On the midseason finale of Riverdale Veronica finally discovers one of her father’s lies, while Betty and Archie continue their search for the Black Hood.
Previously on Riverdale, the main couples Bughead and Varchie had relationship troubles and broke up. The janitor Mr. Svenson was revealed to be the sole survivor of the Riverdale Reaper’s slaughter of the Conway family.
“Silent Night, Deadly Night” begins as Riverdale so often does, at Pop’s. Jughead works on his writing while Archie and Fred bring in a Christmas tree for Pop. Archie and Jughead lament their relationship woes. Archie tells Jughead he will see him at Kevin’s Christmas get together. He goes to help his father with the random Christmas tree business that they set up in Pop’s parking lot.
Meanwhile, Betty is dreaming about her family’s Christmas celebration. Santa turns out to be the Black Hood, and her family lies in the corner of the room. Betty wakes, breathing deeply and watches the snow fall outside.
Cheryl is facing her own troubles, only hers involves money. Her mother Penelope tells her they do not have the money for Christmas this year. Nana Blossom is also at the table. Nice to see Cheryl did not accidentally kill her grandmother in that fire she started last season.
At the Andrews’, Archie finds his dad reading a piece of paper and assumes it is a Black Hood letter since his father looks dejected. Instead, it is the hospital bill for when he was shot and the total is an jaw-dropping $86,000. Fred assures his son he will call the hospital and see if it is a mistake.
Betty chats with Veronica at the Lodge’s home. Betty notes Veronica’s gifts are well over Kevin’s $20 limit for secret Santa. The two teens then talk about their breakups.
Elsewhere, Jughead tries to talk about Penny with his father. FP refuses to tell Jughead his plans for Penny. When Serpents arrive with bags, FP tells him to go to school.
At Riverdale High, Kevin’s secret Santa is wrapping up with Veronica awkwardly getting a coupon for a couples massage from Josie. Betty opens the final present from Archie, a copy of The Swiss Family Robinson that the two listened to when they were children.
Midge and Moose appear and everyone welcomes them back. Archie leaves and Betty follows, discovering he cannot see Moose without thinking of the Black Hood. Betty mentions her anxiety-induced nightmares, then notices a new janitor. She asks him where Mr. Svenson is, and the new creepy janitor says Svenson is out.
Archie and Betty worry they all might have lead the Black Hood to Svenson’s door by figuring out his real identity. They go ask the receptionist about his absence. She says he is out with a cold and she left soup on his doorstep a few days ago.
Betty enters the Blue & Gold office to find Jughead waiting with a Christmas gift. He apologizes for how their breakup went down, citing Serpent trouble. Betty says he took away her choice. She gives him his present and he leaves.
Veronica stops Archie after class and gives him his gift, an engraved watch. She gets him to open up about his father’s outrageous hospital bill and tries to offer support. Archie thanks her for the watch and leaves.
At the Serpent bar, Jughead finds Toni and other Serpents wrapping presents for charities on the Southside. FP arrives, questioning why Jughead is there instead of school. Jughead asks where FP is going and offers to help, but his father takes Sweet Pea instead. Later, FP’s parole officer shows up and looks around the trailer.
Betty calls Archie and says they should go check on Mr. Svenson. The two go to his house and find the soup container still on the doorstep. They knock but no one answers.
Veronica shares her frustrations with the Andrews’ financial situation during dinner with her family. Hiram says they cannot help and gets angry when Veronica continues to talk about Fred.
Cheryl decorates the Christmas tree she bought from the Andrews’ popup Christmas tree shop in Pop’s parking lot. Penelope walks in and is furious that Cheryl spent money. Cheryl tells her mother to get a job. Nana remarks Penelope “should’ve drowned them at birth, like a basket of kittens.” Wow Nana, what a way to talk about your granddaughter and your dead grandson.
Betty arrives home to find Alice making Polly’s favorite cookies in hopes that her eldest daughter comes home. Alice says there was a gift for Betty on the doorstep and she put it in her bedroom. Betty opens it and finds a severed finger.
Archie comes over and the two talk about the enclosed note. The Black Hood confirms the finger is from Svenson and then Betty’s phone rings. The Black Hood allows Svenson to talk for a moment and then tells Betty to find where the man’s sin was committed. The two decide to go visit the Sisters of Quiet Mercy where Mr. Svenson lived as Joseph Conway before he was adopted by the Svenson’s.
Meanwhile, Veronica searches her father’s study for her Christmas presents. Instead, she finds documents confirming her father lied to her and bought Pop’s. Veronica calls the hospital later and pays off Fred’s medical bills with her mom’s credit card information, asking that it be a secret donation.
FP comes home and Jughead tells him about the parole officer visiting. FP shows him the bags Jughead thought were full of drugs are actually gifts.The two argue about Penny, with FP saying there is nothing Jughead can do to help.
