“There’s only one man I’m interested in bringing down. The Black Hood, once and for all.”

After the disappointing insanity that was last week’s musical episode, this week brings back some of the mystique that made the first season of Riverdale so interesting. Well, sort of. In reality, a lot of this week’s twists and revelations were ones that fans nailed week’s ago, so the moments that should have shocked us, fell a little flat. Though the theme of the show is returning to the dark, mysterious tale we began with, the writing seems to have gotten a little lazy of late. Underestimating the performance of the actors, there has been an influx of unnecessary verbal explanations in this episode, spoonfeeding the audience information where the reactions of the actors would have been more than enough to communicate the message.

Last week’s shocking final moments saw the Black Hood’s ominous return, that brought with it Midge Klump’s (Emilija Baranac) unfortunate demise. So, naturally, this week’s episode opens with the entire town gathered for her funeral, including the River Vixens in black cheerleading uniforms (because nothing says memorial like cheerleaders) led by Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) singing Carousel’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” which would have been incredibly touching, if not for the association it has in the UK of being Liverpool’s football anthem, thus robbing it of a lot of the sentimental value. However, with the shocking murder of Midge comes the question of the Black Hood’s identity – if it wasn’t creepy Mr. Svenson, who is the serial killer?

(Side note: It’s almost definitely Hal Cooper.)

Everyone is taking their anger out on Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) calling for his resignation as he has let a killer get away, but it all seems a little harsh, considering Keller seems to be the only cop in Riverdale and there’s a disproportionate amount of crime for such a small town. “Prisoners” marks the first time anyone in Riverdale has actually considered that just because Svenson was wearing a black hood, it doesn’t mean that he was the Black Hood and apparently Svenson had to have cut off his own finger, because the real Black Hood couldn’t have done it. For a bunch of kids who (kind of) solved a murder in Season 1, they seemed to have lost their Mystery Gang senses this season. Archie (KJ Apa), who mentions for the thousandth time this season that he looked the Hood in the eye, finally gets his ‘I told you so’ moment, although considering he’s probably been closest to the killer and still can’t pinpoint a suspect, it isn’t all that helpful.

Elsewhere, Archie’s day goes from bad to worse when he is kidnapped by Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips), who demands a $1 million ransom from the Lodges for Archie’s safe return – highly overvaluing how important the redhead is to any other Lodge than Veronica (Camila Mendes). Determined to make himself everyone’s least favourite character in Riverdale, when Nick finds that Veronica doesn’t have all the cash, he insists that the only way she can make it up to him, and ensure her boyfriend lives, is to have sex with him.

Friendly reminder that these characters are meant to be 15 or 16 years old.

In a “shocking” twist, “Prisoners” reveals that Chic (Hart Denton) isn’t actually Alice’s (Mädchen Amick) child, Charles, at all – to which his terrible defence is “I never said I was Charles, I said I was Chic” – and her son was actually a boy she turned away from her doorstep years earlier. More than that, this episode also confirmed the theory that fans have been sure of since the start (even if the show did try to throw us off the scent) which is that Charles Cooper was FP Jones’ (Skeet Ulrich) son all along – meaning Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) share a half sibling, which doesn’t really make them family, but it’s definitely weird. While the revelation itself was not surprising, kudos has to go to Amick and Ulrich who play their parts flawlessly, communicating the horror and heartbreak of the couple’s situation perfectly and though their scenes are comparatively small, they are certainly a highlight of the episode. With Chic’s true identity and knowledge of the Cooper’s crimes looming over the family, Betty is put in an unthinkable position.

When her phone rings with the Hood’s “Lollipop” ringtone, Betty knows for sure that Svenson couldn’t have been the Hood, or at least not the only one. The issue with this aspect of the story is that we’ve heard Betty’s phone ring in other scenes and it hasn’t had the same ringtone, meaning that the Black Hood has an assigned tone, which surely can’t happen with an unknown number – so, if Betty has the Hood’s number, why doesn’t she just give it to the police? Anyway, on the hunt for sinners as always, the Hood is desperate for Betty to hand over her “brother” so he can be properly punished and no one will have to know about the murder she and her mother covered up. Betty, in talking to the killer, is once again putting herself in a dangerous position, however can she really make a deal with the devil without any repercussions?

Maybe, if it’s her dad.

The episode’s final moments see Archie blinded by his hatred for the Black Hood. Worried that his dad will be the next victim, and not at all bothered by the fact Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) was going to let Nick kill him rather than lose face with the criminal underworld, Archie makes a shocking decision which is likely to have disastrous consequences for him and those he cares about. But will he be able to go through with it? With only 3 episodes remaining of this season, we don’t have much time to find out.

VERDICT:

It’s nice to see Riverdale returning to its murder mystery roots, however the show has become more than a little predictable of late, so hopefully the countdown to the finale will bring with it some real shocks that fans won’t see coming, or else fans may become disheartened by the decline.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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