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Riverdale Recap: Who Shot H.L.?

Riverdale

The Red Dahlia
Season 3 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****

Riverdale

The Red Dahlia
Season 3 Episode 11
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

I’m going to give it to you straight, friends: There is too much going on this episode. Like, five different games are afoot. Before we dive in, you’re going to need at least three different colored highlighters, two-dozen index cards, and half of a Five-Hour Energy shot (one whole Two-and-a-Half-Hour Energy shot would also work). I’ll see you on the other side.

Veronica comes to see Jughead, P.I. in full 1940s noir drag. She wants him to find her father’s (attempted) murderer, and she’ll pay cash. The prodigal Lodge daughter even has a primary suspect for Jug to look into: her mother.

Mayor Lodge informs Jughead that she was the person on the phone with her husband when he was shot, calling from Pop’s, thank you very much. But what about that argument Veronica heard her mom and dad having? That was about Hiram having an affair, which Hermione insists he then broke off.

Homicidal parents is a topic Betty is all too familiar with, especially now that she’s taken to calling on Serial Dad regularly. And she’s been doing some ’vestigating of her own. What’s up with Claudius Blossom’s apparent taste for cyanide — and the poisoning deaths of Daryl Doiley, Principal Featherhead, and the nuns of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, not to mention the demise of Clifford “Did I Really Hang Myself Because That Sure Seemed Weird, Huh” Blossom?

Hmm, poison? Hal can’t help but suggest Betty look into his conjugal visits with special friend Penelope.

In search of Hiram’s mistress’s room at the Five Seasons, Jughead and Betty accidentally waltz into the Maple Club. There, among velvet curtains and red uplighting, Penelope’s brothel dreams have already come true, albeit in conveniently PG-13, fully clothed fashion. Betty accuses her aunt of “exploiting” other women, but I don’t know, girl, domming the spendiest businessmen of the Riverdale Metro sounds chill as hell. Penelope, unsurprisingly, denies killing anybody.

Archie is still depressed, but at least he’s wearing cardigans again. Fred hooks him up with a job at Andrews Construction, where he proves so fond of banging rocks with a sledgehammer that he refuses to stop even for a union-mandated break. This manic work ethic backfires when he gets into a shoving match with his supervisor, who promptly fires him. I have had worse first days at new jobs. He drowns his sorrows in shots and bar nuts at La Bonne Nuit in increasingly disorderly fashion. When he gets thrown out, returned star singer Josie escorts Archie home and forces him to take a “literal and metaphoric” cold shower.

Dr. Curdle Jr. digs up the results of Clifford Blossom’s secretly performed autopsy (sure) for Betty: The deceased maple patriarch had a lethal dose of puffer-fish venom in his bloodstream. Poison, poison everywhere, and plenty of drops to drink, apparently!

Betty confronts her serial-killer aunt, calling her the “Red Dahlia.” (I know you probably know this, but: The Black Dahlia was not a serial killer. The Black Dahlia was the victim of a notably horrible murder. I’m going to go lie down for the next 45 minutes and then I’ll meet you right back here.) “Men … they are the true poison,” Penelope explains, and — okay, I’m listening. Uncle Father Claudius was no angel, she argues. The town’s epidemic of teen-girl seizures was the result of his dumping Fizzle Rocks runoff, and he would have gladly carried on with the help of falsified water-tests run at Sweetwater Reservoir. Is what she did really so wrong? This throws a wrench into Betty’s ethical gears. Watching his daughter tiptoe into a moral gray area is the best possible early Father’s Day gift Betty could have given to the Black Hood.

With Hiram out of commission, capos Leo and Nico — who I somehow am only now just noticing are twins? — advise that the Lodges align with Ellio’s Pizza, of the Sweetwater Casino Pizzas. (Actually, Ellio’s last name is Grande. He is the youngest sibling to Ariana and Frankie Grande; this is heretofore canon.) No thanks! Veronica fires her dad’s staff muscle and instead recruits ex-doorman Smithers and sort-of boyfriend Reggie to hang out in a car and pretend to be, respectively, Hiram’s driver and the Man in Black himself while she makes the family’s collections.

