First things first, these episode titles are getting very dramatic, but this one is actually fitting for what happens in this episode.
Last week on Riverdale, we saw Kevin make some poor decisions, Jughead tried to fit in at Southside High, and Archie formed a vigilante group to protect Riverdale and go up against the Black Hood.
Episode four begins with Jughead saying the words that everyone is thinking but not saying: “There was a serial killer among us”. Except now everyone is just as freaked out by the video of Archie and his Red Circle. The town is on high alert: shops are closing early, deadbolts are being added to doors, and the mayor is trying to organise a town meeting in order to put everyone at ease. Alice Cooper is trying to point the finger at the South Side by saying that the North Side is superior. However, a North Side individual (aka Archie Andrews) is currently having target practice in the woods, so Alice’s argument isn’t completely valid.
Elsewhere, the parents of Riverdale are reacting to the Red Circle’s video: Hiram is playing dumb and supports Hermione who tells Veronica to break up with Archie, Betty’s parents don’t care as they’re upset over Polly leaving, and Archie’s dad tells his son to pull the video down, which he did but it’s been re-uploaded by others. Because of this video, the Serpents decide that Archie will serve as their next target, but Jughead tries to talk them into going after the Black Hood instead. However, Sweet Pea states that the Black Hood is doing their work for them and that he’s their hero (um, Jughead, please don’t associate with them).
Meanwhile, Archie is pulled aside by Veronica to yell at him for the tape, and Archie reveals that Hiram is the one who gave him the idea, though his idea took a different approach. Archie is called into Principal Weatherby’s office where he shuts down the football team until the Red Circle is disbanded. Archie has a week to issue an apology to the community or his suspension will begin, and will continue until he’s complied. Archie tries to convince the Red Circle to follow him to the South Side, where they’ll force the killer’s hand by showing up on his home turf. Unfortunately for him, Reggie is out and takes everyone else with him.
The Black Hood has other things on his mind, and currently, it’s Betty Cooper. The Black Hood sends Betty a letter explaining that her speech at the jubilee is what inspired him. He enclosed a cipher saying only she can figure it out and if she passes his test, she will know the location of his next attack. Betty tells Kevin everything, but keeps the letter to herself when she hands the cipher over to Sheriff Keller and her mother so all of Riverdale can try and crack the code.
After school, Veronica confronts her father in his study to ask him about Archie creating the Red Circle. Hiram claims he doesn’t remember what he and Archie talked about and naturally Veronica knows something is very off. She decides to support Archie by making t-shirts for the Red Circle to which the Vixens hand out, and if the Vixens get to fight crime, I am so down.
Archie heads to the South Side alone after purchasing some ammo, a holster, and a kelvar vest using a fake ID. He then spray paints red circles all over the town, but Sweet Pea and some Serpents catch him. Sweet Pea pulls a knife but Archie pulls his gun and the Serpents run.
Back in the North Side, Betty, Jughead, Toni and Kevin are having a “code-breaking party” (which is the weirdest thing). Things get heated when Toni tells Betty that she “should loosen her ponytail” to help her think (honestly, I loved Toni until this moment). Kevin responds with “Betty’s ponytail is iconic and beyond reproach”—oh how we love your comments, Kevin.
They start going over what they know about the killer and Betty suggests that he might be from the South Side, which causes Toni to lose her cool and then outs Jughead for sitting with the Serpents at lunch. Toni and Kevin leave, but Betty doesn’t yell at Jughead and he swears he only sits with the Serpents for survival purposes. Jughead and Betty fall asleep while trying to solve the code and in the morning, Betty freaks out claiming Mrs Cooper will kill her. In her mad rush to get home, she ends up leaving behind some notebooks, which includes the note the Black Hood wrote to her and Jughead finds it.
Jughead asks Betty why she kept if from everyone and she says she’s worried that if Archie finds out she inspired the killer, he’ll blame her. Then she remembers something and takes Jughead to the library to check out one of her favorite books from when she was little: The Nancy Drew Secret Code Activity Book.
Sheriff Keller and Principal Weatherby find out about Archie’s late night shenanigans, so they check out his locker. Luckily, Archie is smart enough to not keep a gun in his locker, however, for some reason he has the ski mask that Reggie wore to his house, which gets him suspended.
Archie then calls Veronica to ask her to get his gun for him, which he hid in the back of a toilet at school, and she proceeds to yell at him, but Archie says he wants to be the one to kill the Black Hood. Interrupting them, Reggie and the rest of the guys bring pizza declaring they want to keep the Red Circle going as they’re happy he didn’t out Reggie. Unfortunately, they are also interrupted when the Serpents show up and a ‘no weapons’ rule is enforced for their impending brawl. It doesn’t take long for things to take a wrong turn when a Serpent pulls a knife and stabs Dilton in the leg. Luckily, Veronica comes to the rescue and fires Archie’s gun into the air to end it. Archie then realises his craziness and they throw the gun into Sweetwater River.
At the library, Betty figures out that the Black Hood plans to strike next at town hall, where Alice Cooper is trash-talking the South Side. She asks to shut down Southside High and use the money to bolster the police force, but Fred speaks against her. Everyone ignores Betty’s pleas so she pulls the fire alarm in order to get everybody out. Later on, she ends up handing over the Black Hood’s letter to Sheriff Keller.
At the end, Jughead tells us that the night was the turning point where Riverdale would now be known as “the town that dreaded sundown” and for the final scene, Betty receives a phone call from the Black Hood himself!
Overall, this week’s episode was well balanced and seeing the two different storylines coincide was a nice touch. Highlights from this episode would be Betty figuring out the cipher, as well as Archie finally (sort of) coming to his senses.
What did you think of ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’? Sound off in the comments below!