The Riverdale mid-season finale left the characters with simple answers, but the series at a cross roads. Was the Black Hood really revealed in such a dismissive and unsatisfying way? Considering Betty’s gaze as the episode drew to a close, it would seem things are far from over. But Jughead’s narration, usually omniscient, suggests otherwise.
So what are we left to think?
No matter what, one thing seems certain, Betty will have to locate the other men in her grandfather’s photo. The assembled group, plus Cheryl’s Nana Rose, are the people responsible for the death of a traveling preacher Mr. Svenson identified as the Riverdale Reaper. But if he always doubted his identification, then the group buried an innocent man alive. Also chilling: the prospect that the Reaper has been around all this time. Whether an innocent man needs justice or Betty’s need to tie up loose ends takes hold, the other three men must be found.
I already suspect Pop is one of the men in the photo. He’s the right age, the Black Hood began his reign of terror at Pop’s, and there’s definitely a black dude in the photo. It all suggests he’s been withholding something this whole time.
Meanwhile, revealing Svenson as the Black Hood comes with a number of problems. One: the character was introduced two episodes ago, which is really bad plotting if he is the real killer. Two: Archie ruled him out as a suspect last week because his eyes were not the ones Archie recalled the shooter having the night his father was attacked. This memory — and the close-up of those eyes — has been a key piece of evidence throughout the case. But in order to make Svenson stick, Archie had to dismiss his memory and tell Veronica that her instincts were right.
Or was there more to Archie’s quick-cut flashback when Sheriff Keller pulled of the mask?
The wrap-up at Pop’s offered further explanations about Svenson which felt unfulfilling. Beside Archie doubting his memory, we had him saying the janitor could have seen him and Ms. Grundy flirting in the music room. He could have known about Betty’s Nancy Drew fixation and Moose’s Jingle-jangle date with Midge. Considering how definitively Riverdale answered the Jason Blossom murder, resolving the Black Hood with a bunch of could’ves leads to two possibilities: the show has entered an era of terrible writing or there is another Black Hood on the horizon.
I’m inclined to believe the later as the show has been smart with its murder plot until now. Also, the Svenson solution flies in the face of the way show built up the killer. So much so, in fact, you have to wonder if Riverdale has another original sin to deal with.
But let’s ponder these things as we enter the winter break and take a brief look at upcoming episodes. Southside High is going to close, Alice Cooper is going to find her son Chip and Jughead is going to rebel against whatever you got.
Riverdale returns January 17th on The CW.