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Nightmare Fuel / Riverdale

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“My King, my savior. Guide me through the night. Bless me with your darkness, gift me with your flight.”

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  • While mostly the same nice girl she's always been, Betty has a very Beware the Nice Ones edge to her in this series, capable of slipping into an icy Tranquil Fury to make murder threats, and even prepared to boil a guy in a Jacuzzi unless he apologizes for his slut-shaming actions. She also appears to take on the identity of her sister Polly, which she later claims to not remember, hinting at some very serious psychological issues.
    • There's also the implications that it's her family that is causing said issues. Not only did her sister get sent to a group home, but Betty is not allowed to see her, and her parents won't talk about her. Alice is so obsessed with keeping Betty perfect that she controls what she wears, does, and hangs out with. Betty's father hardly does anything to stand up to his wife, and only really talks to Betty in episode 5, but really just makes things worse by basically telling Betty to stop asking questions. Betty clearly needs some help, and a little Adderall isn't going to fix them.
    • Episode 10 has her finally acknowledge this herself, admitting to Jughead that she's terrified of the darkness lurking inside her. This comes after she became so furious at seeing Chuck again that she clenches her fists hard enough to cut open her palms.
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  • The fact that Fred unknowingly had an extended conversation with his son's rapist (about Archie) can be very unsettling, especially through an Adult Fear perspective.
  • The times we see Jason Blossom's corpse.
  • The only adult who wanted to turn in a child predator is Alice Cooper, who only wanted to use Archie's rape as an excuse to keep Betty away from him. And now Jennifer Gibson is still out there and up to her own tricks.
    • Her very last scene before leaving town is her checking out another group of teenage boys.
    • At the very least, as of season 2, she isn't out there anymore.
  • Cheryl's nightmare at the start of the fifth episode.
    • To clarify, she creeps up to Jason's coffin, tentatively opens the lid, only to find it empty, and the inside stained with blood. She then turns around to find a very dead Jason staring her down, complete with mottled, waterlogged skin, the bullet hole in his forehead, and those cloudy dead eyes. Then, he reaches out for her...
    • Hell, Episode 5 reveals everything about Cheryl's home life is, as Veronica aptly puts it, a "gothic horror show". They live in an enormous mansion with its own graveyard, Addams Family style, wherein Cheryl's parents control and belittle her life every way they can. And then there's Nana Rose with her tendency towards hiding in her dead grandson's bedroom when she isn't catatonic at the dinner table.
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    • Penelope Blossom caressing Archie's face telling him that he looks so much like Jason is very creepy to say the least.
  • Alice and Hal hate Jason to the point that their reaction to learning Polly got pregnant with his child was to have her institutionalized so people think she's insane. Just the thought of parents doing that to their own child is terrifying, but it really makes you wonder what they intend to do to the baby when it arrives.
    • Although it turns out that the Coopers just want Polly to give up the baby for adoption, the way they lie straight to Betty's face about how Polly agreed to the adoption, not knowing that Polly had told Betty she wanted to keep the child, is quietly chilling.
    • Knowing what Hal really planned to do with Polly's baby before she was taken away, it turns out this fear was very justified.
  • Jughead's nightmare at the start of episode 7, largely due to the sheer dissonance of everyone in bright 50s outfits and acting borderline saccharine, Jughead's narration about the significance of family, and Archie with a knife sticking out of his back.
  • Jughead's arrest as a suspect of Jason Blossom's murder after he's spent so much time investigating the crimes with Betty and getting further than the actual police have - it instills fear in the audience because Jughead has done everything right but seeing him interrogated by Sheriff Keller is very anxiety inducing. Plus, Sheriff Keller uses the kind of evidence that doubles as an emotional gut punch to poor Juggie, like: how Jughead is a bullied loner, has a bad family situation, spent time in a juvenile detention centre and his student record isn't straight A's. Jughead's trembling and quiet voice when he talks to Betty really hits home how scared he really is.
    Jughead: Those Paradise Lost kids went to death row because they wore black and listened to Metallica...I don't want to become a scapegoat.
  • Penelope Blossom strategically gathering information to try and take away Polly's baby has a severe dose of Adult Fear. No doubt that if she could get away with tearing the baby straight out of Polly's arms immediately after labour, she'd do it.
