(Spoilers ahead for the Nov. 15 episode of “Riverdale”)
OK! We got a major development in the Black Hood Killer case this week, with seemingly another victim to add to the list, after several weeks in a row without any Black Hood violence. His target this time is an interesting one, being someone from the south side of Riverdale after his previous victims were all either Northsiders or, in the case of Miss Grundy, somebody who had taught at at Riverdale High in the north. His choice of victim also may shed some light on last week’s big development.
Anyway, let’s get to the nitty gritty. The guy guy who has been terrorizing Riverdale in Season 2 calls himself the Black Hood, and there have been three confirmed victims so far — Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), Geraldine Grundy (Sarah Habel) and Moose (Cody Kearsley), with Ms. Grundy being the only one who died. Midge (Emilija Baranac) was with Moose when he got shot but Moose shielded her, preventing Midge from actually sustaining any injuries. This week we got a new apparent victim — Mr. Philips (Robert Baker), a lit teacher at Southside High who was revealed to be the creator of the Jingle Jangle drug. The Black Hood showed up at Phillips’ jail cell at the end of the episode and pointed a gun at him, but the episode cut before anything else happened.
Now, for the context.
Here’s the letter wrote and sent to the Coopers so they would publish it in the paper: “This is the Black Hood. I am the man who shot the adulterer at Pop’s. I killed the child predator in Greendale. I shot the drug- and sex-addicted teenagers at Lover’s Lane. Riverdale is not innocent. It’s a town of hypocrites, degenerates, criminals. My wrath is the price of your lies. Your secrets. Your sins. I will not stop. I cannot be stopped. I am the wolf. You are the flock. This is the bloodletting. You will hear from me again.”
Meanwhile, someone claiming to be the Black Hood is blackmailing Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), forcing her to sabotage or completely cut off her relationships with people he deems problematic. However, the second Black Hood letter, which was sent directly to Betty, is a major wrench into this whole thing — a handwriting expert has deemed that the two letters were not written by the same person. Notably, the first letter was published in the paper, so it would be easy to copy the rhetoric.
Philips as seemingly the latest victim changes the discussion about whether the Black Hood and the person harassing Betty are different people. In the Nov. 15 episode, Betty’s blackmailer demanded that she find out the identity of the “Sugarman,” who created Jingle Jangle and was partners with Cliff Blossom in Cliff’s drug business — and the Sugarman turned out to be Philips. The caller wanted his identity so he could kill him and, lo and behold, the real Black Hood did go after Philips. It’s possible that’s a coincidence, since Betty made the Sugarman’s identity public — the Black Hood could have found out about this whole thing just from reading the paper.
That said, here’s a few scenarios that we think are in play regarding whether the Black Hood and Betty’s blackmailer are the same person:
1. The Black Hood is himself more than one person, both or all of whom are working together (there could be more than just the two who wrote the letters).
2. The Black Hood is a single person who wrote both the letters, but he has a split personality, a condition which can affect handwriting. I don’t consider this one two likely because it would be a pretty cheap twist.
3. The Black Hood is a single person who wrote both letters, but intentionally altered his handwriting for the second letter for unknown reasons. Possibly to discredit Betty should she make the second letter public — if that’s the case it worked, given that Betty’s mom did sort of accuse Betty of writing the second letter.
4. The person who is harassing Betty has no relationship with the original Black Hood and is simply someone trying to capitalize on current events in order to try to manipulate Betty.
5. Same as No. 4, but the original Black Hood has someone else pulling his strings.
6. Same as no. 4, but a single other person is clandestinely pulling both their strings.
7. There are literally just two Black Hoods and the one who came after Philips in jail is not the same as the one who was on the rampage at the beginning of the season.
The real fun part of this is that now we have to consider the possibility that there are two psychos calling themselves the Black Hood out there who each have totally different motivations. It really complicates this investigation! So below you’ll find a list of suspects, and under their names we’ll evaluate the likelihood that that they’re a Black Hood or otherwise involved. The fact that the Black Hood was able to come after Philips in the town jail is a complicating factor that leads us to add a new suspect this week. I’m also removing Kevin as a suspect, at least for now, just because there’s been pretty much nothing pointing in his direction lately.
Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins)
Being the sheriff, Keller has sort of a built-in motive: he’s a law and order guy! It’s a generic sort of motive, but still. The big development this week that points the finger in Keller’s direction, though, is the Black Hood being able to come at Mr. Phillips in his jail cell — Keller, obviously, has easy access to the jail whenever he wants. I’m not saying it’s incredibly likely that Keller is hte Black Hood, but he definitely has the means.
Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos)
Right now he feels like the best bet for being the puller of strings of the original Black Hood (Hiram isn’t the sort of person who would get his hands dirty). He’d been clearly taking advantage of all the initial chaos to seemingly try to turn Archie to the dark side — or maybe to get him killed? Whatever Hiram has been trying to do beyond manipulate Archie into….something is unclear. But this is definitely a scheme of some sort — Archie started his Red Circle gang of hooligans because Hiram was whispering in his ear, and escalated things because of that intense follow-up chat in which Hiram low-key threatened Archie over his late night visits to Veronica’s room. We haven’t had much insight into what Hiram was trying to do with Archie, though, because they haven’t talked in a while.
Given that Hiram is an opportunist, it seems very possible that Hiram could be the copycat blackmailing Betty — the first thing he made her do was smear her mother Alice, with whom Hiram does not have a great relationship. However, it’s hard to imagine what other reason he might have for wanting to crush Betty. It seems unlikely that the stated motivations of either Black Hood are what they said in the letters, so making guesses is tough.
Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols)
Hermione has been unusually muted since Hiram got out of jail, quietly trying to get Veronica to not talk to her dad too much. There’s some kind of quiet feud going on there for sure — and while there’s been no sign she’s up to anything so far aside from her quiet tone, you never know. Orchestrating any or all aspects of this Black Hood situation could be her secret play.
Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)
Obviously, Cheryl is not herself the one who wears the hood. But she’s been extra…strange this season ever since she burned down the Blossom estate after her dad hung himself in the barn. She’s also been taking advantage of the madness in her own weird way, inserting herself into Betty and Kevin’s friendship drama. Cheryl doesn’t do anything arbitrarily, so there has to be some kind of longer term reason why she would want to sabotage that friendship. Could it be part of a larger plan that started by hiring a thug to shoot up the town? Probably not, but we have to consider all possibilities.
I do know, however, that Cheryl is not the one who has been harassing Betty, because she was being drugged and assaulted by Nick St. Clair while Betty was on the phone with her stalker.
Cheryl was different this week in the wake of that trauma — she’s been more openly vulnerable, more….human. For the moment it kinda feels like she’s starting to integrate into the main group a little bit, which makes it even less likely that she has anything to do with any of this. On the other hand, the Black Hood going after a man who was part of her dead father’s drug trade can’t be dismissed as a possible motive.
Cliff Blossom (Barclay Hope)
Yes, I know Cliff Blossom is dead. But what this hypothesis supposes is: what if he isn’t? This idea came to me because of how Midge described the shooter’s eyes.
“They were blank. It was like there wasn’t even a person behind them. He was like Michael Myers. He had the devil’s eyes.”
There are any number of things that description could indicate. One of them is that a dead person (or somebody who was dead long enough to sustain severe brain damage that sapped all his humanity away before being revived) is the killer. The fact that the Black Hood is going after Cliff’s old drug business partner may be important.
Somebody in the Serpents, acting on behalf of the gang
It seems unlikely that the Serpents are responsible for the violence because the Serpents, as an organization, are not usually the sort to mastermind a plan — they’re too brutish, and last year they functioned as pawns. However, the introduction of Penny Peabody (Britt Morgan), the Serpents’ lawyer, last week could be a wild card — her presence may indicate the gang does have some brain activity going on after all. What their motivation might be for having one of their members do this is anyone’s guess, though. Maybe they’re trying to sow some chaos on the right side of the tracks? Something related to the Jingle Jangle trade? The Black Hood going after the Sugarman makes that last option a distinct possibility.
It’s even more unlikely that the Serpents are behind Betty’s blackmail, because that’s just not how they do things. However, a certain Serpent does have a potential motivation.
Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan)
Since her introduction, Toni has seemed pretty much like the best and nicest person on the entire show, helping out Jughead as he gets acclimated to Southside and never trying to get between him and Betty even though it seems obvious she has a crush on him. There’s gotta be some kind of darker side to her — though of course it’s entirely possible that like with Jug and Archie and Veronica and Betty that dark side is inspired by good intentions. “Riverdale” does not, after all, typically reveal that someone who seems like a good person is actually bad. But considering that Betty’s stalker forced her to break up with Jughead, and Toni was right there to swoop in with a kiss in his moment of vulnerability, so it’s possible that was her doing. She has the motive, and the whole thing with making Betty wear the hood could actually be a metaphor for how the North and South sides are the same.
I don’t know why Toni would care about the Sugarman, though, so she’s probably out at this point. Her line about being “more into girls anyway” this week and shrugging off Jughead would appear to weaken that motivation I just discussed — but, again, we still don’t know yet if we’ve seen the real Toni.
Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick)
I don’t think Alice has anything to do with the Black Hood killer. But it would not be out of character for Alice to go to extreme measures to try to force Betty to end her relationships with Veronica and Jughead — she tried to force Betty to cut all ties with her friends last season, as you’ll recall. In this scenario, forcing Betty to publish the smear piece on Alice would be a misdirection, as Betty wouldn’t think her mom would do that to herself. There’s an important clue backing up this thought in the Nov. 8 episode: when Alice asserts that Betty shouldn’t have even been able to get a copy of that old article about Alice being arrested because Alice herself removed all copies from the public archives. Alice may have been the only one who had a copy of it. Going after the Sugarman, also, would fit in with her general moralistic crusade, not to mention she threw out the word “fornicators” this week — a very Black Hood thing to say.
Somebody we haven’t met
I would consider it pretty surprising if the Black Hood killer were some character who hasn’t appeared on the show before, because that’s not usually how murder mysteries work. That said, the Black Hood is a separate Archie Comics (and now DC Comics) character who has his own backstory and everything (though his identity has changed a lot over the past seven decades). But if it is somebody new, then obviously trying to guess his identity would be a hopeless endeavor.
However, being a character new to the show wouldn’t preclude someone else from being involved. For example, Hiram obviously wouldn’t get his hands dirty by actually murdering people, and neither would Cheryl.
And whoever the person harassing Betty is, there’s pretty much no way that’s somebody new. He told Betty that if she saw his face she would recognize him — which almost certainly means that we in the audience would too. So I would bet on the blackmailer being a member of the regular cast. Which would in turn mean that if the blackmailer really is the Black Hood then the Black Hood would also have to be someone we know.
Ted Cruz (Ted Cruz)
It’s probably not true that Ted Cruz’s dad was the Zodiac Killer, but if he was then maybe Ted Cruz himself could be taking inspiration from his dad here. The only problem is that Ted Cruz is not, as far as we know, part of Archie canon.