Tonight’s Riverdale‘s mid-season finale may not have been as clear cut as Sheriff Keller would like you to believe—so stop reading now if you haven’t seen the episode yet. Spoilers ahead…
If you were let down by the “reveal” that the school janitor, Mr. Svenson (a.k.a. Joseph Conway), is the Black Hood, then we have some good news: It may not be him. So if you thought that the whole scene on the bridge didn’t seem right, you’re not alone. After all, why would a character who was introduced only a few episodes ago end up being the man responsible for terrorizing Riverdale and Greendale? And what was up with that last scene, when Betty burned all evidence of the Black Hood except for her own hooded mask?
Lili Reinhart understands why you’d be confused. In fact, she wasn’t even sold on the idea that Svenson was the Black Hood when she read the script. “I don’t think the mystery is completely solved just yet,” she tells us. “There are a lot of questions behind the motive.” We had a lot of questions for Lili as well, who was more than gracious to explain everything—well, almost. Read on.
Spill it, Lili! I don’t know what to think after that last scene.
Lili Reinhart: [Laughs] There are a lot of cliffhangers. Even at the end of the episode, things don’t really feel resolved. Things don’t feel right. At least for me watching it, you don’t feel like the mystery was solved; like, there’s still some deep, dark, unspoken mystery going on—and that’s intriguing. There are a lot of questions.
Exactly. You think, “Is it really Svenson, or is there more to the Black Hood mystery?” Because what motive would Svenson have for shooting Fred Andrews?
Lili: Right. If you’re thinking about why Svenson would do that, it would be because he just has a vendetta against the town. I mean, one must have a really big grudge on Fred. I mean, Fred wasn’t necessarily doing anything wrong [when he had a thing with Hermione]. He wasn’t with his wife anymore. I think there are a lot of questions behind the motive, and that’s what makes you question whether that was really the Black Hood or not.
When did you find out who the Black Hood was? And when you did find out—at least up until this episode—were you surprised?
Lili: I found out when I got the script. Obviously, Svenson wasn’t even a character [on Riverdale] until episode seven, so you didn’t even know who this person was [until then]. So there was no way you could have predicted that. But even shooting the episode…I do think that Svenson wasn’t really the Black Hood, and that the situation is not really over. I think there’s much more to it, whatever it may be. I don’t think the Black Hood mystery is completely solved just yet.
Lili: I’ve seen so many theories of who people think it is, but I honestly don’t know! I don’t think the mystery has been solved yet.
There’s so much to unpack in every episode that you need a flow chart. Is it hard to keep track of every development?
Lili: Well, to me it’s kind of easier because I’m mostly focused on Betty’s storyline. Betty doesn’t really know what’s going on with Hiram and the Lodges, for instance. So in my mind, it helps to not focus too much on storylines outside of Betty. If she doesn’t know, I don’t necessarily want to know either. I don’t want that to infiltrate through my acting with any of the other characters and have knowledge my character doesn’t. I have to remind myself, “Oh, Betty doesn’t even know about that.” Sometimes it’s OK to be a little left in the dark and to focus on my stuff rather than everyone else’s. We all read the scripts when we have our table reads, but when I go back and read again I focus on my part and let the others slip out of my mind to be more focused and in tune with what Betty has going on.
As an actor, was it difficult to be in such a traumatic headspace most of the time? Or was this a dream episode to do?
Lili: It’s kind of parallel to episode five for me, where I’m dealing with the phone calls from the Black Hood and having to break up with Jughead and break things off with Veronica as well. The mid-season finale was a very intense episode to shoot, especially the big ending sequence with the chase and everything. During one of the first nights we were running on some grass, and I stepped in a pile of dirt and completely fell on my face. It was actually quite hilarious. It hurt, but when I fall it’s hysterical. I was embarrassed, but it was fun. We shot the buried coffin scene until 4 A.M. one night, and I remember it just started to rain, too, and was really gross and muddy out. But actually, I had a really good time. I got splinters all over my hands from wiping the dirt off the coffin, but it was so fun to do that because it was so different. And with the running stuff, I was surprised by my stamina and how much I was able to run. But then you see K.J. rocketing past me!
I actually was kind of was annoyed by that! Did we really have to see Archie surpass Betty? She’s a badass!
Lili: No, K.J. is a super human. He can run really fast. And I can run really fast—and I was running really fast—but then compared to K.J. I look like I’m going pretty slowly and am a wimp. K.J. is just extraordinarily fast. I’m not slow. [Laughs] So I want that on the record! But it was just such a fun episode in that regard—and also that it was Christmas-themed. I just think it’s a pretty fantastic mid-season finale.
We have to talk about that kiss with Archie in the car. I actually like them together, but fans are very much obsessed with Bughead. Are you prepared for how they will react after this episode?
Lili: [Laughs] I feel like there’s going to be a freak out, but I think they’re going to try and calm themselves down by saying it wasn’t really romantic and was kind of in the heat of the moment. Like, it wasn’t pre-meditated. It wasn’t really a romance that was building necessarily; it was just something that happened really quickly, and I think that’s what is going to keep the Bughead fans at ease. They’re going to be like, “OK, I don’t really know if there’s a romance here. I think it was just a spur of the moment action.” But there are people who do enjoy Betty and Archie together and are excited to see that relationship, so I’m happy for them. [At the same time,] I’m also kind of sad for the Bughead fans because they see this other coupling that they don’t like coming together. It kind of scares them because their “ship” that they love is being torn apart. But you know, it’s a drama on the CW. The characters are 16, so there’s gonna be back-and-forth all over the place all the time. I don’t think any one “ship”—like a Bughead, or a Barchie, or Varchie fans—should give up hope at any time because you never know.
Should we assume that Cheryl saw Archie and Betty kiss before they drove away from her house, and she will probably be the one who exposes their romantic moment?
Lili: Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that Cheryl saw them kiss. Knowing Cheryl, she is going to have that knowledge and keep it in her back pocket if and when she wants to use it against them.