Riverdale ep. 18 recap “Chapter Eighteen: When a Stranger Calls”

Well, kids. That was dark one.

This past week, I introduced my husband to Riverdale and I had a chance to watch the entirety of season 1 for the second time.  And I have to say, season 2 is definitely shaping up to eclipse last season’s mystery.

“Chapter Seventeen” left us in suspense about what exactly the Black Hood wanted from Betty. And surprise, surprise the answer isn’t anything nice. The Black Hood begins to manipulate Betty, telling her that he will kill Polly next if she tells anyone about their contact.

So Betty tells Archie. Technically, the Black Hood only singled out Betty’s parents, the police and Jughead.

But poor Archie is dragged into a mess bigger than he’s ready for. Actually, it’s really not a nice week for him at all.

Veronica, now with an active role in Lodge Industries, is asked to show around her old friend Nick St. Clair around Riverdale. His parents are potential investors in the Lodges’ building site, so Veronica needs to treat him like a prince.

But Nick is a shadow of Veronica’s old, bad girl past. When Nick arrives, he’s clearly there to stir up trouble. Archie immediately takes a dislike to the guy, probably because he seems to bring out the worst in V.

As Veronica is distracted, Betty gets pulled down further into the darkness that is Black Hood. With his second call, he tells her to publish the article that he emails to her. If she complies, she will be rewarded with an answer to a question she asks him. When she and Archie look at the email, they see a picture of a young Shelly Johnson Alice Cooper.

Rather, it isn’t a picture, but a mugshot of Alice from her Southside Serpent days. Though Betty initially plans to not follow through, she does after her mother claims that Betty faked her letter from the Black Hood for attention. Sheriff Keller divulged that the handwriting on Alice’s letter and Betty’s do not, in fact, match.

With the information published, and Alice’s reputation essentially ruined, Betty gets her first question: “The face under the hood – would I recognise it?” To which the Black Hood replies yes. He then tells her that he wants Betty to start cutting people out of her life, starting with Veronica.

Nick goes to Riverdale High to meet the Pussycats. He invites them and Cheryl to a party at his hotel, along with Betty, who reluctantly agrees. At the party, Nick pulls out more jingle jangle. Veronica, not vocal about how boring she finds Riverdale, agrees to take the drug. And eventually, the rest of the room caves as well (including Archie).

The only kid abstaining is, Betty, who watches the party as she sits alone. When Veronica tries to coax Betty into joining in on the fun, Betty begins to call Veronica out.  She tells Veronica that she only hangs out with the kids from Riverdale because of her circumstances (which, to be fair, is probably true of most people – not just former New York socialites).

Veronica is hurt, and the B&V friendship is seemingly over and done with. In the next call, the Black Hood says he will stop his killings if Betty shows her devotion to him. And to prove that, he tells her she needs to cut Jughead out of her life.

When Archie confronts Betty, she admits that she had more phone calls from the Black Hood, which she had been hiding from him. She begs for him to break up with Juggie for her. And he does.

But while in the Southside, Archie runs into his little Serpents friends from the fight. He then learns that Jughead is in the midst of becoming initiated into the gang.

Jughead’s decision to join them came after Toni told him that his dad basically kept the peace between the North and Southside of Riverdale. Thinking he can fill his Dad’s books, Jughead completes his initiation tests and becomes a fully-fledged Southside Serpent.

With Betty out of the way, Toni makes her move on Jughead, who actually seems quite pleased.

Meanwhile, Veronica’s parents throw their soiree to raise money for their project. Unbeknownst to the St. Clairs, Veronica fought off Nick’s advances the night before. But the boy is seemingly on his best behaviour, even apologising to Veronica.

(Oh and Alice shows up in a ridiculous snake-themed outfit and I cry because she’s the actual goddess of evil and I love it.)

Though Nick proves himself to be even more poisonous than a serpent. He drugs Cheryl Blossom’s drink, and drags her away from the party. Thankfully Veronica and the Pussycats notice Cheryl’s odd behaviour and follow them.

They enter Nick’s room just in time to stop him from potentially raping Cheryl. The girls then proceed to beat the shit out of him. Betty is called to meet them, and is told about what happened.

That night, Betty gets another call from the Black Hood. She tells him that she only has one more question for him: who is he? He tells her to go to an abandoned house where she finds a box. Inside is a black hood, and over the phone the Black Hood tells her to put it on and look in the mirror. He tells Betty that they are just the same.

Later, after meeting with Veronica, Cheryl and the other girls, the Black Hood calls for a final time. He tells her that he knows she’s been confiding in Archie. Because she’s betrayed him, he is going to kill Polly. She begs for him not to, but he demands a name in return. The name she gives? Nick St. fucking Clair.

Last week I said that I thought Hal Cooper could be behind it as he fits the profile, but what if it’s actually the long-lost Cooper brother? Making Betty put on the hood might have been simply symbolic, or the killer was trying to draw attention to their matching green eyes. Last season Betty said her brother would be in his mid-twenties. But what if he’s just really, really rugged?

So, that’s probably a long shot. But I’m NOT giving up on my Cooper theory!

Riverdale really pulled something incredible with this episode. It could possibly be one of the best thus far. In the top three for me, certainly. Watching Betty’s slow, spiral into isolation is truly horrible to watch.

And really, the dynamics between the characters is getting complex. The children are for once more interesting than the parents, who absolutely stole the first season.

If things are looking this bad already, what the hell is in store for these kids for the rest of the season?

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