  • Polly moving in with the Blossoms, because she still doesn't trust her parents enough that they won't force her to give up her baby. While Penelope Blossom seemed genuine when she told Polly she would be safe in Thornhill, keep in mind that she'd tried to declare Polly an unfit mother so she could take the baby by force.
  • Episode 9 ends with Cheryl Blossom using angry red marker to wipe out Archie and Polly's faces from the Blossom get-together earlier in the episode. She erases Archie because he'd rejected her burgeoning crush on him, and erases Polly because she's pregnant with Jason's baby and is being treated much better by her parents. Hell hath no fury...
    • Alice Cooper throwing a brick through the Riverdale Registrar in a moment of pure desperation and fury at Hal. It's small wonder that the gossip around Riverdale is that 'crazy' runs through the Cooper family.
    • With the reveal that Hiram Lodge was set up by Clifford Blossom, the possibility of Hiram taking his revenge on Jason becomes terrifyingly real. If he's ruthless enough to terrorize his own wife for dating another man, he certainly has no qualms about having the teenage son and heir of his sworn enemy killed.
    • On top of that, Polly reveals her true reasons for moving in with the Blossoms: she suspects they had something to do with Jason's death.
  • The trailer for episode 11 shows a nervous Polly in the Blossoms' house, a brief shot of a gun, and Cheryl approaching a sleeping Polly, followed by an ominous warning by Cheryl: "If you think those babies guarantee you safety, you're in for a rude awakening."
    • The episode isn't much better. After the Blossoms find out about Polly's snooping (and once she confronts them about having her engagement ring in their possession when Jason still had it at the time of his disappearance), Penelope gives her a sob story about how Jason threw the ring in her husband's face before he left...and then drugs her so she can't tell Betty or her mother at the homecoming dance.
    • It get worse when you realize the only reason Penelope didn't use a stronger sedative on Polly was because of the unborn babies she's carrying. The only reason Polly wasn't drugged to potentially lethal levels is because she just happens to be carrying Jason Blossom's children.
  • The trailer for episode 12 shows Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica, and Kevin watching what appears to be a disturbing video on a laptop. It was enough to elicit shocked looks, mouths covered by hands, crying, and for Betty to just close the lid on the laptop.
    • The actual episode is even worse. The video shows Jason being murdered by his own father. There's also Clifford threatening Jughead's life, two dead bodies (both supposedly having committed suicide) shown on screen, and Penelope's terrifying reaction to Cheryl questioning if she or Clifford killed Jason. Perhaps most disturbing of all is the reveal that the Blossoms and the Coopers are actually related, making Jason and Polly's babies the result of incest, and that Penelope and Clifford not only knew about the incest, but are downright delighted by it.
      Penelope: What could be more Blossom than those babies?
  • In the Season 1 finale, the highly realistic portrayal of Cheryl's suicidal mindset after her father was discovered as Jason's killer. She's eerily calm about everything, and puts her affairs in order before heading out to die in the river where Jason's body was found, but everything is still just vague enough that the others don't figure it out until it's almost too late. And being rescued doesn't cure her Sanity Slippage, as she burns her house down and watches with a borderline Slasher Smile.
    • Her vision as she drowns, of Jason's decaying corpse beckoning her, deserves special mention
    • The ending is also pretty grim. Archie meets with his dad for breakfast, and goes to wash his hands. While he's doing so, he suddenly hears a loud bang, and comes back out to find a masked assailant holding a gun on the manager. Then his dad gets shot, while the narration says there's no way this could be mere coincidence.
      • Season 2's premiere hints that the assailant was actually a hitman, so Fred's life is in danger.
  • Penelope Blossom in general, from how little she seems to care about her daughter's mental health (to the point that when Cheryl burns down the family home, Penelope is more upset over that than she is about the fact that her daughter nearly committed suicide), to her seeming apathy towards the fact that Clifford was responsible for the death of their son.
  • Chapter 14
    • Asshole Victim though she may be, it's hard not to feel terrified on Penelope's behalf in the Season 2 premiere when Cheryl thoroughly turns the tables on her while she's helpless in a hospital bed, and makes clear that the abuse she suffered is now going to be returned to her mother 100%.
    "You were cruel to me, Mother. It was abuse, plain and simple. (cuts off her air tube) So henceforth, if you breathe, it is because I give you air. If you drink, it is because I poured your cup myself. And if you move, it is quietly and with my blessing. (releases the tube) Things are going to be different now, Mommy. Better. You'll see."
