Riverdale: “The Wrestler” Reveals New Conflict

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Riverdale is preparing for Pickens day, a celebration of a Riverdale hero. But he may not be as heroic as everyone has been led to believe. The Lodges are hoping to use this as a chance to build unity in Riverdale, but some folks aren’t thrilled with their plans.

Working hard to get close to Hiram , Archie goes out for the wrestling team. Unfortunately, his lack of experience leads to a humiliating failure at tryouts. Later, Hiram uses wrestling practice as a chance to show Archie who’s boss. It seems like no matter what Archie does, he can’t earn Hiram’s respect.

Jughead uncovers a darker side of Riverdale’s history when he interviews Toni’s grandfather. He starts to look into it and learns that General Pickens slaughtered the Uktana, the original Native American residents of Riverdale, at the orders of Barnabas Blossom. But when he runs the story in the Riverdale Register to voice his anger at the Northsiders, Toni schools him in cultural appropriation and using the Uktana’s story for his own vendetta.  Jughead goes to apologize to grandfather Topaz, but it’s gonna take more than an apology to make things right.

Betty learns from Kevin that Chic has been working as a webcam boy, and she’s not sure how to handle this news, or if she should at all. Betty’s doing her best to connect with Chic, but Hal is clearly not happy having him around (because he’s really FP’s son, right?!?). Chic confronts Betty on her motivations, and she admits that she thinks he can help her understand the darkness and anger within her.

Archie finally confronts Hiram, and things get heated. Veronica’s not thrilled when she walks in and finds the testosterone pumping. But the next morning Mr. Lodge comes back to make a deal with Archie. He wants to play nice with Archie until Ronnie gets tired of the relationship. On the final day of tryouts, Hiram tries to manipulate things so that Archie looks bad in front of Veronica. But Archie’s not going down that easily.

The mayor seems to be souring on the Lodges and their plan for Riverdale. When she tells Josie about Veronica’s involvement in her parents’ plans, Josie backs out of singing with Veronica at Picken’s Day.

When Picken’s Day arrives, the whole town turns out for the celebration. Hal shows up to confront Chic and tell Alice that Chic has to go (because he’s not Hal’s son…), but Alice isn’t having it. Veronica proves that she’s a real Lodge when she turns the tables on Josie, going on stage with the Pussycats. Her victory is somewhat diminished when the performance is interrupted by a Serpent-led demonstration against Picken’s Day, but Hiram manages to  co-opt the demonstration for his own ends. The Lodges are quickly approaching evil villain status in Riverdale, but let’s hope Veronica redeems herself in the end.

It looks like Mrs. Blossom has her eye on Hal Cooper. Back at the Cooper’s, Chic admits to creeping on Betty his first night at the Coopers and starts to open up to her about his life and the darkness they share. It looks like Betty might be ready to face what’s she’s been repressing all this time.

Making peace (or getting the upper hand), Hiram offers to mentor Archie in business, and Archie’s interested. Does that mean Archie’s going to turn his back on the feds? And am I the only one who thinks this federal agent is shady?

The morning after Picken’s Day, vandalism of the statue of General Pickens seem to have ensured that Riverdale’s civil war isn’t even close to over.

I have mixed feelings about Riverdale‘s approach to complicated real-world issues. The representation of biker gangs and drug trafficking approaches cartoonishly naive, but the fallout from Nick St. Clair’s sexual assault and the introduction of cultural appropriation and the lingering affects of the displacement and slaughter of Native Americans are more thoughtful, if somewhat shallow. I guess we’ll have to see what happens going forward.

Where do you think Riverdale is headed next week? Will we finally find out what Hal’s beef is with Chic (hint: it’s that Chic’s not his son, I swear), and is Hal going to hook up with Penelope Blossom? Are the Lodges going to go full villain on Riverdale, and what will Archie play in that? Is Jughead every going to stop being an angsty jerk? Let me know what you think.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

Cara spends way too much time thinking about subtext and, when not watching TV, can generally be found with her nose in a book.