TV Reviews

Riverdale Season 2 Episode 7: Tales from the Darkside Review

If you would like to read my review of last week’s episode, click here.

Synopsis: The town remains on edge after a chilling letter from the Black Hood challenges the town’s residents to remain sinless for 48 hours, or he’ll strike again. (IMDB)

Writers: James DeWille

Director: Dawn Wilkinson

Rating: TV-14

Running Time: 45mins

“Tales from the Darkside” starts off with the Black Hood leaving a letter at Pop’s shop. He has given the town of Riverdale an ultimatum.  Stop sinning and he will leave them alone. Let public panic ensue. The episode is then divided into three separate stories: Jughead & Archie, Josie and Betty & Veronica.

Bughead is lying in bed together when Betty wonders who could have had the means to get to the Sugar Man, but suggests her idea is too ludicrous. Before she can inform Jughead he gets a call. It’s from Penny Peabody and she’s calling in that favour. Uh oh, STAY AWAY JUG. She tells Jughead his father was beat up by some Ghoulies for what he and Archie did and they can help him by transporting a package to Greendale.

Jughead immediately goes to Archie and tells him he owes him, no questions asked so they take Fred’s car and pick up the package: an ominous wooden box chained together. On their drive, Archie discusses an idea that they pack up and move to New York: Archie and Jughead pursuing their art careers while Betty and Veronica live on Park Avenue together. As they seem to agree on this fantasy one of their tires blows. Unfortunately they don’t have a spare, but a fine gentleman offers to take Jughead and his crate to Greendale. Just don’t look under the tarp. Did I say fine, I meant creepy as hell!

As they travel to Greendale, the driver has an ominous religious broadcast on his car radio talking about the Black Hood as some righteous saviour in a world of sinners. Jughead asks to turn it off, but the driver is not amused. They stop at a diner to pick up gas where the driver tells Jughead about the Riverdale Reaper, a shotgun wielding boogeyman, that killed a family in their home and no one knows what happened to him. The driver believes that the Black Hood is the same man who has resurfaced and is killing once again. This is going into Zodiac Killer territory.

After paying for gas, the driver says that Jughead will also be paying for food, but he doesn’t have any more money. Archie shows up when the driver starts to rant about these two boys trying to dine and ditch with a mysterious package and all their sinning and Archie decides it’s time to get away from this man. Finally a smart decision from the brain of Archie Andrews. Archie and Jughead deliver the package to a mysterious warehouse where a woman that looks like something from Indiana Jones meets The Goonies comes out and explains that Jughead will deliver their packages on a weekly basis.

As they sit in Pop’s diner, Jughead suggests that the Riverdale Reaper might be an actual lead and asks Archie on a library bro-date, but Archie’s already got plans. And you can see the pain in Jughead’s eyes. Archie tries to persuade Jughead to get out of the package deliveries, but he wants to talk it through with his dad first. At the prison, Jughead is surprised to see FP is doing well, no beating or bruises. He confronts Penny about lying to him, but she videotaped him and Archie delivering the package for blackmail. Apparently FP didn’t keep a promise to her and therefore that’s his problem too.

Onto Josie, who’s practicing at the Riverdale High music room. She leaves and heads home to… a hotel room? Apparently Mayor McCoy moved them into the hotel to protect them and has given Josie a curfew. At school the following day she opens up to Cheryl about writing her own solo music as Cheryl reveals to us that she got Josie an opportunity for some studio time, but only Josie and not the Pussycats. As she opens her locker, a teddy bear sits on the top shelf with the note “I’ll be watching you.” They call it a secret admirer; I call it creepy as hell. (I see a recurring theme here).

While Josie continues to practice alone at the music room, she’s approached by Chuck. You remember him? The pig footballer from Season 1 that got his ass handed to him by Dark Betty. Well apparently he wants a date with Josie, but before he can even ask she cuts him off and shuts him down. YES. Also let’s appreciate here that Cheryl says that she wants to help Josie’s career blossom. These ridiculous lines are why I love this show. Soon after Josie is confronted by the Pussycats who found out about her solo venture and decide to break up the band.

Josie has another late night jam session, but after being spooked, she asks for a ride home from Chuck. But first they go to Pop’s for a late night date. He tells her about how he’s trying to change and so far it seems to be genuine. He even goes to church every week! He convinces Josie to dance in the middle of Pop’s. That is until Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller break it up and take her home. Mayor McCoy tells Josie about the death threats she’s been receiving towards their family which explains the curfew and move. Sheriff Keller asks if Josie if she has received any gifts and she of course says no. WHY.

