Riverdale – Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Woods
By: Tara Donahue
Jughead’s opening narrative, this time about the warning every fairytale comes with regarding going into the woods alone, shows us Kevin (Casey Cott) walking through the woods and meeting up with a guy he starts kissing. Seconds later, gunshots ring out and Midge (Emilija Baranac) comes running up.
Veronica (Camila Mendes) is bringing coffee to her dad, but Hermione (Marisol Nichols) stops her, reminding her about the rules. Hiram (Mark Consuelos) says those were the old rules. Veronica wants to invite friends over for the season premiere of “The Bachelorette,” inner circle only, and to meet him. He gives her permission.
Archie (KJ Apa) is at football practice when Reggie (Charles Melton) comes up to tell them about Moose and Midge being shot at Lover’s Lane. Practice is cancelled.
Kevin is telling the gang about what happened the night before. He tells them he was “night jogging,” but it doesn’t seem like Betty (Lili Reinhart) believes him. Archie says now they can all agree there’s a killer on the loose. Betty reminds him they don’t know that all three crimes are related. Veronica: however, wants to focus on what matters – Fred, Midge and Moose are alive and there’s a new season of “The Bachelorette” on tonight. She invites them over to watch and meet her dad. They will be there. Reggie interrupts, telling Archie he’s going to see Moose at the hospital and asks if he’s going. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) has to leave too in order to meet his peer mentor at Southside High.
Betty knows Kevin wasn’t night jogging and wants the truth. He told her he was cruising Fox Forest. She gets that he’s hurting from the breakup, but it’s dangerous out there. She makes him promise he won’t go back.
Archie’s at the hospital asking Moose (Cody Kearsley) about the attacker. He had a black hood on and his eyes were blank, like there wasn’t even a person behind them. Midge explains that he had the devil’s eyes.
At Southside High, Jughead meets his new peer mentor Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan). She gives him the tour and he asks about the school paper, but it no longer exists. She points out some kids in the hall doing “jingle-jangle”. It’s a highly addictive gutter drug and the school is crawling with it. As they enter the cafeteria, she tells him about the Ghoulies, a rival gang that deals drugs. Toni, as it turns out, is a Southside Serpent. It’s why she volunteered to give him the tour. Jughead doesn’t want to sit with them and tells them he self identifies as a loner, not a pack animal. He just wants to put his head down and get through. Hanging with the Serpents is his best bet, otherwise the Ghoulies will prey on him.
At the Andrews house, Archie’s talking to Fred (Luke Perry) about the incident with Midge and Moose. He says maybe they should get a gun, if the sheriff’s not going to take it seriously. Fred wants him to ease up and just let the cops do their job. He doesn’t want guns in the house.
Over at Veronica’s, the gang is hanging out and Archie is ranting about the lack of police help with this case. Jughead is amused. “Archie going Travis Bickle is my favorite Archie yet.” Archie just doesn’t want anyone else getting hurt. Hiram and Hermione stop in to meet everyone on their way out to dinner. He overheard the conversation and says that sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Before leaving, he invites Archie over for dinner later in the week.
Later, Archie’s in his garage and we see he has a gun hidden in a box, beneath some comics. One of those comics is The Red Circle.
Veronica is polishing silverware when Hermione comes in, telling her not to push the Archie dinner thing. She says she’s not, Hiram invited him. Hermione thinks Daddy wants to please his little girl and Veronica wants Daddy’s approval. She wants things to change overnight, but there’s no need to rush and be so thirsty.
Archie’s having a meeting with a group of guys, telling them they’re under attack and it’s time to do something about it. He wants to start a watch group to focus on the population of Riverdale High. He doesn’t want violence, just a patrol. “An extra circle of protection around them,” he explains. Not vigilantes, watch dogs. “We’re called The Red Circle,” he says and from now on they’re protecting their own.
After class, Jughead approaches Mr. Phillips (Robert Baker), asking about the school paper. He said drugs and gangs came to the school and no one was interested anymore. Jug’s interested and he has experience. Mr. Phillips will read his articles and let him know.
