The Black Hood might be the biggest baddie on the block in Riverdale season 2 but he’s the only villain on the loose. Not only was Nick St. Clair recently introduced (and continues to be a thorn in the side of everyone with taste) but in this episode, entitled “Death Proof” a new mysterious antagonist makes his proper debut. In Riverdale‘s never-ending and (maybe misguided) mission to make jingle-jangle seem like a serious threat, the dealer of the drug is revealed and he goes by the name of The Sugar Man.
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Serpents Under Fire
Riverdale doesn’t devote the entire episode to The Sugar Man and jingle-jangle. However, the ridiculously named drug (and dealer) are the impetus for most of the action. When Nick’s attempted rape of Cheryl gets out, so does the news of all the kids taking jingle jangle at the party. When Reggie claims he got the jingle-jangle from a Southside Serpent, Mayor McCoy decides to raid Southside High arresting all Serpents as retribution. It’s only thanks to a timely intervention by Archie that Jughead avoids jail time.
Just because Jughead avoids jail doesn’t mean he escapes scot-free. The Serpents are hit hard by the raid and that prompts their current leader to make a deal with the Ghoulies. This enrages Jughead as he knows the Ghoulies are the real drug dealers and it should enrage the audience as the leader of the Ghoulies is insufferably campy, even for Riverdale.
Jughead’s Drag Race
With Archie and his dad’s help, Jughead manages to figure out an alternate plan. Instead of joining forces with the Ghoulies, Jughead challenges their leader to a street race. If Jughead wins the race, the deal is off. Yet, if Jughead loses, a significant amount of Serpent territory will be lost. This is Riverdale at its most pure and insane. Big and potentially life-altering moments are being decided by something as quaintly old-fashioned as a drag race. Drag racing is undoubtedly dangerous but it does kind of pale in comparison to all the drug dealing and murdering going on.The show needs some lighter stakes.
The Southside vs. the Northside conflict are still the weakest parts of the season, mainly because Jughead is the only major character leading it and the show has made Cole Sprouse do nothing but act INCREDIBLY ANGRY ALL THE TIME. But more of this self-aware ridiculousness would be much appreciated.
It couldn’t hurt having Archie by Jughead’s side too, at least when it comes to make the show feel more cohesive. If Jughead actually wants to succeed in the gang life, he’s going to need to separate himself for Archie. This is because Archie hatches another plan on top of the drag race that nearly ruins everything. Archie actually manipulates things so that the Ghoulies (but not Jughead and the Serpents) are arrested during the race. This, like all of Archie’s half-baked plans, will blow up in his face, but this trope of Archie trying to help and failing is a nice and easy way to build tension.
The Hunt for the Sugar Man
Luckily, at least one member of the core quartet is learning her lesson. Betty decides that she’s going to turn the tables on the Black Hood. When the Black Hood gives Betty her next mission to find the dealer of jingle jangle, The Sugar Man, Betty doesn’t go at it alone. Betty comes clean to Veronica about her outburst last episode (Betty later does the same for Jughead which brings them back together) and the two girls are reunited. In addition, Betty enlists the help of Cheryl Blossom because her family has a long history with the Sugar Man. Strangely, Betty doesn’t round out this trio of bad-ass ladies with Josie but perhaps that’s not so surprising since Josie is also always regulated the background.
In any case, while Veronica is well on board for vengeance, Cheryl is a bit more reluctant. This is until Cheryl learns that there’s absolutely no hope of Nick St. Clair getting any kind of (legal) payback for his attempted rape. The St. Clair family has paid Penelope Blossom for her silence. Luckily, Cheryl finds the check and extorts it over her mother in exchange for information on The Sugar Man.
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Penelope tells Cheryl that many men have gone by the name of Sugar Man but all of them were integral parts of the Blossom drug empire. The new Sugar Man is just continuing the trend. Penelope tearfully comes clean about the whole ordeal, even telling Cheryl the current Sugar Man’s real name. Penelope finishes her confession by the throwing the St. Clair’s hush money check in the fire.
This flip in the power dynamic of the Blossom women is a little strange. When last we saw them, Cheryl was in complete control. Yet, this investigation into Sugar Man proves that Riverdale just needs to ditch the guys and let Cheryl, Betty and Veronica run the show. Unlike Archie, they’re actually accomplishing their goals. Veronica even manages to get revenge on Nick by having her parents organize a car accident involving him. This is more than a little gray morally, but still, it’s a deeply fascinating character moment. Do not mess with these women.
Black Hood Meets Black Betty
Betty is well aware of her proficiency though. When The Black Hood calls again for an update on Sugar Man, Betty tells him that’s she’s already taken care of it. The Sugar Man, who is revealed to be Jughead’s teacher, has been arrested because Betty told Sheriff Keller. Betty then warns the Black Hood, she’s coming for him next. While I’m still entirely convinced that Betty is actually speaking to The Black Hood, this scene of Dark/Black/Bad-Ass Betty taking back control is enormously satisfying.
Sadly, The Black Hood still finds a way to get what he wants in the end. As The Sugar Man lies in prison, The Black Hood shows up with his gun and points it directly at The Sugar Man’s head. While the episode leaves the fate of Sugar Man a mystery (just like how The Black Hood was able to enter the jail at all) there’s very few conclusions to be drawn from the moment.
But what do you think? Did The Black Hood kill The Sugar Man? Will it be another Midge and Moose situation? How did The Black Hood get into the jail in the first place? Do you think Betty will succeed in taking down The Black Hood? How much trouble do you think Archie will face from the Ghoulies?
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Riverdale Facebook page!
(Image courtesy of The CW)