Riverdale Season 2, Episode 21 Recap: "Judgment Night"

Photo: Courtesy of the CW.
This was probably the MOST action-packed episode of Riverdale yet. I could barely catch my breath.
We begin where we left off: Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) face to face with the Black Hood! After some quick thinking, she gets outside of the house to retrieve her bow, arrow, and red cape, of course. I always knew Cheryl's archery would resurface. Anyway, she stands off with the Black Hood and shoots him in the right shoulder, causing him to run away, which gives her time to call Betty (Lili Reinhart) to tip her off. Cheryl says the Black Hood is a wounded animal and will be ready to kill anyone now.
At the hospital, Fangs Fogarty (Drew Ray Tanner) is still alive but the Serpents are up in arms. FP (Skeet Ulrich) won’t let Jughead (Cole Sprouse) go out to find the shooter, a.k.a. Reggie (Charles Melton). But after Jughead gets a call from Archie (KJ Apa), we learn Reggie didn’t shoot Fangs. So now Archie and the Bulldogs are searching for Reggie so the Serpents don’t find him first and tear him apart.
The town is collapsing in on itself and full on riots have broken out. Veronica (Camila Mendes) is on her way back home when she sees Mrs. Klump (Robyn Ross), Midge’s mom, who admits that she killed Fangs.
After turning in Mrs. Klump to the police station and phoning Archie with the update, Veronica sees her mother Hermione (Marisol Nichols) at the police station with a bounty flier for the Black Hood. Veronica knows where the $1 million bounty came from (her St. Clair ransom money) and is furious with her parents.
At the Pembrooke, Veronica goes into Hiram’s (Mark Consuelos) office looking for her money and finds a folder marked “October Surprise” with pictures of Fred and Hermione kissing and an article saying “Fred Andrews Family Man Not So Innocent.” Veronica shows Hermione Hiram’s smear article but Hermione defends him, saying she knew about the story. Veronica says Hiram always has someone to take the fall for him and that Hermione running for Mayor is just a means to an end for Hiram.
Still licking their wounds, Veronica and Hermione are at the Pembrooke where we see the previously identified son of Papa Poutine, Small Fry (Andre Tricoteux), kill Andre (Stephan Miers) in the lobby before breaking into the Lodges' apartment, Hermione finds Hiram’s gun and shoots Small Fry dead.
When Hiram gets home to the bloody mess, he thinks it’s business as usual but Veronica, fuming, tells him it's his mess to clean up. Veronica calls Hiram out for the “October Surprise” folder and rails against her mother’s complacency; ultimately Veronica refuses to be Hiram’s collateral damage. It’s very clear now that Veronica is going to make a full break from her family.
Archie spends the beginning of the episode with the Bulldogs searching for Reggie, and even has a standoff with the Serpents before they know Reggie wasn’t the shooter. The Serpents are trashing Riverdale high school. We then learn Reggie is holed up at Pop’s after having called Hiram for help and being denied.
At Pop’s, Archie, Reggie, and Kevin (Casey Cott) discuss a plan to get Reggie to safety when Pop’s is suddenly surrounded by Ghoulies in Mad Max-style dress and clown-like face paint — it’s quite extreme. Archie and the guys barricade Pop’s, and then Archie climbs to the roof and launches a Molotov Cocktail down at the Ghoulies to get them to back off, just as former Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) drives up, shotgun in hand, flanked by Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) and FP. They make the Ghoulies disperse and, as Kevin says, it's “hot Riverdale dads to the rescue!”
When Archie and Fred get home after the incident at Pop’s, someone who appears to be the Black Hood attacks Archie and shoots Fred, but Fred was wearing a bulletproof vest from Sheriff Keller. Seeing Fred is okay, Archie takes off after the assailant but doesn’t catch him.
After Jughead calls all the Serpents back to the Whyte Wyrm and gets them to stop rioting and pursuing Reggie, Jughead and Sweet Pea (Jordan Connor) bicker over Jughead’s responsibility for the mess with Fangs and the Ghoulies. Jughead gets a call from Penny (Brit Morgan) a.k.a. Snake Charmer who tells Jughead she has captured Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) at the docks.
