This week, Riverdale takes its episode title seriously, as it becomes an anthology show. The 3 subplots are split into separate stories, rather than intercut throughout the episode. We also have some fun with crime show references and the usual season 2 fright fest. Every episode is a Halloween episode this season.
We open with a 50-60s style true crime monologue and scrolling text, in black and white, complete with faux aging effects. Detective Joe Friday and his badge would be proud.
The Black Hood has left a note attached to the door of Pop’s with his latest set of disappointments and demands. Aren’t these things usually attached to churches or government buildings? Why is the Black Hood so obsessed with Pop’s? Plus, he’s seriously starting to remind me of the Church Lady. He makes so many more threats and insults than he actually goes through with, and he’s so worried about everyone else’s good behavior while he’s breaking commandments. He’s a slow burn serial killer.
The note reads: People of Riverdale- I have rid this town of the drug-dealing child-killer and others like him. Now you must choose your fate. The next 48 hours will be a test and I will be watching you very closely. Show me you are pure of heart and my work ends. Continue to sin, and I will take up the sword again.
For a serial killer, he’s very big on tests and choices. Most just walk in and kill people, they don’t make their victims work for it.
1: Jughead and Archie
Jughead and Betty are lingering in bed during the early morning. It sure looks like they spent the night together, but they probably just slept, while Veronica and Archie had several more rounds of semipublic sex all over town.
Betty’s obsessing about the Black Hood, since he turned the tables back around on her, after she turned the tables on him. She needs to find out how he broke into the police station to kill Mr Phillips. We’ll find out later that the night deputy was asleep at the time.
Their conversation is interrupted by a call from the Serpents’ dangerous snakecharmer, Penny Peabody. She orderss Jughead to meet her at Pop’s immediately. Bye bye, Bughead, it was nice to see you together for a moment. 👋🏽
Penny tells Jughead that the Ghoulies who are in prison with his dad used FP’s face to exact their revenge for what happened at the drag race. They need to buy FP’s way out of prison, now, because the Ghoulies aren’t going to stop. Jughead only has $18 to his name, so Penny offers to set him up with a “one time” delivery job that she just happens to have available that night. His cut of the money will get his dad out.
The package is a large, heavy crate, so Jughead asks Archie to help and bring Fred’s truck. It’s a “no questions asked” job for both, but questions aren’t really necessary to figure out what’s in the crate. They have until midnight to get the crate to Greendale and get out, before the evil creepy crawlies who live there come out to get them.
The drive is dark and spooky, because Riverdale gets spooky at night and Greendale sounds like it’s a hotbed of paranormal activity, akin to Midnight, Texas; Halloween Town; or Bon Temps, Louisiana. In other words, make sure you’ve eaten your garlic, stocked up on your magic talismans, and said your prayers before you go.
Archie and Jughead obviously miss this advice. Archie spends a few minutes pretending he’s Fred, and criticizing Jughead for things Jughead didn’t want to do, but couldn’t get out of. Then there are two bangs, and one of the truck’s tires goes flat. Archie and Fred don’t have a spare, of course. Don’t be ridiculous. Where would they keep it in that huge truck?
The first time I watched the tire blow out, it seemed suspicious. The second time I listened closely, and there are definitely two bangs. Someone shot the tire out. Probably the suspicious guy who’s about to pull up, but possibly a Ghoulie or Serpent who wanted Juggie to fail. That includes Penny, though I think she wants him as a minion. If she did it, it was a test.
A moment later, another truck pulls up beside them. Farmer McGinty gets out to see what he can do to help. But he won’t help without being paid, so Jughead turns over the $18. Jughead and the crate ride away with McGinty, while Archie’s left to wait for Triple C Emergency Services.
McGinty, who is played by Tony Todd, of Candyman fame, is an even worse conversationalist than Archie. He tells Jughead not to look under the bloody tarp in the back of his truck, and says he thought Archie was Jason Blossom. Then they listen to a fire and brimstone preacher on the radio, until McGinty starts rambling about some murders by a guy named the Reaper. It makes his blood run cold. McGinty makes the In Cold Blood reference I’ve been waiting for all season.
Archie gets his tire fixed and sees a bloody deer crossing the road.
When they stop for gas, Juggie can’t help but look under the tarp. He finds a dead deer. McGinty insists they go inside to eat. While he eats, McGinty tells Jughead that he has his hunting permits. He also talks about the Riverdale Reaper.
The story of the Riverdale Reaper is taken from the true story of In Cold Blood. An entire family of four was murdered in their home one night by intruders who broke in. The Reaper may or may not have been caught. The Black Hood may or may not be the same person, come back to cleanse the town again.
When the waitress brings the check, McGinty tries to pass the debt off as Jughead’s while he takes off with the crate. Archie shows up just in time. McGinty gets angry and calls them sinners who will feel the Reapers blade soon.
Archie and Jughead finish their “pancake mix’ run with the crate. The woman who meets them at the drop off point tells Jughead that according to Penny, Jughead is now the regular delivery boy. She knows his name, and tells him not to be late again.
