After the Riverdale season 2 finale, the status quo has flipped and Hiram Lodge is on top - at least for now. The season 2 finale, 'Chapter Thirty-Five: Brave New World' was big one for Riverdale's own criminal kingpin. As explained by his daughter, Veronica, Hiram got everything he ever wanted and a little bit more added to the pot. Every scheme that Hiram plotted was pulled off and the finale revealed a few plot threads the audience didn't even know were happening. However, all those victories might come at a price.
Hiram is riding on a high going into Riverdale season 3. Yet the seeds for his destruction have already been planted. Hiram's victory could end up being very short-lived, even if Hiram did strike at (and potentially take down) the glue that holds Riverdale together, Archie Andrews.
The biggest headline coming out of the season finale is that Hermione (or more accurately Hiram) won the mayoral election. The finale began with FP explaining to a hospitalized - but alive - Jughead Jones that, despite their best efforts, Hiram now owns all of the South Side. Hiram started plans immediately on building his prison and that is just the beginning of his takeover. Hermione told Veronica that Hiram has plans to consolidate all of the South Side and be the ruler of it all.
As the finale revealed, Hiram has even set up his own criminal cabal to carry out his scheme. Hiram has joined together with Penny Peabody, Ghoulies leader Malachai, Sheriff Minetta, Penelope and Claudius Blossom to build his empire. Malachi will run drugs in and out, Sheriff Minetta will keep the law out of their hair, Penny will "manage," Claudius will be the muscle and Penelope is only in it to open her own brothel. (Never change Penelope.)
We also now know Hiram was responsible for the second Black Hood. Although Hal Cooper was the main killer behind the mask, the few attacks that Hal didn't pull off where done by someone on Hiram's orders. According to Sheriff Minetta, hardly the most reliable source, this second Black Hood was ex-Serpent, Tall Boy; however, Tall Boy was supposedly killed off (off-screen) before it could be confirmed. The chances of Tall Boy being really dead are as slim as a Riverdale episode not opening with a melodramatic voiceover from Jughead.
Archie wasn't too happy to find out his horrifying father figure, Hiram, was behind the attempted murder of his real father, Fred. So, like the heroic idiot he is, Archie confronted Hiram. The well-meaning redheaded moron threatened Hiram, telling the crime boss him was going to prove everything and take Hiram down. Hiram responded by having Archie arrested for a murder he didn't commit. Specifically, the death of Cassidy, the townie that was killed when Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead went on a "sexy weekend getaway" to the mountains. The finale made it seem like Hiram is unstoppable but Riverdale fans shouldn't be too concerned for Archie and the gang.
Hiram might control the South Side but that's only one half of Riverdale. Fred Andrews lost the election to Hermione Lodge by only 200 votes. This suggests that the town is pretty evenly split down the middle between Hiram's army of darkness and literally everyone else. Hiram did build a criminal empire in season 2, nudging things in just the right way. He manipulated a fragile Archie, stoked fear of the Black Hood and turned the North and South Side against one another. The foundation on which Hiram built his criminal palace is already crumbling.
Veronica has completely turned on her father, and Hiram's wife, Hermione, doesn't seem too far behind. It was Hermione who clued Veronica into the fact that Hiram didn't have complete control of the South Side before the finale. Hermione also went to Fred Andrews' house after he lost to congratulate him on a race well run. This is something that doesn't benefit Hiram's schemes at all. It's just basic human decency. After being the one-dimensional bride of evil for the entirety of Riverdale season 2, Hermione finally showed some backbone. She was more like the independent and determined character we all know from season 1.
Hiram's whole plan to win the election was to control both sides of the town. He had a hand on the criminal underbelly of the South Side and if Hermione won he'd be able to move more freely and legally with his wife in the mayor office. However, Hiram could soon end up really regretting giving Hermione that position of power. Hermione isn't just the wife of a crime boss anymore. She's the mayor of the town and from that office, she might begin working to slowly but surely take down her husband from the inside. If Hermione doesn't make that move on her own, Veronica will certainly persuade her mother to see the light. The only thing Veronica loves more than a pearl necklace is trying to undermine her father.
It doesn't matter if Hiram has collected together the worst of the worst to take over the South Side. Everyone fans care about is on the other side of the brewing conflict. It might take all of season 3 to resolve, but the beginning of the end has already started for Hiram Lodge on Riverdale.