Riverdale – Chapter Seventeen: The Town That Dreaded Sundown
By: Tara Donahue
The opening narration by Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is about serial killers and the different places they’re associated with. Now, Riverdale seems to have their very own psychopath – The Black Hood. At the library, he’s checking out books about these different serial killers. For research, of course. Just not for school. The librarian thinks the serial killer and The Red Circle video are both terrible things going on in this town. She isn’t the only one, it seems. Prompting Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens) to set an emergency Town Hall meeting.
Archie (KJ Apa), on the other hand, is only going further into darkness on his quest to avenge his dad and stop The Black Hood. He’s in the woods, doing some target practice with his gun.
Elsewhere in town, Veronica (Camila Mendes) is being interrogated by Hiram (Mark Consuelos) and Hermione (Marisol Nichols), who are upset over Archie’s video. She knew nothing about it, but she isn’t jumping to any conclusions until she gets his side of the story.
At the Cooper’s, Alice (Madchen Amick) and Hal (Lochlyn Munro) are questioning Betty (Lili Reinhart) and upset about Polly (Tiera Skovbye) leaving.
Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) is sitting in the kitchen at home, watching the video on his phone as Archie comes home. He questions his son about it, but Archie says he was just trying to send a message. Fred worries that he’s going to make himself a target instead. He wants Archie to remove the video where he can see him do it. He already did, but it’s too late. People are sharing it.
At Southside High, Jughead hangs up with Betty as he approaches the table of Serpents. Sweet Pea (Jordan Connor) shows him the video Archie made. Fangs Fogarty (Drew Ray Tanner) is needing to earn his Serpent stripes and they think taking out this Northsider is just the way for him to do it. Jughead tries to talk them out of it by telling them going after The Black Hood would be better. But Sweet Pea doesn’t agree. He’s targeting Northsiders who blame the Southsiders for everything. The Black Hood is doing their work for them and they think he’s a hero.
Across town at Riverdale High, Veronica approaches Archie to let him know her parents want her to break up with him. She doesn’t care what they think except when she happens to agree with them, like now. He just wants her support and tells her that Hiram was the one who basically gave him the idea.
Called to Principal Weatherbee’s (Peter Bryant) office, Archie is reprimanded for the video. He also takes the football team away until The Red Circle is disbanded and a letter of apology is written to the community of Riverdale. Archie doesn’t budge though. He says it’s a crazy time and they all have to do what they think is right.
In the newspaper office, Kevin (Casey Cott) comes in to talk to Betty, only to discover that she’s received a letter from The Black Hood. The killer says he’s doing it for her. Her words at the Jubilee inspired him and he’s enclosed a cipher telling where he will punish the next so-called sinner. Kevin wants to tell his dad, but Betty is only willing to turn over the cipher, not the letter itself.
Alice, now in possession of the cipher, takes it to Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) who will contact a cryptologist in Centerville. But Alice has already published it so the whole town can help crack the code.
Reggie (Charles Melton) and the rest of the football guys are in the locker room and not happy about the team being suspended. They want him to sign the letter, but Archie refuses. If they disband, it makes them seem weak and helpless. He wants to go to the Southside, since Alice thinks the killer is from there, and draw him out. But Reggie’s done and so are the rest of the guys. Dilton (Major Curda) hangs behind. If Archie’s going to do this, he’s going to need a few things and he knows just where to go. But he has to go after dark.
Veronica finds her father in the study and asks him about what he and Archie talked about when he was there. Hiram doesn’t remember. Veronica knows how trusting, innocent and earnest her boyfriend is. This makes him impressionable and vulnerable to manipulation. But Hiram says he doesn’t remember and he has work he needs to get back to.
Toni (Vanessa Morgan) finds Jughead reading his books and, it turns out, she is also a true crime buff. They decide to team up to crack The Black Hood’s code. He ignores a call from Betty, but texts her to tell her he’ll talk to her tomorrow.
Archie’s leaving when Veronica shows up, apologizing and offering her support. We see him a bit later, going into a store with a list and a fake ID to buy some ammon, a holster and a kevlar vest. All for hunting, he claims.
The next morning, Betty stops by Jughead’s on her way to the library. She’s going to get some books to try and help crack the code and wants to work together. He tells her how he and Toni have been working on it and they can share what they’ve figured out so far. She asks about Toni’s love for serial killers too and seems a little jealous before suggesting they all work together – a code breaking party with her, Jughead, Toni and Kevin.
Veronica proves her willingness to support with her new Red Circle shirt. In the hallway, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and the other River Vixens are passing them out to everyone. Now, it’s no longer a fringe group of radicals, but a movement.
