This week, Riverdale takes on a surprisingly timely topic: the preservation of racist monuments. In Chapter 24: The Wrestler, the annual celebration of Riverdale’s glorified founder prompts Jughead to investigate the town’s history, and his findings shed light on the deeply unsettling truth about the origin of Riverdale.
If a careful consideration of historical whitewashing seems too weighty a topic for Riverdale to focus an entire episode on, don’t worry — with tiny wrestling outfits, a lot of sweat, and a deeply sexual physical confrontation between Archie and Hiram Lodge, this chapter certainly earns its title. Plus, we find out more about Chic’s mysterious occupation! Spoiler alert: it’s pretty much what you thought it would be.
So, without further ado, Kelli and Mary present this week’s edition of the BSG Riverdale Recap!
Part I: Kelli
As usual, the episode begins with a narration from Jughead, but there is something special about this introduction: an actual unit of time is acknowledged! We learn that it’s been one week since the absorption of Southside into Riverdale High. At this point it seems unrealistic that a full seven days have passed without any significant drama. Apparently Archie has been too busy practicing for basketball tryouts to ruin anyone’s life this week.
The town of Riverdale is preparing to honor its founder, General Augustus Pickens. In Mrs. Haggly’s class (HER NAME IS MRS. HAGGLY. COME ON), students are required to give oral history presentations with Pickens Day as their theme. Predictably, Cheryl’s presentation argues that Riverdale should actually be honoring her great great grandfather, Colonel Barnabas B. Blossom, because he essentially bankrolled Pickens’ efforts in the town’s development. I’m not convinced Cheryl knows how history works, but sure, why not.
We cut to a very bizarre gathering of people seated at Fred Andrews’ dining table: Fred himself, the Lodges, Mayor McCoy, and Sheriff Keller. I guess we’re to assume that McCoy and Keller are still fucking, but I’m unclear as to whether everyone knows and is playing it cool or if it’s eventually going to be a shocking reveal. Anyway, the meeting is about Pickens Day. The Lodges have decided to hold a large celebratory event, which they hope will improve morale since parents have been consistently complaining to McCoy about the dissolution of Southside High. When McCoy expresses her concern that the event will only make Southsiders more angry about the Lodges' new neighborhood project, we pan across the table to see that VERONICA is present at this meeting. She puts in her two cents about this event being about inclusion, and Fred adds that the Serpents have agreed to work security at the event as a favor so that things won’t get out of control.
Right in the middle of this discussion, Archie walks in from basketball practice. He is actually drenched in sweat. Like, it’s disgusting. His arrival prompts everyone else’s awkward departure, and when he leans in to kiss Veronica, she backs off. “I’d kiss you, but you’re sweaty.” Same, girl. Same.
Over at the Coopers, the happy family is enjoying breakfast Last Supper style, with everyone seated on one side of the table for no apparent reason. Despite their bonding medical drama moment last week, Hal is far from convinced that Chic should be staying at their house. He keeps prompting Chic for information — why was he all bloody when he got here? Chic explains that the man who attacked him, Marcel, runs the hostel where he was staying. Marcel books clients for them, and he was angry when Chic didn’t feel like working that night. Hal wants to know ‘what kind of clients,’ to which Chic replies, “All kinds,” meaning this is definitely a sex thing. He also adds that he has a good collection of scars to show, and Betty’s like, “ooh, me too!” referring to her half moon palm scars. Chic knows about them without having to ask, because he used to dig his nails into his palms too. It must be genetic!
FBI dude is back this week with a contract for Archie which looks about as thick as a double spaced manuscript. Supposedly the contract outlines protections for Fred, which Archie finds ridiculous, since Fred and the Lodges were just having a meeting at the house last night. He just wants things to speed up so that he can get back to his normal life, and FBI dude tells him that the only way to make the process faster is to get closer to Hiram. As we know, Hiram hates Archie, so this should be fun to watch.
At school, Betty shows her friends a photo of Chic, and everyone agrees that he’s a hottie. In reality, he looks like a blonde, bargain basement Dave Franco, but I have suspended my disbelief many times for this show, and I can do it again. Kevin is particularly interested in Chic, and says that he looks familiar to him. Everyone wants to meet him, and Veronica suggests Betty bring Chic (or, as she calls him, “The Omen”) to the Pickens Day festival, since they’ll all be there. Jughead interjects that the SERPENTS weren’t invited, and that they’re only going to be there as security. He compares the situation to Snowpiercer, which begs the question: how much of Riverdale’s target audience has seen Snowpiercer?
