One of my favorite things in storytelling is when multiple stories are told separately but they end up having various ways of connecting along the way. I've already been enjoying Riverdale Season Two this time around like a bunch of metal-heads at a Guns N' Roses reunion concert. And the fact that they kept with their developing plotline of their enigmatic killer The Black Hood while taking a different approach in how they chose to tell this week's episode was like an early Xmas present from the CW Network.
The beginning of Episode 7 starts off like the lead-in from an old horror movie from the sixties with words scrolling down the screen and a voice-over explaining that there will be three tales told in connection with the "Black Hood Murder" that has struck terror in Riverdale. A letter from TBH has been affixed to the door of Pop Tate's Chock'lit Shoppe and this takes us right into the diner where Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) begins reading it aloud. The Black Hood boasts how he took out the "drug dealing child-killer" and now he is giving the town a test over the next 48 hours. The townspeople must prove they are "pure of heart" or he will unleash his wrath upon them again. Good luck folks!
We find Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) being loving and cuddling in bed as she talks about how she thought she was actually saving Mr. Phillps life by getting him sent to jail. Instead, TBH still found him and shot him dead but she wonders how he was even able to get to him inside the station? You can see her Nancy Drew mind working when Jughead gets a call from Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan) and has to leave to meet her. Remember that favor she said she would ask him for? She's "calling it in" as she puts it.
He meets her at Pop's Shoppe (of course!) and she tells him that his imprisoned dad FP (Skeet Ulrich) got assaulted by some Ghoulies in the shower and is now in the infirmary. Jughead goes into panic mode and asks how they can get him out and she says he needs money. But of course, this kid is in high school so he doesn't have any money! So Peabody tells him that if he does her the favor of a one-time delivery to Greendale that she'll use his cut of the cash to help out his dad. What are the contents of this crate though? She is evasive with her answer and just tells him "pancake mix." Something tells me that Peabody isn't planning on doing a grand style breakfast buffet. Either way, he has no choice and before you can say "chili fries" Jughead gets Archie (K.J. Apa) to borrow his dad's truck and are on the road to delivering the crate to Greendale. Our first Tale has begun.
Title Card: Archie & Jughead
Now, of course, we know that these two guys can't just go about this task without some kind of problem happening. Where is the horror movie theme without that? While they are driving along, well on their way they suddenly get a flat tire. And just as bad luck would have it Archie doesn't have a spare-what a dummy. Now considering what the contents of the crate are they can't just call ANYBODY to come help them. But thankfully for them, before they even get a chance to use their lifeline and "phone a friend" another random truck comes along and pulls over. When the driver gets out, (guest star Candyman's Tony Todd) his subtle and eerie manner of speaking brings the exact amount of haunting fear that fits this genre. He tells the boys that he's willing to take the crate to Greendale but he can only take one of them as a passenger so Jughead goes with him and Archie stays behind with his a busted tire until he gets help.
On the road, Jughead is listening to the radio and there are people who sound like preachers and are praising The Black Hood for doing what they feel is God's work. They eventually pull over to get gas and then the driver says he's starving and wants to get some food at the local café. While they are there the driver tells Jughead a tale of his own about the Riverdale Reaper. The story goes a man lost his marbles one day and broke into a home of a family of four killing them in their sleep. The rumor is maybe he left Riverdale or maybe he's still in town hiding out all this time. The only thing missing from this story is the crackling flames of a campfire in the man's eyes as he recites his words. The check comes for the meal and as we've already established Jughead doesn't have any money. When the waitress flips out on them, the driver threatens to run off and take the crate with him. But in a moment of awesome timing, Archie shows up at the café and offers to pay the check. They get the crate from the driver's truck and get back on the road post haste. It's 11:52 so they only have eight minutes to make it!
When they get to their destination at a warehouse, they are greeted by an old Russian woman in a wheelchair being pushed along by a man in a long black coat and sunglasses. The two characters look like leftover ideas from a David Lynch film. They are wearing black berets and are not happy with Jughead for being late with the delivery. When she comments that it better not happen next time, Jughead mentions this is only a one-time thing. The old woman corrects him and says they have an agreement that he is the new driver for the Serpents since they are taking over for the deliveries for the Ghoulies. Well, FP did say not to trust that Peabody!
Back at Pop's Jughead thanks Archie for his help but then also asks him if he thinks this Riverdale Reaper might be an actual lead on The Black Hood. Archie offers to help him follow it up another time but he is more concerned with Jughead being stuck in this new deal with wheelchair lady. In the morning, Jughead decides to go visit his dad in prison when another surprise happens because when he sees FP there's not a mark on him! Furious about being tricked he confronts Peabody but she shows him how she has security footage of him and Archie taking the crate into the warehouse and she'll use it if he doesn't obey her. Apparently, FP had made a promise to Peabody before he got locked up and never made good on it so now his debt falls to Jughead. Damn, this lady is one serious bitch.
