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Riverdale Unmasks The Black Hood — And It's Kinda Disappointing

We're not buying it

The midseason finale of Riverdale was a wild ride from start to finish. (Spoilers ahead.) From the long-awaited return of Nana Rose Blossom — I'd like to imagine she rose from the ashes of Thornhill like a wondrous, crimson-streaked phoenix — to the even longer-awaited kiss between Archie and Betty, "Silent Night, Deadly Night" had a bit of everything, including a whole lot of Christmas camp and the "reveal" of the Black Hood. (I'm putting reveal in quotations because I'm still a little dubious about this one.)

In the final act of the episode, the Black Hood is unmasked, seemingly putting an end to the season-long, Zodiac-esque mystery. All in all, despite the dramatic lead-up, the actual reveal was very anti-climactic. Why? Because I refuse to believe that the creepy school janitor, Joseph Svenson, was the man responsible for all of this chaos. And I'm not the only one.

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Is Joseph Svenson really the Black Hood?

Not only was he ruled out in the previous episode after Archie and Veronica's hallway interrogation, but Archie himself said that he didn't see it in his eyes. Now, that's not to say that Archie's memory of that harrowing morning in Pop's has been altered by his own trauma and need for vengeance, but why would the show spend so much time focusing on the masked assailant's green eyes if it wasn't essential to his downfall?

The Svenson reveal also just seems lazy. Two episodes ago he was the shady janitor who lurked in the shadows, and then in last week's episode, Archie and Veronica uncover his tragic backstory. Born Joseph Conway, young Svenson was the only survivor of his family's gruesome murder. In his grief, he wrongly identified the Riverdale Reaper, which ultimately led to the innocent man's death after a lynch mob tracked him down and buried him alive. According to Betty, Svenson most likely created the Black Hood — a killer who targets sinners — to absolve his guilt and "even the scales" of justice.

Sure, I guess that makes sense. And I guess Svenson, being the eyes and ears of Riverdale High, would have known about Archie and Miss Grundy's fall fling, and he might have seen Midge purchase that Jingle Jangle from Reggie in the halls. Given how long he's been working for the Riverdale school system, he probably knew about Betty's childhood affinity for Nancy Drew, too. (Although, it doesn't quite explain why he shot Fred Andrews.) But that still doesn't make me care about him or this midseason reveal.

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Do fans have a tendency to overcomplicate Riverdale? Most definitely. Just look at the fan theories. But with all of the twists and turns this season has given us, we've come to expect more from this crazy show. You can't wrap up an entire story line about a murderous madman in a neat little bow.

So I'd like to believe that either Svenson was a pawn being used by the Black Hood — why else would he cut off his trigger finger? — and the real psycho is still out there, or Betty's hesitance to burn her makeshift black hood will see her slip further into darkness, just like the Black Hood had prophesied. After all, Jughead did say, "This isn't over."


VMAs 2018