Riverdale season 2, episode 5


Ananya Mehta

Though it comes across as a moment of compassion, this particular scene between two core Riverdale characters, Jughead and Archie, is exceptionally intense and hostile.

Following the start of the second season, episodes have been packed with over-dramatized plot points and a lot of unnecessary chaos; this episode, however, has definitely hit a sweet spot. By far the best episode of Season Two, episode five has left viewers heartbroken and anxious for episode six.

Episode five picks up where it last left off- Betty on the phone with the infamous Black Hood, the killer who has apparently decided everything is really about Betty, rather than the town of Riverdale itself. The Black Hood confesses to Betty that he strives to rid the town of sinners, including her sister, which he somehow knows has retreated to the supposed safety of a remote farm. This little tid-bit of knowledge is enough to convince Betty not to tell Jughead or the police of the Black Hood’s contact with her.

Following this threat, Betty, the prime focus of this episode, finds her loophole, tell Archie. Archie, who recently disbanded the Red Circle and got back in his father’s good graces, is summoned to walk her to school and discreetly filled in on her situation. This is why Archie accompanies Betty as she gets the next phone call, one demanding she publish an old mugshot of her mother, a task that will grant her permission to ask one question to the murder himself. Betty obliges following her mother’s accusations that she forged the previous letter from the Black Hood. 

Following Betty’s betrayal of her mother, she gets a small sense of familiarity, meeting up with her now South Side boyfriend, Jughead Jones. They embrace with a sense of passion before sitting quietly across from each other at Pop’s, tears swarming in Betty’s eyes and a look of pure despair in Jughead’s. Both characters realize the profound secrets they are keeping from one another, forcing them to nearly acknowledge the brokenness forming in their once beautiful relationship. They talk of running away, both aware that it’s utterly impossible.

Following this small moment of bitter sweetness, Betty receives yet another phone call, this time directed towards her current bestie, Veronica Lodge. The Black Hood instructs Betty to cut Veronica out of her life, a task to which she is heavily reluctant towards, but eventually accepts, as the future of everyone she loves is on the line. At a party Veronica is attending, Betty falsely calls out Veronica, calling her a “privileged, shallow airhead party girl”. This gets the job done, driving Betty to brood alone at a bus station. This is when Betty gets the most tragic call yet, instructions to cut Jughead out of her life.

Betty’s next appearance is at school the following day, alongside a concerned Archie. She confesses to him why she was rude to Veronica along with her plans to break up with Jughead. She understands that the Black Hood hasn’t killed a single person since the phone calls began, underlining her motivation behind her obedience towards him. She begs Archie to help her out and break up with Jughead for her. This is where we see the return of the best friend duo of Betty and Archie, a relationship that everyone adored. Archie agrees and shows up at Jughead’s trailer shortly after. The once seemingly impossible task gets much easier following a verbal fight between the two boys, as the Serpents show up at Jughead’s trailer. This is the end of Bughead, for now, and it seems to also be the end of Archie and Jughead friendship as well.

Later in the episode, Betty receives yet another daunting call. She is lead to an abandoned home and instructed to put on the killer’s hood, a display that depicts his belief that they are ultimately the same. The Black Hood also tells Betty that he  knows she told Archie about their chats. He claims he’ll kill everyone she loves unless she gives him another name, another individual to murder. She does so, giving him the name of Nick St. Clair.

This is where Veronica comes into play. While Betty’s infinitely worsening situation has grown, Veronica has had a small one of her own. She’s attempting to prove her ability to join her father’s company through a seemingly easy task of welcoming her old friend, Nick St. Clair, to Riverdale in order for his family to provide the Lodges with funding. This is what leads the entire gang, excluding Jughead, to a party at the Five Seasons hotel, the location where Betty will crush Veronica’s heart. While here, Nick both heavily flirts with Veronica and offers her drugs, all in front of her visibly repulsed boyfriend. After the party’s conclusion, Nick decides to make advances on a now alone Veronica. She, of course, is furious and ends up slapping him. Shortly after, at her father’s upscale open house, Nick apologizes, claiming he’s been in and out of rehab.

Unfortunately, this is just an act. Moments later, as the Pussycats perform, he drugs Cheryl, dragging her back to his hotel room, in an obvious attempt to rape her. Thankfully, Veronica and her Pussycat girls witness this. They barge into Nick’s hotel room and brutally beat him up. This ends with a hysterical Cheryl, surrounded by all of the young Riverdale ladies, claiming she’ll be pressing charges.

As far as the clearly pressing issue, Betty and Jughead. We all know what Betty is hiding from her high school sweetheart, but what about Jughead? Here lies quite an interesting plot twist. He’s decided to join the Serpents. He learned that they were deciding to build a bomb, leading to Toni Topaz reminding him of his father’s abilities to maintain peace between the North and South side. This sparks his newfound plan. Join. Keep the peace. Well, if he survives initiation. Step one: he has to take care of a cute dog named Hot Dog. Step 2: memorize the gang’s laws and scream them at a bar. Step 3: obtain a knife from a cage where a snake lacking any actual venom is dwelling. It seems Jughead is in the clear. That is, until his final trial. Step 4: get brutally assaulted by the entire group of Serpents and finish standing in front of their apparent leader, Sweet Pea. Jughead, as expected, succeeds. Now he is a full-fledged Serpent member.

We’ve all noticed Toni Topaz’s growing feelings for Jughead, seen when she called him “Juggy” in the midst of his Serpent trials. This comes to a climax in the very end with a kiss between the two gang members. Maybe this really is the end of Bughead. Is Betty wrong, will there actually be no fixing it? Has Jughead gone to the dark side forever? Will Betty grow even crueler in response to The Black Hoods demands?

My only hope is that every other episode continues to be this good. A new level of intensity and the return to actual, interesting plot line, Riverdale has earned its expansive fan base.