Riverdale S3E7: The Man in Black

by thethreepennyguignol

Let’s talk about Hiram Lodge.

The patriarch of the Lodge family and empire, Hiram (as played by the only Gargoyle King of my heart, Mark Consuelos), has been relatively absent from this season so far, which makes sense, given that he was the big bad of season two in many ways – he outlasted the Black Hood, and his machinations have driven much of the worst stuff that has happened in Riverdale so far. But this episode, The Man in Black, is all about bringing my Lodge of choice back to the forefront – except I’m not actually sure I like it so much.

Actually, no, that’s not fair. Even though I think this is the weakest episode of the season thus far, it’s still gleaming with the textbook Riverdale touches that keep things so engaging for me: “Biff” as an actual, real fake name that somebody gives, abandoned ghost towns that look like something out of a lost season of Carnivale, a fifteen-minute internal monologue from Betty, Hiram Lodge looking fi-ine in suit after suit after suit (I’m ovulating rightn ow, my body wants me to get pregnant, and this month it’s decided only Mark Conseulos shall do as my baby-daddy: all of this leering is out of my control). The horror that I spoke about last week is still here, though in smaller doses than before. I still enjoyed this, as a forty-minute diversion from everything else going in the world, as Riverdale has consistently been for me the last year or so.

And I think that, in theory, this episode is pretty cool. Three seperate stories weave around one another, all of them connected by the appearance of Hiram Lodge: Archie and Jughead making a break from Riverdale and hitting the road, Veronica struggling to keep her club afloat and hosting a shady poker night, and Betty attempting to expose the horrors of the home she has been forced into before it’s too late. The concept is neat and works for me, but the execution leaves a little to be desired.

I mean, let’s be honest here – my biggest problem with this outing is that Lili Reinhart is, by soaring far and away, the best of our leading four cast, and all of them are elevated when they’re working with her. Her story, which closes out the episode, is without question the best – Lili Reinhart’s blackly-comic, deadpan internal monologue as she is drawn deeper into the insanity at the centre of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy facility is an utter joy to behold – and it really feels like we’re taking some steps forward with the central Grindhouse and Guilford storyline. Everything else, though? Hnng.

Archie and Jughead are, appropriately, straight down the middle of the road here: they wind up hiding out at the house of a mysterious woman just outside an abandoned small town which is revealed to have ties to Hiram Lodge. KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse just seem a bit tired here, neither of them really bringing much to their performances apart from being shirtless a lot, which, you know, isn’t so much of an appeal to a woman when Mark Consuelos is right there. It feels like there was too much of this story, or not enough – they touched on too much not to explore it properly, and now it’s done I can’t help but feel a little short-changed.

Finally, there’s Veronica’s plot, in which the show is still trying to make Reggie happen (he’s not going to happen) and also give Veronica something nefarious to get up to. I wouldn’t have minded this story as a C-plot for something more interesting, but since it’s a whole third of the episode, it just feels like a slightly ragged last-minute addition to the episode. Camila Mendes is better than she once was, but who can blame her for lacking the screen-dominating presence she needs when she’s only got Reggie in funny trousers to work with?

But any, what about the Hiram of it all? Well, Jarchie plot was probably my favourite one for him of the three, as he actually feels like the soaring maple mafioso that I always want him to be, but he’s barely in it beyond bursting into a room and agreeing that Debts Shall Be Paid, despite what Mark Consuelos brings to it. In fact, that’s my biggest problem with this episode, I think. I adore Hiram Lodge, and I don’t even care that everything might swing around to him again this season, but you can’t expect him to take a backseat in three seperate storylines. Hiram is a quintessential Riverdale character because he is huge, and sidelining him in a trio of outings leaves him feeling underserved. Much as I love me some Lodge, this was a miss for me, because it didn’t give me the juicy, full-blooded Hiram action that Riverdale needs to cement him as a villain once more.

And that’s us for this underwhelming episode. What did you think? Are you confident about this season, or worried about the turn its taking? Let me know in the comments below, or hit me up on Twitter or Tumblr! If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to check in with my other recapping projects – I’m currently covering the first Harry Potter book as well as the current season of Doctor Who. If you want to read some of my fiction, please check out the ALPHA FEMALE erotica series (eighteen-plus, obviously), available on Amazon now. As ever, if you want to see more stuff like this, please consider supporting me on Patreon!

(header image courtesy of BeautifulBallad)

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