Riverdale Analysis: Betty Cooper- Hitchcock Blonde and Object of Obsession

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Who is the Black Hood and What Does He Want with Betty?

At the beginning of the season and the Black Hood storyline, Archie and Veronica each wondered if the Hood was targeting people close to them, because Archie was connected to the victims and Veronica tends to assume her father is connected to most crimes in Riverdale, unless she’s given proof that he’s not.

Those assumptions turned out to be red herrings, and we soon discovered that the Black Hood is obsessed with Betty Cooper, who is a Hitchcock blonde, as Jughead told us last season. Polly and Alice are also Hitchcock blondes, and the Hood has some interest in them as well, but Betty’s virgin status, overall goodness and sleuthing abilities specifically seem to make her the object of the Black Hood’s desire.

The shooting of the Sugarman (assuming he was actually shot) takes away most of the suspicion that Betty’s stalker is an imposter. There’s a “romantic” side to the Hood’s obsession. He’s giving her gifts, being extremely possessive, and is inspired by her sexual purity. That sounds like someone who wants to own her. He’s attempting to use his favors and crimes as rewards and punishments to train her into submission to him.

A Hitchcock blonde is the kind of tall, icy blonde that Alfred Hitchcock favored for his leading ladies. The characters were independent, mysterious, duplicitous, and unexpectedly passionate. They were often objects of obsession in his films, and of Hitchcock’s personal obsessions in real life.

Hitchcock loved to mess with the minds of his blondes and dirty up their pure images, on and off screen. When he turned on them, it got ugly. As, one by one, the actresses each chose their personal lives over making another film, Hitchcock’s treatment of his lead female characters became darker and darker, while his treatment of each subsequent actress became more controlling. Hitchcock was destructively obsessed with his actresses, especially his final blonde, Tippi Hedren.

I believe that The Black Hood storyline is referencing Hitchcock’s on and offscreen obsession stories, especially the films Marnie and Vertigo. In both films, more powerful men are obsessed with Hitchcock blondes. In Vertigo, the man is a much older retired cop and in Marnie the man is wealthy, while both women are criminals.

The men are controlling to the point of trying to turn each woman into something she’s not, through blackmail or the threat of abandonment. One woman ends up dead, and the other ends up psychologically broken down to the point that she gives herself over to her blackmailer and psychological torturer. Not that she has much choice, with the blackmail material he has on her.

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In season 2 episode 6, when Betty visits Cheryl at Thistle House, Cheryl says to Betty, “I see right through you, Invisible Woman.” It’s an Invisible Man reference, referring to the fact that no one is noticing that Betty is in trouble, and also suggesting that the Black Hood is someone easily overlooked.

The Sugarman was in their midst, but blended in. The Hood is likely doing the same thing. It could be Smithers, who was obsessed with Hermione and her perceived goodness. As a doorman, most people walk right past him without a second glance. He would have met Betty when she visited Veronica, and gone sour on Hermione after she had her affair with Fred. He’s conveniently on leave from his job, giving him lots of time to devote to being the Black Hood and stalking Betty.

It could be that Hiram is obsessed with Betty but Smithers is doing the dirty work, since Hiram doesn’t fit the physical profile. Hiram came home from prison the morning after the Jubilee. He could have been lurking around town the night before, observing everyone and getting the lay of the land. It doesn’t seem likely that he’d talk about Veronica and Hermione the way the Black Hood does, but obsessions make people do strange things.

A not-quite-dead-yet Clifford Blossom, who’s “come to Jesus” now that he’s been reborn, would be an interesting twist. He’d be obsessed with Betty because she brought him down, allowing him to see the error of his ways. He’d also want to prove that she’s no better than him anyone else. Cliff loved the idea of Archie as a replacement son and Polly as the mother of Jason’s children. He might be going for the trifecta of Betty as an incestuous replacement daughter/wife/mother of his new family, once he’s done getting revenge making Riverdale a clean place to live.

The victims so far all have some close connection to Cliff or Jason: Fred and Cliff hated each other and fought over business. Grundy gave Jason “private music lessons”, which probably means that she had a sexual relationship with him. She may have given him advice about his father. Moose found Jason’s body at the river, opening up the murder investigation that ultimately led to Cliff’s demise. He was also on the football team with Jason. The Sugarman took over Cliff’s drug dealing business. If Cliff wants to make a comeback, he needs to get rid of the competition. Drugs led to Jason’s death, and Cliff’s death. He may sincerely want them out of Riverdale.

Tall Boy, Hal Cooper and Sheriff Keller are the other suspects.

It’s just too creepy to consider that Betty’s own father is obsessed with her this way, even though incest runs in the family. The Hood called Polly’s pregnancy the “sin in her womb”. If he thinks that second cousins having a relationship is incest, when genetically the overlap is infinitesimal and it’s legal virtually everywhere, then he certainly wouldn’t be obsessing over Betty this way. So I’m ruling out Hal Cooper for now. However, I think Hal might have been obsessed with Alice when they were teenagers. More on that in a minute.

