Riverdale Season 2, Episode 4 Recap: Bad news, Betty


The image shows Betty Cooper, a main subject of the episode, in the style of the Archie comics. Artist: Ananya Mehta

As Jughead Jones begins his usual voice-over narration of the happenings in Riverdale, the town walks on eggshells due to the blow-up of The Black Hood in the local paper. A recent target of the Black Hood, and founder of The Red Circle, Archie Andrews appears to be on high alert practicing his aim with a new handgun.

Following a fight with her mom over Polly fleeing town, an emotional Betty seeks the comfort of boyfriend Jughead, who doesn’t seem overly eager to rescue her. Though Jughead’s reservations about continually ditching classes are logical, the rift created between the couple by attending separate schools is obvious. When Jughead decides to stay at Southside High for lunch rather than visiting Betty, the Serpents – bothered by the emergence of the red circle – want him to help them go after Archie. In order to protect his friend, Jughead tries to lead the Serpents in the direction of the Black Hood, but their disapproval of Archie’s new militia seems a more fitting vendetta.

The serpents’ aren’t the only ones displeased with Archie’s recent endeavors. Veronica’s parents don’t want their daughter dating him while he paints a target on his back. Though, wasn’t Hiram the inspiration for Archie’s “strike fear” approach? The disapproval for Archie’s Red Circle continues with Principal Wetherby disbanding the football team. Archie can’t take his video back, though. Even with the original deleted, shared copies of his threat plagued the internet. 

Facing her own drama, Betty visits the headquarters of The Blue and Gold, only to discover fan-mail from the town’s favorite killer: The Black Hood. The letter seems reminiscent of The Riddler, complete with a cipher only Betty can decode to identify the next “sinner” on the Black Hood’s list. The letter also came with a shocking revelation for Betty: “He says he’s doing it for me.” Not wanting to reveal to her mom that she was the inspiration for the Black Hood, Betty passes along the cipher to be published in the town paper, without including the letter.

Meanwhile, Archie faces heat from the football team to give in to Wetherby’s demands. Left alone in his Red Circle, Archie plans to visit the Southside and seek out the Black Hood. Veronica confronts her dad about influencing Archie and then dutifully throws her support behind her boyfriend with a Red Circle t-shirt campaign. The next we see Archie, he’s stocking up to go “hunting.” Maybe, Veronica was a little too supportive.

While Veronica sticks fast to Archie’s side, Jughead appears to be giving Betty the cold shoulder. He ignores Betty’s calls and bonds with Tony over true crime and the Black Hood’s cipher. It’s starting to look like Jug has a new preferred partner in crime. Feeling her position with Jughead under threat, Betty proposes she and Kevin work with Jughead and Tony to decode the cipher. The tension between the two  girls quickly boils over, with Tony insulting Betty’s ponytail and dropping the bomb on Jughead’s Serpent lunch companions.

As Betty and Jughead are clearly left with things to discuss, the code-breaking party disbands, and the scene pans over to Archie, caught red-handed leaving circles in Serpent territory. Luckily for Archie, the Serpents brought knives to a gunfight, but he faces school suspension when he’s witnessed waving his gun around on the south side. As Archie’s behavior grows increasingly alarming, Veronica begins to question her blind loyalty to him. After Archie claims his intention to kill the Black Hood, Veronica fakes having disposed of his gun.

While a throwdown ensues between the serpents and Archie’s newly reinstated red circle, Betty is forced to come clean with Jughead about why she didn’t show him her letter from the Black Hood. Her feeling of responsibility for inspiring this killer ultimately leads Jughead and Betty to the breakthrough they need to crack the cipher. They show up “where it all began,” the town hall, and break up the meeting before anyone falls victim to the Black Hood. Maybe the killer was just playing games with Betty, though, because he reaches out to her again in the last scene, by phone this time.

Now that the general workings of the episode have been revisited, it’s time to talk theories. During the town hall meeting that took place in the episode, Fred Andrews delivers a speech on the importance of the people of the town uniting against the Black Hood. It may seem ironic that this speech is taking place simultaneously with the showdown between the football players and the Serpents. However, it also presents the idea that if Jughead fully embraces the serpents, there is a strong chance of these two groups uniting through Jughead and Archie. This seems a likely outcome as Jughead grows closer to Tony at Southside High.

Unfortunately, this good news for the long polarized sides of town spells trouble for Bughead. Betty has been very clear about her disapproval of the Serpents, believing they put Jughead in danger. Tony also introduces a possible love triangle, and Riverdale fans are dreading the likely break-up of Bughead in one of the upcomingepisodes. It seems to be all bad news for Betty as of late because the Black Hood knows intimate details of her personal life. Looking at the previous victims of the Black Hood, one might guess he is avenging Archie’s past rejection of Betty. Combine that knowledge with green eyes, access to Betty’s phone number, and a Nancy Drew book from her childhood, and you arrive at the question: is it Hal Cooper? He bent the law some in Season One, and we haven’t known much about his whereabouts since Alice kicked him out. In a twisted world, a father might just try to win his daughter back by hurting what hurts her. Is the show following the Season One trend of the evil father figure? Share your opinion in the poll below.

Do you think Hal cooper is the Black Hood?

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