Mary here! This week, Kelli can’t be here to recap our favorite hot mess of a show, Riverdale, but don’t worry—I've got you covered.
This week, I’m talking about Episode 2:4, “The Town that Dreaded Sundown.” Let’s start with the title, which takes its name from a 1976 slasher movie that none of these kids has probably ever seen. The film features a serial killer terrorizing a small Texas town with an incompetent police officer trying to track him down. HMMMMM. Some similarities here.
I’m going to try something different this week and tackle the episode plot by plot. The show itself is comprised of many, many short scenes, often interlaced to show all the different plot threads going on.
Spoilers to follow the cut.
We start the episode with Jughead claiming to be “the first” to admit Riverdale has a serial killer problem. He checks out some books about serial killers and the librarian tells him she’s upset at that “awful video” Archie put out. OK, yes, I’m still upset about it too. Jughead wonders “How far into darkness will Archie go?!” I’m hoping VERY FAR.
Betty & Jughead
Betty is at the heart of this episode. Early on, she receives a letter from the Black Hood, addressed specifically to her. It details the Hood’s motive and provides Betty with a cipher for—I guess—like one sentence that’s written in code. The letter says that Betty is the inspiration for the murders and that the Hood was there when Betty delivered her rousing speech. At this point, I’m still thinking it’s Hal, right? He had some sort of righteous fury when Polly got pregnant and he tried to force her into having an abortion. He also has been acting hella shady and creeping around in the background all season. It’s Hal. You heard it here first. Betty decides to keep the letter a secret, but shares the cipher with the world so everyone can crack the code together. Teamwork!
The cipher and Betty’s attempt to decode it drives a bit of a wedge between her and Jughead in this episode, and it’s breaking my heart. Over at Southside High, Jughead cozies up to Toni who just so happens to love serial killers and wants to help in the case. Jughead avoids Betty by not answering her calls and also not calling her back. Always call back, Jughead. Toni loves true crime, though, and I can get behind that. Again, I hate the whole girl v girl plotlines. You all know I am a self-professed Jughead fan, but I can’t deal with girls fighting over him. Toni seems cool. Betty is cool. Why can’t they just be friends?
Later in the episode, Betty—jealous of Jughead spending time with Toni—proposes that they have a cipher party with Kevin and Toni so they can get to the bottom of the code. Jughead is weirded out but agrees. When Betty voices her frustration with the code, Toni says, meanly and out of nowhere, “Maybe you should loosen your ponytail.”
Kevin delivers the best comeback: “Betty’s ponytail is iconic and beyond reproach.” YES, KEVIN.
Toni tells Betty Jughead’s been lying about hanging out with the Serpents at school and accuses Betty of being a privileged Northsider. It’s a mess, but Jughead and Betty do talk about the issues, which is good.
Towards the end of the episode, Betty reveals that she’s scared to share the letter from the Hood because she thinks Archie will be mad at her. Umm…OK. Archie is also crazy, so…? **shrug**
I can see where this is headed now. Jughead and Betty are having a hard time because Jughead’s been at a new school for two days and hanging out with Toni. Now Betty’s scared Archie’s going to hate her because she probably still loves him. What a mess. I know that passing around boyfriends and girlfriends is a trope of the teen drama (XOXO, Gossip Girlll), but I don’t like it here.
Betty remembers where she knows the cipher from and rushes with Jughead to the library. Combing through the stacks, Betty says, “When I was a kid, I used to check out this book obsessively.” It’s a Nancy Drew activity book and I’m jealous I never had it when I was a kid. Nancy Drew rocks, y’all. The code says, “I will strike next where it all began.” TOWN HALL, Betty and Jughead cry in unison, where Betty delivered her speech! They go and tell everyone at a town hall meeting to GET OUT. Then they tell the whole deal to the mayor and Sheriff Keller. This is not the most nuts thing to happen in this episode.
Archie & Veronica
Archie is really starting to unravel, and I think Veronica is along for the ride. The town is in a tizzy over the Red Circle video and are scared of what will happen with these new vigilantes in town. I think they’re missing the point of how ridiculous the video is. Who could be scared of it?
Anyway, Fred Andrews demands that Archie take the video down and Archie says he has but TOO LATE, IT’S THE INTERNET. THE INTERNET IS FOREVER.