Title Card: Josie
In our second Riverdale Tale, we find Josie (Ashleigh Murray) playing some music on the keyboard at school after hours. The janitor tells her he needs to lock up so she tells him she'll "slip out the side door as usual." When she gets home her mother Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens) is NOT happy that she stayed out so late. She's worried about Josie's safety with TBH out there and says she's going to get a deputy to help protect her unless she starts coming home before dusk. So Josie agrees to the curfew to keep her mother happy.
Back at school the next day, Josie is talking to Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) about her mother stressing her out over her fear of TBH. And the problem with that is stress causes her vocal chords to swell up and she'll lose her voice. Plus on top of it, she feels guilty for working on solo songs without the Pussycats and she's worried that will make her a sinner in the eyes of TBH. But Cheryl does deliver her a small amount of good news that she sent a copy of one of her songs to a music producer and he liked it so much he wants to give Josie studio time. But unfortunately, JUST Josie herself. Cheryl still feels she owes Josie a debt for saving her from the sexual predator Nick St. Clair and is trying to repay her with this favor. Hate to bring it up but there was more than one girl that helped Cheryl out that night but I guess she has her reasons. When Josie opens her locker there is a little-stuffed bear inside that has a note reading "I'll be watching you" which you would think she should be freaking out about considering Cheryl mentions it's the third one that week. But she just dismisses it as a "secret admirer" and goes about her day. This girl is either very brave or just completely clueless.
Later on, while Josie is practicing her keyboard skills an unfortunate blast from the past comes in Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway) who has some crazy gumption to ask her out on a date. Disgusted by his offer she quickly turns him down and also reminds him what a pig he is from the terrible actions he had towards women last season. That night at the school, Josie is getting a "eucalyptus steam" for her voice and after she is done is visited by the two members of the Pussycats. They have been tipped off by someone about her solo work and see it as Josie trying to ditch them. She tries to explain that's not what's going on but they won't hear it and tell her she is now on her own. As she is leaving the dark and vacant looking school she literally bumps into Chuck and being a little freaked out at the moment asks him for a ride home. Being a smart guy Chuck takes this opportunity to have them stop at Pop's on the way home for some milkshakes.
While at Pop's, Chuck tries selling Josie on the fact that he's changed from how he was before. He's going to church and taking art classes because he wants to draw comic books (how ironic). Chuck likes a song that comes on the jukebox and asks her to dance. I guess his little sales pitch worked because she accepts and they have a little moment of fun in the middle of Pop's until her mother walks in. She is very upset with Josie because she has been texting her for hours with no response. Chuck tries to calm her down by saying he was about to take Josie home and he is quickly shot down by the Mayor telling him to stay away from her daughter.
Back at home, Mayor McCoy tells her daughter that she has been getting death threats lately from people who are emboldened by TBH and the last one particularly mentioned harming Josie. Sheriff Keller asks if Josie has been receiving any threatening packages or letters lately but she tells him no. The next morning at school, Josie tells Cheryl everything from the night before and Cheryl tries to tell her to stay away from Chuck but she thinks he's really trying to change. They go into the music room where there is a package for Josie in the middle of the room because apparently, no one else seems to ever go in there. Anyway, she first unties a rolled paper and it's a hand-drawn picture of her that says "If I can't have you, no one can." And if that wasn't enough to set off the red alert alarm it comes with a box. Inside of the box is a bloody pig's heart!
Cheryl and Josie take this straight to Chuck and accuse him of being behind all these gifts she's been getting and being her stalker. Chuck can barely get even two words in during Cheryl's speech to say he doesn't know what they are talking about. The janitor has been in the room the whole time listening to their accusations and all of a sudden is the head of security as he grabs Chuck and says they are going to the principal's office. Sheriff Keller would later tell Josie and her mom that Chuck has been ordered to stay away from her but after searching his locker could not find any actual proof that he was behind any of it.
We see Josie sitting at her keyboard playing and singing along to the song "Spooky" by Classics IV when The Black Hood comes up from behind to spin her around and slit her throat open. But it's all a nightmare as Josie wakes up in her bedroom grasping for her throat. She's so hysterical that she can't even speak to her mother who runs in to comfort her.
Now here is where everything gets REALLY weird. We are shown Cheryl sitting on her couch listening to the same song on her headphones and is finishing up drawing a picture of her and Josie together in the same exact style as the one left with the package. Cheryl is the one who has been harassing Josie this whole time but what the blue blazes why? She has been showing how appreciative she was for Josie saving her from Nick and now she's gone off the deep end. Hope they develop this story more!
