time, so she pulls the fire alarm. Everyone gets out and, for tonight, there is no new victim, all thanks to Betty.
But when Betty gets home, she has to come clean. She shows Sheriff Keller and her parents the letter she received. Hopefully something useful will come of it. But later that night, her phone rings. And it’s none other than the Black Hood himself.
Talk about a cliffhanger! Chaos is currently reigning over Riverdale, and it seems that Hiram Lodge might be behind it all. He lives for chaos and mayhem, after all. Hermione might be in on it too, but how far this goes, we aren’t yet certain of. Only time will tell. The only thing we know for sure is that while Veronica is a Lodge, she is on Archie’s side before she’s on her parents’. And thank heavens for that.
Riverdale Airs Wednesday Nights On The CW And Is Available To Stream On Netflix.