WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 8 OF RIVERDALE ENTITLED “THE OUTSIDERS”
The aptly-titled episode name for last week’s Riverdale depicts the various outsiders that inhabit the titular town with pep. They range from the Serpents gang, who attempt to distance themselves from the Riverdale residents by wearing matching leather jackets, to a daughter returning from the outside world of the Sisters to the familial pressures of wealthy WASPs. I was a little disappointed Betty (Lili Reinhart) didn’t pipe up during the baby shower with a “Stay Golden, Pollyboy” reference but I digress.
The episode progressed the ever-growing drama between the Coopers and Blossoms and revealed a major development to the character of patriarch Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro): he sure likes to “fix those problems” associated with unplanned pregnancies… And in a surprising realization, Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) is not the crazy parent of that family. Quite the contrary. Hal’s true colors were revealed in “The Outsiders” in a brilliant move by the writers who subverted the expectations many viewers (myself included) had regarding Hal as the Henpecked Husband, a trope which here means a husband who squirms under the thumb of a domineering wife.
Hal Cooper Is A Scumbag
There were definitely instances throughout the season that illustrated Hal’s partaking in the lying and scheming that seems to be a popular past time with virtually every Riverdale resident. And yet, there was always that hint of him being the voice of reason for the Cooper family. He is simply the poor guy with an overbearing wife.
It is the lying that illustrates the scumbaggery of Hal Cooper.
“The Outsiders” revealed that not only has Alice had an abortion (commonly referred to as “an appointment”) at the behest of Hal, he was going to take the same page out of his playbook and book an appointment for Polly (Tiera Skovbye) to rid her of “that mistake” – without telling Alice! Now, Alice is the farthest thing from being a perfect mother yet the blatant disregard Hal has for his wife/mother of his children speaks volumes for what kind of person he is. It is the lying that illustrates the scumbaggery of Hal Cooper. He insists that Polly is not ready to have a child despite her being fortunate enough to have virtually everything necessary to raise a child. The actual reasoning for why he doesn’t want Polly to have the child is this consistent regurgitation of hating the Blossom family. He is visibly more disgusted by stating “that [Blossom] family” than “that mistake” when attempting to justify his deceit (~1:10 in the clip below).
Hal Is Willing To Sacrifice His Relationship With Polly For An Age Old Blood Feud
Throughout the season we have seen the strained relations among the Cooper family regarding how to deal with Polly’s pregnancy. There has also been a millennia-long rivalry between the Coopers and their competing maple syrup conglomerate, the Blossoms and Hal Cooper has made it his existential duty to rid his family from anything Blossom. Since the father of Polly’s child was the male heir to the Blossom enterprise, Hal views his future grandchild as the son of Satan.
When Alice suggests the prospect of their estranged daughter finally returning home to raise her child, I was forced to disregard every single one of Hal’s previous “concerns” with his utterance of this line:
Hal does not care for the well being of his daughter nor does he illustrate any type of respect for his wife. His indifference to what happens with Polly is quite remarkable, so long as she doesn’t bring a whiff of the Blossoms around his Cooper household. I’m sure many of us sympathize with the idea of feeling immense hatred for someone, particularly if you believe they are responsible for ruining your family’s livelihood.
Hal decides sacrificing his relationship with his daughter and future grandchild is the most effective way to illustrate his Blossom hatred. The blind rage he feels for any human being should never compromise the love he has for his family and it is because of this unadulterated rage that will lead him to potentially lose the family he seemingly fights so desperately to keep intact.
The icing on this fruitful cake is the final moments of the episode when Alice threatens to go public if he doesn’t leave. This is the moment that signifies the key difference between the two parents: Alice makes it clear that she is willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of her children. Hal believes Alice would never go public because “what would people think?” The ease in which he demonstrates his ability to smuggily threaten their Stepfordian existence makes it seem like this is not the first time such a threat has been made. He doesn’t realize that he has pushed his wife to the point of no return.
She brought that decrepit nightlight to the baby shower because she cares, damn it! She wants a relationship with her daughter and grandchild regardless of what blood is pumping through the baby’s veins. She is willing to sacrifice her public persona for the sake of her child. That is what a parent does. Hal is digging a hole for himself and frankly, I hope Nana Rose is the one to push him into it.
What are your thoughts on Hal? Is he simply misunderstood? Or are you hoping for a Rose v. Hal showdown? Let me know in the comments below!