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Recap / Riverdale - Chapter 16: The Watcher in the Woods

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Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13

Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 | Chapter 28 | Chapter 29 | Chapter 30 | Chapter 31 | Chapter 32 | Chapter 33 | Chapter 34 | Chapter 35

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For the recap index, go here.

Title From: The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

After the attack on Moose and Midge, Archie, frustrated with the police's lack of progress in finding the culprit, recruits Reggie and the Riverdale High Bulldogs and forms "The Red Circle", a watchdog group that patrols the streets to prevent future attacks by Black Hood.

Moose and Midge survive the shooting, with Moose hospitalized, having shielded Midge from the bullets fired at them. In the hospital, Moose has a heart to heart with Kevin, who has taken up cruising the woods at night for hookups, something Betty disapproves of, creating a rift between the two.

Hiram, humoring Veronica's wish to get to know her friends, takes advantage of Archie's frustration at not being taken seriously and seizes the opportunity to influence Archie to be more proactive and go on the offense with The Red Circle.

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Meanwhile, Jughead befriends Toni Topaz, a Southside Serpent, and restarts Southside High's school newspaper, which he uses to investigate the Jingle Jangle drug ring. What's more, Jughead finds himself in a tight spot as he tries to resist the pressure to join the Serpents, but ultimately relents after being assaulted by rival gang members.

Black Hood sends a letter explaining his motives with threats to strike again to Alice and Hal, demanding that it be printed in the town newspaper. This latest development spurs Polly to leave Riverdale, fearing for the safety of herself and her unborn children.

After a close call with a stranger in the woods, Kevin comes clean to his father about the cruising, and the two have an honest conversation about Kevin's struggles as the only openly gay man in Riverdale.

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Finally, The Red Circle is deployed for the first time, managing to save Ethel Muggs from Black Hood. Inspired by Hiram's advice, Archie and The Red Circle post a video on the internet challenging the Black Hood, while a satisfied Hiram watches.


Tropes:

  • Big Damn Heroes: The Red Circle, but particularly Archie and Reggie, who get an awesome action-packed sequence in which they race to save Ethel in an equally awesome vintage Chevrolet Camaro.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Midge comes out of the attack unscathed because Moose shielded her from the bullets with his body and not a single one of them went through him.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Kevin. In this one episode, we learn more about his thoughts, feelings, and what he’s going through than we have in the previous season combined.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Alice publishes the Black Hood's letter without realizing how much it would affect Polly, being a note from a serial killer announcing his intentions on killing all sinners... when Polly herself fulfills the victims' "requirements" (a single mother out of wedlock who got impregnated by her cousin).
  • Foil: Both Archie and Jughead end up compromising their initial instincts in the name of protection. Archie forms the Red Circle to act as a watch group and keep the town safe from the Black Hood. However, by the end of the episode he’s convinced to take a more aggressive stance, and is showing signs of becoming the leader of a private militia. Meanwhile, Jughead is reluctant to join the Southside Serpents, knowing that it will end badly. But in the end he’s forced to start associating with them, simply to keep himself safe from Ghoulies.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The episode seems to be setting up Hiram as this. The Black Hood may be killing people, but Hiram seems to be manipulating Archie into a war with him. Between that, buying Pop's for mysterious reasons and Hermione's reaction (fear) to Veronica forging a relationship between the two men in her life, he may have plans for something bigger to happen.
  • Hourglass Plot: A smaller version happens with Hermione and Veronica. Now Veronica's the one forging a relationship with Hiram, while Hermione voices her suspicions.
  • Hypocrite: Betty castigates Kevin over the risks he is taking hanging around in Fox Forest with a serial killer (who does not seem to be targeting gays) on the loose. But apparently it is perfectly safe for her and Cheryl to go out into those same woods, unarmed and unaccompanied, waving flashlights around looking for Kevin. It comes across more as her being morally offended by his cruising than genuine fear of the Black Hood.
  • I Warned You: Toni warns Jughead on his first day to stick with the Serpents to avoid being targeted by the Ghoulies, a rival gang. Jughead tries to refuse, and after he gets assaulted in a school hallway after hours as a result, she invokes this trope.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The Black Hood shoots Midge and Moose at point blank range in a confined space and he is still unable to kill them. Justified as Moose protected Midge with his body and, being much bigger than her, she didn't receive any shot; plus Kevin was in the area and helped them almost immediately, getting Moose the medical assistance that saved his life.
  • Knight Templar: The Black Hood. He claims that he is cleaning up the hypocrisy and crime from Riverdale and only targeting "sinners", but his standards amount to killing anyone who ever sinned ever once and willingly tries to make the entire town afraid of him.
  • Meet the In-Laws: While Hiram's motive for inviting Archie over for dinner isn't this, both Archie and Veronica play this trope straight, treating the occasion as a big deal and a major step in their relationship.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • A gay teen in a small town like Riverdale is going to struggle with finding companionship. While Betty attempts to protect him from dangerous acts, her lack of understanding his situation only alienates him further.
    • Archie's idea to form a watchdog group without consent from the police nearly got him in trouble with Sheriff Keller.
    • Jughead's connection to the Serpents got him the attention of a rival gang. When he tried to do his loner act, it results in him being attacked while alone.
    • Finally, Alice's impulsive nature and tendency to stir things up results in driving Polly away, possibly for good.
  • Shout-Out: The Ghoulies may be a reference to the 1970 cartoon Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Archie, with his Red Circle group.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Jughead gets this for rejecting the Serpents.
    • Betty gives this to Kevin for risking his life in the woods when there is a killer around.
    • Kevin turns right around and gives it back to Betty, blowing up at her for not understanding that he doesn't have the same romantic options she does.
    • Alice gets this from everyone when she prints the letter the Black Hood sends her.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Jughead thought the loner behavior that got him through Riverdale would have the same result in South Side High. Instead, he alienated the Serpents and was attacked by a new gang.

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