Say what you will about Archie Andrews, but at least he knows a good idea when he sees it. When he's pressed to defend Hiram Lodge from fellow high-level criminals, he goes back to his Red Circle roots from earlier in Season 2 and barely even changes the name. This time, Archie's vigilante crew has traded in their red ski masks for black ones and go by the name The Dark Circle. However, is this new and presumably improved Dark Circle the same as the Red Circle? Riverdale's Dark Circle marks Archie's stand against outside influences affecting the fate of Riverdale — and a stand with Hiram Lodge.
After taking on a role as an assistant to Hiram Lodge's questionable activities, Archie finds a moment to prove himself to Hiram as a loyal servant. When Hiram is attacked by some less noble criminals who are hoping to invest in Hiram's prison in exchange for some control of Riverdale, Archie formulates a plan to threaten these outsiders and keep them out of Riverdale. To accomplish this, Hiram and Archie orchestrate a car bomb to engulf the criminals' vehicle in flames (the criminals are not inside of it at the time, that would be too dark for the Dark Circle), and Archie rolls up with a group of Riverdale locals, all wearing black hoods. The disguised Archie warns them to stay away from Hiram Lodge, or they risk coming under the attack of the Dark Circe. But what is the Dark Circle, exactly?
The Dark Circle, judging by Archie's meeting with Reggie before the car bombing, seems to consist of all the same members as the Red Circle, which mostly consisted of the Riverdale High School football team — go Bulldogs! Reggie was another key member of of the Red Circle, often serving as Archie's right-hand man by getting other members excited about keeping Riverdale safe. While the Red Circle was formed to try and combat the Black Hood, the Dark Circle's goal is a lot more dangerous than one sole serial killer. By attacking Hiram Lodge's adversaries, they're risking making a declaration of war against an entire criminal organization.
It's no surprise that the Dark Circle became a more dangerous revival of Red Circle, because that's exactly what happened to the real-life Red Circle. Red Circle Comics was the name of a imprint of Archie Comics that focused on telling superhero stories, including a vigilante named The Black Hood. In 2015, Red Circle Comics was reborn as Dark Circle Comics, per USA Today.
This real-life reboot focused on more adult-oriented storytelling than the main Archie franchise, so it's fitting that the name was brought into Riverdale in the same episode in which Archie performs his most dangerous criminal act yet. While he never planned to have the car bomb go off with people inside it, he very easily could have caused someone's death if something went wrong. The Archie who was dead-set on bringing justice to a killer at the beginning of the season has transformed into someone who is willing to literally set fires in order to keep Riverdale a "safe" place to live. But is it really a safe place to live if Archie is using dangerous tactics to keep it that way?
While The Dark Circle's involvement may have kept Riverdale safe from non-Riverdale parties, the group's resurgence could reignite the Circle's violent rivalry with the Southside Serpents. Things only seem to be getting more tense and complex as each episode of Riverdale premieres, and while The Dark Circle was an effective short-term solution, their reforming could have some major long-term consequences for Riverdale.