Pep Talk: Riverdale Episode 203, "The Watcher in the Woods"

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Riverdale Watcher In The Woods

RIVERDALE tosses in another callback to the comics this episode as Archie (KJ APA) grows more anxious about the murderer on the loose. Now with Moose Mason (CODY KEARSLEY) and Midge (EMILIJA BARANAC) have both been attacked while parking (they're okay; Moose protected Midge with his body and took a bullet for her), Archie seeks a way to be more pro-active in his hunt.

Meanwhile, we learn that squeaky clean Kevin Keller (CASEY COTT) has been taking late night jogs through the local forest, cruising for gay hookups. He was doing this when he heard the gunshots involving Moose and Midge, and helped get them to safety. But his story doesn't ring true to Betty (LILI REINHART), who cautions Kevin against such activity, particularly with a fugitive on the loose. This causes a rift between the two friends, as Kevin feels like this is his only option for hooking up with other gay guys (although to be honest, for a small town, he hasn't had much of a problem so far in Riverdale).

Archie's plan comes from an old comic book he found in his garage (where he hid the gun he bought). The comic is called THE RED CIRCLE, a callout to Red Circle Comics who published the ARCHIE COMICS line of superheroes like The Fly, The Jaguar, The Shield -- and, yes, the Black Hood, who is even on the cover of the comic book Archie holds if you look carefully. (I suppose current political climes prevented him from taking on the name The Crusaders, which was the company's version of the Justice League). He recruits the football team as the members, and they patrol the town waiting for calls for help. They've distributed signs all around, and Sheriff Keller (MARTIN CUMMINS) is not happy. He confronts Archie in the hallways of Riverdale High to stop this vigilante activity, and is surprisingly rebuffed by none other than Principal Weatherbee (PETER BRYANT), who declares that the Red Circle is a school club.

The Circle gets its first call from Ethel Muggs (SHANNON PURSER), who gets followed by a mystery vehicle while walking home. Archie and Reggie arrive to help, but the mystery follower gets away.

But the killer's motives are no longer a mystery. An anonymous package has been dropped off for Alice Cooper (MADCHEN AMICK), containing the lost wallet of Fred Andrews (LUKE PERRY) and the sunglasses of the late Geraldine Grundy (SARAH HABEL), along with a letter declaring his intentions: he claims responsibility for the shooting of the adulterer, the child predator, and the teenager hopped up on drugs and sex. The Black Hood sees himself as an arbiter of morality, and when Alice actually publishes the letter against the wishes of Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy (ROBIN GIVENS), the elder Cooper daughter, Polly (TIERA SKOVBYE) moves out, fearing for her own safety: "I'm an unwed mother pregnant with my cousin's twins," she explains, which she is pretty certain puts her within the killer's definition of a sinner.

Jughead (COLE SPROUSE) is learning to cope as a student at Southside High, which looks to have been transplanted from some of the rougher scenes from THE BRONX ZOO. He doesn't want to be a Serpent, despite the family connections, but is warned by his new friend Toni Topaz (VANESSA MORGAN) of the rival gang, The Goolies (another comic book callout to Sabrina's friends who were all knockoffs of Universal Monsters). The Goolies would love to make a strike against the Serpents, and an unprotected Jughead would be ideal since his father was such a prominent Serpent. The Goolies are also the main dealers of a street drug we learned about last episode called Jingle Jangle. Jughead sets out to expose this by reviving the South Side school paper, and gets trapped in the school alone after hours by the Goolies.

Hiram Lodge (MARK CONSUELOS) has his first meeting with Archie in this episode, when Archie accepts a dinner invitation from Veronica (CAMILA MENDES). He gives Archie the usual father-of-the-girl-your-dating stuff, like "No more sneaking into my daughter's room." He also, however, commends Archie on his initiative with the Red Circle, but thinks it could go further. He tells Archie that this Black HOod is using fear as a weapon -- and that Archie should use that same weapon. So when we wrap up this episode, Archie is making a YouTube video, surrounded by the members of the football team, all of whom are wearing red hoods. Archie, however, is not wearing a mask as he speaks into the camera, threatening the Black Hood with capture. And back at the Lodge estate, Hiram watches the video play and smiles. All is going according to his plan--whatever that is.

4.0 / 5.0