Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11 Review: The Red Dahlia

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A mystery is afoot, and only two people can save the day: Nancy Drew and True Detective aka Betty and Jughead. 

The identity of Hiram Lodge's shooter has been revealed on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11, but it's not the big surprise you may be expecting. The pieces stared us right in the face; all that needed to be done was closing the case and taking down the enemy.

Though, in typical Riverdale fashion, our main characters avoided any severe punishments yet again.

Ms. Mulwray - Tall - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11

"The Red Dahlia" felt like it got ripped from the pages of a 1930s noir crime drama. A proverbial week of Dick Tracy coming to town to solve the looming threads that hung over our heads.

Gritty, dark, and building with anticipation, instead of the typical teen drama, we were served up a glass of whiskey in a smoky jazz club. That glass overflowed with murder, intrigue, and a complex web of deceit involving the adult players.

Riverdale loves to change up its tone and structure from time-to-time.

We've seen versions in short story form, like Riverdale Season 3 Episode 7, or as a musical, like Riverdale Season 2 Episode 18. Sometimes it works, and other times it falls flat. In this case, the result was more like the former. 

The noir crime drama blended nicely with Riverdale's already dark tone. The show itself is a mix of Twin Peaks and True Detective, so the characters naturally exuded their criminal nature. And since Riverdale channels its Archie Comics tongue-in-cheek, the inspiration wasn't too much of a stretch.

The Tunnel - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11

Though, the acting came off as over-dramatic at times.

Like, in the case of Jughead and Veronica's scenes together, the cheesiness was in full force. The tone may have been a noir crime drama, but their characters didn't need to change completely to suit the inspiration.

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I'm happy that Jughead was back in front of a typewriter. When was the last time we saw him write something? His writing aspirations are a distant memory at this point; we need that Jughead to return.

But Veronica visiting his "office" in a full, over-sized, dramatic hat and suit took the cake.

Really, Veronica? Who goes to see their friend for help in a full stunning blazer/skirt/hat combination? And twice, I might add.

You're a teenager in 2019, not a criminal femme fatale from the 1930s. The lack of believability pulled me out of the scene.

Veronica: I’ve got a job for you, Jones. I want you to find out who shot my father.
[Veronica drops a wad of cash. Jughead looks through it]
Veronica: You’ll get the other half when you give me their name.
Jughead: This is a big job. Look, half the people in this town want to see your old man kick the maple bucket. No offense.
Veronica: None taken. I’ll give you your first suspect: my mother.

Hermione's duplicitousness also came out in full force. Did we not notice this sociopathic and calculating side to her or did she hide in the background all this time?

We knew that she had a criminal side, especially since Riverdale Season 2 tried to set up that storyline before dropping it entirely. But her character's development has been widely inconsistent for so long that it made tracking her path hard to follow.

Lately, her character acted like the reluctant accomplice who regretted working with Hiram.

The revelation of her affair with Minetta, plotting with FP to kill Hiram, and then betraying both of them was a lot to take in at once. A little more teasing and build-up beyond one episode would've been nice to add more weight to the pacing. Instead, everything felt rushed.

The plot needed another chapter to flesh out the story. 

Maybe placing the twist of Minetta being alive in a previous episode would've helped to build out the shock value of the twist?

HIram's Secret - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11

Hermione's connection to the shooting wasn't surprising in the least. 

She was the most obvious suspect, and when you consider the previous scene of her and FP discussing that "it's time," Riverdale spelled out her guilt. It was only a matter of how and when it would be confirmed.

FP's involvement in the crime, on the other hand, came as a shock.

After the whole Jason Blossom disaster, why would he put himself in this mess? Sure, he wanted revenge over Jughead's beating, but he willingly risked it all and could've ended up back where he started on Riverdale Season 1. It's disappointing that he didn't learn from his mistake.

Hermione didn't just want to throw him under the bus; she was ready to steamroll. At least he had his thrilling payback moment.

I love it when a character experiences the satisfaction of outwitting their adversary. You could see the urge on his face to not shout out "checkmate!" when he trapped Hermione on camera. FP's redemption will be a top 10 favorite for the character.

Kelly Ripa's guest appearance of the water health inspector Ms. Mulwray was more of a cameo than initially thought. She had only one scene to leave her mark, which felt unsatisfying since her role was hyped up. But, she did her job; I want to see more of the character.

Related: Riverdale Season 3 Episode 10 Review: The Stranger

Ms. Mulwray seemed opportunistic, ruthless, and determined to get everything she wanted.

We need more appearances from her, especially one with and Hiram Lodge together. There is a lot of potential here.

Hiram: We’ve been locked in battle for some time now, huh?
Archie: I never set out to be your enemy, Mr. Lodge. All I want is to live in Riverdale in peace.
Hiram: Well, I see no reason for us to keep fighting. So, starting tonight I propose a truce. You don’t make a move against me; I don’t make a move against you. A life for a life.
[Hiram extends his hand, Archie shakes it]

Archie had a breakthrough by overcoming his internalized pain.

All it took was a gun and a truce with Hiram Lodge to bring him back to Zen. And the character's developmental reboot could not get here fast enough. The last thing we needed was a spiraling Archie again on Riverdale.

