Back in December 2018, Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed we would be getting a few more themed episodes in season 3. They would be the soul sisters to the bloody musical extravaganza of season 2 (this time he’s swapping Carrie for Heathers, for example). Well, we’ve finally arrived at one of those such Very Special Episodes: The Noir One, featuring the acting styles of real-life Riverwife Kelly Ripa (longtime spouse to big bad Mark Consuelos).
At some point, “The Red Dahlia” becomes high comedy due in no small part to the sheer number of times its narrator — teenager Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) playing a 1940s dashing, gumshoe type — is forced to refer to Riverdale as “Crime Town.” Because it’s a noir, you know? But before that we stumble upon small town sex clubs, a serial poisoning plot, and a gothic funeral that would make the long-dead Jason Blossom (Jason Stines) say “Yikes.” And all of that just has to do with Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Bolt), the episode’s titular Red Dahlia.
Let’s get down to the most bonkers moments of the episode and try to unravel them. They’re in no particular order, because Riverdale thrives in the chaos.
Kelly Ripa Rises
Kelly Ripa is in Riverdale, and she has a gun! Everyone from Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols) to Jughead himself refer to Ripa’s Ms. Mulwray as Hiram’s “mistress,” I’m not exactly convinced. What we do know about her is that Hiram was meeting with the crooked health and sanitation inspector — yes, she has the world’s least sexy job — regularly, has a “glamergé egg,” and falsified water supply records for Hiram in exchange for payment.
As she says, “I do a job — I get paid for it.”
It’s possible Mulwray, a name that serves as a sneaky Chinatown reference, and Hiram were sleeping together. However, it’s just as likely Hiram found a dubious state employee who would do his bidding for a price. It only seemed like Mulwray was a mistress because he chose to meet with her in a hotel room, which is a great way to cover up far more nefarious scheming with the quotidien deception of an affair.
After all, if Mulwray was so crazy about Hiram, why didn’t she ever try to see her beloved on his apparent deathbed.
As with the Gargoyle King identity reveal last week, the biggest shock of “The Red Dahlia” is just how sensible a major resolution is. Here, we learn the seizures that plagued young women like Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) was caused by runoff from the Blossom family maple-turned-Fizzle Rocks manufacturing factory. Hermione suggests Hiram was filling Sweetwater River with the same poison from his own drug-making factory out of the prison.
So Hermione helped create a distraction — the quarantine — so the men could get rid of the drugs and the equipment necessary to make them. Mulwray requested a state of emergency from the governor to create a “smoke screen,” but falsified the reports so no one would ever know what Hiram and Claudius Blossom (Barclay Hope) had done once that camouflage lifted.
We’ll never know why the drug run-off only hurt girls. When it comes to a dastardly web as obscure as the one Hiram spun, we’re lucky that’s the only question remains.
The Lodge Women Audition For Godfellas 2: Crime Town Boogaloo
Hermione and Veronica settle into their roles as mob queenpins quite nicely. Let’s just go down the list their antics. Veronica fires two turtleneck-wearing mob capos while inside of a hospital. Veronica uses a bus driver’s cap and an endlessly amiable Reggie (Charles Melton) to con her dad’s underlings into handing over their crime dues. Hermione makes a massive drug deal with a mystery new Big Bad. She takes the cash offer upfront. Unbeknownst of Hermione, Veronica burns all the drugs and the equipment in a night time bonfire with her not-boyfriend. Hermione’s mini crime empire is screwed.
Elsewhere it is revealed Hermione is enjoying a cabin-in-the-wood-set affair with the not-dead Sheriff Minetta (Henderson Wade). Hermione has Minetta take a second attempt on Hiram’s life… because the original hit she had F.P. Jones (Skeet Ulrich) carry out failed. F.P. shot Hiram! After an evening of criminal love making, Hermione kills Minetta for real.
All of this took place in a single episode of television.
Tall Boy: The Forgotten Piece Of Luggage
The dummy Serpent Teens hid Tall Boy’s (Scott McNeil) gigantic dead body under the Dilton Doiley Sex Bunker And G&G Den’s very bare bed — yes, the one Varchie and Bughead have both knocked boots in multiple times. The teens leave the very obvious, humongous corpse under said bed while speaking to the police about Tall Boy. Not only must the body have reeked by then — it was simply peeking out from underneath a single tissue-thin blanket so short, it didn’t reach the floor. Maybe F.P shouldn’t be sheriff?
There is a flourishing sex club in Riverdale and Penelope Blossom is its “Moulin Rouge”-ensembled proprietor. It is called the Maple Club and there are many fetish-y untones. Penelope must love Babylon Berlin.
Oh, and Penelope murderously poisoned Claudius, Clifford (Barclay hope, again), Dilton Doiley’s dad, the Quiet Sisters nuns, and Anthony Michael Hall’s Principal Featherhead (those last two don’t make sense, ignore them). Because, as she explains, feminism!
Archie’s Warm Shower
A lot goes on with Archie Andrews’ (KJ Apa) increasingly concerning descent into alcohol abuse. But, it’s apparently fixed by the end of the episode. So, let’s instead turn our attention to the moment when Josie (Ashleigh Murray) tries to sober Archie up by tossing him in a bathtub and announcing, “It’s time for a literal and metaphorical cold shower!”
Yet, Josie incites said cold shower by dramatically spinning both temperature knobs. Friends, that is a warm shower at best.