Veronica tells Jughead he doesn’t have to work if he doesn’t want to, but he tells her that the damage is already done. Toni has appeared to collect him, and even though he explains he’s interviewing her grandfather for his oral history report, Betty is visibly jealous.
At Jughead’s interview, we learn some legitimately interesting information. Toni’s grandfather is one of the founding members of the Serpents, and he explains that everything the Serpents stand for is based on Uktena tradition. Riverdale’s land used to belong to the Uktena tribe until General Pickens led his army in a “battle” against them — battle in quotes because it only lasted twelve minutes, and when it was over, almost the entire tribe had been slaughtered. Jughead is horrified, and when he asks how people don’t know about this — how there’s still a statue of Pickens standing tall at Pickens park when such atrocities were committed — Toni says, “It’s called the whitewashing of history.”
I’m actually pretty impressed that a show like Riverdale is taking on a topic like this, because it’s the kind of thing a lot of the kids watching this show probably aren’t being taught about in school. While the Uktena aren’t technically a real tribe, their roots are in Cherokee folklore, and Riverdale’s original massacre definitely echoes the very real history of indigenous genocide in this country — and the continued glorification of those who committed it. I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone reading this that Andrew fucking Jackson is STILL on our twenty dollar bill... and don’t even get me started on Confederate monuments.
Anyway, as much as I make fun of this show, plotlines like this are one of the reasons I’m still watching.
Meanwhile on the rich side of town (where everyone seems to be blissfully unaware of Riverdale’s sordid past), Josie and Veronica are trying to plan a musical act for the Pickens Day celebration. Mayor McCoy comes in midway through their planning sesh, and is very pissed to hear that Josie is going to be playing with the Pussycats again since she’s supposed to be focusing on her solo career. When Veronica tries to butt in, McCoy gets real salty with her real fast, and Veronica can tell something is up. When she gets home, she brings up the interaction with Josie’s mom to Hermione. Hermione says she thinks McCoy is uncomfortable with Veronica’s involvement in Lodge Industries, and that if the coldness persists, Hermione will have a talk with her.
At home, Betty receives a call from Kevin, who suddenly remembers where he’s seen Chic before. As it turns out, Chic is, and I quote, “A video gigolo! A webcam boy! A cyber trick!” Yes, these are the real words he uses. For some reason, Betty is stunned by this information, even though everything we’ve seen so far points to Chic being some kind of sex worker. “Fantasy fulfillment”?! Come on, Betty. Wake up.
Archie, still fixed on his conversation with FBI dude, starts a conversation with Veronica about why Hiram doesn’t like him. Veronica at first tries to lie badly and tell Archie it isn’t true, but she caves pretty quickly. For starters, she says, Archie doesn’t even speak Spanish. As they talk, they stop by one of the trophy cases, and Veronica mentions her dad is obsessed with wrestling; he used to be a star member on the team. There is a photo of Hiram holding a trophy in the case, and I feel like it’s an actual photo of young Hiram. He looks hot as fuck. She says that Hiram will be sitting in on tryouts, since he contributes copious amounts of money to the team. Archie says he was JUST talking to Reggie about how he doesn’t wanna do basketball this season anyway because he wants to try something new. This is a blatant lie, which Veronica knows because she has seen him sweat-drenched from practicing like every day this week, but she is pleased anyway.
At tryouts, Hiram seems surprised to see Archie present. It is notable that Chuck approaches to say, “Good thing you aren’t in my weight class. I’d wreck you, gingerbread man,” and then smacks Archie on the ass. Somehow, nobody says anything about this. Before they begin, the coach introduces Hiram as Hiram “The Ram” Lodge, as if Papa Lodge wasn’t already sexy enough. THE RAM? Count me in.
Hiram and the coach watch as the boys pair off, and Kevin pins Archie TWICE, which is quite the victory. Hiram sees, and as expected, is deeply unimpressed by Archie’s performance. Kevin later tells Betty that it felt amazing — “Yeah, Archie, you have the physique of a 1970s porn star, but that doesn’t mean you can wrestle.” Betty takes the opportunity to use the best transition in the history of Riverdale: “Speaking of porn stars…” but before they can talk too much about Chic, Jughead cuts in and asks to talk to Betty.