Title Card: Betty & Veronica
We're at Riverdale High and Kevin (Casey Cott) is telling Betty and Veronica (Camila Mendes) that he is worried about his dad lately because of this whole Black Hood manhunt is really taking a toll on him. He says his dad isn't eating or sleeping and keeps leaving at random hours in the middle of the night. When the girls discuss this scenario later they each have their own theories being that Betty thinks he's TBH and Veronica is convinced he's having an affair.
So the dynamic duo goes about trying to prove their own theories with Veronica suggesting she do a sleepover at Kevin's and Betty heads over to talk to Sheriff Keller. Betty claims she's working on a story for the school paper and asks him how TBH was able to get inside the station to murder Mr. Phillips. Keller says he was away on patrol and the TBH broke in while the officer on duty had fallen asleep. Well, that about it covers it so Betty doesn't really have much to go on.
Over at Kevin's house that night, he is showing Veronica how to play a game that looks very similar to Dungeons & Dragons which is not really setting off her excitement meter. She gets a call from Betty who tells her to state looking around for clues about Keller being TBH since she's already there. After no luck getting into his office since it's locked she heads to the basement. As she was assuming the basement would be unoccupied she soon discovers Sheriff Keller is down there working out and he seems to do it quite often because the man is really in shape! As Keller notices her and asks what she's doing she just tells him she was looking for something to drink and the upstairs fridge was empty. Keller provides her with a soda from the one in the room and so now the awkward conversation happens as Veronica comments on how good of shape the Sheriff is in. He says he does it to stay disciplined and not for vanity and then she drops a deliberate comment on how stressed he must be dealing with TBH investigation. She continues by mentioning how his wife has been stationed far away and that must be very difficult for him. Thankfully before this conversation can get any more inappropriate Kevin shows up and interrupts them.
When the two girls meet back up at Pop's the next morning, Veronica tells Betty she saw Keller leave in the middle of the night and not return until 4 am. Now with her suspicion even higher, Betty decides to investigate the Sheriff even more by waiting until he leaves and then using the hidden spare key to get inside his house. She breaks out a bobby pin from her hair and picks the lock to this private office. Once inside she discovers a whole wall with TBH newspaper articles and pictures from the crime scenes on it. I do think all of this would make sense though since he is THE SHERIFF. Betty continues to snoop inside the drawers of his desk and finds an actual black hood in one of the drawers. The only problem is that the Sheriff has decided to come home and he discovers Betty!
Keller calls her father and has him meet them down at the station where he explains to both of them that he has the hood because it's the one he took from Archie's locker a few weeks ago. To prove his innocence, even more, he shows Betty his log book so it shows his whereabouts during each of the murders. He is even a nice enough guy to tell Betty he won't mention what she has done to Kevin since he knows it will really upset him. But even after all of that, Betty still feels he's up to something. So she calls Veronica and she agrees that she'll still help her out-for Kevin's sake. They wait outside Keller's house in a car that night pulling an old-fashioned stakeout. Sure enough, eventually Keller comes out, gets in his car, and drives away. The girls playing their best Cagney and Lacey follow him to some neon light decorated hotel. He gets out of his car and goes up to one of the rooms as the girls do the same to get a closer look. Veronica decided to show up in black thigh-boots has got to make her the sexiest investigator ever. When the door opens it's none other than Mayor McCoy and she and Keller embrace in the hottest big kiss this side of a Cinemax movie. Points go to Veronica!!
They head over to Pop's where they discuss not only their shock at what they've just seen but the fact that they have to keep this a secret from Kevin because it will be too terrible if he found out. The timelines would crossover again as Archie and Jughead come inside the diner and sit on the opposite end. The girls decide to leave them alone because they look very focused on something else. Good call ladies. Also, we see Cheryl comforting Josie and her messed up vocal cords in a couple of booths behind them.
As Jughead leaves to go visit his father, Pop (Alvin Sanders) gets a phone call from TBH. Pop relays his words and says they have all failed his test and now, "The reckoning is upon us." No surprise as there was definitely a good amount of sinning in this episode!
I know we haven't even made double digits in the episode numbers yet but this was my favorite one of the season thus far. The three stories had a similar theme but each one had their own originality to it. We got some fun surprises and it ended with a good cliffhanger that should make next week very interesting. I'm also very happy they gave the character of Josie some decent screen time for once as I think her character repeatedly gets underused each week. What do you think TBH's plan is? What's going to happen with Jughead's role with the Serpents? And does Pop Tate sleep in the back and never leave that diner? We'll see soon on The CW!