Sheriff Keller fits the physical profile better than anyone other than Smithers. He would also be a very similar villain to Cliff. It seems a bit soon to be repetitive with the villains. Losing him would leave Kevin parentless and the town without a sheriff, two big holes in the show’s dynamics. On the other hand, the sheriff is happy to have Betty solve crimes for him, and Kevin mentioned his mother recently, so maybe he wouldn’t be hard to replace.

I don’t recall any hints that the sheriff is obsessed with goodness (other than the fact that he’s the sheriff). We’ve never seen the sheriff have any inclination toward being obsessive, religious, or having strict behavior standards. He mostly seems to be a “live and let live” person, until he can’t ignore something any more and has to arrest people. Chapter 20 looks like it contains an exploration of the sheriff’s character, so maybe I’ll update this if something huge is revealed. The preview seemed to imply a fetish of some sort.

That leaves Tall Boy, who’s actually a good candidate. The career criminal who objectifies purity is a stock character that Riverdale hasn’t used yet. Sending Tall Boy to prison or the morgue at the end of the season wouldn’t disrupt the show much. He would have seen Betty hanging around Jughead, especially if FP asked Tall Boy to keep an eye on Juggie while he’s in prison.

It was Tall Boy and the Serpents who stopped Betty from losing her virginity at the end of season 1, in episode 13. Then, the first shooting by the Black Hood happened hours later, when Fred was shot at Pop’s. But Archie, one of Betty’s best friends, was spared.

Tall Boy’s deal with the Ghoulies would seem to go against the Black Hood’s goal of cleaning up Riverdale. The potential merger may have been some kind of test of Jughead’s leadership skills. Tall Boy might be considering making Jughead his righthand man. Or he might just be trying to get rid of Jughead, in preparation for Betty’s capitulation to his demands. The arrest of the Sugarman makes the deal with the Ghoulies irrelevant. The Black Hood engineered the end of the Sugarman, so he knew that the deal with the Ghoulies wouldn’t take effect.

The Black Hood’s crimes are driving the current conflict between the Northside and the Southside. That’s good for keeping the gangs in business, as long as it doesn’t go too far. Taking out the Sugarman, a Southsider and drug dealer, balances the scales somewhat.

Fred fired the Serpents from his construction project, so Tall Boy has a motive for shooting him. Moose found Jason’s body, which led to FP being imprisoned. Grundy’s murder would have to be taken at face value for now. Unless Tall Boy is Grundy’s violent, obsessive ex-husband. She looked kind of like Betty. He could have a type.

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Whoever the Black Hood is, he’ll want Betty to eventually be his monster bride. That’s part of why she has to be driven crazy. The stalking and psychological torture are far from over. He’ll try to break her down psychologically, and eventually physically, until she’s so broken that she can’t say no to him any more.

The story behind Alice’s mug shot will likely turn out to be key to all of this, as well. Hermione also clearly knew the story, and was probably involved, which would be why Smithers originally took an interest, if he’s the Black Hood.

In the Hitchcock film Marnie, Marnie’s mother is a prostitute. Marnie is a thief who is blackmailed into marriage. It’s eventually discovered that she murdered one of her mother’s johns when she was a child, giving her phobias and making her sexually frigid. This gives Marnie’s obsessive husband enough to blackmail her for life.

Alice’s story won’t be the same as Marnie’s, but I’m betting that obsession and blackmail will play into it somewhere, perhaps even prostitution. We know that Hal was a relatively wealthy Northsider and Alice was a Southsider and a Serpent. Somehow, in high school, she ended up with Hal, pregnant with a baby Hal wanted her to get rid of, and with a mug shot.

Just a few years later, she and Hal were married, had two perfect children, and Alice had remade herself into the perfect suburban Northsider. Her past is never spoken of. Whatever happened, she grew to resent Hal, as evidenced by the constant insults she hurls at him, and allusions that he’s not much of a man.

But she stays with him, and he insists on staying with her. He couldn’t wait to move back home after she threw him out in season 1. It seems likely that there’s either blackmail material between them, or a strong bond forged by going through a huge crisis at the beginning of their relationship. The secrets involved with that crisis hold them together.

Either way, obsessiveness will be involved, and it will reflect forward onto the Black Hood’s obsession with Betty. The Black Hood may have been obsessed with Alice when she was a teenager. All of these suspects are Alice’s contemporaries, or older.

It’s a scary time for Betty. The Hitchcock blondes didn’t typically get happy endings. Hitchcock was a misogynist who resented that women had minds of their own, and made choices he didn’t agree with. His scripts were his way of controlling and punishing them, in more and more torturous ways.

TV writers today aren’t necessarily much better. We’ve already seen Betty cry and beg the Black Hood. We’ve seen her quickly capitulate to his demands based on threats to her family, when she couldn’t even be sure if the person on the phone was really the Black Hood. The self-confidence, intelligence, determination, and quick thinking in a crisis that we saw in Betty season 1 have already been eroded by the writers.

The storyline will likely get very dark, with the Hood finding ways to gaslight Betty and the people around her, in addition to the threats and manipulation we’ve already seen. As Betty falls deeper into the Hood’s clutches, it might fall to her friends to solve the mystery this time.

 

 

 

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