The episode starts off with Kevin having a ‘leisurely’ jog through the forests outside of town – in the dead of night no less. During his laps, he encounters (and makes out with) another handsome runner, but hears a gunshot a small distance away. Kevin investigates and is met with a bloodied, sobbing Midge Klump.
The scene cuts to the Lodge family, where Hermione is on her way to deliver a coffee to Hiram, only for Veronica to catch her and offer to deliver the beverage in her stead. Hermione firmly reminds her that Hiram doesn’t like people going into his study un-announced, only for the latter to emerge and take the coffee himself. Veronica asks him if she can have her close friends over for the night, and after she appeals to his ego, Hiram acquiesces.
Archie and his football team are practising drills until Reggie informs them that Midge and Moose are in the hospital. Moose apparently shielded Midge from the bullets, but is otherwise alive and well.
Practice is cancelled, causing Archie to leave and ponder whether or not the shooter is the same man who shot his dad and killed Ms Grundy.
He conveys his concerns to Kevin, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, but the latter derails the topic and asks everyone to come over and meet her father. Everyone agrees (albeit begrudgingly) before everyone is driven apart; Archie to visit Moose, Jughead to see his peer mentor, Veronica to class and Betty after a very skittish Kevin.
Betty chastises him for ‘night-jogging’ through the forest, a euphemism Kevin uses for cruising. Betty acknowledges that he had a rough time with Joaquin, but that doesn’t mean he should try and pick men up in such a way. He promises not to and they drop the subject, all the while unaware that their conversation was overheard by Cheryl Blossom…
The scene cuts to Jughead back at Southside High, who after a scuffle with a metal detector and a security guard is greeted by the arrival of the glitzy schoolgirl, Toni Topaz. Through her tour of the school, we learn that Southside High is a far cry from the ‘goodness’ of Riverdale; the walls are tagged with graffiti, the hallways and cafeteria have metal fences and students consume the dangerous ‘jingle-jangle’ drug in the open.
Worst of all, the students related to the Southside Serpents are locked in a Game of Thrones-esque conflict with a rival gang, the Ghoulies.
Jughead doesn’t want to get involved in any further Serpent business, but Toni reminds him that he will have to pick a side sooner or later.
Archie is angry about the police being unable to do anything about the attacks and carries his annoyance all the way to the Lodge apartment.
Before he can get an argue his concerns, Hiram and Hermione arrive to meet the group and after another invitation to dinner (and the edgiest handshake in TV history), Hiram fuels Archie’s frustration
by telling him that sometimes people need to stand up for each other, not the police.
Archie takes this advice to heart and after he comes home, he checks on the gun that Dilton gave him and a pile of comic books in an old chest.
At Southside High, Jughead asks the English teacher Mr. Phillips about the school’s discontinued newspaper and asks Phillips if he can restore it anew. Phillips says he can, but on the condition that he doesn’t write about the drugs and gang activity plaguing Southside High.
Jughead is ecstatic, but not before Toni and fellow Serpent ‘Sweet Pea’ remind him of his divided loyalties.
Back at Riverside High, Betty grills Kevin again about his ‘cruising’ in the woods before Cheryl swoops in and offer Betty some advice.
Contrary to his present good looks, Kevin has a very shaky self-image. He needs validation, even if that means dangerous night-jogging and random hook-ups.
Betty reflects on this advice and returns home, where she discovers her mother and father have received a letter from the shooter himself, a man calling himself ‘The Black Hood’.
The Black Hood’s letter states that his motives for the attacks were to purge the town of ‘sin’; Fred committed adultery, Ms Grundy was a child predator and Moose and Midge were obsessed with drugs and sex. He announces this is not the last time Riverdale will hear from him.
Over in Fox’s Forest, Betty and Cheryl corner Kevin and once again, chastise him over his activities. Betty repeats how dangerous his ‘night-jogging’ is, which makes Kevin absolutely livid. He reminds her she lives in a world where her form of love is much more ‘normal’ and simplistic, whereas Kevin’s sexuality exposes him to relationships that are all but completely scrutinized and taboo. Betty tries to apologize but he storms off.
Things get worse for Betty when she visits Jughead’s trailer and finds him injured, apparently from a motorcycle accident. She patches him up and asks Toni to look after him while she goes back home.
When Betty is out of earshot, Jughead begs her not to tell her about how he really got his injuries; a beating from Sweet Pea and his friends.
Meanwhile, Kevin continues his jog in the forest and has upped the ante by arranging a meeting with a potential date. The man arrives via a car and is shady as he can get, causing Kevin to bolt at the last minute.
When he gets home, he is greeted by his father, Sheriff Keller, who has been informed of Kevin’s (ahem) activities from Betty and is understandably concerned.
He does chew Kevin out about his cruising but admits it is probably his fault because his son’s sexuality is something they have never spoken about with each other.
The two embrace and promise to be more candid with one another, especially about Kevin’s life.
cuts to the Lodge apartment where after a light dinner, Hiram invites Archie into his study, where they discuss his plan to go after the Black Hood.
While he does advise Archie on the dangers of vigilantism, Hiram reminds Archie the Black Hood’s main weapon is fear and to combat the Black Hood, they must fight back with their own kind of fear.
And to that end, Archie calls up the Bulldogs and with a cringey, viral video, they announce their watchdog group, the Red Circle, have declared war on the Black Hood.
REVIEW: Wow. So. Much. DRAMA!
Archie’s madness and paranoia are starting to reach an all-time high and with the creation of the Red Circle, it’s only a matter of time before his chickens come home to roost.
Jugheads’ divided loyalties are not sitting well with the younger Serpents, and with Sweet Pea’s assault, it’s clear sooner or later he will have to choose a side. And if that wasn’t enough, the arrival of the glamorous, like-minded photographer Toni Topaz is clearly already having an effect on Jughead too. Will the new girl drive him away from Betty?
But everyone’s favourite gay best friend, Kevin Keller, was the one who really shone this time around. Kevin has always been a supporting character, so seeing him and his insecurities fleshed out was definitely the highlight of this episode. This has set up an excellent character arc for him and has definitely cast a spotlight on the unjust ‘differences’ between heterosexual and homosexual relationships and I hope this is expanded upon in the future.
I give this episode 4.5/5 Red Circles