Riverdale ep. 20 recap “Chapter Twenty: Tales from the Darkside”

Right. First things first: I didn’t intentionally write about Tales from the Darkside on Wednesday because of the title of this episode. I didn’t plan it, but I like it. Fate is smiling down on me today.

But let’s not focus on that. Let’s talk about The Candyman himself: Tony Freaking Todd, ladies and gentlemen!

Following the death of the Candyman (not Todd, but the English teacher), the Black Hood leaves a letter on Pop’s Chock’lit Shop door. In the letter, he asks the citizens of Riverdale to prove that they’ve changes and are pure of heart. If the don’t please him, they’ll pay. This week’s episode took on an unusual anthology style in which we follow the cast throughout those 48 hours of judgement.

The first, follows Archie and Jughead as Penny Peabody calls for Juggie to repay the favour he owes her. She tells him that his father has been beat up in prison by some angry Ghoulies, and he needs money for his medical expenses.

Penny wants Jughead to make a delivery of “pancake mix” for her. When it’s delivered, Jughead’s cut of the money will go to FP’s bills. He agrees, but has to drag Archie into the mix when Penny tells him the shipment will need a car.

Jughead tells Archie that it’s just a one-time deal, just as Penny has told him. In it together, the boys go to pick up a large crate from a shipping container. Along the way, though, Archie’s dad’s truck gets a flat and they have to decide how to get help.

A truck pulls to the side of the road in front of them, and out pops the good old harbinger of doom. The man (played by Todd) offers to take Jughead in exchange for money. Jughead hops into the truck and leaves with him.

Along the way, the man Jughead that man of the people in Riverdale think that the Black Hood is doing God’s work, as confirmed by the angry preaching coming from his radio. He then tells Jughead about another murderer, the Riverdale Reaper.

Meanwhile, poor Archie is left alone where he’s able to get a spare from the service company. But before he’s able to catch up with Jughead, he sees a bloodied deer emerge from the woods. Which is pretty strange, considering that Jughead finds a dead deer in the back of the man’s pick-up.

The man tells Jughead that he wants to eat and they sit down together. When Jughead inquires about the Riverdale Reaper, the man tells the story about family who were all murdered in their beds one night. No one is quite sure what happened to the person who did it, but the man believes that the Reaper and the Black Hood could be the same people.

What happened then is happening now.

But when they try to leave, the man tells the waitress that Jughead will be paying, despite the fact that he knows Jughead already gave him all his money. Before a fight can break out, Archie arrives to pay. He takes Jughead away and they make the delivery.

When there, they’re greeted by a woman in a wheelchair. She says that Penny said that Jughead will be the regular delivery boy, and that the Serpents have taken over the work the Ghoulies were doing.

Later, Jughead goes to visit FP, and sees that his father is perfectly fine. When Jughead confronts Penny, she tells him that FP didn’t keep a promise he made her, which means Jughead has a lot of work to do for her to make up for what his dad did.

In the second story, a rare spotlight is shown on Josie McCoy. They Mayor is angry with her daughter for staying out late. The two women have moved into the Five Seasons in order to be better protected.

But Josie is keeping a fair amount from her mother and the Pussycats. After helping save Cheryl from her would-be sexual attack, Josie is being showered in the Blossom good fortune. Cheryl managed to get Josie studio time with a producer. That is, without the Pussycats.

And she keeps receiving strange letters and the like from what Cheryl calls Josie’s secret admirer. And that, she keeps secret from her mother. Though neither really works out for Josie. The Pussycats eventually learn of Josie’s time in the studio, and they quit.

Chuck approaches Josie and asks her out. While she initially resists, she goes out with him. He tells her that he’s been taking drawing classes to draw comics (like his original comic book counterpart) and he’s been going to church. Her mother catches them out late at Pop’s and forbids Josie from seeing him.

Mayor McCoy admits that she’s been receiving death threats, and that they started to also include Josie. The next day, Josie receives one more note she believes is from Chuck: a drawing of her, and a pig’s heart in a box. Cheryl urges Josie to point the finger at Chuck, and the weak girl complies.

Despite the fact that Sheriff Keller doesn’t find any evidence against him, Chuck agrees to stay away from Josie. So all alone, Josie has no one. No one, that is, except for Cheryl – who is a remarkably good artist.

And Sheriff Keller is at the heart of the third story, starring B&V. Betty’s suspicions are immediately raised when she begins to question how exactly someone could break into the sheriff’s station to murder Mr Phillips.

Kevin explains to Veronica  that his dad has been acting strangely: sneaking out late and talking to himself. That, to Veronica spells out affair. But to Betty, it says Black Hood.

Veronica agrees to help Betty, and asks Kevin if they can have a slumber party at his house. Thanks to Betty’s urging, Veronica sneaks around the house and finds Sheriff Keller working out in the basement. Large and strong, like the Black Hood.

That next day, Veronica tells Betty that the sheriff left the house that night and didn’t return until 4 in the morning. When Betty shows V that there was another drug-related death that night, she feels convinced she’s cracked the Black Hood’s true identity.

She goes to the Keller house where she’s caught snooping through the sheriff’s things. Sheriff Keller takes Betty to the station where he speaks to her and her dad. The sheriff explains that the hood Betty found had been the one found in Archie’s locker. He also tells her that he has an alibi for every one of the murders.

But Betty is not to be moved off course so easily. She (again) convinces Veronica to agree to one of her plans and they follow Sheriff Keller when he leaves his house in the night. Only it isn’t killing the man is into.

They follow him to a sleazy hotel where they catch him making a move on Mayor McCoy. It seems that Veronica’s instincts beat out Nancy Drew’s for once. At Pop’s the girls both agree not to tell Kevin what they saw.

But while Jughead and Archie, Betty and Veronica, and Josie and Cheryl sit in their respective booths, Pop Tate receives a phone call. When the call ends, Pop informs everyone there that it was the Black Hood. They had all failed his test, and the time of reckoning will be upon them all soon.

Riverdale is pulling off something spectacular at the moment. Unhindered by setting up relationships, the show has somehow reached a new level of television excellence. Any initial hesitation I ever had about recommending the show has been long out the door.

Teen shows rarely make a blip on the radar of what most people would consider “good television”. But this show has been proving over and over again that teenagers have been well-deserving of intelligent, witty content. This week’s episode only solidified that sentiment even further.


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