RIVERDALE 3×11: The Red Dahlia

Previously, on Riverdale

Archie returns, Hiram gets shot, we learn the identity of the Gargoyle King (still disappointed!), and Betty finally goes to visit her father in prison. Read our recap here

The Rundown

As the episode tips its hat to the hardboiled detective stories of film noir, Jughead and Betty run concurrent and interweaving investigations. Fun field trips include, but are not limited to: the morgue, Penelope’s sex club, and Hal’s prison cell. Veronica stands in for her dad with the help of Reggie and a black hat. Archie acts out as he continues to adjust to being back in Riverdale.

The Teens

Veronica hires Jughead to investigate Hiram’s shooting. This is a great excuse for him to live his best Humphrey Bogart fantasy, and the voiceover is turned up to 110%. We’ve even got shots of him using a retro typewriter.



Though it could be literally anyone at this point, Jughead and Veronica both immediately suspect that Hermione is the culprit. She’s got an alibi, but points them toward Hiram’s mistress, aka Kelly Ripa.

Betty’s logging a lot of face time with her serial killer father these days and bouncing around theories and leads. She thinks that Penelope Blossom is also a serial killer responsible for not only the recent death of Claudius Blossom, but also those of Dilton Doiley and Clifford Blossom. I refuse to let myself think about how bonding over these shared interests could have been a sort of macabre meet-cute for Penelope and Hal.

She visits Creepy Coroner Jr. again, who is starting to look like one of The Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Guess you don’t get into coroner work for the reasonable hours but man he looks like he could use some sleep. We find out that way back when Clifford Blossom “hung himself” all those season ago, it was actually staged. Apparently he died of PUFFER FISH VENOM POISONING before he was even on the rope. 

Veronica is trying to hold together her father’s various enterprises while he’s lying in the ICU. Worried that the other sharks will sense blood in the water, she fires her father’s muscle and hires her own crack team…Smithers and Reggie, LOL. While going through Hiram’s documents, she finds even more evidence of Hermione’s culpability in his evil actions. Hermione explains away her actions to Veronica with the oldest trick in the book: “I was trying to stop him!” Her clear secondary gain shines through when she suggests that they sell Hiram’s drug enterprise to a willing buyer.

Now, I love Reggie, and I love that Reggie loves Veronica, and I think they are super cute together. But asking your maybe-not-boyfriend to bust up a drug lab with you, and then bailing last minute? That is extremely poor form, Veronica. Reggie’s all for the plan though, and thinks it “sounds a lot like the plot of Bad Boys II.”



To make things worse, they destroy all the drugs, but Hermione’s already used the money that the seller paid up front to buy off the Governor. I get that she was trying to do a good thing, but Veronica has a bad habit of stepping in where she’s not wanted and making everything all about her without really thinking of all the potential consequences. Hmm…sounds a lot like a red-haired ab-having guy we know.

Speaking of Formerly Golden Boy, Archie throws himself a bit of a pity party about the state of his future. Giving up on the idea of college, he shoves his boss the first day on his construction job, then almost gets thrown out of La Bonne Nuit for being a drunk jerk.



Josie sobers him up and basically tells him to get his house in order. He interprets that as “go kill Hiram Lodge,” and heads to the (strangely deserted) hospital with a gun. He monologues a little while holding Hiram at gunpoint until a DIFFERENT guy comes in to murder him. Archie has a change of heart and protects Hiram. He’s not a great shot and the shooter gets away before his identity is revealed.

Even though they just got up in a tizzy about standardized testing last week, I guess it’s time not to care about school again in Riverdale. The only person who even appears to be studying is Josie, and no one even comes close to attending class. Are they skipping? Is it the weekend? I find it hard to believe Fred would let Archie start full-time construction work without at least attempting to finish out his junior year.

The Grownups

Hiram may be out of commission for now, but Hermione just stepped up right into his evil shoes. She’s having an affair with Sheriff Minetta, who’s apparently not dead, until she kills him at the end of the episode. I’m assuming the death sticks this time around, but we didn’t see a dead body on camera. Also, Riverdale, you JUST brought someone back from the dead and immediately killed them again last episode!

Here’s when things really get complicated: Hermione and FP really were in cahoots the first time Hiram got shot – FP pulled the trigger, and took the sheriff position as payment. When that didn’t actually get the job done, she was going to frame FP for the second attempt made on Hiram’s life (the one thwarted by Archie, who was also there to shoot Hiram). Luckily Jughead overheard, and was able to work together with FP (with a cameo by Local News Alice, whom I love) to frame Tallboy for the shooting of Hiram, which also took care of having to deal with dead Tallboy.

Penelope totally admits to Betty that she killed a bunch of people. But the madam of The Best Little Whorehouse in Riverdale asks Betty to see it from her side: the guys she killed? Kind of trash!

She really is living her best life post-quarantine. Not only is she unapologetic for killing members of the family that basically bought her as a small child, she is thriving as the proprietor of her high-class BDSM sex club. Plus, she knows that Betty handed Chic over to the Black Hood, and uses that information as leverage. I! Love! Penelope!

Hiram wakes up and asks to see Archie. I guess he didn’t hear any of Archie’s murder monologuing because he says “life for a life,” and all of a sudden they agree to keep peace between them. We’ll see if it sticks. No one should trust anything that comes out of Hiram’s mouth. I’d hope even Archie would know that little by now. I’m assuming we get more Kelly Ripa in the coming episodes, because I can’t wait to see her rapport with both Hiram and Hermione.

Outfit MVP

Cheryl’s back on our screens, albeit briefly, and Cheryl at a Funeral is my favorite form of extra. Remember those black cheerleading uniforms? Plus, I adore her spider brooches (see further evidence of such here). 

A Fine Line

“Oh, so now there’s a not-so-secret sex club in Riverdale.” My thoughts exactly, Betty. My thoughts exactly. 

Burning Questions

Burning Question Solved (?): Penelope says the mass seizures were being caused by runoff from Hiram’s Fizzle Rocks operation, which ended up in the Sweetwater River drinking reservoir. Do we believe her? The seizures still only seem to happen whenever Edgar Evernever’s daughter is around. And she was cagey as to why the events only happened to females.

Why, in a town with this many murders, is there such a deserted and small ICU? You’d think night at the Riverdale General would be a veritable hotbed of activity.

Does Hermione maybe want Jughead, even just a little? I was getting major vibes during this scene. I honestly can’t remember at this point if she and FP were ever a thing. Who can keep track?



What’s Coming

Next week: hot sexy teens and shooting and fast cars and more arrows!


What a week, what an episode! I’m powerless against the churning of this plot machine. How could I ever say things might be getting stale? I’ve been as foolish as one Archibald Andrews. Just when you think things can’t get any more wackadoodle, the show upends the plot and changes the narrative. Whether you agree or you’ve got beef with what’s happening with Riverdale – let me know in the comments!




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