The Riverdale season 2 premiere picks up after the season 1 cliffhanger, and establishes a new and darker mystery with the angel of death. In season 1 of The CW's latest comic book adaptation - this time pulling inspiration from Archie Comics' titular character - Archie Andrews and his best friends investigated the death of their former classmate Jason Blossom, but managed to uncover a great deal of darkness in their small hometown. Along with Betty Cooper, Jughead Jones, and Veronica Lodge, Archie learned Jason's killer was his own father, Cliff Blossom - while Jughead's father, FP, helped cover it up - but that wasn't the only dark secret Riverdale was hiding.
The Riverdale season 1 finale dropped a number of revelations, including the existence of Betty's long lost older brother, the impending return of Veronica's father Hiram Lodge, and Jughead's new role in the Southside Serpents. But the biggest cliffhanger of the Riverdale finale was the fate of Archie's father, Fred Andrews, who was shot during what seemed to be a robbery of Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe. Now, the Riverdale season 2 premiere picks up moments after Fred was shot, and spends much of the episode balancing the drama of Fred's fate, as well as Archie's own emotional response to the events in the diner, with establishing the new mystery of the show.
In the Riverdale season 2 premiere, 'A Kiss Before Dying', Archie rushes Fred to the hospital, where the doctors are able to save him from succumbing to the gunshot wound. However, it's some time before Fred wakes up and Archie is distraught during that time, with his focus placed on helping his father and catching the man in the black hood. While Sheriff Keller believes it's a simple robbery gone wrong, Archie and his friends entertain the theory that someone put a hit on Fred - Jughead believes it may be a rogue Serpent, while Veronica has her own suspicions of about her mother and father's involvement.
For the most part - and aside from the fast-paced and dire opening sequence during which Archie rushes Fred to the hospital - the Riverdale season 2 premiere is rather dull, largely utilizing the hour to set the stage for the season to come by offering an answer to the season 1 finale's biggest cliffhanger and moving chess pieces into place. Additionally, after so many red herrings were used in Riverdale season 1, the show is quick to pull a similar move by having Archie and his friends focus on who would want to hire someone to kill Fred, only for the episode's final scene to reveal the shooting at Pop's may have less to do with Fred than they believe.
Instead, the true mystery of Riverdale season 2 is the man in the black hood and why exactly his first two victims have a close connection to Archie Andrews - if that's even the most important link between them (Riverdale certainly has been known to keep important information from its viewers, after all). Now, this mystery runs dangerously close to the territory of The CW's other comic book adapted content, which largely focuses on superheroes and vigilantes, but it also sets the stage for a darker storyline in season 2.
While the murder of Jason Blossom racked Riverdale, and caused a number of dark secrets to come to the surface, the man in the black hood - colorfully referred to as the angel of death by Pop - has already committed murder and attempted murder by the end of the season 2 premiere. No matter the reason behind his actions, though that will undoubtedly be the root of the mystery this season, the man in the hood epitomizes a much darker and more violent side to Riverdale that only first revealed itself in the murder of Jason. But, just as Archie and his friends discovered more darkness lurking in Riverdale the longer they looked, season 2 will no doubt dive to even deeper and darker depths.
Of course, one darker aspect of Riverdale season 2 was already introduced in the premiere, and that would be Hiram Lodge, who has returned home after his time in prison. Considering Veronica accuses her mother of conspiring with her father to kill Fred, there is a great deal of tension even before Hiram makes his first appearance on Riverdale, but his presence will no doubt ratchet up that tension in the Lodge household even higher. Elsewhere, Jughead also sees the darker side of the Serpents after he does his own digging into their potential involvement in the shooting at Pop's. Meanwhile, Betty is forced to confront what Jughead joining the Serpents potentially means for their relationship. Plus, Cheryl Blossom has taken control of her life in the wake of the fire she started at Thornhill, and she continues to prove she's willing to go to extreme lengths to get her way.
Still, the final sequence of the Riverdale season 2 premiere returns the focus back to the mysterious figure at the center of the episode, the man in the black hood. As he attacks another person connected to Archie, all the theories about his motive for shooting Fred go out the window, but Archie and his friends don't know that quite yet. In its second season, Riverdale again establishes a strong central mystery, but the man in the black hood is quite different and already much more violent. What exactly that means for Archie and his friends remains to be seen, but the show kicks off season 2 with a darker mystery and it will be interesting to see what drama and intrigue the angel of death brings to Riverdale.
Riverdale season 2 continues next Wednesday @8pm on The CW.