Betty finds Kevin and wants to know why he didn’t come to Veronica’s. He tells her something came up and she questions him about the woods again. Kevin tells her for years he’s listened to her go on about Archie and now Jughead and this is none of her business. He leaves and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), who was listening to the whole thing, comes up. She tells Betty that Kevin used to be a lonely, awkward fat boy with acne and in his mind he still is. He wants validation and connection, even if he has to find it in the woods with a killer on the loose. And even if Betty doesn’t approve.
Veronica invites Archie over for dinner. It’s a big deal and a test for her dad to see if he can just be a dad for one night with no agenda other than getting to know someone who’s important to her.
Betty comes home to see that her mom, Alice (Madchen Amick), has gotten a letter from the Black Hood as he’s calling himself. He admits to the shootings at Pop’s and Lover’s Lane and the murder in Greendale. He sent Fred’s wallet for proof. Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) reads the letter out loud and Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens) wants to know how real the threat is. He asks Alice not to publish the letter as it would cause panic. Unfortunately, she’s already sent it to the printer for tomorrow’s front page.
Mr. Phillips read Jughead’s work and will open the Red & Black paper on two conditions: no gangs and no jingle-jangle. He can write about them, but that’s it.
At Riverdale High, Sheriff Keller has found the flyers about The Red Circle and tells Archie he can’t let them form a militia. Principal Weatherbee (Peter Bryant) tells him it’s a school club saying, “You can’t fault students for wanting to protect each other.”
Jughead asks Toni to be the paper’s photographer. Sweet Pea (Jordan Connor) comes to see if she wants to go to the quarry. He invites Jughead, but he declines and Sweet Pea tells him not to come to them when the Ghoulies come for him.
Polly (Tiera Skovbye) is leaving Riverdale because it’s not safe and elsewhere Kevin is visiting Moose in the hospital.
Veronica is polishing silverware and Hermione comes in, trying to warn her about Hiram. She won’t admit she thinks he’s dangerous and Veronica reminds her that she’s the one who welcomed him back.
Archie and Reggie head out for their night patrol and Jughead is alone at the newspaper office when Betty comes in to bring him a coffee pot. He tells her he’s figured out the drugs are coming from the Ghoulies. As they kiss, Toni shows up to bring coffee, too. Great minds.
Hiram tells Hermione he heard everything she said to Veronica. If she wants to destroy her own relationship that’s fine, but don’t poison her against him.
Cheryl sees Kevin going out running again while Archie gets a phone call from Ethel (Shannon Purser), who was being followed by a van while she was walking home. He goes to help her.
In Fox Forest, Betty and Cheryl (who called her) confront Kevin. He’s understandably angry and tells Betty if she can’t accept what he does, then they really aren’t friends.
Jughead is leaving the school, but he’s attacked and we hear sounds of him getting beaten.
Fred asks Archie about dinner at the Lodges and tells him to be careful because Hiram is also his business partner and he’s the type of person who would find a way to be offended.
The next day, Betty tries to get Jughead to stay home from school, but he tells her it was just a motorcycle accident. Toni assures her she will keep an eye on him. After Betty leaves he asks Toni not to tell and she tells him they warned him about the Ghoulies and now maybe he’ll take them seriously. He says he will now.
Archie is having dinner with the Lodges and Hiram asks him if he’s had rum, inviting him to try their signature label. They go to his study alone and Hiram gives him the protective dad speech before bringing up The Red Circle. He tells him the Black Hood is waging a war based on terror and fear and those should be Archie’s weapons, too.
Betty tries to contact Kevin, but he’s not answering his phone or his door. We see that he’s in Fox Forest again. He approaches a guy in a car, who offers him a ride. When Kevin gets inside, the guy stabs him and we hear Betty’s warning echoing in his mind. It turns out he was just picturing what could happen and instead declines the offer. The guy gets angry and tries to make him get in the car, but Kevin runs away. At the Keller’s, his dad is waiting. Betty told him what Kevin had been up to and he’s worried. He knows there’s certain things they don’t talk about, but maybe it’s time they start trying. They hug.
Veronica wants to be involved in the family business and Hiram reluctantly agrees.
Jughead joins the Serpents for lunch instead of sitting alone while across town Archie is recording a video message for The Black Hood. He’s there with the rest of The Red Circle. They’re all wearing red hoods, except for Archie. He warns that they’re coming for him and they’ll hunt and end him. Hiram is watching and seems pleased that his words resulted in this action.