    • We get a double dose in the last scene:
      • First off Jennifer Gibson (not Ms. Grundy) is up to her old tricks again, having a relationship with one of her teenage students.
      • And then the assailant who tried to kill Fred breaks into her house undetected and strangles her with her own cello bow. Not only do we see him choking her to death, but also slitting her throat.
  • Archie's PTSD after the diner shooting, regularly suffering flashbacks and paranoid that the shooter could be anywhere. It's an unnervingly realistic portrayal of what happens to a young person who goes through this kind of traumatic event.
  • The ending to episode 15 has Moose and Midge making out in a car, only for the Black Hood to suddenly show up. He shoots them multiple times, while Jughead's narration states that Archie would "wake up to a horrific nightmare." After his first sleep in days, no less.
  • Fred's Adventures in Comaland, especially the second one. Archie tells him it's time to join his uncle and grandfather, but as Fred points out, they're dead. And then we hear some awful noise — loud, echoing banging that almost sounds like a cross between gunshots, thunder, and a door slamming.
    Archie: That's them.
  • The realization towrds the end of season one and the start of season two, that Hiram and Hermione are still involved in criminal activities, and lying to Veronica's face about just about everything, and apparently have no remorse or misgivings about this whatsoever. Hermione's Bitch in Sheep's Clothing act is especially unnerving, as she at first came off as such a good, loving mother, but we're now seeing her true colors. Even Veronica, who's suffering some Broken Pedestal as it is, still doesn't realize just what a nasty piece of work her mother is, though she's getting there. If you can't trust your own mother, who can you trust?
  • Chapter Sixteen:
    • Following being ambiguous up to this point, we actually get an insight into the Black Hood's mind (through the letter he sends Alice), and its not a pretty picture. Listening to him not just admitting but bragging to trying to murder Fred, Moose and Midge, denouncing them as sinners and Riverdale as a mess of sin, crime and hypocrisy is utterly terrifying.
    • Right after we hear that the Black Hood is plotting his next attack Ethel is walking home past late at night, past the corn fields, when suddenly a van turns its lights on and starts following her down the street. Ethel tries to carry on only to visibly start panicking as it continues to stalk her. Whilst Archie and Reggie manage to get their before anything happens, right up to that moment everyone was convinced that she was going to be the next victim, including Ethel herself.
    • Leaving the schools newspaper office that evening, Jughead tries to walk home when he hears someone moving nearby, then the lights go off. He tries to leave through the fire escape, only to discover it chained shut, then he turns the corner, is jumped by some Ghoulies and beaten senseless. The worst part being we only see the shadows.
    • Out late for a casual hook up, Kevin meets up with a man wearing a titled hat. He causally gets in, only for the guy to plunge a knife into his stomach. Its only an Imagine Spot but the image is still horrible to see.
    • An understated one is when Hiram calmly reveals to Hermione he heard her trying to warn off Veronica, and warns her not to sabotage his attempts to restore his relationship with Veronica. Whilst nothing happens, between the scenes sheer tension and Hermione's reaction, its clear despite appearances she's utterly terrified of her husband.
  • Anyone who thought the Black Hood's admiration of Betty meant he had some redeeming values is set straight by Chapter 18. He's tracked down Polly and threatens to kill her unless Betty follows his every instruction, designed to erode her morality until she becomes just like him. This already includes distancing her from all her friends and family, and making her put on the hood herself and look in the mirror when she demands to know who he is. Finally, when he catches her breaking his rule to not tell anyone about the calls and insists she name another person to kill as the only way to save Polly, she only takes a few seconds to name Veronica's former friend Nick after he was caught trying to rape Cheryl. Absolutely an Asshole Victim, but the way she's able to name him for execution without a hint of emotion combined with all the stuff about her above paints a terrifying picture of where this is going.
    • In the same episode, Nick's attempt to date rape Cheryl simply cause how disturbing realistic it is. He acts charming, then slips a drug into her drink, and uses the distraction of the party to pull her away to his hotel room. Then whilst she is unconscious tries to rape. Thankfully Veronica and the Pussycats rescue her, but its horrible to watch, especially how shaken Cheryl is afterwards.
    • There's also the fact that, as Veronica realizes, he's probably been doing this for years, and she didn't have a clue.
    • Also chilling is his attempt to force himself on Veronica, before he tries to blackmail/coerce Veronica into having sexual relations with him by using the fact that her family needs his family's assistance.
