‘Riverdale’: Who Is the Black Hood Killer and What Does He Really Want?

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(Spoilers ahead for the Oct. 25 episode of “Riverdale”)

This week on “Riverdale,” the guy who’s been running around the Riverdale metro area trying to kill people finally declared his motivations in a letter sent to the Coopers for publication in the newspaper, a la the Zodiac Killer.

So here’s what we know. The guy calls himself the Black Hood, and there have been three victims so far — Fred Andrews (Luke Perry), Geraldine Grundy (Sarah Habel) and Moose (Cody Kearsley), with Ms. Grundy being the only one who died. Midge (Emilija Baranac) was with Moose when he got shot but Moose shielded her, preventing Midge from actually sustaining any injuries.

Here’s the letter wrote and sent to the Coopers so they would publish it in the paper:

“This is the Black Hood. I am the man who shot the adulterer at Pop’s. I killed the child predator in Greendale. I shot the drug- and sex-addicted teenagers at Lover’s Lane. Riverdale is not innocent. It’s a town of hypocrites, degenerates, criminals. My wrath is the price of your lies. Your secrets. Your sins. I will not stop. I cannot be stopped. I am the wolf. You are the flock. This is the bloodletting. You will hear from me again.”

It’s possible that letter represents the Black Hood’s true ideology — conveniently, it echoes the kinds of things Archie and his friends themselves said about Riverdale in season 1, although they of course didn’t start attacking people after coming to that conclusion.

This being “Riverdale,” it seems more likely that the Black Hood’s true motives are being obscured and the letter is misdirection. Or maybe his motivations as stated are sincere, and someone unknown is pulling the strings. Or the letter is insincere and also someone else is pulling the strings. To recap: the letter is either sincere or insincere, and either someone else is pulling his strings or he’s acting alone.

In other words, I have no idea what’s going on because it’s too early to draw any conclusive conclusions. it is not, however, too early to start making guesses. So let’s do that, by taking a look at who the Black Hood may be, and who may be involved in some way/

Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos)

Right now he feels like the best bet for being the puller of strings (Hiram isn’t the sort of person who would get his hands dirty), but that’s almost definitely because the “Riverdale” writers want you to think that at this moment in time. In this week’s episode he’s clearly taking advantage of all the chaos to seemingly try to turn Archie to the dark side — or maybe to get him killed? Whatever Hiram is trying to do beyond manipulate Archie into….something is unclear. But this is definitely a scheme of some sort — Archie started his Red Circle gang of hooligans because Hiram was whispering in his ear, and escalated things because of that intense follow-up chat in which Hiram low-key threatened Archie over his late night visits to Veronica’s room.

It could be that Hiram is just being an opportunist, taking advantage of the situation for as-yet-unknown reasons. Or it could be that he’s orchestrating this whole thing.

Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols)

Hermione has been unusually muted since Hiram got out of jail, quietly trying to get Veronica to not talk to her dad too much. There’s some kind of quiet feud going on there for sure — and while there’s been no sign she’s up to anything so far aside from her quiet tone, you never know. She’s not the Black Hood, of course, but if she’s got something going on behind the scenes this could be it.

Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)

Obviously, Cheryl is not herself the killer. But she’s been extra unhinged this season ever since she burned down the Blossom estate after her dad hung himself in the barn. She’s also been taking advantage of the madness in her own weird way, inserting herself into Betty and Kevin’s friendsship drama. Cheryl doesn’t do anything arbitrarily, so there has to be some kind of longer term reason why she would want to sabotage that friendship. Could it be part of a larger plan that started by hiring a thug to shoot up the town?

Cliff Blossom (Barclay)

Yes, I know Cliff Blossom is dead. But what this hypothesis supposes is: what if he isn’t? This idea came to me because of how Midge described the shooter’s eyes.

“They were blank. It was like there wasn’t even a person behind them. He was like Michael Myers. He had the devil’s eyes.”

There are any number of things that description could indicate. One of them is that a dead person (or somebody who was dead long enough to sustain severe brain damage that sapped all his humanity away before being revived) is the killer. If it is Cliff Blossom, then probably Cheryl is the one pulling the strings. Or maybe Cheryl’s mom, Penelope? She’s in a bad spot, being burned all over and blackmailed into silence by Cheryl.

Kevin (Casey Cott)

Unlikely because I think the “Riverdale” writers are way too savvy to make the only gay main character be a serial killer (it would be in incredibly poor taste). But Kevin’s penchant for cruising the woods at night gives him freedom of movement, and he did conveniently happen to be nearby when Moose and Midge were attacked.

Somebody in the Serpents, acting on behalf of the gang

This option seems unlikely because the Serpents are not usually the sort to mastermind a plan — they’re too brutish, and last year they functioned as pawns. However, the introduction of Penny Peabody (Britt Morgan), the Serpents’ lawyer, last week could be a wild card — her presence may indicate the gang does have some brain activity going on after all. What their motivation might be for having one of their members do this is anyone’s guess, though. Maybe they’re trying to sow some chaos on the right side of the tracks? Something related to the Jingle Jangle trade?

Somebody we haven’t met

I would consider it pretty surprising if the Black Hood were some character who hasn’t appeared on the show before, because that’s not usually how murder mysteries work. That said, the Black Hood is a separate Archie Comics (and now DC Comics) character who has his own backstory and everything (though his identity has changed a lot over the past seven decades). But if it is somebody new, then obviously trying to guess his identity would be a hopeless endeavor.

However, being a character new to the show wouldn’t preclude someone else from being involved. For example, Hiram obviously wouldn’t get his hands dirty by actually murdering people, and neither would Cheryl.

Ted Cruz (Ted Cruz)

It’s probably not true that Ted Cruz’s dad was the Zodiac Killer, but if he was then maybe Ted Cruz himself could be taking inspiration from his dad here. The only problem is that Ted Cruz is not, as far as we know, part of Archie canon.