Episode five of Riverdale, ‘Chapter Eighteen: When a Stranger Calls’, saw the show’s usual melodrama cranked up a notch: as bad boy Nick St. Clair breezed into the town, causing chaos with his drug habits and his lecherous ways.
But whilst the rest of the gang were dealing with their high school dramas, the episode saw a major development in Betty’s relationship with the hooded killer. Earlier in the season we discovered that the killer terrorising Riverdale has an obsession with Betty, claiming that all his murdering and maiming has been inspired by her.
And in episode five we saw this obsession manifest itself, with the killer making a series of phone calls to Betty, demanding that she did everything that they asked of her, or risk having the people she cared about hurt. This involved isolating herself from friends and family, ending things with her boyfriend Jughead, and publishing photos of her Mother’s dark past in her student paper. The finale of the episode saw things go even further, with Betty having to give a name of somebody for the killer to attack, or risk her pregnant sister meeting her untimely demise; but several moments in the episode led to viewers speculating, what if in fact, the killer was Betty?
The theory is based around the idea of a “dark Betty”, basically what fans call it when Betty loses control, like she did in season one when she and Veronica got revenge on Chuck (where something came over Betty, and she almost left Chuck in a boiling hot tub). This episode hinted towards Betty having some sort of dissociative identity disorder, which fans believe could be a major part of season two.
Chic Cooper is Alice Cooper first born son, who she gave up for adoption after becoming pregnant as a teenager. The final member of the Cooper brood has been surprisingly absent from the series thus far, so it’s a common theory that he’s going to be somehow involved in the murders. Betty being his sister means the killer’s obsession with her makes sense, and explains how he knows so much about her.
It could also explain why he seems to hate Alice Cooper so much, with dahuterschuter postulating: “Years later, he has come back, hating his former mother for giving him up, hating Riverdale’s corruption in the North Side as he sees himself as a victim of it, and the one shining light in the middle of all of it is his estranged little sister Betty.”
But as the reddit user points out, there are several holes in the plot – where only Betty could have known the answer. For example: the cipher coming from a Nancy Drew book, where her sister Polly is, and the fact that she’d been telling best pal Archie about all the phone conversations. Additionally, the Sheriff had already said that the writing of the notes from the killer looked like they came from two different people – one of whom could be Chic Cooper, and the other, Betty.
“When Chic reached out to his little sister Betty, Dark Betty responded. We see Dark Betty take over at the end of episode five when she designates a target for him to kill in Nicky” dahuterschuter explains, adding: “Dark Betty knows all of the otherwise unknowable information about Betty’s actions and Riverdale gossip, she can write cryptic notes to Betty that only Betty would know the answer to, she can leave herself messages and calls through a voice changer even down to predicting conversations with herself.”
The theory makes a lot of sense, and some have pointed out that Lili Reinhart, who plays Betty, has seemingly been hinting that Dark Betty will make some sort of reappearance. In an interview with Teen Vogue Reinhart commented:
“And, season two becomes a boiling-over point for her [Betty] where she kind of lets go and lets the darkness come out. She lets that dark side of her live a little bit, and come to the surface and stay there. It’s not just a moment in a hot tub. It’s something much more intense and much more real than that.”
So could Betty be the killer? Remember that season one culminated with the revelation that Jason Blossom’s own father murdered him – so anything goes.