  • Chapter 20: Tales from the Darkside is basically a whole episode of this:
    • In Jughead and Archie's story, the two of them are forced by Penny Peabody to make a drug drop in the neighboring town of Greendale in the middle of the night, when Archie's dad's truck breaks down. An old man drives up in a beat up pickup and offers to give Jughead a ride to the delivery point. The entire scene in the truck the man seems more and more off, between telling Jughead not to look under the tarp in the back of his truck, listening to a voice on the radio praise the Black Hood for killing "sinners", and gravelly voice talking to Jughead about the "Riverdale Reaper". Ultimately the man is just a fanatic deer hunter who wasn't actually trying to hurt Jughead but merely abandon him and try to steal his drugs, but it was still a terrifying buildup.
      • Not to mention the zombie deer that looks directly at Archie while he's stuck on the border between Riverdale and Greendale. That and the warning of not to be in Greendale after midnight really implies that something about that town is not right.
    • In Josie's story, she consistently stays late after school to practice for a solo career, and begins feeling like someone is watching her. Her mother tells her that she's been getting letters, one of which threatening Josie, and since Josie has been getting gifts from a secret admire she begins getting so paranoid that she begins having nightmares and the stress begins to make her lose her voice. She suspects that it's Chuck after he asks her out, and after Cheryl convinces Josie that Chuck is behind it Sheriff Keller gives him a warning to stay away from her, but it's implied that Cheryl in fact framed Chuck to keep Josie safe, and the school janitor who has been letting Josie use the recording studio after hours may in fact be the real stalker and is still on the loose.
    • Following the incident with Chuck, we see Josie alone at school after hours practicing her music again. The Black Hood appears in the doorway, and approaches her with a large hunting knife. Grabbing her from behind, Josie has just enough time to turn around before he slits her throat. Thankfully its only a nightmare, but it lasts just long enough for us to think it's legit and its a gruesome image to watch, demonstrating how much the stress of all this is affecting Josie.
    • In Betty and Veronica's story, Betty is convinced that Sherriff Keller is the Black Hood due to how strange he's been acting lately, with Veronica believing he's having an affair. Veronica later sleeps over at Kevin's house for support, where she sees Keller leave at 1 in the morning and returning at 4. Betty breaks into his house and finds a murder board with all the killings on his wall, and a black hood in his desk. Keller provides Betty and her father with his alibis, but she isn't convinced and still believes him to be the killer. The suspicion on Keller really becomes built up, but thankfully it's revealed that his shadiness is because he really is having an affair. However, the Black Hood then makes a phone call to Pops, informing Riverdale that they failed his test to prove they were free of sin and that the reckoning would come for them.
    • The fact that their are people who don't just agree with the Black Hood, but outright glamorise him as a noble crusader doing gods work by purging Riverdale from Sin. Jughead has to listen to a trite delivered like a sermon over the radio whilst driving to Greendale, and the Driver states a lot of people are agreeing with him. Either the sentiment against the town is a lot worse than everyone believes, or the Black Hood is encouraging all manner of psycho's to emerge from the Woodwork and preach their twisted beliefs. Both possibilities are equally terrifying.
  • The Riverdale Reaper's massacre of the Conaway family. It was bad enough just hearing about it in the previous episode, but in Chapter 21 we actually get to see it. We get to watch as he murders Mrs. Conaway in her own living room, then shoots her husband in his kitchen when he tries to help his wife, and ends with him confront their two small children cowering under their bed. The scene cuts away and we just hear the shotgun blast.
    • Made worse as it confirmed it really was a random attack at the hands of a psycho. An entire family slaughtered for no reason, by somebody they had never even met before one random evening.
    • Then next episode confirms that the Reaper, successfully got away with his brutal crime.
  • Chapter Twenty-Two:
    • Nana Blossom (in her own equally terrifying way) revealing that the vigilante mob who killed the Riverdale Reaper didn't lynch him. They buried him alive.
    • Made all the worse by the reveal that the man they killed was innocent and the real Reaper was never caught.
    • Betty's nightmare at the start of the episode. It starts off with Polly getting her out of bed, leading her to her parents as they all enjoy Christmas as Santa lays the presents under the tree. Then Santa turns into the Black Hood, murders Betty's whole family and it ends with him slowly lunging for her.
