Riverdale S02E03 Review: The Watcher in the Woods – We get it, Hiram is shady!

So it turns out that Riverdale did not introduce us to Midge (and reintroduce us to Moose) just to kill them off in the same episode. That would have been messed up. Bold, but messed up just the same.

Instead, Moose shielded Midge. He still got shot, but he’s alive.

Also alive is Polly, whom I was wondering about last week. I tend to forget that more time has passed in our world since we last saw Riverdale, so Polly isn’t as hugely pregnant as I’d thought she’d be by now. What she is, though, is scared.

That’s because Black Hood has dropped off a manifesto at the Coopers’ house, since Ma and Pa Cooper run the local paper (if you forgot). I’m a little more concerned about the fact that the package apparently wasn’t mailed. So he was at their house. On their front porch.

Like, that’s scary enough, but think of the forensic possibilities. I’m talking to you, Coopers, who all got your grubby fingerprints all over the letter.

Anyway, in his missive, Black Hood, who’s enclosed Fred’s wallet and Ms. Grundy’s sunglasses, claims to be a mission killer who’s after sinners. The adulterer, the child predator [thank you again for acknowledging that], and the drug-addled teens. As Polly is unwed and pregnant with her late cousin’s baby, she figures she’s in the top 5, at least, of Black Hood targets. So she packs up to go stay at a farm out of town.

Inspired by a comic book, everyone’s favorite simple boy decides to start a high school neighborhood watch group called the Red Circle. It’s mostly just them driving around aimlessly, although Archie does get to comfort Ethel once she’s menaced by a circling van, until Hiram encourages Archie to take a different tack. Fight fear with fear, basically, because that always works out well. This ends up in Archie and his red hooded gang making a PSA for Black Hood that comes off more like weird fetish porn. WHY ARE THEY SHIRTLESS?!

Also living dangerously is Kevin, who’s taken to running Riverdale’s cruising spot, Fox Forest. That’s how Midge and Moose were saved so quickly—Kevin was in the woods when he heard the shots. Betty pleads with him to stop being so reckless when there’s a killer on the loose—and even Cheryl gets involved—but he doesn’t stop until a man tries to give him a ride home. Kevin imagines himself getting in the car and then getting a knife in the gut for his troubles, so he waves the man on and just goes home. I know it’s hard for Kevin to find someone in a little town like Riverdale, but Betty and Cheryl and his dad, who sings the same tune as the girls, are right. You gotta keeps your wits about you in a situation like this. We’re worried about you, Kevin, because we care. That’s no reason to gray rock Betty, even if she did tell your dad what you were up to.

Also, I forgot that Moose was bisexual and in fact, was hooking up with Kevin in the series premiere.

Across town, Jughead has started school at Southside High, where kids–*five second long sigh*–jingle jangle right out in the open and where he immediately starts trying to revive the school’s paper, the Red and Black. He’s still trying to stay out of the thug life, as encouraged by FP and Betty, but he’s already feeling the pressure. The Serpents at school war with the Ghoulies [I love comic book names] and Toni (Vanessa Morgan), his Serpent-aligned peer guide, warns him that the Ghoulies would love to take out FP’s son. He tries to walk a lonely road, but ends up slithering over to the Serpents once the Ghoulies catch him alone in the school and beat him up. But was that really the Ghoulies? It’s shot so we see only Jug’s shadow, not who’s actually beating him. Also, he was in the school so late because he was working on an article about how the Ghoulies facilitated Cliff Blossom’s drug pipeline. That’ll go over well.

8/10 – The Lodge scenes still drag for me—we get it, Hiram is shady—but the Black Hood business has actually served to add some menace to the show. His motives are very questionable, though, and by that, I mean his choice of targets. There are actual criminals in the area, after all. So what’s he really after?

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  • callmeishmael

    Do you really think Polly is a likely target? Her transgressions just don’t seem on the same level. I don’t want to rule out Alice, just because she seems like the type who would be “cleaning up” Riverdale in an over-the-top way, but I don’t know how possible that really is. TV shows in the past have taught me not to rule anything out though! Although they’ve also taught me that when a show spends a lot of time focusing on a bad person, they’re usually not the real villain. So I think all this mess with Hiram is just a distraction.

    • Salome G

      I don’t necessarily think she’s a target, but I can see why she’d think she is. I could see Alice doing it, because I could see her as the killer last season, but I hope it’s not her. I enjoy her rigid bitchery too much. In the preview for next week, Betty says Black Hood’s doing it for her, and there’s some speculation that perhaps he was inspired by her speech at the Jubilee, about how they should do better for Riverdale. Or it could just be Chic. PLL’s conditioned me to expect long-lost siblings to show up and be crazy.

      On the other hand, I’m curious as to how BH could have known about Fred and Hermione. The Ms. Grundy “secret” was known to anyone who attended Jughead’s birthday party last season and could have easily spread beyond that. And if you go down to a lover’s lane, you’re bound to find ~SCANDAL, but F/H’s relationship was pretty quiet.

      • callmeishmael

        Yeah, I guess so. Oh yeah, Alice has always been suspect to me. But I totally know what you mean – I’d love for her to stick around forever and have her frigid behavior be just that. Nonetheless, I think it would make sense, especially with the hint given in the preview. But here’s to hoping! And here’s to hoping it’s not Chic, but girl, I’m with you. PLL has conditioned me for that mess too. Let’s just be grateful he’s not a twin, yeah?

        Besides, it totally looks like a male and, unlike with PLL, they are not afraid to state the gender. The face definitely looks like an adult. I think the other Cooper might be of interest: Hal. He looks the part, in my opinion. If Betty hasn’t learned her lesson about writing stuff down in her journal, then that could be a source of information for him. Sheriff Keller is another option since he looks the part as well and the BH in the books has history with the police force. He also would be privy to certain information, especially after his investigations last season. Maybe there’s a warped sense of justice there or he feels like he can’t keep the town safe within the limits of the law since these criminals aren’t acting within them either.

        I’d really like for BH NOT to be a Cooper though, or a Lodge. It would make the show seem too focused on their families. Like the DiLaurentis and Hastings. I know, I have a serious PLL problem but it seems like we are in the same boat. I got bored when they stopped involving the other families in major ways.

        • Salome G

          Yeah, unless they’re planning to do some kind of [PLL style!!!] foolery where the unmasked Black Hood could not possibly be the person we’ve seen, it’s a man and likely an older one at that. Some people have pointed at the guy sitting next to Alice at the Jubilee, ’cause he’s got the same eye bags. Now that I’m studying the screenshots, he doesn’t look like a regular character. He kinda looks like Hal and he kinda looks like Sheriff Keller and he kinda looks like the guy at the Jubilee, but I wouldn’t testify to any of it in court.

          And Alice has to stick around because every time she says Jughead, my heart grows a size larger.

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