Veronica features heavily in this episode, yet she doesn’t actually do much except remind us how flawlessly she can wear a cape. Early in the episode, Hermione tells her she can’t date Archie anymore while Hiram looks kind of smug. YOU SUGGESTED VIGILANTE JUSTICE, HIRAM. Veronica tells her parents they can’t tell her what to do. Yeah! You tell em, Ronnie!
Instead of talking to Archie about how bonkers he’s being, Veronica doubles down on her loyalty to him and gets a bunch of Red Circle t-shirts emergency printed. She gives them out to the whole school so they could show their support. To be honest, it looks like a nice shirt and who doesn’t love a free t-shirt? I’d wear one even though the Red Circle is dumb dumb dumb.
As a team, Veronica and Archie have the power to produce a real Batman situation. With Veronica’s money and brains and Archie’s… aggressiveness… they could have a true superhero scenario! But no.
Hermione warns Veronica that loyalty is important, but blind loyalty is dumb. I agree with Hermione while also acknowledging that she’s being written in a mean way this season. Where is the loving mom we saw in season 1? Why does it seem like she’s out to get Veronica now? In a lot of ways, it seems the show’s writers are setting Hermione and Veronica up to hate each other as they compete for Hiram’s love. But is that really how father/daughter/mother love works? I mean, isn’t the type of love you have for your daughter different than the love for your wife? Shouldn’t there be enough for everyone? This is a plot that confuses and frustrates me.
Archie’s video continues to cause trouble. The football team is cancelled and tension between the Southside and Northside grows. Sweet Pea, the cutely named Serpent we met last episode, says that as an initiation ritual he wants someone to bring him the head of Archie. What. Doesn’t that seem a little… aggressive? Murder? The Serpents apparently love the Black Hood because he’s killing affluent Northside folks. Sweet Pea isn’t wrong.
All of the Northside/Southside stuff is VERY The Outsiders. Dilton is high key into all this drama and he says Archie should just kill the Black Hood himself. Mano a mano. So Archie takes to the streets in the Southside to spray paint some circles on stuff. That will show people! Before heading out, Archie gets supplies at a local arms dealer, who doesn’t question Archie’s TERRIBLE FAKE ID AT ALL. Do your job, sir.
The Serpents, led by Sweet Pea, come up and try to stab Archie for being on their turf, but Archie pulls his gun on them and they run.
At school the next day, the principle announces he wants to speak to Archie in the hallway (because this school is weirdly public and tells everyone’s business). Sheriff Keller and the principle search Archie’s locker for a gun because a bodega owner said he saw a red-haired kid waving a gun around. Archie is clearly the only red-headed kid in Riverdale (now that Jason’s dead), so it must have been him! He doesn’t have a gun in his locker, but he does have a black hood. Ooooooh! I guess they forgot that THE ENTIRE FOOTBALL TEAM was wearing black hoods in that dumb video.
In the middle of the night, Archie calls Veronica and asks her to retrieve his gun from a toilet, which she does. She tells him she threw it in the river though, because guns are scary and he shouldn’t have one. How long until that gun shows up again, you think?
The football team comes over to apologize to Archie, and as if on cue, the Serpents show up as well. THERE’S GOING TO BE A RUMBLE. The Northside boys and Southside boys agree to fight with no weapons, but Dilton gets stabbed and VERONICA PULLS THE GUN OUT. Everyone flees, Dilton gets to the hospital and prepares to lie to the doctors and say he was jumped by some Serpents, and Veronica and Archie throw the gun in the river for real.
This is one of the most insane episodes for Archie specifically. I’m not sure what the writers think they’re doing with him this season, but I admit KJ Apa is doing crazy pretty well. With all the rumors of on-set sleep deprivation and long days, maybe he was even feeling a little worn down himself.
Of course I still think it’s Hal, but Hiram and Hermione are acting shady as well. At one point in this episode, they say they knew Fred would be a problem. What? A problem to what? To WHO?
The gun plot seems a little weird to me too, and unaware of the present cultural climate. Guns aren’t a joke, and truly are frightening and dangerous, yet in the world of Riverdale they seem a little silly, especially when framed by the Red Circle.
I don’t like where the Betty/Jughead plot is going, but it doesn’t really matter what I want. The teen hearts want what the teen hearts want!
Let us know where you stand! Do you think love is dead now that Betty and Jughead are on the rocks? Do you think Archie needs a gun? What is Hiram planning? Why is Hermione so mean?!
Write us an email, a comment, or grab us in real life and scream into the void that is RIVERDALE.
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The authors of this blog are four women with opinions about pop culture. That's all you really need to know.