Jughead goes to the other young Serpents and tells them about Penny’s drug dealing ways. He says if they continue to do business with her, they will end up dead or in jail. The group agrees to take Penny out. They later kidnap Penny from her hideout.
Archie and Betty go to see the nuns and get no real answers until Betty blackmails a nun with information from Polly. The nun says Svenson accused a man of being the Riverdale Reaper and he was executed by a group of people. Svenson admitted later he may have been wrong. She says a group of men and one woman with unique hair, came to visit. Betty realizes it was Nana Blossom.
Veronica’s parents come home and tell her they received a call from their bank about the hospital charge. Veronica confronts them about buying Pop’s and shares her frustration that they are still lying. Hermione convinces Hiram they need to tell Veronica everything.
Meanwhile, in Greendale, Jughead confronts Penny and tells her she cannot come back to Riverdale. Penny claims a Serpent cannot hurt another Serpent. Jughead cuts her Serpent tattoo off her arm.
Cheryl welcomes Betty and Archie into the Blossom’s home to talk to her grandmother. Nana says the men did not let her go with them and says they buried the man alive. She says Betty’s grandfather was there and there is a picture of the men all together at the murder site. Nana claims to be ill and Cheryl tells them to leave.
In the car, Betty has an understandable freak out about her grandfather being part of the group that killed an innocent man. Archie comforts her and the two share a kiss. Cheryl, being the stalker she is, watches them from her window.
At the Lodge’s, Veronica tells her parents she is all in on their business plans, so long as they do not involve her in anything illegal. Her second condition is that they do not rescind the charge for Fred’s medical bill. Hermione gets Hiram to agree and mentions they will need Fred for what is to come.
FP returns home to find Jughead with takeout from Pop’s. Jughead tells him what he and the others did to Penny. FP is angry and Jughead goes off on a rant ending with how he likes being a Serpent.
Betty and Archie go through her grandparent’s photo albums at her house. They find a photo of her grandpa and his friends in Pickens Park with shovels and a tree like one Nana mentioned. Betty says they will call Sheriff Keller in the car.
The two find the tree and a grave marked “Here lies Joseph Conway, Sinner” and begin digging. The grave is empty and they turn to see the Black Hood, who threatens Betty’s life and orders Archie to get inside the coffin. He forces Betty to close the coffin and begin shoveling dirt on the grave. Betty tells the Black Hood they know Svenson’s sin and can tell the town. Sirens blare and it gives Betty the moment she needs to hit the Black Hood with the shovel. Betty gets Archie out, he grabs the Black Hood’s discarded gun, and they chase after the Black Hood.
On the bridge, Archie threatens the Black Hood with the gun. Sheriff Keller arrives, shooting the Black Hood as he attempts to jump off the bridge. The Sheriff tells Archie to drop the gun and rushes to the shot man. He feels for a pulse and says the man is dead. Keller removes the mask and underneath is Mr. Svenson. Archie looks at the man and remembers his eyes are different than the man who shot his father. Betty looks and sees one of Svenson’s fingers is missing.
Later at Pop’s, the two tell Veronica and Jughead about their Black Hood adventure. They question Svenson’s motive and Betty says maybe he believed taking out sinners would help absolve his guilt over getting an innocent man killed.
The next day all around Riverdale people are celebrating Christmas. Josie and Kevin sing Christmas carols in front of Pop’s while he brings out hot drinks for people. Cheryl goes downstairs top open presents and finds her mother, disheveled with a man. Veronica finds a present from Archie under her tree. She opens it to find a locket with their pictures inside. Jughead opens his present from Betty and finds a vintage typewriter. Betty opens her present from Jughead and finds a signed first edition of her favorite book, Beloved by Toni Morrison.
Archie says goodbye to his mom on the landline and sees a text from Veronica. Veronica is waiting on his steps with mistletoe and kisses Archie. She says she needs him in her life and finally says I love you. The two kiss again, but someone is watching and taking pictures.
Betty takes her Black Hood investigation pile and starts putting it in the fire as Jughead’s narration talks about the murderer. Betty pulls the hood back from the fire and puts her fingers in the eye holes. She stares into the camera as Jughead’s narration says “This isn’t over.”
I thought this is a good midseason finale for Riverdale overall and much better than the previous episode. The Christmas tree business is so weird to me because they do not have a Christmas tree farm, so where did they get all the trees to even sell? Did they just cut them all down in Fox Forest? Another question I have is why the Black Hood stayed silent when Archie and Betty caught up. I have continually said I believe the Black Hood is more than one person and still firmly believe in that theory. Keller could have shot him in the foot or leg to stop him from jumping, so that makes me wonder about Keller again. Is there more than one masked person? Was Svenson a copycat? There are just too many unanswered questions at this point.
Riverdale is on break and will return to The CW on January 17 at 8 pm. A preview of the next episode is available below.