Warning: Spoilers for "Chapter Thirty-Four: Judgment Night" lie ahead, so if you haven't seen the latest episode of Riverdale, now's a good time to make like Chic and run far, far away.
I don't want to say "I told you so," but... I told you so. After that fake-out in the midseason finale, the real Black Hood was finally revealed in the dramatic penultimate episode of Riverdale's second season. That darkness that Betty has been lamenting since Season 1? Turns out, she got it from her dear old dad, Hal Cooper, a.k.a The Black Hood.
And just like that Hal officially wins the title of "Worst Parent in Riverdale," somehow usurping the late Clifford Blossom — the man who shot his own son point-black in the head — for the special distinction.
In the episode, Hal confessed to the Black Hood's grisly crimes, which include shooting his neighbor and friend Fred Andrews at Pop's; strangling Ms. Grundy to death with her cello bow; shooting Moose while the teen was high on Jingle Jangle in Fox Forest; murdering the Candyman in his prison cell; putting his own daughter through endless psychological torture; framing poor Mr. Svenson for the murders; stabbing Midge Klump to death during opening night of Carrie: The Musical; and, finally, killing Doctor Masters at the hospital. (He did not, however, shoot up Fred and Hermione's debate, so there's definitely a copy-cat killer on the loose in Riverdale.)
As for his motive, it's revealed that Hal was brainwashed from a young age to kill sinners, and Riverdale, he says, is a town full of them. In fact, Betty comes from a long line of murderers. Great-Grandpappy Cooper murdered his brother, Great-Grandpappy Blossom, and took on the Cooper identity in the aftermath. And Grandpappy Cooper was actually the one responsible for murdering the Conway family, and it was Hal who made sure young Joseph Conway (later known as Mr. Svenson) accused an innocent man of the slayings. Hal describes his gruesome family history as a darkness. "And now it lives in Betty," he says ominously.
MTV News chatted with the Black Hood himself, actor Lochlyn Munro, about Hal's descent into darkness, how the cast reacted to the big reveal, and what this means for Season 3.
MTV News: So Hal is now officially the worst parent in Riverdale. How does it feel?
Lochlyn Munro: It feels amazing! It feels like I just won a Razzie. I'm very excited.
MTV News: When did you find out that Hal was the Black Hood?
Munro: I found out in Episode 21. I didn't know that I was officially the Black Hood until the table-read, that scene when I'm showing the home movie to Alice and Betty.
MTV News: So you found out with everybody else?
Munro: Yeah! It was kind of cool. We always talk about this as actors on the show, that we get to participate as fans because Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and the writers keep us guessing, too. They don't set up storyboards for us for 22 episodes. We have no idea where the story is going as it unfolds, so we uncover everything as we go, script by script. I had no idea! Personally, I always thought it was Sheriff Keller, and then all of sudden I show up at the Cooper residence with a small blood stain on my shoulder and some creepy home movies.
MTV News: Who from the cast had the best reaction to the big reveal?
Munro: Probably KJ. KJ always thinks everything's just a big funny joke. I think he even let out a big guffaw. He couldn't believe that it was me, but I guess I probably had the biggest reaction because I was the most affected by it. To tell you the truth, when I first read it, I was actually quite bummed because I thought, "Oh man. I don't even feel like I've gotten going on the show, and now I'm done." You know? Because I really thought I was done. But Roberto came up and we talked afterwards, and he was like, "It's not over for Hal. It's just a whole new arc for him." So now I'm embracing seeing what they can bring to it because now I feel like I've got a character to play.
MTV News: It feels like the beginning of Hal's storyline, not the end.
Munro: Exactly. There's a lot of characters in our show, and it's hard for the writers to write for everyone, so I totally understood why my character wasn't always flushed out, why there wasn't a lot of dimension for him. I think this could be really challenging, and it's something I'm looking forward to. I can't wait to see what they come up with.
MTV News: But it's natural to feel bummed because this show does have a track record with killing people off, especially villains.
Munro: I felt that way for Barclay [Hope], too, when Clifford hung himself at the end of the first season because it's a lot of fun to work on that show. I just felt that maybe in the third season Hal might get a little more to do so that people can understand who he is. Then when I read [episode] 21, I just felt like my journey was over before I had even gotten a chance to start. But then Roberto and I talked, and now I'm really embracing being a serial killer. I never thought I'd say that.
MTV News: Did you ever wear the mask? Because obviously that's not you in Pop's diner in the Season 1 finale.
Munro: No. Never. That's why I never thought I was the Black Hood. I had my inkling, based on who they hired to be the Black Hood during those scenes and his physicality. If I stood next to the Black Hood, he was about four inches shorter than me.
MTV News: What did you think of his motivation? Because he tells Betty and Alice that he wants to rid the town of sin, but it's still pretty vague. And then there's the fact that he mentally tortured Betty for entire episodes!
Munro: I have to explore that more. I never played Hal as the Black Hood, so for Episode 21 I had to quickly come up with a backstory to be able to get inside the mind of someone who would do that. So I really don't know. That's going to be a hard one for me because I always played him like he loved his kids a lot, but he just went about things the wrong way. So his brain must be very messed up and scrambled from all of that manipulation as a young boy. Whoever raised him, whether it was just his mom or it was a group of people who raised him to think he needed to purge the town of sin, I have yet to find that out. That will be something we explore in the third season, I guess.
MTV News: The best villains are the ones who believe that they're the heroes, and you could maybe make a case for Hal believing that he was the hero of his own story, saving the town from sin.
Munro: It would have been more interesting to maybe be more of a vigilante serial killer. I don't think purging the town of sin means that you have to go out and kill a girl in a school play just because she does Jingle Jangle.
MTV News: Or shoot Fred Andrews, your neighbor.
Munro: Right? It's interesting to me to think about how Hal created Hal Cooper. He obviously created that character to get through his life, and to think that Alice didn't know and all of these people who were close to him had no idea. It's amazing.
MTV News: I'm really excited to see what happens to the Cooper family from here because the show has slowly chipped away at their picture-perfect facade. First Polly left, then Chic turned out to be an imposter, and now Hal is the Black Hood. I'm curious to see Alice and Betty work through all of these demons.
Munro: It will be interesting to see what they do with Hal and Betty's relationship. I always thought that there was such a tight bond with them that it would take a lot to fracture that. Yeah. this is a lot, but I'm wondering if Betty will feel compelled to help her dad because it was never Hal's fault anyhow — if his name is Hal. He was brainwashed as a child. I feel sorry for the guy to tell you the truth. So now we have to figure out if he can be redeemed and what made him tick. Is he the only guy that was in this situation? Was he the only one taught to purge the town of sin? I don't know.
MTV News: I'm sure Betty will figure it out.
Munro: If anyone can, it's her.