The town of Riverdale is in the business of keeping secrets, but after Wednesday night's episode ("Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Woods"), some major pieces to the overall Season 2 puzzle will be revealed. It's just one of the many reasons why creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa calls it the "best episode yet."
"What I love about Episode 3 is it really delivers on the promise of this episode being a suspenseful thriller," Aguirre-Sacasa told MTV News. "It starts to feel like Zodiac in a small-town."
It's safe to say that Zodiac — one of the creator's all-time favorite films — was hugely influential to Riverdale's second season. At the end of last week's episode, Moose and Midge were shot by the Black Hood Killer while high on Jingle Jangle at Riverdale's own lover's lane — a move from the Zodiac Killer's playbook. Whereas most television shows would hit the brakes on the drama following a shooting, a murder, and another shooting, Riverdale is thoroughly reveling in the chaos.
The episode puts several key characters in precarious situations. Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) is "searching for love" in all the wrong places, and putting himself in serious danger along the way; Ethel Muggs (Shannon Purser) realizes that walking home late at night with a killer on the loose is probably not the smartest decision; Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) takes his thirst for vengeance to the next level, forming a student-led watch group called The Red Circle; Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) experiences the horrors of Southside High after dark; and Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) finds herself at the center of the biggest mystery of them all: Who is the Black Hood, and what's his endgame?
"Over the next five or six weeks, I'm going to say every episode is my favorite," Aguirre-Sacasa said, "because every episode really does top the one before it."
But when it comes to "The Watcher in the Woods," the showrunner said fans should prepare for more than a few seminal Riverdale moments, including Jughead's first day at Southside High School. Here, everyone's favorite world-weary author will meet a friendly-ish group of teenage Southside Serpents: Toni Topaz, Fangs Fogarty, and Aguirre-Sacasa's personal favorite, Sweet Pea.
"I love seeing Jughead in his new world at Southside High," he said. "I love meeting Toni Topaz. That actress who plays her, Vanessa Morgan, is amazing. It's always nice to have some of our old faces back — Dilton Doiley [and] Ethel Muggs. I really like Archie being so proactive in this. I love the gang getting to meet Hiram for the first time. There's just a lot of iconic moments in it."
In addition to all of the danger and suspense, there's also a lot of heart. Kevin's story line is especially moving. Speaking to MTV News earlier, Cott said that Kevin goes down a particularly dark path in this episode.
"I love Kevin Keller's scenes with Moose, with his dad, with Betty," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "The great thing about Kevin's story is that it is a character-study, but it is very clearly tied to the Black Hood Killer. There's fear in the air. There's danger. Kevin seems to be flirting with the dark side. It feels transgressive."
By the end of the episode, the Black Hood Killer's intentions will be made clear, forcing everyone to not only come to terms with the darkness festering beneath the surface of their wholesome town but also with the darkness lurking within themselves.
Most of the answers to season's biggest secrets may still be under wraps, but one thing's clear: Riverdale is only going to get darker from here.