Is Riverdale's Black Hood Killer Just a Red Herring?

Riverdale - The Man in the Black Hood

The black-hooded serial killer continues his reign of terror in Riverdale... except, when you think about it, he has only actually killed one person so far. Still, he has seemingly attempted to murder three others, and that's enough to set the whole town on edge. Archie is obviously the most affected, having seen his father nearly die in his arms, and he's now on a hard and determined mission to track down the self-named Black Hood - and end him.

Chapter Sixteen: 'The Watcher in the Woods' saw the Black Hood delivering a letter to the Cooper residence, for publication in the Riverdale Register. Although Alice took it to Sheriff Keller and the Mayor, who both agreed it shouldn't be published, she had, of course, already sent it to print for the next morning's front page, effectively playing right into the author's hands.

Taking responsibility for the murder of "the child predator" (Miss Grundy), and the shootings of "the adulterer" (Fred) and "the drug and sex-addicted teenagers" (Moose and Midge), the Black Hood pointed out that Riverdale is not innocent (as if we didn't know that already) and adds that "my wrath is the price of your lies." He finished up by saying that he can't be stopped; seemingly this person is on a mission to wipe out all sin in the town, which could take a while. "I am the wolf. You are the flock. This is the bloodletting," he chillingly concluded.

It all proved too much for Polly Cooper, who skipped town without any goodbye, arguing that being an unmarried teen mother-to-be carrying her cousin's babies makes her the poster-girl for sin. Alice, meanwhile, was too focused on her 'scoop' to notice. But is it really such a scoop, or are we all being led up the garden path on this one?

Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper in Riverdale Season One Finale Speech

Enclosed with the letter was Fred Andrews' wallet, and Miss Grundy's sunglasses and that would certainly point towards this being a note from the true culprit, but isn't it possible that someone else has gotten hold of these items and is stirring the pot? If, on the other hand, this is a genuine note, then why are they sending such key pieces of evidence to Alice Cooper, of all people? In this week's episode, "The Town That Dreaded Sundown," the Black Hood made contact with Betty Cooper and claimed that he was "inspired" by the speech she gave in the season 1 finale, and in the trailer for next week's episode he tells her, "I don't like sharing you with people."

The fact that the audience now has so many clues about the Black Hood killer's identity (his gender, his approximate age, his build, his eye color, and even his motive) is in itself suspicious. The show seems to be aggressively pointing the audience towards Hal Cooper as the prime suspect - everything from his physical appearance, his previously revealed dark side, his closeness to Betty and Alice, his twisted morals (he sent Polly away to a convent to hide the "shame" of her pregnancy), and his convenient absence whenever the Black Hood killer strikes means that revealing Hal as the killer would wrap everything up in a neat bow. And that, of course, makes it all the more likely that either the Black Hood is acting on someone else's behalf, or that his whole M/O is just a fiction - a distraction from something bigger that's going on.

Perhaps someone had a personal vendetta against Miss Grundy, and made her death look like it was part of a serial killer's campaign of terror to disguise the real reason for it (that would certainly explain why Fred, Moose and Midge all survived their attacks). Or perhaps something even more sinister is at hand. One thing's for sure: this being Riverdale, it's unlikely that the mystery has a simple answer.

Next: Riverdale’s Black Hood Killer Speaks at Last

Riverdale continues on The CW on Wednesdays at 9pm.

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