Archie and Juggie run back to the truck, then recover at Pop’s. Jughead apologizes to Archie, and suggests they do more research the next day. But Archie’s day is already booked. He wants Jughead out of that world, but isn’t actually there to help him much.
As Jughead leaves Pop’s for a sunrise visit to FP at the prison, the phone is ringing at Pop’s.
Jughead is shocked when FP comes out to the visitors room. His dad is fine. Penny made everything up. Jughead confronts her. She admits that she manipulated him because FP made her a promise that he didn’t keep. Jughead will be making good on it instead. She has video evidence of Jughead and Archie delivering the crate. From now on, he’ll do what she says, and he’ll be polite while he does it. She’s just getting started with Jughead. Jughead looks like a trapped wild animal.
2: Josie and Stalker
Josie has taken to practicing alone at school after hours. She does have a guardian angel in the form of the custodian, Mr Svenson, who keeps an eye on her and leaves a door unlocked. Sometimes he keeps a very close eye. That’s right, kids, we gain a new candidate for the Black Hood tonight! He doesn’t seem tall enough, but heels will do wonders for a girl’s height.
Josie hurries home in the dark after practice and gets yelled at by her mom. Apparently no one in Riverdale has ever seen a horror movie, except for Mayor McCoy and Alice Cooper, who are the only two people to take the serial thriller threat seriously.
Josie confides in her BFF Cheryl that all of this stress is freezing up her vocal chords. Plus, she doesn’t like going behind the backs of the other Pussycats for the opportunity for studio time with a producer that Cheryl got her. Cheryl encourages Josie to seize the day.
Josie has a stalker who’s putting notes and gifts in her locker. No harm done yet, but it’s creepy with the Black Hood lurking. Speaking of lurking, Chuck Clayton, Riverdale’s resident sexual harasser, pops up in Josie’s practice room to tell her he’s different now, and ask her out on a date. She doesn’t react well.
Later in the cafeteria, Cheryl pressures Josie to get into the studio. Josie snaps at her that she doesn’t know who’s more controlling, Cheryl or her mother. Uh oh. Cheryl is just ever so grateful and messed up from her near rape by Nick St Creature, which Josie saved her from.
Now Cheryl’s imprinted onto Josie like a duckling, because no one has ever taken care of her that way before, especially since Jason died. The only thing she can do to show her gratitude is to help Josie’s career blossom. (See what she did there?)
Cheryl is sitting, standing and walking so close to Josie that they are generally touching, and finding a reason to grab her if they aren’t. She’s putting all kinds of thoughts into Josie’s head, not just career thoughts. Let’s hope she doesn’t start talking about sinners next. There’s entirely too much obsession with that on this show.
Josie goes to steam her vocal chords in the locker room (guess they have a sauna?) and runs into Val and Melody lying in wait for her. Someone put a note in their lockers letting them know that Josie is planning to go solo. They quit the Pussycats before she can leave them.
This is all starting to feel like it’s actually Josie’s nightmare.
As Josie’s leaving the deserted school, she hears loud thumping noises and panics. As she’s hurrying around a corner, she runs into Chuck. He gives her a ride, with a stop at Pop’s for some shakes and fries. As they talk, Chuck comes off as someone who really is trying to improve himself. He even gets the Pop Tate seal of approval.
He’s quite clearly the Black Hood’s next victim, so don’t get too attached. ☹️
Just as Josie and Chuck prove that there should be more dancing at Pop’s, the mayor and her constant companion the sheriff show up looking for Josie. Oops, Josie’s had her phone off for hours. The mayor throws a few choice insults at Chuck and drags Josie home.
The next day, Josie and Cheryl find a drawing and a gift box waiting in Josie’s practice room. It’s a detailed drawing of Josie that says, “If I can’t have you, no one can.” Cheryl insists that Josie open the box right away. There’s a bloody pig heart inside.
Josie heads straight to the student lounge to confront Chuck. The custodian, Mr Svenson, is there. He’s also been nearby for many of Cheryl and Josie’s interactions in their segment, and looked at them hard when there was a discrepancy.
Cheryl goads Josie into definitively stating that it was Chuck who was placing all of the gifts and notes in her locker. Mr Svenson drags Chuck away to the office.
Back at the Five Seasons Hotel, where Josie and Mayor McCoy are staying to avoid the increased death threats and hate mail she’s been getting, the mayor tells the sheriff that if Josie says it’s Chuck, then it’s Chuck. Sheriff Keller says that it might not be, since they couldn’t find any evidence to link him to Josie’s gifts and notes, but Chuck has promised to stay away from Josie.
Josie is in the practice room playing keyboard and singing the song “Spooky” again. Someone comes up from behind, carrying a large knife. She hears them and turns around. The person slashes her throat, killing her. Josie wakes up from the nightmare, unable to breathe or speak. Her mom tries to calm her down.
Cheryl sits in her own bedroom, drawing a portrait of herself and Josie together. It matches the style of the stalker.