Jughead finally manages to sneak into Hiram’s mistress’s suite on his own, where she finds him and wastes no time in holding him at gunpoint. The character played by Kelly Ripa (Hiram Lodge / Mark Consuelos’s IRL spouse, cute) is named Evelyn Mulwray because I guess the intended implication here is that — please stop reading this sentence if you haven’t seen Chinatown — she bore her rapist father’s child? Yikes. I do like the Department of Water connection, though! In addition to being Hiram’s mistress, Mulwray is also the health sanitation inspector who was brought in to fake that water-quality report after all the seizures.

Jughead is hosting his own private episode of Cheaters this week, next spying on Hermione as she cozies up amid approximately 800 candles with the supposedly decapitated Sheriff Minetta. People are dead, then the same people are not dead, life is meaningless here within the Riverdale city limits. Hermione and Minetta’s pillow talk makes it clear that they’re planning to frame FP for … something?

Josie’s deal-with-your-shit pep talk improbably inspires Archie to bring a gun to Hiram’s hospital room and monologue about revenge. But before he has the chance to pull the trigger, a masked assassin enters and points his own gun at Hiram, until Archie shoots at him and he flees. Poor Arch — you can’t even do murder right.

When Jughead warns his dad that Minetta is still alive, FP admits that it was he who shot Hiram, the first time, at Hermione’s request. He was eager to get revenge after Jughead nearly died on Riot Night. The sheriff’s badge was FP’s reward. With the help of Alice and her TV camera, FP manages to control the media version of the story before Hermione can dig her elegantly manicured claws into it: Hiram was shot by Tallboy, who, whoops, was conveniently killed while resisting arrest.

When she gets a call from Archie at the hospital, Veronica — who suspects her mom had something to do with the shooting, especially once Hermione starts pushing to sell the drug lab out from under Hiram — dispatches Reggie to singlehandedly break into the prison to destroy the entire operation. A bit of a tall order, if you ask me, but one he apparently pulls it off.

Archie apologizes to Veronica for his recent misbehavior; Veronica apologizes right back for suspecting him of shooting her dad, which I’m not sure she actually needs to apologize for, given that he was aiming a revolver at Hiram, like, 15 minutes ago. When Sleeping Beauty finally awakens, he at long last proposes a truce with Archie. Our sweet near-killer also finds time to thank Josie for her kindness and invite her to “jam” at a later date. I pray to my personal lord and savior the Gargoyle King that “jam” is in no way a euphemism.

Veronica and Reggie seem in no way concerned about standing downwind of their Fizzle Rocks bonfire, but Hermione is very unhappy to learn that the lab has gone up in literal smoke, given that her mysterious buyer paid in advance and she already used the money to pay off the governor, for some reason?

By now, Jughead has figured out that Hermione is responsible for her husband’s shooting. Given that she can more or less count on his secrecy — if she goes down, so does FP — she dishes on her motives in an impromptu free therapy session. Angry with Hiram over his drug lab and the seizures — as well as that time he enlisted Tallboy to shoot at her during a mayoral debate (that was rude) — Hermione hired FP, then sent Minetta to finish the job with the sheriff’s pistol, thereby framing FP for a crime he didn’t commit, albeit a crime he tried to commit.

Oh, yeah, and then Hermione shoots Minetta. I’m sorry. This episode has exhausted me.

Ronnie pays Jughead the rest of what she owes him. Her dad believed the Tallboy story, so that’s good enough for her — she doesn’t need to know the truth.

“Forget it, Jughead,” Veronica says. “It’s Riverdale.” Please consider this statement the implied ending of each and every one of my recaps.

Riverdale Recap: Who Shot H.L.?