Veronica's (Camila Mendes) mother was far from perfect in Season 1, but she did her best to provide for and protect her daughter, taking a job at Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe and later a position with Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) in order to support their small family. It'd be insane to pretend she'd ever fallen on truly hard times while her husband Hiram (Mark Consuelos) was in prison — look at the life she led and the home she lived in — but moving back to Riverdale and attempting to raise Veronica on her own, with a black smudge on the family name, did appear to humble her a bit.
Now that Hiram is free and has returned to throw his weight around, she seems to have taken a sharp hairpin turn into confusing character territory. She waffles between concerned parent and jealous wife — some might even say she verges on evil stepmother. So, what gives? To get to the bottom of Hermione's baffling behavior, TV Guide caught up with showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to inquire.
"I think on some level Veronica is the apple of Hiram's eye. I think on some level [Hermione] does resent that a little bit," says Aguirre-Sacasa. "I do think in the episode that she's trying to protect Veronica from letting her father in too quickly. They are conflicting impulses, but I think they are not contradictory, and I think they both can exist at the same time."
"These are my favorite kind of characters," Aguirre-Sacasa adds. "They operate in a kind of a moral gray zone."
We can get behind morally gray characters who make questionable decisions — they're far more interesting than characters who operate solely within the black or white — but Hermione ping-pongs nearly every other scene. We never know which version of the character we're going to get, and it's giving us whiplash.
At times she appears to be playing the part of a fierce mother protecting her outspoken daughter from a potentially threatening man — and to be clear, it seems very obvious that Hiram is dangerous and abusive, or has been in the past — but at other times she appears both petty and jealous, as if she's threatened by Veronica. This is further complicated by how Hermione has taken to speaking to or about Veronica since Hiram's return. Earlier this season, she tattled to Hiram that Veronica drank his Cristal. This week she told Veronica there was "no need to be so thirsty" when warning her not to be so desperate for Hiram's approval. It's a fair point, but who speaks to their daughter this way? Not only is it insulting and belittling, but it also paints Hermione in a bad light rather than Hiram.
The only acceptable explanation here is that Hermione is afraid for her daughter's safety, and is going to extremes to try to protect her by attempting to draw a clear line between daughter and father. If that's true — and we have reason to believe it is, because we've already witnessed Hiram threaten Hermione in private — then we should probably forgive the crudeness of her actions and applaud her intentions.
Still, there's a better way to portray a woman walking a thin line around a dangerous man that doesn't also paint her in a poor light. Come on, Riverdale. We're all rooting for you.
Additional reporting by Megan Vick.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)