And so Hiram Lodge’s (Mark Consuelos) real prison plan is finally revealed.
Returning to the short-story format, Riverdale told three tales this week which all really revolve around Hiram, a man known far and wide as the Man in Black. In the Archie (KJ Apa) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) story, we learn his influence extends well beyond Riverdale as all the men in the town of Athens — a few days walk from Riverdale — are in Hiram’s employ (or servitude) to make Fizzle Rocks, the drug-laced candy he was taking back in high school. As Jughead discovers from the G&G-obsessed townsfolk, the new Fizzle Rocks concern is happening at Hiram’s precious prison complex in SoDale. Much like the Leopold & Loeb Juvenile Detention Center, Hiram has discovered a way to keep his illicit businesses secret: bury them under places meant to incarcerate criminals.
Meanwhile, Veronica (Camila Mendes) once again sees just how convincing Hiram can be when she turns the speakeasy into a casino for one night. When he learns her casino-loving pal plans to fleece her dry, Hiram shows her how the house always wins. It almost softens her resolve. At least until Pop (Alvin Sanders) tells her the body of Sheriff Minetta (Henderson Wade) has been found. At least, people think its Minetta, but the body was found decapitated.
And in what has to be the most surprising Hiram Lodge connection, he is a big benefactor to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy. But as his money always comes with a price, he’s using the girls housed there as lab rats for his new batch of Fizzle Rocks.
But does that mean he’s the Gargoyle King?
For as long as he remains an active character, Hiram will always be a suspect in every crime. This episode illustrates why — he has his hand in every cookie jar in the state. I was convinced he set up the Black Hood as a theatrical diversion so the town wouldn’t notice the SoDale deal. The Gargoyle King could be a theatrical dodge, but it no longer seems his style. Nevertheless, he is the source of just about all the rot in Riverdale.
So who did Betty (Lili Reinhart) meet in the Quiet Mercy inner sanctum? Claudius Blossom (Barclay Hope) suddenly joins the suspect list as he briefly appeared at the convent. But keep in mind the Blossoms’ own history with the local drug trade. Considering the Blossom connection to Hiram, Claudius may be lending out the maple syrup delivery trucks to smuggle the Fizzle Rocks to the church. He may also be running a little side business as the Gargoyle King. Keep in mind that he was missing entirely from the Midnight Club flashback and may have had his own designs on Penelope back in the day.
Another thing to consider: Gryphons and Gargoyles and Fizzle Rock both predate Hiram’s full entrance into crime. Perhaps he learned about both from the Gargoyle King Alice glimpsed in the restroom. Maybe there is someone older pulling all the strings. Maybe Pop isn’t as innocent and goodhearted as he seems.
But let’s ponder the least likely suspects as we watch a preview of next week’s show. A mass-seizure prompts the closer of Riverdale High. Meanwhile, Archie and Jug make it to Toledo, where Jughead’s mother (Gina Gershon) seems to have made a life for herself.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays on The CW.