Later, at Jughead’s, the code breaking party is going on and Betty swears the symbols look familiar. She thinks she’s seen them before, but can’t figure out where. Toni suggests maybe she should loosen her ponytail. It’s a joke, but the tension is clearly there. Betty takes out the ponytail nonetheless and they all talk about their thoughts on the killer. Toni gets defensive when it’s brought up the Northsiders are being targeted and things get a little heated between her and Betty. Toni also discloses that Jughead sits with the Serpents at lunch and hides it from her. After that, she and Kevin decide it’s time to leave. Jughead tells Betty he just sits with them for survival, but Betty just wants to focus on the cipher.
On the Southside, Archie is spray painting a Red Circle symbol when Sweet Pea and the other Serpents find him. A knife is pulled, but Archie pulls out a gun and the Serpents run off.
Betty wakes up at Jughead’s, freaking out because they fell asleep together and she’s going to be in trouble.
At school, Principal Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller want to talk to Archie. They got a phone call from a shop owner on the Southside who saw a Riverdale student with red hair waving a gun around. Archie claims he was home, in his garage working on songs. They want to search his locker. There’s no gun, but they do find a black hood and Archie says he can explain.
Sometime later at home, Archie is telling his dad it’s Reggie’s hood. He’d shown up wearing it as a joke to scare him. Fred’s at a loss over his son’s behavior. He’s been banned from school property and considered a threat and Fred can’t really argue with that given Archie’s behavior lately. The man who shot him is still out there, playing games with the town and that scares him, but not as much as Archie does right now.
Veronica is reading in her room, when Hermione comes in. She tells her that loyalty is honorable and noble, but blind loyalty is stupid and dangerous. She just prays that isn’t the case with Archie.
Jughead comes to return some notebooks Betty left at his place. He found the letter and questions her about it. He wants to know why she hasn’t told anyone. It’s because The Black Hood says Betty inspired him. She isn’t worried about anyone blaming her but Archie. Jughead assures her that Archie might be upset, but he knows who the bad guys are and she’s not one. He tells her she’s like “Nancy Drew meets the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and that makes her realize something. She thinks she might know how to decode the cipher.
Archie calls Veronica to retrieve the gun he hid in the back of the toilet of the school bathroom. She isn’t happy to hear how he wants to kill the Black Hood. Archie wants him to come after him, it doesn’t matter what happens to him. But Veronica tells him it does matter. She’s trying to support him by making the shirts. He didn’t ask for that, but he did ask her to go get the gun. She tells him she threw the gun in the Sweetwater River.
Reggie and the guys show up at Archie’s with pizza. He didn’t rat Reggie out for the hood and that made him loyal. Now they want to keep the Red Circle going. Just in time, too. The Southside Serpents show up at Archie’s to fight. Veronica says no weapons or she’ll call Sheriff Keller.
At the library, Betty used to check a book out obsessively when she was a kid and she thinks The Nancy Drew Secret-Code Activity Book is the key to decoding the message.
The Town Hall emergency meeting has kicked off and Mayor McCoy has heard and shares the town’s concerns. She’s made it her priority to ensure safety for the town and the children. Sheriff Keller has a plan, starting with a town wide curfew. But Alice feels they need to show strength, not cower down. The real problem is the Southside and she wants their school shut down and use the money to bolster the Police Department.
Betty decodes the letter and they figure out The Black Hood will strike where it all began. Jughead points out her speech was at Town Hall.
Fred says there’s all the talk about the town being divided, but Alice Cooper is the one holding the cleaver. The Southside isn’t the issue, the guy with the hood and the gun is. Hermione and Hiram talk about how Fred was going to be a problem, but the town loves and trusts him and it could work in their favor.
Meanwhile, the fight is in full force between the Serpents and football team. Betty and Jughead rush into Town Hall to tell them they’ve managed to decode the message and everyone needs to leave. The lights go out and Betty pulls the fire alarm, people start evacuating.
One of the Serpents pull a knife and starts going for Dilton, but Archie can’t get to him because Sweet Pea has him on the ground, kicking him. A gun shoots into the air and it’s Veronica. Everyone starts running and we see that Dilton has the knife sticking out of his leg.
As Archie drives him to the hospital, they come up with a plan to tell. He’s going to say he was minding his own business when the Southside Serpents attacked him for no reason.
Back at the Andrews’, Veronica is cleaning and bandaging Archie up. He says things got out of hand and she saved Dilton. And him. She apologizes for lying about having the gun, but he worries that if he’d had it, things might have been worse. Veronica doesn’t believe he would have, even if he would have had it. He isn’t a killer.
Together, they go to Sweetwater Bridge and toss the gun over the side. Across town, as the episode comes to an end, Betty gets a phone call and it’s The Black Hood.