If you went into Riverdale’s 2018 fall finale “Outbreak” hoping to learn the identity of the Gargoyle King, you are out of luck. But that doesn’t mean the midseason finale was totally revelation-free. Rather than unveiling who is hiding underneath a costume of sticks and blood in the Fox Forest, “Outbreak” finally reveals Hiram Lodge’s (Mark Consuelos) master plan, which has been percolating since season 2 finale “Brave New World.”
Surprise: Hiram has closed Riverdale’s borders through an elaborate quarantine scheme. The plot is centred around the seizures that began with Betty Cooper’s (Lili Reinhart) “Labour Day” collapse. Now, no one can enter or exit Riverdale. All that remains is the will of Hiram Lodge. It’s a confusing twist that needs a lot of explaining.
Out of everything Hiram could have done, you may be asking, “Why a quarantine?” The answer: by claiming Riverdale has been overtaken by a deadly seizure diseaseno one will bother checking in on what’s actually happening on the inside. Firstly, no individual will want to risk their own health and safety to perform such an investigation, lest they also begin seizing and end up kidnapped by men in mysterious hazmat suits. Secondly, as we see when Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and dad F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich) approach town lines, if someone were to inquire after Riverdale’s well-being, they would be stopped and threatened with deadly force.
While such violent action would usually be viewed as crime, the quarantine label justifies the extreme reaction.
This is a foolproof plan for Hiram to get the “kingdom” he so desires. That is why Hiram and Veronica Lodge’s (Camila Mendes) mid-”Outbreak” conversation is one of the most important scenes of the episode. Ronnie recognizes her dad’s mobster-drug lord machinations have gone too far. He’s using a Southside prison building project, which he secured by ill means, to expand his Fizzle Rock production empire. He’s manipulating a panic over the seizure epidemic to create a criminal base in Northside Riverdale. He brutally murdered the dirty sheriff (Henderson Wade) he placed into office.
Ronnie reminds Hiram that the citizens of Riverdale might be powerless to stop his accelerating evil deeds — remember, Lodge family matriarch Hermione (Marisol Nichols) is the mayor — but the world will see what’s going on. “Yeah, I’m not too concerned about that,” Hiram casually shoots back. Hiram wasn’t concerned about prying eyes because he knew the imminent quarantine would shroud Riverdale in permanent darkness.
Those grandiose words prove the quarantine isn’t the culmination of Hiram’s king-making strategy. It is merely a means to the much larger end he, and the Gargoyle King (as confirmed with “Outbreak’s” final scene), hope to achieve. After all, Hiram tells his daughter a “new order” is on the way for Riverdale, and Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Bolt) promises the town’s leading criminals will soon have free reign.
Over season 3, Riverdale has dropped a few more hints as to what that “order” entails. We shouldn’t expect Riverdale to turn into a barren wasteland like the one we glimpsed in last week’s “Man In Black.” Hiram only ruined that town, Athens, to make his work in Riverdale possible. The men of Athens, as Laurie Lake (Riley Keough) complains, were taken to work in the Fizzle Rocks factory-slash-prison building scam in Riverdale. Because of the men’s labor, Hiram now has enough Fizzle Rocks to easily control Riverdale.
It’s likely Hiram was testing the drugs on the vulnerable girls at Sisters Of Quiet Mercy to learn how the “candy” influences subjects at different levels. How much makes a user docile and easy to control? How much induces hallucinations? How much can actually kill someone? This is all important data if you’re hoping to drug an entire town and then lord over it like a mob king, which is exactly what Hiram wants.
This goal also explains why both Gryphons & Gargoyles, a game that drives its users mad, and Fizzle Rocks, an addictive drug peddled for free by Hiram Lodge, was introduced to Riverdale. A massive swath of the population is now very easy to control, just in time for the quarantine.
The only question that remains is how Hiram orchestrated the seizures that “necessitated” the quarantine in the first place. The leading answer is Pop’s, as the diner is the only common thread between everyone who experienced a seizure (Betty, Veronica, the entire River Vixens squad save for Cheryl Blossom, Josie McCoy, and Ethel Muggs). No, Gryphons & Gargoyles doesn’t count since Betty and Veronica both experienced a seizure without ever playing the game.
But if Riverdale didn’t leave one suspicious hanging thread, it wouldn’t really be Riverdale, would it? Hopefully the 2019 season 3 premiere, “No Exit,” will have an answer.
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