Riverdale “When A Stranger Calls” Review
Veronica gets a visit from an old friend, the Black Hood continues to ruin Betty’s life and Jughead makes a bold step. Riverdale continues its strong second season in “When A Stranger Calls” so let’s jump into this episode. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead.
In Wednesday’s “When A Stranger Calls”, Betty and her connection with the Black Hood takes center stage. The Black Hood, who’s still unknown to us, has Betty cornered. He’s obsessed with her and has decided he won’t kill anyone if Betty does what he says. Unfortunately for her, that includes ruining her closest relationships. Elsewhere, Archie and Veronica are dealing with the visiting Nick St. Claire. Nick is Veronica’s ex boyfriend and he has the ear of his father, a very wealthy man that her parents need to invest in their project. Nick brings nothing but trouble and that includes a horrible action against Cheryl. On the south side of town, Jughead has seemingly decided to completely give into his family’s legacy and becomes a full fledged member of the South Side Serpents.
I think one of the most interesting things about this season is that it feels more well rounded. This episode is jam packed with a lot of separate character arcs and with a full 22 episode season, Riverdale now has the luxury of telling a bigger story. Clearly the Black Hood is the center of this story but there is also Veronica’s parental issues, Betty’s continued fighting with her mother and Jughead’s joining the South Side Serpents. This town and this cast has felt far more well rounded this season compared to last and this episode is a good example of that.
As someone who watched Sons of Anarchy, it’s hard to not see a little of that in what is going on with Jughead. Like Jax Teller, Jughead was born into this world and never really had a family that wanted him to be more than that. While the gang is a family of sorts, they do commit crimes and they haven’t always been the most peaceful of folks. There’s something here to be said about class conflict in this town and I’d really like to see Riverdale get into that a bit more. This town is segregated into two sides and you have Alice Cooper grandstanding about what should be done with that side of town. She would have their school shut down and continue to put those people against the ropes more than they already have been. With Jughead there now, I want to see this explored more because it could be a very timely statement.
Betty being at the center of what the Black Hood wants has been a really well served swerve that takes the focus off of Archie. After the shooting of his father and the death of Grundy, it did appear that this whole arc would be super focused on Archie and that’s the last thing the show needs as he’s the least interesting of all the teenagers. It also pushes the Betty character to be something more than a “girl next door” archetype. Jokes can be made about “dark Betty” but the choice she ultimately makes at the end does show a side to her that would be interesting to explore. Despite the easy justification (after what happens with Cheryl), it is a choice that doesn’t really line up with who we believe Betty to be and more importantly it goes against the persona she’s put into the world and that part is what’s worth exploring.
“When A Stranger Calls” is another very good episode of the series second season but unlike last year, it’s taking its time to go somewhere. Hopefully that changed pace doesn’t backfire.