The hooded enigma who's been running around Riverdale shooting teens and killing sexual predators finally has a name: The Black Hood. And after weeks of wondering what the hell his endgame was, the green-eyed assailant revealed his agenda in an ominous letter to the Coopers — in yet another reference to the infamous Zodiac Killer — in which he not only confessed to the violent crimes but also made his motives clear.
Riverdale isn't the wholesome town of yesteryear, and the Black Hood plans to expose the town's secrets and lies by picking off sinners one by one. Here's the note the Black Hood sent to the Coopers, as published in Riverdale's daily paper, The Register:
"This is the Black Hood. I am the man who shot the adulterer at Pop's. I killed the child predator in Greendale. I shot the drug- and sex-addicted teenagers at Lover's Lane. Riverdale is not innocent. It’s a town of hypocrites, degenerates, criminals. My wrath is the price of your lies. Your secrets. Your sins. I will not stop. I cannot be stopped. I am the wolf. You are the flock. This is the bloodletting. You will hear from me again."
For fans of the Archie comics, the Black Hood should sound familiar. A staple of Dark Circle Comics — and imprint of Archie Comics — the hooded vigilante has been around since 1940. In more recent comic, the troubled character has taken on crime-fighting to atone for his own sins.
It's clear that Riverdale has borrowed the name and the iconography of the Black Hood — the diamond-shaped eyeholes cut into the hood — but is it the same character? According to creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the Black Hood is a nod to Archie mythology, but he's still a very different character.
"It's not a similar character," he told MTV News. "In the Archie comics, the Black Hood is much more an urban vigilante. He's a little bit like The Punisher. Our Black Hood is much more like the Zodiac Killer."
The comparison to the Zodiac Killer is apt, given Aguirre-Sacasa's description of Riverdale's second season as "Zodiac in a small-town." The creator and showrunner called David Fincher's 2007 mystery-thriller one of his favorite movies of all time, adding that it was a huge inspiration for the trajectory of this season.
"I love the idea of a small-town being in the grips of a killer," he said. "The way that Zodiac was a portrait of San Francisco, we're really focusing on Riverdale High and what it's like to live in the icy grip of a serial killer."
This, of course, adds an extra layer of darkness to the teen noir. The first season focussed on a singular murder mystery, slowly unraveling the pieces to the puzzle over the course of 13 episodes. This season, however, commenced in the terrifying aftermath of Fred Andrews' shooting, and each episode since has continued to up the ante (and the crazy). At the end of the Season 2 premiere, Ms. Grundy was strangled to death by her cello bow, and in the final seconds of the second episode, Moose Mason was shot protecting Midge Klump at Lover's Lane. The third episode didn't feature any specific attack, but the Black Hood did promise that this is only the start of the "bloodletting."
Aguirre-Sacasa knows that bringing a serial killer to Riverdale in Season 2 was a "big swing," but he did it, in part, because of the passionate response to Jason Blossom's murder in the first season.
"People really responded to the murder mystery of Season 1, and it felt like that's where the show really caught fire," he said. "The juxtaposition of the John Hughes-ian, coming-of-age stuff with the darker elements is what people really responded to."
And things are only going to get darker in Riverdale, especially now that Archie Andrews has shirtless jocks patrolling the streets, looking for the Black Hood. (OK. So maybe they're not all shirtless.) Introducing The Red Circle:
"We will find you. We will hunt you. And we will end you," Archie warns his hooded foe. (Clearly, he reads too many comic books.)
With a killer on the loose targeting people close to him, it makes sense that Archie would take things personally. Not to mention, he's still working through the trauma of seeing his dad shot and almost killed before his eyes. For someone as wholesome as Archiekins, that's going to throw his entire worldview into complete chaos.
"We've seen a more darkly-motivated Archie this season," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "He's going from a happy-go-lucky kid slowly towards this place of vigilantism."
Archie Andrews, you really are the Bruce Wayne of Riverdale. But can a group of high school football players really out-smart a serial killer? Or will Archie try to bring Riverdale's own Nancy Drew, Betty Cooper, under the Red Circle fold to help track him down? Either way, this entire plan makes my stomach churn.