For a mere hamlet with a population of roughly 17 people, the town of Riverdale sure does seem to have a disproportionate number of baddies. There's deceased confirmed murderer Cliff Blossom (Barclay Hope), imprisoned Southside Serpent FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich), shady former Serpent-turned-investigative journalist/questionable mom Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick), probably-a-spy Pop Tate (Alvin Sanders), maybe-a-witch/definitely an arsonist Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) — the list goes on and on. Hell, even Betty (Lili Reinhart) almost drowned a dude last season.
When Big Daddy Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) rolled into town in his Evil Pinstriped Suit earlier this season, fresh off a stint in luxury jail where they probably provide Kiehl's products, it was easy to assume he would be the big bad. After all he was the person who loomed like a shadow over Season One, and would graduate to black hole levels of joy sucking after his appearance this season. And he's lived up to that promise, ish! He glowers like a champ and employs the endearments like mija with just the right amount of ice — two ingredients essential to badassery. However, there's someone else we should be worrying more about this season.
I'm not talking about straight up serial killer the Black Hood, either.
We need to talk about mija.
That's right, I'm pretty sure Veronica (Camila Mendes) has gone full dark side while we weren't looking. After all, as young Jughead said in this week's episode, "Deathproof," everyone wears a mask in this town. In Veronica's case, it's probably a SK-II sheet, and also evil. Cue up Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood," it's time to get real about our favorite bad girl gone good gone back to pretty much always bad.
Take this week's episode, which revisited the plight of would-be rapist Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips) after Betty marked him as a target for the Black Hood. After trying to put the non-consensual moves on Veronica, then trying the same nonsense (with added drugs) on Cheryl, St. Nick got the crap kicked out of him by Veronica and the Pussycats. Bruised and brooding, he sulks around while Betty makes sure he's not dead (he's not) and he lets the grown-ups make a deal as to whether Cheryl will press charges against him, or if Penelope Blossom will take a payoff instead.
That is, until a mysterious someone runs him off the road, leading to a long hospital recovery and, one would assume, little to no forced horizontal group activity. We're meant to assume that the accident is somehow Hiram's doing after Veronica comes clean and says that Nicky tried the same routine on her hours before he tried to prey on Cheryl Bombshell.
Except something about that smug glimmer in Veronica's eye when she receives the "surprise" news of Nick's accident says that this may not have been only Daddy Dearest's doing — I think Veronica was in on it.
Veronica has already proven that she's not one to play nice, pearl earrings or no. This season, she's made many noises about getting more involved in the family business of Vague Evil, and there's a weird tension over it. Could it be that old Ronnie is going freelance, or perhaps taking on an apprenticeship with Big Papa? It would have to be kept somewhat secret from Mama Hermione (Marisol Nichols), who seems to generally disapprove of her entire family but can be chill with it as long as she has a Friday Night Lights-size wine glass in hand, which would explain the whole "get out of my study" drama every episode.
She has a tendency to infiltrate groups, remaining a steadfast second-in-command without creating drama in a bid for leader — all the better to collect information then use it to her will. How else would she be a fourth (fifth? Cheryl?) Pussycat in Josie's extremely regimented and popular act, and what else would explain her shrugging dismissal of Cheryl reclaiming her HBIC crop top with the River Vixens, despite last season's dance-off clearly proving that Veronica is the dominant pelvic thruster? Better not to create waves, and instead wait until the time is right to make a move. I'd also bet money that Veronica's name appears on the masthead of the Blue and Gold. Not even Betty can escape Veronica's thirst for power and knowledge, and with those, control.
I also have a feeling about the way that Hiram, in a recent episode, tossed off a reference to the absolutely massive oil portrait of Veronica that hangs in his study, saying that he likes the idea of her watching over him. May I remind you that this was while he literally banned his daughter from entering that room, like he'd installed teen-specific scorpions in the walls that would spring and sting when least expected. There's something else going on with that portrait, I guarantee. Hidden cameras? A tiny microphone? That thing where the eyes seem to follow you and stare out, no matter where in the room you're standing?
Veronica also seemed to forgive Betty pretty easily, after her supposed BFF (they've known each other for...months? Weeks? A handful of days? Hard to tell with this show's timeline, honestly) cut her down publicly in a pretty brutal way. That's because V knows the value of an ally when she sees one, even if it means she has to grit her teeth and tighten her ponytail in rage in the meantime.
Rest assured, we'll be seeing Veronica go even darker. It's not Hiram we have to worry about — it's her.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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