Riverdale: Chapter Sixteen – The Watcher in the Woods

Riverdale: Chapter Sixteen – The Watcher in the Woods | Season 2, Episode 3 | Rating: 9/11 |

SPOILERS AHEAD: Read at your own risk.

Fear seems to be the flavor of the week over in Riverdale. It’s percolated throughout the town and trickled down to basically everyone except, possibly, Cheryl who seems wholly unaffected by a masked killer on the loose. And while our masked man didn’t claim another victim this week, and Moose and Midge survived thanks to Moose being as large as his name, he has spread fear far and wide. But he’s not the only one spreading fear around; we also see it in the Lodge home and a new to us gang over at Southside High called The Ghoulies. Let’s dive in, shall we?

New School, New Rules

It’s Jughead’s first day over at Southside High and from what we can tell, the place is a hellhole. Our little loner boy was hoping that he could just keep his head down and get through it after his walk through the metal detectors into school. Boy, was he wrong. Enter Toni Topaz, a fellow Southside Serpent at Southside High who signed up to give Jughead a tour of his new digs and explain some rules. Her tour of the school is reminiscent of the cafeteria tour in Mean Girls, only this ‘Janice’ explains to this ‘Cady’ that if he doesn’t sit with them, it’s not social suicide, it might be literal suicide. Why you ask? Well, it’s because of the Ghoulies. The Ghoulies are a rival gang at Southside High and not a great bunch to get tangled up with. They are drug dealers, street racers, possibly cannibals and will happily make Jughead their bitch if they sniff out that he’s alone and vulnerable. That doesn’t sound so good but Jughead passes because he’s not a Serpent and he just wants to go read his book. What a nerd.

One bright spot for Jughead is that he got the school paper, The Red and Black, back up and running and seems to have found his own hidey-hole. But Jughead didn’t bank on the patience of the Ghoulies and after finding himself locked in the school after a late night working at the paper, he also found himself getting a beat down. Turns out that Jughead is a quick study because he covers up the whole thing the following morning with Betty, claiming an accident with the motorcycle, and then sits with the Serpents at lunch. Way to fall in line, Jughead. I guess he’s a pack animal after all.

It’s Getting Dark In Here

Archie hasn’t gone all “Dark Archie” on us yet, but the boy is troubled. He’s troubled by a few things, actually, which makes him not the best guest at Veronica’s house for the premiere of The Matchlorette with the other core four. He’s more than a little frustrated at his dad’s refrain of “Let the police do their job” and – coupled with his feelings of being a target plus the ineptitude of Sheriff Keller with the whole “Who Killed Jason Blossom?” thing – our Archie is feeling rather helpless. So, what’s a boy to do? How about take advice from his girlfriend’s previously incarcerated father, because, it’s not like there would be any potential for ulterior motives…right? Anyway, Archie decides to form a watch group with other students in school: they won’t be vigilantes, but they will be there to help anyone who needs them and act as extra support for the police. It’s a good thing that Archie formed this little school group because he gets a call from Ethel while out on patrol with Reggie. Ethel was walking alone at night and a van kept following her. Thankfully, she’s safe but the van that was circling her got away before Archie or Reggie could get a good look at it.

As if things couldn’t get any creepier, a package shows up on the Cooper doorstep, sans mailing address. What’s in the package? I’m glad you asked. It contained three things: a letter from someone claiming responsibility for the recent bout of crime, Fred’s wallet, and Miss Grundy’s red sunglasses. The letter is from someone calling themselves ‘The Black Hood’ and casually explains that he’s been punishing sinners for their crimes and the bloodletting has just begun. How charming. This prompts Betty’s sister, Polly, to exit stage right; she is, after all, an unwed mother carrying her cousin’s babies. Needless to say, I think the guy has everyone’s attention.

Into The Woods

Cheryl isn’t the only one who doesn’t seem worried about their own personal safety. Kevin Keller has been going out for night jogs, which actually means he’s cruising Fox Forest for hookups. We discover it was in the middle of a make-out session between Kevin and some rando that Moose and Midge were shot: Kevin was the one who found them and got help. Despite being so close to the dangerous action, Kevin can’t help himself and Betty can’t seem to understand why. Cheryl, ever the eavesdropper, enlightens Betty on a little thing called the human psyche. According to Cheryl, Kevin still thinks he resembles Pugsley Addams and is looking for validation from others, even though he’s now a total smoke show. Translation: he’s hot. Kevin, on the other hand, explains to Betty (and Cheryl) that the woods are the only option for people like him. Apparently Riverdale is such a homogeneous town that the gay populous is relegated to the outskirts and the outskirts means the woods. We always knew it was a struggle for Kevin to be gay because he’s the sheriff’s son, but I think we’ve come to learn that Riverdale isn’t the most accepting place to live.

Thankfully, Kevin sees what can possibly happen to him before he makes the incredibly stupid decision to get into a stranger’s car. When he gets home he finds his dad waiting up for him: Betty decided to rat on Kevin’s night time activities when she showed up and found Kevin wasn’t home. This prompts a bit of a heart to heart between dad and son with the promise of talking more openly about things from this point forward.

Lodging Issues

Things still aren’t going well in the Lodge household. Veronica seems eager for daddy’s approval now that she’s decided to give the happy family thing a go, however, mommy dearest can’t decide how to treat her daughter. In one breath Hermione is telling Veronica not to push her dad and warns her that she’s playing with fire. In the next, she calls her daughter “thirsty” for daddy’s approval and jeers that he will always hold her at arm’s length. Make up your mind, mother. Hiram is about to make it up for her. Since the apartment is acoustically engineered so that he can hear everything in his study, he tells Hermione that she can burn her relationship with Veronica but his warning against her poisoning his daughter against him is one of the most casual threats I’ve ever seen. This man is clearly to be feared. Perhaps we are also seeing the first glimmer of abuse in the household?

Meanwhile, Veronica is “testing” her dad in all sorts of ways, from the family dinner with Archie over to wanting to take a more active role in Lodge Industries. She is a shareholder, after all. I imagine she’s trying to figure out what his true motives are, but I doubt she will be so lucky.


  • There was a lovely moment between Kevin and Moose in the hospital. Glad things seem to be okay between them. I wish they were okay between Betty and Kevin.
  • Jughead figured out that the distribution for Blossom’s drugs came from the Ghoulies at Southside High. That one unanswered question from last season resolved.
  • Toni finds it hard to believe Betty is Jughead’s girlfriend. She was picturing someone more like Emily the Strange or Wynona Rider from Beetlejuice.
  • Archie names the watch group The Red Circle after the comics he hid his gun under.
  • Even more interesting is that The Red Circle comic Archie was holding features The Mighty Crusaders, one of which is The Black Hood.
  • We have to wonder more about Riverdale’s attitude towards gay people when Cheryl calls Kevin a “precious, beautiful, compulsive piece of trash.” Is that for all gay people or just because Kevin is acting incredibly stupid?
  • Archie and Hiram have a man-to-man chat where he gives Archie two warnings: 1) to never sneak into Veronica’s room again and, 2) to never ever hurt Veronica. Also, he offers additional advice on how to deal with the masked terror and seems a little too thrilled to see Archie’s video threatening The Black Hood. Uh oh.
  • Favorite moment comes from Betty when confronting Kevin about his nighttime activities. “Why can’t you just use Grindr like every other gay guy in the world?” Betty asks. “Because nobody is who they say they are online.” Kevin replied. Too true Kevin, too true.