3: Betty and Veronica
We rewind back to the beginning of the episode for Betty’s story, to catch up with her day after Jughead got the call from Penny Peabody. As we all probably guessed, she had a hunch that Sheriff Keller is the Black Hood. He’s a prime suspect across the internet, so no judgement here. A good investigator listens to the evidence without personal bias.
Kevin is worried about his dad, who’s acting like a different person lately. He’s talking to himself in the middle of the night, and even leaving the house. The Black Hood investigation is getting to him. The town is pressuring him for results.
Later in the segment we’ll discover that Kevin’s mom is in the Navy and stationed in Bahrain. Given that there’s approximately an 8-10 hour time difference between Bahrain and wherever Riverdale is supposed to be in the US, if the Sheriff is seeking support from his wife by calling her on the phone, it’s likely that many of the conversations would end up being at odd hours, since they both also work odd hours.
So I’m going to give Sheriff Keller a pass, for now, on talking to himself in the middle of the night. It could be that they’re building up to something with Kevin’s mom, either conversations about her returning home, or conversations about her or the Sheriff wanting a divorce. That would also give Keller good reason to be distracted and out of sorts.
As Kevin’s talking, Veronica asks him questions like a supportive friend, while Betty’s subtly interrogating him. After, Veronica is sure that Keller is having an affair, while Betty is sure that he’s the Black Hood. Or maybe he’s the Hood and having an affair.
Veronica is condescending to Betty, because she’s so sure that it couldn’t be someone they know. Her woman’s intuition is telling her so. Okie dokie. That would be the same intuition that was sure her father killed Jason Blossom.
interrogates interviews Sheriff Keller for the school paper. He’s weirdly forthcoming, sharing practically everything about the murder of Mr Phillips with her. Shouldn’t that evidence be kept under tighter control? Or is this the Black Hood sharing information with his pet? Or the sheriff hoping Betty can help solve the crime?
Veronica has talked Kevin into a sleepover at his house for the first time ever. He tries to teach her how to play a fantasy role play board game, but she’s cringing and practically runs when her phone rings.
Betty wanted to be invited to the sleepover too, but V wanted to keep it low key. Betty insists that V at least do some snooping. So V wanders the house a bit, finding locked doors. She ends up in the basement, following the sound of rhythmic grunts coming from the sheriff. Seriously, who follows that sound? What good could come from following a sound like that?
Luckily, she finds the best case scenario. The sheriff is half-naked, and working out with weights. He clearly does this a lot, if his muscles are anything to go by, but he’s all modest and blabbers about discipline and pushing his limits. Veronica actually goes there, and sympathetically exclaims that it must get super hard, with all the pressure. I don’t know what to do with the sexual tension generated here. Thank goodness Kevin interrupts.
A few hours later, Veronica sees Keller sneaking out while he thinks everyone’s asleep. So far everything fits her affair theory, but it also fits the serial killer theory.
In the morning, Betty decides a little breaking and entering is necessary to break the tie. She finds the sheriff’s murder board in his home office, and the hood he confiscated from Archie. Then Keller finds her.
As always, he has a soft spot for Betty. He calls Hal to pick her up from the station. He shows Betty his station log book which shows that he was on duty every time that the Black Hood struck. He promises not to say anything to Kevin.
Veronica and Betty follow Keller the next night when he sneaks out during the middle of the night. He goes to a cheap motel and knocks on one of the room doors. Mayor McCoy answers and they share a passionate kiss. Affair it is. Those two have been practically joined at the hip since the series began, and they both have absentee spouses. Their affair makes sense.
But, as Betty said, he could still be the Black Hood. The log book could be falsified. Two out of the three alibis would have involved him being alone or mostly alone for a long stretch of time, anyway.
The phone rings at Pop’s. It’s the Black Hood. The town failed his test. They’re all sinners. The reckoning is upon them.
Juggie refers to Betty as Poirot, as in Hercules Poirot, mystery writer Agatha Christie’s famed detective who appeared in numerous novels from the 1920s to the 1970s, including Murder on the Orient Express.
Jughead mentions to American Gothic, which has been an Americana painting, a horror movie, and a TV series about the family of a serial killer. Take your pick as to which one he meant. They all fit.
The milkshakes at Pop’s always look delicious, particularly the strawberry.
The mayor got letters from haters saying they would cut out her heart or slit her throat. Cheryl gives Josie a pig heart and Josie dreams of having her throat slashed. Are the letters part of Cheryl’s campaign to weaken Josie, and drive her into Cheryl’s arms?
Bughead make a much better investigative team than Betty and Veronica. Not sure why they aren’t investigating anything together this season, or why Jughead is deferring to Archie’s wishes on the matter.
Betty’s sweater game is stellar this season. The appliqués and collars are A+. The whole art department deserves credit for this episode. Each story was shot differently, with different cinematography, lighting and sound design. It was all gorgeous, as usual. The episode felt like an old Tales from the Crypt or Twilight Zone episode.
It would be plausible for the entire episode to turn out to be a dream. It had that quality to it, in the way it was shot and the way sound was used. All of the stories had a fake-out element to them.