Riverdale's Black Hood Is Back, But Is He The Real Deal?

Photo: Courtesy of CW.
Villains never die on Riverdale — at least, when that villain is Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro), aka the notorious Black Hood. But is there more to the return of this serial killer than meets the eye?
On Wednesday's new Riverdale episode "Chapter Fifty-Five: Prom Night," father and murderer Hal steals a page out of Michael Myers' book and escapes during a transfer to the local Riverdale prison. The Black Hood heads to Riverdale High School junior prom, where he murders a few randoms before going after his big target: his daughter, Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart). In addition to being straight-up terrified, Betty is surprised, as she was informed that her dad perished in the bus crash — his severed hand found at the scene proved it. Of course, because this is a TV show, Hal, apparently, just cut his hand off — and put an urban legend-like hook in its place — as a way to evade police.
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As Betty runs from her father in the Black Hood mask during prom night, she screams "Dad, why are you doing this?" Well — we're wondering the exact same thing. Yes, Hal did try to kill Betty at the end of season 2, but since then, the two have spent a lot of time together — and it seemed like Hal was trying to get Betty to be on his side and join the darkness.
Is it possible that Hal "tricked" Betty, as Betty tells her mother Alice (Mädchen Amick) at the end of the episode? Quite possibly — Betty did get Hal that prison transfer, which allowed him to escape. Maybe he did it all because he wanted Betty dead. However, it's also very possible that something else is going on with the Black Hood...in that this Black Hood might not be Hal at all.
Let's consider how we saw the Black Hood in this episode. For one thing, we never saw his face — only the Black Hood's mask. Hal may have taken on a different persona while wearing his serial killer costume, but it's odd that the series never revealed him putting on the mask, or taking it off. It's almost like we're supposed to question whether this is really Hal. He also never speaks, and never tells Betty why he's chasing her — something that the monologuing, phone call-making Black Hood would relish in, no?
Is it possible that actor Munro was unavailable for this particular episode, and that Riverdale had to call in a stunt double for the Black Hood's performance? Totally.
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However, it's worth noting how this episode ends for Betty. After running away (unscathed) from the Black Hood/possibly her dad, she heads for the Farm, where cult leader Edgar Evernever (Chad Michael Murray) invites her to stay for her protection. Despite hating the Farm and insisting her mom leave the cult as soon as possible, Betty is just scared enough to agree...which may have been the entire point of the Black Hood's appearance in the first place.
Isn't it possible that Edgar set up the Black Hood attack as a way to trick Betty into joining the Farm, as was his goal for several episodes now? Perhaps Hal really is dead — or at least, in hiding somewhere away from Riverdale — and it was Edgar who orchestrated the entire attack. We know that Edgar has the ability to make people believe all sorts of things — like that their dead relatives are alive — and this Black Hood scenario may have been just another one of his tricks.
The final piece, of course, is the Gargoyle King connection. Betty is convinced that Edgar is connected to the game in some way, as all signs point to a possible relationship between the Farm and the Gryphons & Gargoyles game. The Gargoyle King was in the school just before the Black Hood arrived. What if the Gargoyle King lured Betty out of the prom, but because the Gargoyle King is literally just someone in a costume holding sticks, intended for the person posing as the Black Hood to keep Betty occupied so their real identity was not revealed?
There's plenty of drama still to unfold on season 3 of Riverdale — and Edgar setting up a crazy Black Hood plot could be just the tip of the iceberg.
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