Riverdale Rants: Hiram Lodge

I think now is  a good time to talk about who I consider to be the worst villain in the series, Hiram Lodge. Now I will say, Hiram is more effective as a villain when he is absent from the plot. In the first season, he exists outside of the plot. He is in jail and has single handedly destroyed Veronica’s life. It is because of his criminal actions that she not only has to leave her home, but she has to start over in a town that doesn’t want anything to do with her. Hiram becomes the driving force for Veronica’s character in the first season and it works. She understands that her name is important and for the first time works at clearing it. It is the first time she has earned anything in her life and I believe she experiences a great character arc in the first season as a result. The problem is when he gets out of the prison and doesn’t leave the show.

In the first season you get the sense that Hiram is a shady man, although they make it seem like he is a shady business man. When he gets to Riverdale, the show pushes him to be this big bad mob boss who is here to destroy Riverdale. The biggest problem with Hiram’s character is that the show isn’t dark enough. The show establishes that death exists and minor characters do die, but it will never go dark enough to kill of any major characters. This is probably due to some fan service. Now the show makes Hiram to be this smart, powerful, heartless person who is capable but his actions in the show do not reflect that. He is constantly being beaten by teenagers at every turn. Now the argument can be made that these aren’t ordinary teens, and they are capable of beating a big bad mob boss but he has guns. These kids are able to beat him with firsts, knives, bats, and bullshit. He loses his credibility as a villain when he is capable of doing so much but has to dumb it down so that the main characters have a chance to foil him.

Hiram is a capable villain. There are various moments where he shows no mercy. He is not afraid of displacing people from their homes. He has ordered hits on kids. There is a scene where he kills the man who threatened his daughter. This is a man you aren’t supposed to fuck with, yet people do. Kids do. This would be a much shorter series if Hiram was a real mobster, but he isn’t. There is a scene where the only muscle he has left are the kids that will eventually turn against him. It is too cartoonish to take him seriously. If they want to make this show as dark as it pretends to be, let him kill people of value. Let him directly impact the plot and not just be some minor inconvenience that the main characters will eventually overcome.

If I had to put into words, Hiram Lodge is just a series of minor inconveniences. They make him out like he is always several steps ahead of everyone, but only when the plot needs an obstacle. In later seasons, he only becomes an obstacle for Veronica. A specific example of this has to do with Veronica’s ownership of Pop’s. Through sneaky shenanigans, she takes over ownership of pops. It turns out, Hiram owned it the whole time and he just pretended like Veronica owned it. Veronica opens her speak easy and through Hiram’s constant meddling, it constantly changes form. It goes from club to casino back to club to an actual speak easy and finally back to just a regular club for teens. The show tries to make this insane back and forth between Hiram and Veronica as this intense game of chess, but it’s not. Veronica is way over her head, but she has Hiram as a safety net. The plot will ask for an answer for every move Veronica makes because it has to and Hiram will answer. There isn’t anything clever about this man, he has the power to shut her down, but he chooses to inconvenience her.

This obsession that he has for his daughter is what kills it for me. It is an almost sexual and it makes me uncomfortable. I also stopped caring about Hiram’s plots when they only revolve around Veronica. Not to mention that despite the animosity that this show tries to create between the two characters, they are always there for each other. Hiram is a safety net that Veronica doesn’t mind having. Veronica can’t fail because Hiram will bail her out. When she gets into a turf war with the local moonshiners, Hiram takes care of the problem even though they are at odds at the moment. If they are supposed to be estranged, let them be that. They make Veronica seem like a this bad ass too and it doesn’t work because there are no threats. She is in way over her head but the villains are useless. If they wanted this plot to be interesting, kill off Reggie. Reggie is cursed to be loyal and he has proven countless times that he will do anything the plot demands of him. I wish she would have sent him out on a recon mission or to deliver some of her maple rum only to have him get caught by the moon shiners and shot to send a message. You know, real gangster shit. Then her arc could have been her dealing with Reggie’s death and the guild or lack of she felt from it. It would have been a way better arc for Reggie than the tickling ring plot. It would have also forced Veronica into much needed growth. But this show doesn’t give us that and instead gives us these weak shallow forgettable Villains.

If they want to make Hiram a real Villain, they should have let him kill people who matter. Not the character who has one line. Have Veronica have to actually struggle with forgiving him. As it stands in the show, Hiram could shoot Archie in front of her and she would still forgive him. He sends out people to hunt for him and she still forgives him. Hiram puts Archie in jail, destroys the progress she has made in the town and she still forgives him. The obsession these characters have with one another ruins later seasons and makes Hiram boring. I would have to struggle to not fast forward through their scenes because there is nothing that can happen that doesn’t end up with Veronica forgiving her father. The audience knows that they will always have this boring back and forth because the show tells you, in the episode with the guidance counselor.

Hiram’s character suffers from bad writing, terrible motivations, and existing in a show that doesn’t allow him to be a villain.

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