With (another) murderer on the loose Riverdale hasn’t had much time to have fun in season 2. In this episode, entitled “Watcher in the Woods” Riverdale slows down just a little bit and gets some of its season 1 soapy fun back. The Black Hood is still around (and given a real name and motive) but there’s much more of the ridiculous campiness that made season 1 as fun as it was surprisingly emotional. This episode shows Jughead getting used to his new school, Hiram Lodge exerting even more control and Kevin (shockingly) having a storyline.
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The Rise of the Red Circle
One of the main factors that keeps “Watcher in the Woods” feeling like a lighter episode is that Moose and Midge are not dead. Despite being riddled with bullets, they both survived as Moose threw his body in front of Midge’s own. Even though the two lived, their attack inspires Archie to do something other than look concerned.
Urged by Hiram Lodge, Archie decides to form his own neighborhood watch. He even gives it a name (because, of course he does) calling it The Red Circle. Joining together with other kids like Reggie and Dilton Doiley, Archie roams around Riverdale trying to prevent The Black Hood from killing anyone else.
Even though Archie and Reggie manage to save Ethel from (presumably) becoming The Hood’s next victim, it’s all so very over-the-top. Luckily, it seems like Riverdale is intentionally making The Red Circle be about insecure kids posturing. Archie’s crusade, as it were, isn’t healthy or normal. He’s a scared kid being a scared kid. This has always been the delight of Riverdale, how they can take standard soap opera tropes and twist them to be slightly more realistic. Ms. Grundy wasn’t a forbidden romance, she was a real deal child abuser.
However, the main reason it’s obvious that Archie’s Red Circle is a doomed enterprise is that Hiram Lodge is way too into it. Hiram immediately sinks his teeth into Archie upon meeting him and continues to manipulate and control him. Hermione warns Veronica that Hiram is dangerous and he shouldn’t be around Archie (confirming that Hermione’s not quite as compliant as she has appeared) but it doesn’t matter. Archie is completely on Hiram’s team and it’s a fascinating failure in the making.
It’s even better that Hermione and Veronica are mixed up in the middle. Veronica is once again the apple of her father’s eye and Hermione is starting to be pushed to the outs again.This only makes Hermione more jealous and hilariously drunk and snippy. Riverdale really just needs to devote an entire series to the Lodge family melodrama. It would be a far more entertaining (and accurate) Dynasty rip-off than the reboot that currently follows Riverdale.
Jughead Begins (and Ends) a New Crusade
Meanwhile, Jughead finally starts going to his new school. (Which begs the question on where exactly in the school year Riverdale is at this point.) Almost immediately at his new school, Jughead meets Toni Topaz, who for all intents and purposes is a sexy female version of himself. Riverdale slightly plays up the suggestion that Toni might break up “Bughead” slightly but mostly she’s just there for now.
Jughead is more concerned about trying to do the same thing about Southside High as he did at Riverdale High. Jughead dives into exposing the school’s obvious drug problem in their newspaper.
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While Jughead quickly uncover the truth behind the trafficking, it’s a rival gang, The Ghoulies, (Riverdale’s naming strategy should never change) the gang doesn’t take kindly to be uncovered. They jump Jughead in the school hallways, convincing him and everyone watching, that this school will be a lot different for Mr. Jones.
Kevin’s Dangerous Game
Jughead isn’t the only one getting a rude awakening in the episode. It is revealed that for the past few weeks, Kevin has been jogging alone in the forest on the prowl for like-minded (seemingly) closeted guys. Betty becomes concerned quickly and she’s only egged on by Cheryl, who proves that nothing is beyond her melodramatic pot-stirring methods. Kevin, however, refuses to stop. Even though Kevin knows it’s dangerous and Moose, in his hospital bed, admits to having more than curious interest in Kevin, he keeps going back.
Kevin lashes out at Betty telling her that he can’t just live the same life as her. Being a gay guy in a very conservative town, Kevin doesn’t have as much romantic options as the perky cheerleader Betty. It’s a really emotional and heavy outburst, which Casey Cott does a great job in delivering, proving that Kevin should be used far more than Riverdale is actually using him.
However, Betty’s warnings eventually get to Kevin’s head. Kevin cuts off a potential hook-up, scared he could be coming face-to-face with The Black Hood. Betty though, ends up telling Kevin’s dad about his nighttime activities and that, more than anything else, seems to drive a wedge in between them (at least for the moment). It’s not exactly a happy ending (or story) for Kevin but at least he’s getting something other than being the sassy gay friend.
How did you feel about the episode? Do you think Archie’s Red Circle will pay off? Will it get him into even more trouble? Will Jughead be able to survive his new school? How did you feel about Kevin getting his own story?
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Riverdale Facebook page!
(Image courtesy of The CW)