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The Best Riverdale Recap You’ll Ever Read: Season 2, Episode 5: Chapter 18: When A Stranger Calls

Season 2 Episode 5 Chapter 18: When A Stranger Calls


What an episode. Critics are calling this the best episode of the season, and we kind of agree. We’re only 5 episodes in of 22 episodes season (9 more episodes than season 1), so buckle up. Here’s our Hot Takes:

Episode Title 

This keeps proving to be something we should pay attention to. This week it’s: When a Stranger Calls. Which is the same title of a 1979 horror movie (also rebooted in 2006), which appears to be inspiration for Scream.

So far this season. Every episode shares a title with something from pop culture.

Episode 1: A Kiss Before Dying is also the title of a thriller:

Episode 2 Night Hawks — is that iconic and somewhat chilling painting:

Episode 3 The Watcher in The Woods also a thriller:

And last week we noted The Town That Dreaded Sundown was also a horror movie… let’s see if this keeps up.

Here’s what went down in When a Stranger Calls:

When we open up the episode, Betty is getting black mailed by The Black Hood, the Lodges are having money troubles, Jughead is joining the serpents and Archie has officially ended the Red Circle.

Which we never see. Our guess is it looked something like this:

Now that you know where everyone is, let’s get into the Hot Takes of this episode. First:

The Front Page of The Riverdale Register

We’re not talking about the Northside Teen Stabbed by Southside Serpent. Look closer:

Yep. Local Man Cures Cancer. That’s a BIG deal! But NO ONE talks about this the entire episode. They’re more concerned about Alice Cooper’s past:

This hot tip is e-mailed to Betty by the Black Hood. Notice the file is called “Shame.JPG.” Also wouldn’t she be able to trace this e-mail somehow?

But like mother like daughter, Betty publishes this mugshot in The Blue & Gold which becomes the talk of the town.

Alice’s Past

Two things here confuse us here:

  1. How frequently is The Blue & Gold Riverdale High School’s paper published in print? Pretty sure when we were in high school it was monthly. Between Archie’s flyers and the daily (?) Blue & Gold, Riverdale sure doesn’t seem to care at all about trees!
  2. How is Alice Cooper’s past a surprise to the town of Riverdale? Despite her ripping it out of “every public archive.” No one seems to ever leave Riverdale, so they would know about her past and Alice wouldn’t have had to subject herself to this:

You guys also thought this was Cheryl before the pan up, right? This is more provocative than anything we’ve seen her or her daughter Betty wear (sans Dark Betty) Notice how Alice is covered in snakes so much that it’s almost tacky, from the shoes, to the belt, romper, necklace, bracelet even down to her matching (cringe) clutch. But then this moment was awesome:

Which makes us wonder, could the Coopers be tag teaming as The Black Hood? They know Betty and her love for Nancy Drew, they both have different hand writing, and Hal fits the body type. Perhaps they got into an off camera argument?

Also, you’re at an open house, Alice, not a Coachella pool party. Look how out of place she looks:

Betty’s Breakdown 

Or at least she’s on the verge of one. The Black Hood (who doesn’t like to share her), is blackmailing Betty into isolating herself from her mother, best friend and even boyfriend. And it’s really taking a toll on Betty’s “iconic and beyond reproach” ponytail. Here she is at the beginning of the episode, classic, Betty:

Here she is when she tells Archie the Black Hood is making her break-up with Jughead, notice her hair is a loose bun, also she’s crying:

When has a relationship ever survived or flourished after a Romeo & Juliet comparison? And yes, we’re counting your high school love.

And then at the end episode, when her life has become undone, so does her hair:

Betty also puts herself in some compromising situations this episode. You would think if an aspiring killer was trying to blackmail you, you might not wait for a bus in the middle of the night.

Also when have you ever seen a bus in Riverdale? If you were concerned for your safety, you also probably wouldn’t go to an abandoned house outside of town armed only with a flashlight:

But maybe that’s just us.

Perhaps Betty’s going insane because of her ringtone:

 We’re unclear is her default for everyone or just Black Hood related calls. This would drive us insane too. Has she heard of vibrate?

Jughead Joins the Serpents

Now we got to talk about what’s going on with Jughead. His new brothers are building a pipe bomb for the Northside:

And we just know this will come back. Jughead joins the Serpents, who have a pretty tame initiation process, compared to most frats.

First they wake him up in the middle of the night with these scary masks:

Which kind of look like this TBH:

And why do they wake him up in the middle of the night? Oh just to tell him he has to take care of t his adorable dog.

Which in the comic world is Hot Dog, Jughead’s dog:

Then he has to remember the six rules to being a serpent. Six! There’s only six! And they’re each a sentence long! How is this challenging.

Then sure he has to grab a knife from a tank with a venomous snake. At this point Betty is putting herself in more danger than Jughead. But then he get the shit beat out of him. And then he gets a tattoo, that heals at an alarming rate:

Is it fake or maybe henna? Unclear.

Nick St. Clair

This episode we are also introduced to Nick St. Clair. Who was in the Betty & Veronica comic “Bad Boy Trouble” where he was “a smooth-talking teenage biker nephew of the Anderson family AKA related to Archie.

But in Riverdale world, according to Veronica, Nick is:

Which is a strange way to describe a friend of yours to your boyfriend. But that’s just Ronnie, being Ronnie!

Well despite her description, Nick turns out to be the worst and tries to rape Cheryl who introduces herself as:

We want that on a t-shirt.

Veronica at the end of this episode is so shocked Nick would do something like this. When really the signs were there all along. From describing Veronica’s pussycat doll ears as this:

A cat ear pearl headband is the opposite of kink. When we see cat ears we think this:

And when Nick invites Betty to his hotel party at the 5 Seasons. (Riverdale’s 4 Seasons, which honestly feels like a first draft title because there’s no 5th season — UNLESS that was the writers’ somewhat subtle way of asking for 5 seasons of this show?

Nick invites Betty to his hotel party by saying this:

You know who else doesn’t take no for an answer? Yep. Rapists.

Nick is giving us major Oliver Trask from The O.C. vibes.

Both have a hard time taking no for an answer, threaten to break-up a relationship, and live in a hotel. Well good thing Nick gets the shit kicked out of him.

Betty & Veronica BFFs

Another strange thing about this episode is how many times Veronica calls Betty her BFF. Like we know they are BFFs, but typically best friends don’t keep reminding people they’re best friends. Like this:

Or this:

I guess this just makes it sting more when Betty calls Veronica out on being friends with everyone for connivence.

A Tale of Two Archies

Also can we just take a moment to appreciate Archie looking the most like Archie:

Then cut to Archie looking the least like Archie:

 Do you even bench, Bro? Also what is that? Like 20lbs?

But we really feel for Arch in this episode.

The Black Hood wants nothing to do with him, he has to end The Red Circle, break-up with Jughead for Betty:

And he doesn’t even get to defend the town against the evil Nick St. Clair.

Speaking of the Pussycats, that brings us to our:

Musical Theater Moment of the Week

We’ve come to discover that all these musical theater nods are likely not an accident. Riverdale Creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is also the playwright behind Broadway’s American Psycho and Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark. 

This week, it’s Rent’s Out Tonight, a karaoke classic. In the musical, it’s sung by a 19 year old heroin addicted stripper:

But honestly it’s very on brand for the pussycats and the perfect soundtrack for the climax of this episode.

Well that’s all the hot takes we have for you this week. Make sure you rate and subscribe to The Hot Take: Riverdale Podcast for more insight.

Also published on Medium.

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