UPDATE #1: (11/29/17) A couple of prime suspects are cleared and a new contender emerges following the episode “Tales From the Darkside.” Scroll down to see the updated list.
ORIGINAL STORY: Au Revoir, Cliff Blossom. A new killer’s come to RIVERDALE and after last week’s episode, the mystery of the Black Hood is more murky (and exciting) than ever.
Who is the face behind the mask? How do they know so much about Betty Cooper? What is it going to take to bring them to justice?
This is what we know so far: The Black Hood has, in a very Zodiac killer twist, claimed responsibility for the shooting of Fred Andrews, the shooting of Moose and Midge, as well as for the murder of Ms. Grundy. As proof, the killer provided Riverdale’s local paper, The Registrar, with Fred’s missing wallet and Ms. Grundy’s iconic teen boy scoping red sunglasses. So far, Archie Andrews is the only person to have gotten a good look at the culprit.
The Black Hood has also been in contact with Betty Cooper, first sending her a letter through the Blue and Gold and then by contacting her directly on her cell phone. The Black Hood has intimate knowledge of Betty – her friends, family, the kinds of books she obsessively checked out of the library as a little girl – and claims that his crime spree is because of her, is for her.
We also know that the handwriting on the Black Hood’s first letter doesn’t match the writing on the second letter. We know that the person who killed Ms. Grundy didn’t use a gun, but Fred Andrews’ shooting, as well as the subsequent crimes after Grundy, did involve the use of a firearm. With this in mind, it’s possible that the Black Hood isn’t one person at all, but several.
K.J. Apa (Archie Andrews) told Nerdist on November 9th that he’s seen some “pretty crazy theories, but none of them have been right so far”, which sort of leaves a girl wondering. The Internet is pretty smart, so if the predominate fan theories are wrong, then who could be the killer?
Let’s take a look at some suspects and assess the likelihood that they are the Black Hood.
THE NEWEST SUSPECT
ADDED 11/29/17: Welcome to the suspect list, Cheryl Blossom! After her actions in “Tales from the Darkside,” you would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting suspect for some of the creepy stuff the Black Hood has done over the past few episodes. Cheryl’s obsession with Josie manifested itself in sending her creepy gifts, capped off with a “If I can’t have you, no one can” message that’s just eerily similar enough to the way the Black Hood was talking to Betty. Perhaps she’s switched the object of her “affections”? After all, the Blossoms are full of dark and disturbing secrets and Cheryl certainly could just be another apple that fell right beneath the shadowy, creepy tree.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
That Blossom blood, there’s just something evil in that family, right? The fact of the matter is, Hal fits the profile. He’s pulled some illegal shenanigans before- stealing Sheriff Keller’s police files on the Jason Blossom Murder- and Hal is one of the few people that knew about Archie and Ms. Grundy’s illicit relationship. His marriage has been on the rocks since last season and despite their reconciliation, it’s not inconceivable that Hal has an axe to grind with his wife. As for the Black Hood’s relationship to Betty, well, of course Hal would know that his daughter was obsessed with Nancy Drew as a child and it wouldn’t be the first time a Cooper parent has tried to ruin Betty’s relationships with Veronica and Jughead.
That said, Hal being the killer feels too easy. He and Cliff Blossom were cousins and revealing that a second branch of the Blossom line also has a murderous patriarch… It just doesn’t feel right. The fact that Hal fits the profile so well is what makes me think he’s a big old red herring.
CLEARED 11/29/17: Following Betty and Veronica’s sting operation and discovery that the good Sheriff is probably not a serial killer and just an old fashioned cheating husband, it’s probably safe to cross him off the list – for now.
ORIGINAL SUSPICIONS: The Sheriff of Riverdale is as milquetoast as they come, but if anyone’s getting frustrated with the formerly sleepy small town becoming a hotbed of criminal activity it would be him, right? Maybe he’s had enough of waiting patiently for law and order to take its due effect and decided he had to take things into his own hands and return Riverdale to its former small-town-ideal glory. The obsession with Betty would seem to come out of left field a little bit if Kevin’s dad was the Black Hood, but maybe we should take him at his word: He was at the Jubilee celebration where she delivered her impassioned speech and it inspired him to make some grand gestures to get his point across.
We know the long lost Cooper has been cast and will be showing up in Riverdale soon, but what if he’s already in town? Is it possible that Chic arrived in Riverdale just in time to hear his little sister’s inspirational speech? We know that as a baby, Chic was left with the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. The odds of a group of nuns adopting a baby out to anything less than a devout family are low, so that would mean big brother Cooper is familiar with the kind of religious rhetoric spouted by the Black Hood. It also means that he might be harboring a grudge against the birth mother that abandoned him. Could young Mister Cooper be a little off his rocker? We’ve already encountered Dark!Betty, Alice clearly has obsessive tendencies, and Polly hasn’t always been depicted as the picture of sanity. It’s not much of a jump to think that mental instability runs in the family.