His PTSD when he returned to town signified that troubling times were ahead for the character. If left unchecked, Archie looked prime for alcohol addiction, mood swings, and a murder. There was a path where everything could've went wrong.

Riverdale owes a considerable amount of gratitude to Josie.

Her decision to help a friend changed the course of Riverdale's and Archie's progression for the better. Her cold shower finally knocked some sense into him.

Archie: Josie, you can’t tell Veronica about this.
Josie: Listen up, Andrews. You are in freefall and I am not having it! It’s time for a literal and metaphorical cold shower.
Archie: Wait, Josie, don’t!
[Josie turns on the cold shower]

Let's hope Archie's change and the truce with Hiram sticks.

So much has happened since their business relationship imploded; the characters don't need to keep retreading the same plots to death. Both have grown from the idealistic pair who wanted to change Riverdale, albeit for different reasons and with varying tactics. Neither are the same since Riverdale Season 2, and we as fans have grown from it too.

Blame it on the gunshot wound or everything that happened with juvie, but Hiram looked ready to end the feud. Even he was tired of picking fights with a teenager. Seriously, he acted so pettily during this entire storyline that his terrifying presence suffered.

Plus, Archie saved him from an assassination attempt. Hiram owed Archie the best gift possible; he needed to deliver, or he would never live it down.

Betty thrives as Riverdale's resident Nancy Drew. The town doesn't need Sheriff Minetta or Sheriff Keller anymore; she and Jughead accomplish solving more mysteries than the adults ever could.

Thanks to her determination and wit, we can finally put to rest many of the murder plots that hung around like loose threads. And Betty's investigatory victories mark a positive trend for the story structure.

Jughead: No rest for the wicked.
Betty: Not in a wicked town.

Riverdale had a bad habit of setting up plot points and never resolving them, or they would abruptly end them with little build-up. This issue persists throughout Riverdale Season 3, like with the quarantine fiasco. You can't take a plot seriously when you know it will end before it starts.

Now that Betty uncovered a goldmine of revelations from her latest investigation, she wiped the slate clean of this tangled web.

We don't have to wonder about Darryl Doily's murder, the reason for the quarantine, or Claudius' death. It is a fresh start, and Riverdale should not squander the opportunity that was given to them to rein in their stories. 

Still, Riverdale shouldn't sweep under the rug the fact that Penelope Blossom is a serial killer.

With Claudius's death, this marks three pre-meditated murders that she caused with poison. But knowing Riverdale, she will never be held accountable. Nothing will stop her, and there's no way we'll lose the talents of Nathalie Boltt, who is killing it with her performance lately!

Related: Riverdale Round Table: Who Shot Hiram Lodge?

Penelope might be the most dangerous villain in town.

Her skewed moral compass and reasoning for committing murders make her unpredictable. She is the black widow, and the men of Riverdale are trapped in her tangled web of deceit.

Though, we have to give her credit for her business acumen. Even with Hiram refusing to provide her with a business location, she still created a successful business with The Maple Club.

All of Riverdale's maple-themed puns, jokes, and iconography melts my Canadian heart. Of course, Penelope would name her sex club after something maple-related. It's all very Riverdale.

Elio: From my family to yours.
[Veronica looks at the bouquet of flowers]
Veronica: While I love a grand gesture, Elio, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Elio: These are for your father. I heard he was still in the hospital and I wanted to come here personally to let you know I’m praying he pulls through.
Veronica: Well, to paraphrase Samuel Clemmons: “Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:

  • So Elio tried groveling after stabbing Veronica in the back? Typical character move. He better stick to his alliance going forward.
     
  • Regardless of how her parents treat her, Veronica will always love them and protect their honor. She didn't hesitate to collect the payments and take up the role of mob boss for a day.
     
  • The Silence of the Lambs scenes between Hal and Betty are so worth the break. Great mix of creepiness and psychological intrigue.
     
  • Was Tall Boy's murder resolved too neatly in a bow? Riverdale essentially handed the boys a reprieve with this coincidental plot. There need to be real stakes on the show again!
Burying The Secret - Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11

Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!

What did you think of "The Red Dahlia"?

Do you think Ms. Mulwray will return to Riverdale again? Will someone ever get charged for a murder they actually committed? Could Hiram and Hermione's marriage end because of this?

If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.

Chapter Forty-Six: The Red Dahlia Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (15 Votes)

Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Riverdale Season 3 Episode 11 Quotes

Elio: From my family to yours.
[Veronica looks at the bouquet of flowers]
Veronica: While I love a grand gesture, Elio, diamonds are a girl’s best friend.
Elio: These are for your father. I heard he was still in the hospital and I wanted to come here personally to let you know I’m praying he pulls through.
Veronica: Well, to paraphrase Samuel Clemmons: “Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Veronica: I’ve got a job for you, Jones. I want you to find out who shot my father.
[Veronica drops a wad of cash. Jughead looks through it]
Veronica: You’ll get the other half when you give me their name.
Jughead: This is a big job. Look, half the people in this town want to see your old man kick the maple bucket. No offense.
Veronica: None taken. I’ll give you your first suspect: my mother.