At school the next day, Cheryl chastises Josie for going on a day with Chuck and blurts out about his stalker behaviour. The newly introduced janitor seemed to listen in. In the music room, Josie finds a drawing of herself left on her keyboard with the quote “If I can’t have you, no one can.” Attached to the note is another gift: a pig’s heart in a box. RUN JOSIE. Immediately, Cheryl confronts Chuck about the heart and drawing and even convinces Josie that Chuck must be behind the letters as well. The Sheriff informs the McCoys that Chuck won’t be bothering them anymore, but no evidence points to him.

Josie sits at her keyboard again practicing, when a knife-wielding Black Hood enters behind her and quickly slits her throat. And just as quickly as the blade hit skin, Josie shoots straight up in a panic from her bed. It was a nightmare. THANK GOD (but also predictable). As the Mayor consoles her daughter, it shows Cheryl drawing herself and Josie in the exact same style of the note she received earlier. So Cheryl is the stalker? What’s her angle? Is she attached to Josie for some reason because she saved her, or is this some psychological test to get her ready for the spotlight?

Finally, the final chapter of this episode: Betty. After leaving the trailer, Betty and Veronica are told by Kevin that he’s concerned that the town is turning on his father. He’s acting strangely: not sleeping, talking to himself, leaving the house at odd hours. The girls sit down and both have a theory as to what’s up with Sheriff Keller. Betty blurts out she thinks he’s the Black Hood while Veronica thinks he’s having an affair. While Veronica says all his behaviour points to adulterer, Betty says it explains the Black Hood’s access to Mr. Phillips’ cell.

With both girls on the hunt for evidence, Betty goes to the police station and interviews Sheriff Keller about the break-in at the station. He shares all of his information, even shows her pictures, but she is still unconvinced. Meanwhile, Veronica is sleeping over at the Keller house playing board games. Betty calls her to tell her to look for evidence for both of their investigations while she’s there. As Veronica explores the house she walks into a very dimly lit basement where a super jacked and super shirtless Sheriff Keller is working out. She asks him about the family dynamic with the stress of the Black Hood and his wife being away, but they are interrupted by Kevin. During the night she sees Sheriff Keller leave.

At Pop’s, Betty and Veronica discuss the sheriff’s activities and even notice that a drug addict was killed last night too. Betty can’t see it as just a coincidence and decides to break into the Keller house to investigate for herself. What she stumbles upon is a giant evidence wall of everything related to the Black Hood and even finds a hood in his desk. Could look suspicious, but he’s also a police officer. Keller finds her and calls her dad, Hal Cooper. He explains that he brought his work home with him and has an alibi for all of the attacks and then he promises not to tell Kevin about what she’s been doing because it would tear him apart.

Betty continues to be unconvinced and somehow ropes Veronica into her scheme to tail the Sheriff on one of his late-night ventures. As they follow him, he stops at a motel and enters a room. They follow him where they see him making out with Mayor McCoy. WHAT IS GOING ON. And look another sinner. They decide to keep his affair between them to let Kevin’s image of his dad stay intact.

The episode ends with the main storylines ending at Pop’s where the phone starts ringing. Pop’s answers and immediately his face turns to shock. He informs the patrons of Pop’s that the call was from the Black Hood, that they failed his test and that the reckoning is upon them.

Questions

  • What will the potential fallout be of Sheriff Keller and Mayor McCoy’s affair?
  • Is Cheryl the one sending Josie all of the gifts and if so, why?
  • Will Archie and Jughead’s different worlds continue to pull them apart?
  • When will the Ghoulies look for revenge, and what do they plan to do?
  • Will Jughead find a way to get out of Penny Peabody’s blackmail?
  • Who is the Riverdale Reaper? I’m sure Betty would love to look into that.
  • Is the Riverdale Reaper somehow connected to the Black Hood?
  • With the reckoning upon them, who is next?

Overall, this was a great episode, in fact one of the best of the entire series. The episode follows an anthology storytelling style that cuts it into three segments, each of them dark and gritty in tone while also having some lighthearted Riverdale moments. As much as this season has been enjoyable so far, this episode’s change in tone and atmosphere, given the situation at hand, definitely stepped up the intensity. Between the creepy farmer, B & V’s investigation in creaky houses and Josie’s nightmare, it had me on the edge of my seat and with the reckoning upon us, hopefully this tone stays for a while.

Score: 9.5/10

What did you think of “Tales from the Darkside”? Is the mystery becoming clearer? Let me know in the comments below!

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