Would it be weird if the Black Hood turns out to be Chic? Well, lt’s just say the word “twincest” has already been uttered at point blank on this show. What difference would it make if Chic Cooper turns out to have a weird obsession with his sister?
He’s big, he’s bad, he’s Veronica Lodge’s dad. Need I say more? Listen, I don’t mean to stereotype, or infer that people can’t change, but Hiram Lodge is an ex-con and judging by the way he’s been handling his “business” since being released, there’s definitely something shady, if not sinister, brewing beneath that finely tailored surface. White collar criminal he may be, I have little doubt that Daddy Lodge is willing to get his hands dirty.
That said, there are a few factors that work against this theory. Why would Hiram care about “cleansing Riverdale of its sinners” when he is without a doubt one of them? How did he find out about Ms. Grundy? Most importantly, why is he so obsessed with Betty? He’s met her all of one time and unless he was hiding his face, he wasn’t at the Jubilee. No, it’s far more likely that Hiram is simply an opportunist, taking advantage of bad situation.
THE UNUSUAL SUSPECTS
Everyone is talking about Hal, but if there’s a Cooper parent that’s more likely to be behind Betty’s letter and phone calls, Alice seems a more likely culprit. We know she’s not a tall dude with green eyes. So if Alice is behind the Betty Cooper obsessed voice on the phone, odds are she’s a copycat. Alice might not be in Hiram Lodge’s league, but she’s definitely an opportunist and it’s been well documented that she doesn’t like Betty’s friends. She would be well aware of her daughter’s love of Nancy Drew and more than happy to break up Betty’s relationships with Veronica and Jughead.
Of course, Alice Cooper isn’t the type of woman to want her personal business splashed across the Blue and Gold, so her reasoning behind demanding Betty’s article is murky.
CLEARED 11/29/17: As the partner to Sheriff Keller’s late-night shenanigans, we’re going to go ahead and mark Mayor McCoy down as “too busy” to also be orchestrating a serial killer rampage. Unless they’re having an affair and also working together as the Black Hood… You know what, that’s too many things. Let’s just take her off the list for now.
ORIGINAL SUSPICIONS: The Mayor of Riverdale and mom to future pop superstar Josie (of the Pussycats), Sierra McCoy has a lot going for her and a lot to lose if Riverdale sinks into a drug-fueled, crime-ridden wasteland. Perhaps Mayor McCoy is doing her part to scare off would-be Serpents and Northsiders from brawling in the streets and passing out Jingle Jangle to her daughter. Shooting-but-not-killing some of her own residents (okay, more like hiring some big white guy to shoot-but-not-kill) works as a scare tactic and also gives her an excuse to enforce a curfew that keeps the rowdy teens of Riverdale at home and out of trouble. In theory, at least.
While we haven’t seen a full blown reappearance of Dark!Betty this season, could it be possible that she’s the one behind the crime spree? Of all the characters on Riverdale, Betty Cooper is the one privy to the most information- about her childhood, her family, and the town gossip. There’s not a lot of proof that Betty’s been having blackouts or memory slips this season, but could it be possible that Dark!Betty is the mastermind of the whole thing? After all, the Black Hood did “tell” Betty to put on the mask and look into a mirror if she really wanted to know who he was. From that point on, it’s not far-fetched to imagine she hallucinated Archie being there with her when the killer calls. Finding out that sweet Betty Cooper has been in the midst of some sort of personality disorder allowing her to commit some truly horrific acts under an alter ego would be on par with the darker shift season 2 has taken.
Not Archie Andrews! It can’t possibly be Archie! Listen, Archie obviously didn’t shoot his father, it doesn’t matter how shocked Pop was, he definitely corroborated the story that there was a third person in the choc-lit shop that day. That said, what if Fred’s shooting was totally unrelated to everything else that’s been happening to the town? Perhaps Archie, sweet boy that he is, just couldn’t handle the thought of losing his father and snapped? Violence has been Archie’s answer to everything this season- getting into fights, buying a gun, starting the Red Circle. Is it really so crazy to think that maybe he’s snapped and is trying to rid his town of evil? And let’s not forget he has some unresolved feelings for Betty that never got brought up again after Season 1…
THE CANON ANSWER
As with all comic book adaptations, we could look to the source material for answers. Because, yes, the Black Hood is actually a character from the Archie comics canon. His name was Matthew Burland, but there are some marked differences between Riverdale‘s version of the Black Hood and the comic book version. For one thing, the character on the show is distinctly a villain, shooting our favorite dads and manipulating poor Betty. However, if the Riverdale writers decided to take a page out of the comic books, Burland’s backstory would be fitting: an ex-cop framed for a crime he didn’t commit and then left for dead. That seems like someone who would turn into a vigilante of sorts, though would it be that compelling for an audience who hasn’t even met him yet? And it doesn’t track with the Black Hood telling Betty he’s someone she (and presumably, we) would recognize. So this should firmly be considered a longshot for now.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.