“He says that we’ve failed his test, that we’re all sinners, and the reckoning is upon us.”

After a Thanksgiving break, Riverdale is back, and darker than ever as the Black Hood issues the town an ultimatum that could be the difference between life and death.

The episode opens with a rather grisly PSA-style announcement, warning us of the upcoming violence from the Black Hood, and the three tales of sin that will make up this week’s instalment. Riverdale is shaken to its core as the Hood has left a note stuck to the door of Pop’s – why Pop’s? No one knows, but it seems to be the venue through which the killer is spreading their many warnings.

In the letter the Hood offers the town a choice – show they’re pure of heart, and he will no longer kill; but continue to sin, and he will bring vengeance upon them. So, naturally, everyone in town continues as usual, taking no notice of the threat, and embroiling themselves in scandal after scandal. And so we come to Part One‘Archie & Jughead.’

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After Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) drag race which landed all the top-level ghoulies in handcuffs, gang-related tensions are high – and when Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan) brings him in and explains that FP (Skeet Ulrich) has been beaten up by imprisoned ghoulies, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to raise the money that will help get his father out. Including delivering a crate full of drugs across town. And, desperate to make amends for his betrayal at the race, Archie (KJ Apa) promises to help him. A blown tyre, poorly done CGI deer, scary ride and old eastern European lady later, Jughead sees the so-called ‘Snake Charmer’ for what she truly is, a manipulative liar who will do and say whatever she has to in order to get her way. Worse than this, Jughead’s one-off delivery is set to be many more, when Penny reveals she has a video of him and Archie making the drop-off, which she’ll give to the Sheriff if he tries to back out.

Part Two brings with it a closer look at an often-overlooked character – Josie (Ashleigh Murray). Playing music in the deserted school, like a low-budget horror movie, Josie is working on songs alone, when a pretty creepy janitor appears. We’ve never seen this guy before, and yet his presence is immediately unsettling, for no real reason, however Josie is getting a lot of weird messages – like ‘I’ll be watching you’ stuck on a teddy bear – which apparently isn’t that worrying, as when she’s asked whether she’d been receiving any threatening messages, she says ‘no.’

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‘Tales From the Darkside’ also brings with it the division of Josie and the Pussycats, as it is revealed that Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), after being saved from her would-be attacker by Josie, has made it her mission to help the budding singer in her mission for stardom – but only her – leaving her fellow bandmates feeling more than a little hurt at her secrecy. And things go from bad to worse for the leading pussycat, as her secret admirer takes things to a terrifying new level, with more threatening messages – oh, and a pig’s heart in a box. But, it seems that this ‘secret admirer’ could be a lot closer to her than she thinks.

As though to systematically cross off every one of the fan theories surrounding the identity of the Hood, ‘Tales From the Darkside’Part Three: ‘Betty & Veronica’ – sees detective Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) turn her sights to the town’s Sheriff, after questioning how the killer could have shot the Sugarman when he was in the station’s holding cells. Speaking with Kevin (Casey Cott) B&V find out that Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) hasn’t been eating or sleeping, disappearing at night and talking to himself. Not suspicious at all.

Each girl has a different idea of what is keeping Keller up at night – Betty believes he is the town’s serial killer, while Veronica (Camila Mendes) suggests that he is having an affair while his wife is stationed overseas. So, in true teen drama reconnaissance, Veronica plans a sleepover at Kevin’s house, in order to snoop on his dad – which she does – and we discover just what Keller’s been hiding – a chiselled torso. And also an affair.

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Betty finds herself presented with solid evidence to prove that Keller isn’t the killer, leaving her back at square one again, this time with no contact with the Hood. And while she’s slowly making her way through her list of suspects, the Hood is cultivating a list of his own, as a phone call to Pop Tate (Alvin Sanders) signals the beginning of a new crusade for the killer – he warned the town to cease their sinning, but they didn’t listen, and now he’s out for blood.

VERDICT:

With the Hood vowing to punish Riverdale for their sins, it seems that no one is safe, and their time is running out to identify the mystery man before it’s too late. Riverdale is really ramping up the darkness, not only figuratively, as the show is beginning to channel more of a classic noir vibe, giving a new depth and danger to the show.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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