Jughead goes to save Toni from Penny when Malachai (Tommy Martinez), leader of the Ghoulies, appears. Penny tells Jughead she wants the Southside so she can sell drugs with the Ghoulies, and says the Serpents have to leave by midnight or face a throwdown in Pickens Park at dawn. Before things get dicey, Cheryl, tipped off by Jughead, shows up with her bow and arrow to save her girl Toni (and Jughead).
At the Whyte Wyrm, the Serpents all vote to rumble with the Ghoulies instead of abstaining. Jughead feels responsible for instigating this feud with the Ghoulies back during their drag race that got busted by the cops. At the trailer, inspecting his “murder board,” Jughead realizes this sudden appearance of the Ghoulies, in the middle of the riots, when tensions are already so high, could be none other than Hiram’s doing.
Jughead calls Hiram, listing off all that Hiram has done to up-end the town. But the one thing he couldn’t buy? The Serpents. So Hiram paid Penny and the Ghoulies to go to war with the Serpents to abolish the Serpents altogether. But, Jughead has a counter offer.
Jughead is alone at the park, as per his deal with Hiram that Jughead would go in place of all the Serpents. Jughead clearly feels like he needs to make amends for his poor choices that had led the Serpents here. Before the Ghoulies, who’ve now circled around Jughead, tear into him, they threaten Betty’s life which they know will hurt Jughead more than the beating he’s about to take, just as Penny calls out that she wants her pound of flesh.
Betty, aware of the bounty on the Black Hood’s, a.k.a. her Dad’s, head, is frantic trying to find him after learning from Cheryl he’s wounded. She gets a call from the Black Hood telling her to come home and he threatens to kill Alice.
Betty gets home to find Hal (Lochlyn Munro) setting up a home movie. He wants to show Alice (Mädchen Amick) and Betty a video of him as a little boy with his mother, whom we don’t see on camera, essentially confessing that Hal’s father killed the Conway family because they were sinners. Hal tells Alice to take out her tape recorder so he can tell his story, so people will understand when they’re found. He clearly plans to kill them.
What unfolds next is a loosely stitched together explanation for all of the plot twists over season 2. Hal proceeds to explain that Grandpappy Cooper wasn’t murdered by his brother as we’ve been led to believe but in fact, he was the killer. Grandpappy Cooper killed Grandpappy Blossom and then took on the Cooper name to create a new identity.
The Conway family knew this secret and Mr. Conway blackmailed Grandpappy Cooper so Grandpappy Cooper killed the Conway family, even the kids, but as we know, missed Joseph Svenson. Hal bends down in front of Betty and asks, “Who am I?” Betty says, “You’re the Black Hood,” and Hal says she's right. "Now say what I did.” Betty lists his offenses and then asks about the debate but Hal says it wasn’t him.
Betty asks why, and Hal says this is a town of sinners and her speech at Town Hall about Riverdale doing better reminded him of the promise he made to his mother in the video, to do better than his own father, so he continued the work his grandfather started: the purging of sin.
In an effort to distract Hal and create an opening for escape, Alice begins to taunt him, saying she knew he was a mama’s boy and that he can’t do anything right, not even be a serial killer. Alice even admits to her affair with FP and calls out some of the pretty nonsensical reasoning Hal had for killing people such as Fred’s affair, which both Alice and Hal are guilty of having. While Alice chastises him, Betty knocks her father unconscious with a fire poker just as he began to choke Alice.
Next, we see Hal being walked out in handcuffs by former Sheriff Keller. Archie, standing with Betty as she watches, tells her about the Black Hood trying to kill Fred again but Betty says that’s not possible, leaving the door open to who the second masked assailant could be. My money is on Hiram.
Betty gets a call from Jughead, saying what sounds like his last goodbye, as we later learn he’s ready to accept his fate at the docks, and she calls FP worried. FP goes to find Jughead and in the last moments of the episode, we see crying FP carrying a beaten Jughead out of the woods, completely covered in blood, missing his own serpent tattoo.

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