Riverdale Season 2 Episode 21: ‘Judgement Night’ Review

[Featured Image: The CW/Netflix]

This episode was intense from start to finish and only got better and better as it went on. It’s no surprise that Hiram would use the current chaos to put out a one million dollar reward for the Black Hood. And that’s only mild compared to some of the things he does and/or causes throughout this episode.

It’s so good that Veronica has finally seen the light. In the previous episode, she showed her support for Fred, but after this episode, she is completely done with her father and is no longer captivated by everything he says and does.

After seeing the reward poster, Veronica locks herself inside Hiram’s office where she finds the ‘October Surprise’, an article that talks about the affair between Hermione and Fred that will be published in order to ruin Fred’s of being elected Mayor. The October Surprise reminded me of how cute Fred and Hermione were, and it was also a big reminder of how different things were before Hiram got out of prison. It was also great at highlighting just how dark Hiram is and how far Veronica and Hermione got sucked in.

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[The CW/Netflix]

Hiram does clearly love Hermione and Veronica, that has been shown several times like at the end of the episode when he is concerned for their safety after finding Andre dead in the lobby of the Pembrooke, however, it’s also clear that he’s willing to risk them if it means he’ll get what he wants. His first priority is himself and his business.

This is highlighted clearly when he hangs up on a concerned Reggie, seems unconcerned by the commotion at Pop’s, and allows for Jughead to be beaten by Penny and the Ghoulies. Even the fact that he’s unconcerned about what will happen to Hermione once the October Surprise is released. He’s so sure that Fred will get it worse, that it doesn’t concern him that she will still receive some backlash.

Papa Poutine’s son showing up at the Pembrooke seemed to be the final straw for Veronica. Between the attack and the October Surprise, she has decided she is not going to volunteer to be his collateral damage. Hermione doesn’t seem to have seen the light completely, but with everything that happened this episode, it seems like she’s closer than ever to realising that Hiram will always put himself and his business first.

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[The CW/Netflix]

Earlier in the episode, as they travel back to the Pembrooke, Veronica notices Mrs Klump walking around amongst the rioting. Seeing how dangerous it could be, Veronica exits the car to speak to her. When she does, Mrs Klump says, “I may have killed that boy.” For some reason, I never thought of someone like that shooting Fangs. I was doubtful that it was going to be Reggie but from the way it was filmed, there was still room for it to work. If it wasn’t Reggie I thought it would be the Black Hood (or the Black Hood that shot at the debate).

Even though he didn’t do it, Reggie is still left in a bit of a predicament for most of the episode. Archie, Kevin, and the Bulldogs go their separate ways to look for him before the Serpents can find him. Although the Bulldogs know that Reggie didn’t do it, all the Serpents saw was a gun, so of course, they’re going to assume.

Thankfully, Jughead is willing to listen when Archie calls him with the information. However, there was a brief moment when things almost went off between the Serpents and the Bulldogs. They run into each other at Riverdale High, and despite getting confirmation from Veronica that it was Mrs Klump, Sweet Pea still wants revenge because the Northsiders are trying to take everything from the Southside, including Fangs. I love how the fight was stopped before it could get started by Principal Weatherbee entering the school with a baseball bat and some backup.

No longer having to fight, the Bulldogs finally find Reggie over at Pop’s who explains everything. Before anything can really be done or discussed, the Ghoulies show up. They attempt to barricade the doors and stay down as Pop’s is attacked. I really enjoyed when Archie went to the roof and began setting bottles of liquor on fire to throw at them, but the best bit by far was when Tom, Fred, and FP rocked up and we got that beautiful line from Kevin: “hot Riverdale dads to the rescue.”

After all of this, Archie and Fred note that Hiram wasn’t around to help with the riots. When they get home the back door is left open and that’s when the second Black Hood attacks. I’m so happy that Fred had a bulletproof vest because there is absolutely no way I could have survived watching Fred Andrews getting hurt again.

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[The CW/Netflix]

Finally, we have 100% confirmation that Hal is the Black Hood. It was really obvious and made the most sense, so I’m happy that they went with him. However, we still don’t know who shot at the debate, and we also know that he couldn’t have shot Fred again. I still stand by my observation of last week’s episode that Hiram Lodge could have hired someone and staged a Black Hood attack. Whether that’s true or not, I wonder if Hal knows who the other Black Hood. Just because he is the main one (the one we’ve seen throughout most of the season) doesn’t mean there isn’t a group.

I love that Cheryl stood up to the Black Hood and got her bow and arrow to fight him off. She was the final straw that pushed him over the edge to reveal himself. With an injury like that, there was no way he could hide who he was. We can see that escalation when he kills the Doctor, however, from the way he tells Alice and Betty it’s almost like he’s proud. It genuinely seems like he wanted to reveal he was the Black Hood all along, he just didn’t expect to have to do it so soon.

