Tonight's Riverdale took The CW drama in an interesting direction and we don't mean from a storytelling angle. The episode saw each member of its Core Four dealing with their own, unique challenges that were all connected by the titular "The Man in Black" and while the episode revealed quite a bit, we have some big questions.
Spoilers for tonight's episode of Riverdale, "The Man in Black", below.
In the episode, Archie (K.J. Apa) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) continued their journey to anywhere but Riverdale but found themselves followed by their small town demons when Hiram Lodge's (Mark Consuelos) reach proved to extend far into the countryside. Back in Riverdale, Veronica (Camilla Mendes) went to shadowy lengths to protect her investment into Pop's (and her speakeasy) which meant a bit of well-timed advice from her father. Meanwhile, Betty plotted her escape from the Sisters of Quiet Mercy only to discover the institution's house of horrors extend to not just Hiram's involvement, but the Gargoyle King himself.
It's a lot to break down and like we said, we have questions. So, if you're trying to sort out things from tonight's Riverdale, "The Man in Black", read on for our major questions and what we think the events in tonight's episode means going forward.
The Sisters of Quiet Mercy have been a fixture on Riverdale since the first season as it's the place the Coopers sent Polly when she was pregnant, the place where Alice herself went when she was a pregnant teen, and then, later, where Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) was sent to be "cured" as the Sisters were operating a gay conversion program. Now, it appears they are also operating a mental institution with Betty being forced to under go dubious treatment at the nun's hands.
So the Sisters of Quiet Mercy is a convent, orphanage, home for wayward girls, gay conversation, and a mental institution? Oh, not to mention a testing ground for Hiram's Fizzle Rocks and apparently a haven for the Gargoyle King. While we don't really expect to get any real answers as to what the deal is with the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, it seems that if there is something sinister in Riverdale, they're involved with it. Now the only real question is what their next evolution will be. Murder house, perhaps?
Speaking of the Sisters, things did not go well for Betty in their care. Despite having a solid plan for escape, Betty ended up drugged and submitted to the mercy of the Gargoyle King and the last we saw of her, she appeared to be fully under her spell.
What's next for Betty? So far, none of her friends know where she is and with the Gargoyle King threatening her life being a key reason she was sent to the Sisters in the first place one can only assume she's in significant danger.
Archie and Jughead narrowly escaped Hiram in tonight's episode after Laurie Lake (Riley Keough) betrayed Archie in exchange for her brother and father's freedom -- because, you know, Hiram has indentured servants making drugs for him at his prison. This sent Archie and Jughead back on the road with it being more clear than ever that returning to Riverdale isn't in the cards.
But that doesn't mean that they don't have a place to go. Jughead suggests that they go to his mother's, but that might not be a great choice.
"I think there's a lot to be worried about," Skeet Ulrich, who plays F.P. Jones, said in a recent interview. "[F.P. has just] started to get life by the horns a little bit and find a workable life with Jughead and she's the X-factor. As [with] most toxic relationships, there's someone that just sets you off. The reunion is certainly not what he would've wanted."
“When you bring a character like that in, it’s usually to cause problems,” showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa admitted in a previous interview. “What’s nice about Gina is, she has sort of an innate warmth to her. Even if she’s doing terrible things, you kind of love her.”
There's no real lead-in to this question as it's become pretty pressing: is Hiram the Gargoyle King? It's starting to look like a distinct possibility. Tonight, Riverdale revealed that Hiram is involved with Fizzle Rocks, the same drug that the Midnight Club was taking during the very first Gryphons and Gargoyles murders. It's worth noting that he was the teen who brought said Fizzle Rocks to the game back then, by the way. He also has something shady going on with the Sisters -- aka where the Gargoyle King appears to hang out -- was connected to the prison Archie was in and is in control of the small town Archie and Jughead sought refuge in that just so happened to have those same creepy symbols.
Yeah, it's suspicious.
Tonight, Veronica turned to running an illegal came night in her speakeasy to pay the bills and then resorted to some clever cheating to make sure that she herself didn't get cheated -- thanks to advice from her father, of course. Juxtapose that with the fact that she indignantly moved out of the Pembrooke to get away from her father we have to ask, what's next?
Veronica could go either way, but it seems like after getting solid advice from her father on how to deal with the gambling situation, she still believes there's good in him even with the mounting evidence that there isn't. It's not impossible to think that Veronica might turn to her father's side before the season's over.
Yes, Claudius Blossom appeared in this episode, arriving with Fizzle Rocks at the Sisters around the same time Hiram also showed up. Betty in particular seemed confused by this as Claudius was driving a truck for the Blossom Maple Syrup business and the Sisters do not serve maple syrup -- and it was implied that Claudius really would have no dealings with the business anyway.
Considering that drugs was Clifford Blossom's thing before his death in Season 1, it's starting to look more and more like Claudius might really be Clifford.
So after tonight it's more clear than ever that Hiram Lodge is evil, but what's his endgame?
The reality is we don't know. To be fair, there are so many elements of this mystery -- and we've broken down those elements here -- that whatever he's doing almost doesn't make sense. He's building a prison, that is also a drug manufacturer, is in bed with various criminal elements, might be involved in an occulty game, has a teen prison fight club, and a really toxic vendetta against a teenage boy who outsmarted him once. It honestly doens't make sense. Is it Napoleon Complex? Has he just felt like an outsider for so long that he's bent on all kinds of destruction? Your guess is as good as ours.
What did you think about tonight's Riverdale? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.