Riverdale’s midseason finale was not playing around. The Wednesday, December 13, episode finally revealed who The Black Hood was, and a life was lost as a consequence. But is he really the black hood? And what does it mean for the gang? Here’s our breakdown of “Chapter Twenty-Two: Silent Night, Deadly Night.”
Christmastime in Riverdale means high school students taking time out of the school day to exchange Secret Santa gifts. Exes on exes — yes, Bughead and Varchie were actually broken up — made this especially awkward. Not to mention Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Archie (KJ Apa) were kind of flirting with each other, which we’d normally brush off but the vibe was more than foreboding.
Archie and Betty soon discovered Mr. Svenson — the school janitor Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Archie had recently interrogated about his possible connection to The Black Hood — had disappeared. The janitor was supposedly sick, but Arch and Betty decided to swing by his house to check on him. After all, they had exposed his identity as Joseph Conway, the sole survivor of the Riverdale Reaper murders.
Mr. Svenson wasn’t home, and when Betty returned to her house, she found a nicely wrapped Secret Santa gift: Svenson’s finger. The Black Hood called Betty, with Archie in earshot, and told her to “exhume the past [and] find where the primal sin was committed” if she wanted to save Svenson’s life.
Svenson lived at The Sisters of Quiet Mercy — the same “dungeon” the Coopers sent Polly to when she got pregnant — before he was adopted, so the detective duo went there to ask a nun about Svenson’s sins. Apparently, Svenson thought he might’ve accused the wrong man of killing his family. The man was executed by a group of Riverdale citizens, including Nana Rose Blossom — who, we found out in this episode, did make it out of Thornhill before it went up in flames.
Betty and Archie asked Nana Rose about the execution, but all they could glean from her ramblings was that the man was buried alive and Betty’s grandfather was one of the executioners. Betty panicked, realizing this might’ve been the reason The Black Hood had been targeting her. Archie tried to calm Betty down, which somehow led to random, yet romantic a kiss, that Cheryl saw from the window of Thornhill.
Archie and Betty figured out the executioners had buried the man alive in Pickens Park. They arrived there to find a shovel and fresh dirt. Assuming Mr. Svenson had been buried, B and A started digging, only to uncover an empty coffin. We guess they couldn’t hear us screaming “It’s a trap” because The Black Hood appeared out of nowhere, holding a gun on them. He demanded Archie get in the coffin and Betty bury him. As Betty tried to reason with the masked man, sirens in the distance distracted him long enough for Betty to hit him with the shovel.
He took off running, and after Betty retrieved Archie from the coffin, they chased after him. Archie held The Black Hood at gunpoint, and when he tried to escape, Sheriff Keller shot him. Keller removed the hood to reveal none other than Mr. Svenson, who was missing a finger.
The core four met up at Pop’s to discuss the “why” of the case, but they didn’t have any answers. All Jughead (Cole Sprouse) could muster was, “He’s in a body bag, and we aren’t.”
The case might’ve seemed closed to most of Riverdale, but Betty — or rather, Dark Betty — wasn’t quite ready to let go of the black hood the killer had made her wear or the dark void she’d fallen into. “This isn’t over,” Jughead ominously narrated.
Riverdale may want us to believe The Black Hood’s identity has been revealed, but we cry foul. Our theory is that Svenson was set up to take the fall (dead men tell no tales, right?) so the real Black Hood’s plan could continue to unravel.
Betty and Archie’s hunt for The Black Hood wasn’t the only thing playing out in this episode. Veronica found out about Fred Andrews’ (Luke Perry) $86,000 hospital bill. She tried to get her parents to pay for it, since Fred and Archie were barely keeping their heads above water, but Hiram (Mark Consuelos) and Hermione (Marisol Nichols) didn’t want to get involved.
So, once V discovered Hiram bought Pop’s behind her back, she took matters into her own hands, using Hermione’s credit card to pay the bill in full. The elder Lodges were livid when they realized what she’d done, but they ultimately decided to fill her in on the real goings on at Lodge Industries. Details were not divulged but Veronica agreed to join in as long as she didn’t have to do anything illegal. She also made the promise they’d continue to pay Fred’s medical pills, which Hermione agreed to, reiterating that they needed Fred for the next part of their plan.
On the love front, Veronica wanted to stay friends with Archiekins, but after he gave her a locket with their pictures in it, she showed up on his doorstep ready to get back together. Veronica declared her love for Archie, and they sealed their reunion with a kiss (the same thing Archie had just shared with Betty, mind you). But, creepily, someone was taking pictures of A and V from afar.
Jughead Jones, you’re a Serpent now. OK, he was already a Serpent, but Jughead crossed a line into full-fledged snake territory while trying to exterminate Penny Peabody. Penny was still blackmailing FP (Skeet Ulrich) into running drugs for her. Jughead attempted to reason with and even help his father, but FP told him they were stuck in the situation.
Jughead didn’t want the Serpents to end up like the Ghoulies, so he organized the younger Serpents to take out Penny. They kidnapped her and took her to Greendale, where Jughead threatened her to stay away. He didn’t care where she set up her operation — just as long as it wasn’t in Riverdale and especially not on the Southside. Penny wasn’t willing to go quietly into the night, though. The Snake Charmer invoked Serpent law — Serpents can’t hurt one of their own — but Jughead made sure this rule no longer applied to Penny as he gruesomely cut her Serpent tattoo off with a knife. Jughead told his father they’d no longer be under Penny’s thumb and he was proud of his life as a Serpent. So, it looks like that’s sticking.
Although Jughead seemed firm in his decision to keep Betty away from his Serpent dealings, we got the smallest shred of hope for Bughead when the pair exchanged Christmas gifts (a typewriter for him, a first-edition book by her favorite author for her). We’re not completely giving up on these two yet.
Cheryl’s (Madelaine Petsch) promise to take charge of her family was well underway. Her mother broke the bad news that they wouldn’t be able to afford Christmas this year, but that didn’t stop Cheryl from buying a tree and decorating it the Blossom way. Cheryl insisted her mother get a job in the new year, too, perhaps from Hiram. Ooh, what a wicked pairing. Let’s hope that happens.
Cheryl also saw Penelope in a compromising position with a mystery man, so who knows where that’s going. Is this her new job?
Riverdale returns to The CW Wednesday, January 17, at 9 p.m. ET.
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