Although his reveal is premature, Hal still manages to make a big show out of it. Thanks to a phone call with FP, Betty goes to the hospital where she gets more confirmation which is cemented when she receives a call from Hal who threatens Alice’s life if Betty calls the police and doesn’t come home. When she does make it back, after a failed attempt to get Alice out of the house, they’re subjected to some creepy home movie made by Hal’s mother which tells us why it all started. We discover that it has been going on for generations, and Hal believes Betty will continue on after him. His reasoning, however, falls a little short.

As Alice mentions, surely he should have killed her, and surely he should have killed himself. I do like that his reasoning for becoming the Black Hood wasn’t the best. The fact that Alice calls him out on it shows that the writers are aware so we know it’s not down to bad writing. However, how things go in the finale will really confirm whether the writers pull it out of the bag and wrap up this whole Black Hood thing well.

Speaking of Alice, I loved seeing her confront Hal like that. She dragged him and showed absolutely no mercy. I love that she called him out on not even being able to be a decent serial killer. And all of this is just a distraction that Betty can grab something to knock him out with. One thing to note is that Hal most likely intended to kill them and then himself. While revealing why he wants it all to be recorded, Hal says, “I want everyone to understand why when they find us.” Implying that the three of them were going to die. However, we know that he was hoping Betty would continue on in his legacy, so his game plan must have changed once he got shot by Cheryl. One wild theory, that could work, is maybe the real Charles is still alive and Hal is training him to take over and that’s why he’s not worried that Betty won’t continue on. I mean, he speaks about how Betty has the same darkness but he was also willing to kill her instead of letting her carry on. It would also add to why he hated Chic so much because he knew Chic wasn’t the real Charles.

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[The CW/Netflix]

Jughead’s ability as a leader is really tested in this episode. The first time is when he’s at the hospital and is told by FP that they need to inform Fangs’ family instead of going out to get revenge because that’s what leaders do. Throughout the episode, we also see him juggling responsibilities. On the one hand, he’s going all over Riverdale trying to track down the Serpents before they do anything they’ll regret and at the same time he’s trying to come up with an appropriate way to deal with what happened to Fangs. Later, the Ghoulies and Penny Peabody come back, creating yet another thing for Jughead to deal with.

I loved that when he went to save Toni, he didn’t go alone, and his back up was Cheryl with her bow and arrow. This really highlighted that Jughead is a smart leader. He created this illusion that he was naive, and obeyed Penny’s terms when in reality he was just creative with the back-up he chose to bring with him. We even see how smart he is, and also what a loyal leader he is, when he does everything he can to make sure the Serpents are safe despite FP not listening to his warnings.

I actually didn’t consider the fact that Hiram might have hired Penny and the Ghoulies, but it does make perfect sense. I wonder if Jughead left evidence behind of his involvement. He knew what could happen when he offered himself up in exchange for the Serpents so it would make sense if he left behind information for others to find. There’s no way he would risk dying and not let others know what he found out when he’s worked so hard to expose Hiram.

Not that he’s necessarily dead. He did look pretty lifeless in FP’s arms, but he was pretty badly beaten. Most likely he was knocked out at some point during the beating, or even passed out because of the pain and his injuries, but there’s no confirmation that he’s dead. People have pointed out that it looks like Jughead putting on Cheryl’s new jacket in the episode 22 promo, and it just seems unlikely that Riverdale would kill off its narrator so early on in the show’s lifespan.

That didn’t stop the ending from being completely heartbreaking though. From the moment Betty got that phone call my heart began to race. You could see the concern that both she and Archie had, and once FP was informed he knew straight away what Jughead had done. That final shot of him walking out of the woods with Jughead’s body was heartbreaking on its own but coupled with everyone’s concerned looks and the fact that FP and Betty were both close to crying, really made it a million times worse. Based on how this ended, I can only imagine how intense the finale is going to be.

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[The CW/Netflix]

This episode was really next level. My only major complaint is that we didn’t see more of Fangs. Of course, I’m upset that he died, but it’s more upsetting that we only really got that hospital scene at the beginning, Sweet Pea getting really angry and wanting revenge (which I loved!), and FP announcing his death. He did mention that they would honour Fangs properly, so hopefully, we get that in the finale which would make up for the lack of content we got. Other than that, this episode really was phenomenal and if the finale is anything like it, season 2 is going to go out with a bang. Thank goodness we have a season 3 to look forward to!

Also, can we take a moment to appreciate how easily Cheryl fitted in amongst the Serpents? It’s almost as if she’s been going to the Whyte Whyrm and hanging out with them all before now.

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