When Riverdale returned from its winter hiatus, you could feel the heavy weight of the less-than-successful Black Hood arc lift. But, that feeling only lasted for a few minutes before Riverdale introduced Agents Adams, an FBI agent who was trying to turn a teenager against his girlfriend’s crime boss dad by threatening his own father. That was a step too far even in the unrealistic world of Riverdale. Luckily, the twist at the end of the latest episode fixed that problem with an even more ridiculous twist, in typical Riverdale fashion.
Turns out that FBI agent was actually an imposter working for a crime boss. The crime boss in question was Hermione Lodge, not Hiram, who welcomed Archie into the family. The twist brought the specific type of outrageous, high drama that makes Riverdale work and put its existed characters in new context. Plus, it had the added benefit of getting rid of “Agent Adams.”
Riverdale works best when its brand of ridiculous drama stays within the context of the titular town. Watching Jughead go from a quiet kid writing stories in a diner to leading voice in the criminal organization the Southside Serpents, for example. Or seeing Alice Cooper throw a brick through her own business’ window during an argument with her husband. When these moments are in the context of the town of Riverdale viewers can suspend their disbelief and enjoy the ride, but that changes when something like the FBI is thrown in. The local sheriff is part of your enclave, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation steps a bit closer to the real world.
Hermione being behind the fake Agent Adams is just bonkers enough for Riverdale. On the surface, it’s the action of a deeply paranoid and ridiculous person. After all, she did send a criminal to pretend to be a federal agent and apply pressure to a teenager in order to test his loyalty to her family. That doesn’t take into consideration that the young man in question is her daughter’s boyfriend and that she used to date his father. It’s messy and perfect.
While it is a wonderful move because it means the FBI isn’t actually bullying kids in Riverdale, the twist also opens up some interesting storylines, specifically, for Archie and Hermione. Archie has been flailing all season, but this turn of events puts some things in context. Additionally, Hermione has seemed different and off since the season premiere and now it’s become clear that viewers don’t actually know her as well as they thought.
Archie started off the season standing over his father, bleeding out on the floor after being shot. As far as Riverdale goes, this wasn’t all that craz, but it had a profound impact on Archie. After his father returned from the hospital Archie was paranoid about someone hurting his father, so he stayed up at all night with a bat watching the door in an early episode. Then he started vigilante group The Red Circle to hunt down the Black Hood, the man who shot his father. Watching Archie tell Hiram about Agent Adams made it all click, Archie wants to make sure his family is safe. Hiram’s a lot of things, mainly evil and ruthless and horrible, but he’s also someone who never seems scared. It could be what draws Archie to him.
In the season premiere, Hiram was returned to his family and suddenly Hermione seemed for villainous then she had in the first season. The episode picked up minutes after the finale when Fred Andrews was shot, but it seemed like months had passed and Hermione had changed. In “Chapter Twenty-Six: The Tell-Tale Heart,” when she turned around to reveal herself to also be a crime boss, and not only the dotting wife, it was made clear that this is who she has been from the beginning. Maybe Hermione is nice to her daughter and actually like Fred. Or maybe she was waiting for Hiram to return, so they could get started. Whatever the case, Hermione is definitely a big question mark again. She turned to face Archie, revealing she’d hired “Agent Andrews” and revitalized her storytelling possibilities. It put her back in the game in a way she hasn’t been for a majority of the season.
According to Executive Producer Roberto Aguiree-Sacasa Hermione’s about to get even more interesting. Not only did he confirm that Hermione is a crime boss and far more equal to Hiram than it previously seemed, but we may even see the two disagree again. The prospect of the two of the butting head is far more fascinating when it’s not just husband and wife, but also literal partners-in-crime.
Riverdale is unpredictable and last night’s twist was a great moment for the show. It shook things up brilliantly and also used both the adult and teenage characters well, which is one of the show’s strengths.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on The CW.