Well, we knew he had to come back eventually. The solution to the Black Hood case always felt like a pause button being hit or an extremely ill-conceived conclusion. For all the build-up in the preceding episodes, his identity had to be bigger than a janitor introduced an episode or two prior to the big reveal. When the school janitor was found under the hood, it took a lot of air out of the show’s momentum.
But now he is back. And considering that he started calling Betty again — an aspect of the case even Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) was not privy to — it is the real deal Black Hood and not a copy cat. Which definitely reshuffles old assumptions about the suspect list and even the janitor’s role in the previous string of attacks. For one thing: his time at the orphanage overlaps with the time Alice’s (Madchen Amick) son was there. Oh, and that son is not Chic (Hart Denton). So … sort of scratch him off the list even if we’ll be coming back to him in the moment. Ethel (Shannon Purser) is almost immediately dismissed as a potential suspect by the show, but it is important to consider how that consistent dismissal could be motivation enough for her or her father to lead a rampage. Sheriff Keller was also on the original list, his kind eyes look very similar to the ones Archie (KJ Apa) saw at Pop’s, but his anguish over the return of the case and being forced to resign his post seems pretty damned genuine. It’s almost enough to pull him off the list.
Then there’s Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro), the person the show wants us to consider for the next week. So many of my thoughts about the Black Hood center on the time he forced Betty (Lili Reinhart) to put on a black hood. Over the phone he said, “we are the same.” At the time, I took that to mean we would ultimately see Chich revealed as the Black Hood, but maybe the family connection was generational. Hal is part Blossom, which means he can be prone to theatrics and bouts of insanity. Is it possible the Black Hood is a suppressed persona he is unaware of even if the Black Hood is aware of his connection to the Coopers? Then again, his sinful ways of late could just make him a juicy target for the Black Hood. Nonetheless, it’s tough to ignore the Black Hood’s attempt to convince Betty that they are the same or that his offer to deal with Chic is the thing Hal wanted all along: Alice’s illegitimate son gone.
Presuming, of course, that Chic was not the Black Hood’s agent all along. Consider the things he knew about in his big phone call to Betty. He knew about the murdered drug dealer and Chic’s life in the flophouse. It is possible that Chic told the Black Hood all of these details because they’ve been in cahoots the whole time. The offer to deal with him was just to extract him from the Cooper home. The fact we didn’t see the Black Hood capture Chic is very telling; almost as telling as the final shot of Betty wondering about her father.
Her willingness to hand Chic over to the Black Hood reflects the very strange sense of justice in Riverdale. Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), having decked out the River Vixens in black outfits, intends to find justice for Midge Klump her way. Veronica (Camila Mendes) figures out her own game to capture Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips), whose kidnapping of Archie was itself an attempt at recourse. Then there’s Archie’s stated desire to kill the Black Hood and “make his bones” with Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos). Fold all of that into Keller losing his position and you have a very lawless town.
And let’s ponder that lawlessness as we watch a preview of next week’s show. Betty admits to being the same as the killer while he sets his sights on the next sinner: Fred Andrews (Luke Perry).
Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.