Riverdale ep. 3.7 “Chapter Forty-Two: The Man in Black”

Riverdale is often a series of convenient actions. The last episode perfectly exemplified that.

So it’s slightly surprising that when wanderin’ Jughead and Archie agree to bunk at a farm it doesn’t happen to be The Farm. But it’s a creepy place nonetheless. Jughead’s guard immediately goes up, but ever-trusting Archie insists that they stay.

The two girls there insist that it’s just the two of them who live at the farm. All the men work down the river. Completely reasonable that two high-school age girls could run a farm by themselves. Anyway, Archie believes this and insists on paying back their kindness by helping with farm work the next day.

Jughead heads into town to take photographs. He sees the familiar G&G markings around town. He stops to speak to an older woman, who tells him that the drug Fizzle Rocks began being taken in town again. The symbols began to appear when the drugs did.

He later meets a group of girls taking Fizzle Rocks and playing G&G. The girls say that the men are building a prison, but are making the drugs at a lab for the Man in Black.

While he investigates, Archie falls under the spell of the older daughter Lori. Archie caves and tells him his real story, admitting that the names he and Jughead gave her originally were fake. She knocks him out with a frying pan and calls Hiram to gather his treasure.

Jughead manages to free him, but Archie wants to stay and fight? Does he think he can kill Hiram? Why does Archie think that’s a good idea? He eventually to Jughead’s (little) sense, and they decide to head off to see Mrs Jones.

Veronica, meanwhile, packs up to leave home. She decides to…move into her speakeasy? It’s like living in her worst nightmare. Her business isn’t making any money. So she decides to turn it into a casino for one night only. That means putting her trust in Elio.

Hiram stops by to warn her away from her decisions. I’m honestly so over this man. Hopefully season 3 is the end of Hiram’s scheming. He simply asks his daughter, “Are you mad at me?” and that alone is enough to make me scream.

But Hiram is right, of course. During casino night, Reggie points out to Veronica that Elio is probably cheating. She decides to play him and puts the deed to the speakeasy on the table. She wins. She later reveals that Hiram warned her before casino night. Apparently Elio wanted to fleece her because she’s an easy target. He subtle suggests that she cheat by bringing in her own dealer.

The following morning, Pop warns Veronica about the dangers of being like her father. He also tells her that Minetta’s body was found…with no head or hands.

Betty is stuck at the Sisters of Mercy still. She learns that all the girls receive “candy” every day – Fizzle Rocks. She later learns that her roommate is Ethel Muggs. Ethel tells Betty that she has been having conversations with the Gargoyle King herself.

Poor Ethel’s character has been massively destroyed (remember when she was a champion for women’s rights in season 1?).

Betty continues her investigation from within the Mercy’s walls. She sees Claudius Blossom making deliveries of something (definitely not maple syrup). But most importantly, she notices that Hiram visits the Sisters and “helps” them with whatever they may need. She then remembers that Hiram was the one who brought Fizzle Rocks to the G&G ascension night all those years ago.

Riverdale’s #1 detective realises what she needs to do in order to get to the files she needs to continue her investigation. She fakes a seizure, landing herself in the medical room. She finds her own record and reads them. She notices that Hiram is dictating drug dosage to use the girls as lab rats for his drug.

When she gets the information she needs, she attempts to escape through the exit Veronica used to save Cheryl earlier. She’s caught and forcefully given Fizzle Rocks, then its decided she needs a “good strong talk-to” from the King. After her meeting, her spirit is thoroughly broken…and worshiping the Gargoyle King.

This section is easily the most entertaining. Having Betty’s internal monologue in my new favorite thing. Betty is also easily the best part of this show. Seeing her so broken is definitely horrible, but seeing her fight a battle is always great. Well, because she always wins.

This episode was structurally similar to “Tales from the Darkside” as it is three separate stories. This works for the episode, but it certainly isn’t as remarkable (or as flashy) as “Tales” was. But I still think the technique works will. The four four are all separated, maybe not for the first time but definitely for the longest. By putting their three stories this way, it highlights just how alone they are all now.

Hiram, the Man in Black, is a looming figure throughout the episode. How can such a crook get away with so much? Why are so many people on board with supporting drug production? Is this a Riverdale thing or am I just naive?

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