    • Archie and Betty have to deal with the Black Hood kidnapping Mr Stevenson, and even cutting his finger off to motivate them to unearth the "towns first sin" or he'll kill him. Made worse when its revealed Svenson is the Black Hood and he cut his own finger off.
    • Arriving at the site where the mob buried the Riverdale Reaper, Archie and Betty find a fresh grave with Svenson's name inscribed on it. They frantically try to dig him up in time, only to find the grave empty. At which point their ambushed by the Black Hood, who proceed to force Archie into the coffin, then at gun point makes Betty start burying him alive.
    • Whilst also a Moment of Awesome, its still terrifying to see Jughead cut Penny Peabody's serpent tattoo off her arm, as a warning never to return to Riverdale. He's come along way from the brooding Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold he was in Season One.
    • It's less than the other examples, but the ending implies that someone is now stalking Archie and Veronica.
    • The ending has Betty throwing the things she collected during the Black Hood's case into the fire, only to find herself unable to throw away the mask he made her wear. As she instead gazes into the fire, the Christmas carol in the background becomes distorted focusing on the lines "protect us from Satan" and her eyes flicker suggesting all manner of terrible thoughts. As Jughead puts it, things still aren't over.
  • Chapter Twenty-Seven
    • Chic constantly hovering around Betty and basically taking over the Cooper residence like a slowly-occurring foreign invasion is definitely creepy. Betty reads the newspaper, puts it down and BOOM! Chic is facing her, creepily eating corn flakes. Betty walks into her bedroom, Chic is walking out of her bathroom giving her BS reasons as to why he was using it. Betty heads into the kitchen, Chic is drinking orange juice from the bottle like he owns the place. Betty leaves the house, Chic is standing on the staircase creepily waving at her in a mocking way. Of course, always staring her down, wearing that psycho-slasher smile.
    • Also, the constantly hovering Chic becomes total paranoia fuel at the end of the episode, when Jughead is talking to Betty about Chic. And you can't help feeling like he's going to be appearing at the top of the stairs listening in on them. The camera even looks down at them from the top of the stairs more than once to further fuel that feeling.
  • Chapter Thirty-One
    • The final scene, in which Midge's body, stabbed with multiple knives like Margaret White's in the 1976 Carrie movie , with the ominous message "I AM BACK FROM THE DEAD / PEOPLE WHO ESCAPED ME WILL DIE B.H." written in what is most likely her blood is revealed by a stage scenery change and everybody - well, except Chic - starts panicking.
  • Season 3's new Big Bad, The Gargoyle King, is a terrifying wendigo-like demon made out of branches and twigs. And the show has been strongly hinting that it's real, not just a person in a costume.
  • The Sisters of Quiet Mercy, good Lord, The Sisters of Quiet Mercy. One character mentions that they’ve violated every humanitarian code, and it’s very easy to see why. It’s implied that parents send their teenagers there to be inculcated to complete obedience, and it’s revealed in Season Two that they secretly perform conversion therapy- which as we see with Cheryl entails intense physical labor, gaslighting, and gay bashing “educational videos.” By Season Three they’ve taken to covertly testing hallucinogenic drugs on unconsenting patients and brainwashing them into subservience to the Sisters and allegiance to The Gargoyle King.

Meta

  • Some of the promos on the show's Facebook are pretty surreal and disconcerting.
    • Jughead chewing on a pen hard enough to make ink drip out of his mouth (and the audio distortion in the background doesn't help).
    • Betty gluing her lips shut. "She's screaming on the inside" indeed.
    • Veronica being strangled by a growing pearl necklace.
    • Archie throws on his letterman jacket, only for it to turn into a straightjacket.
  • The teaser for season 3 is only 30 seconds long, but it's already got plenty of pleasant sights to show us:
    • Hints at human sacrifice in the form of literally throwing infants into a bonfire.
    • A mysterious book with creepy, Necronomicon-esque illustrations that show a woman with her eyes ripped out and the sockets bleeding down her face.
    • A nightmarish Wendigo-like demon with a black-cloaked body, horns, and antlers made of branches.
    • And to top it off, it ends with a shot of Jughead desperately shouting for help around a creepy cult-like ritual bonfire, with two unidentified shirtless worshippers bowing to a sinister tableau made of animal bones that looks more than anything like the shrine to the King in Yellow.
  • Good news! That masked demon-thing from the trailer? It has a name now. Or rather, he has a name. Say hello to the Gargoyle King.
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