Once Kevin leaves, Jughead tells Betty that he wants to do an article for the paper focused on what he learned while researching his history project. He tells Betty that after he interviewed Toni’s grandfather, he did some more digging and found out that General Pickens was actually hired by Barnabas Blossom to remove the Uktena Tribe by force. He killed 400 men, women, and children, and now the only remaining members of the tribe — the Serpents — are being squeezed out by development. He wants to publish this article because the celebration the Lodges are planning is going to commemorate this murderer and his legacy instead of trying to make amends with the Serpents. Betty asks Jughead if he’s going to get a quote from Hiram about this.
In his study, Hiram picks up his phone to hear Jughead on the other end. Jughead gives the briefest possible summation of the article and asks for a comment, at which point Hiram immediately hangs up the phone. Classic.
In the music room, Veronica approaches Archie, letting him know that Kevin told her what happened, which of course he did — Kevin is pumped about this. Veronica says she thought of another way for Archie to get in good with Hiram, which is to sing with her and Josie at Pickens Day.
Later at Veronica’s house, she and Archie are practicing their song when Hiram walks in. Archie says he can leave if need be, but Hiram says it’s fine that he’s here. “The thought of you two alone up here used to deeply upset me, but after seeing your performance today, Archie, I’m less worried,” Hiram says, not even offering Archie any ice for that sick burn. Veronica tries to stop him, but he continues, telling Archie that it’s fine to admit defeat, and that he should accept he’s more suited to being on stage with the Pussycats.
Veronica continues her defense, and at first it’s fine, but it gets weird pretty quickly when she starts talking about how sexy it is when Archie sings. They share a kiss that lasts ENTIRELY too long, and then Archie gets up to leave, promising to see Hiram at try-outs the next day.
Meanwhile at the Cooper residence, Betty comes home to find Chic extremely distraught. He says that because of her pepper spraying him, Marcel has thrown out all of Chic’s stuff from the hostel, everything he needs to survive. Betty asks why he even went back there, and he tells her that place is his life. He knows that living with the Coopers is only temporary, and if Betty doesn’t realize that, she’s even crazier than he thought. Rude. Later, Betty leaves an old laptop from the newspaper outside Chic’s door for him to use. He comes out of his room, picks up the computer, makes eye contact with Betty, and then slams the door. Also rude.
At breakfast the next morning, Hal reminds Chic that Polly used to sit in his seat. She used to sleep in his room. Chic’s filling a void, and that’s the only reason he’s still here. Chic says he doesn’t expect to stay for free. All I have to say is: now that he’s got that school newspaper laptop, there’s about to be some wild shit going down in Polly’s bedroom.
At Riverdale High, wrestling tryouts continue. How long is this process, anyway? How many times must a person be slammed into the ground before they are awarded a position on the team? Whatever, it doesn’t matter — all that matters is this moment, the moment we have all been waiting for. ARCHIE. AND. HIRAM. SWEATING. ALL. OVER. EACH. OTHER.
Basically, the coach wants Hiram to demonstrate his signature move: the fireman’s carry. I am disappointed that his signature move doesn’t involve a ram pun of some kind. Fireram’s carry? It could work. Anyway, Hiram asks for volunteers. Kevin is very eager, but Hiram overlooks him completely and selects Archie, who very deeply doesn’t want to do this. It takes Hiram about two seconds to pin Archie. “This is a simple but effective move when your opponent gets cocky,” Hiram explains loudly. Then he leans in close to Archie, who he is still choking with his elbow, and whispers, “Get the message? I always win.”
Honestly, the episode could have ended right there.
Part II: Mary
Welp, after that incredibly uncomfortable wrestling scene where Archie LITERALLY WRESTLES HIS GIRLFRIEND’S FATHER, we cut back to Jughead and Toni, vigilante activists. I gotta say, I’m simultaneously happy and sad to see the return of the shearling jacket. I really love that leather jacket Juggy’s been rocking, but it’s also nice to see a return to his origins. I can talk about Jughead’s fashion at length, but Molly Ostertag has already done a pretty good job of it.
Mostly off-screen, Jughead and Toni organize a protest for Pickens Day, where the Serpents march in support of the slaughtered Native American tribe that founded the gang.
The mayor gives a harsh lecture to Josie about how the Lodge’s are trash, and…yeah. They are. We don’t really see what she says, but we know it’s enough for Josie to quit the Pickens Day performance and make a scene about how she’s not down to be “manipulated by a Lodge.” This whole argument seems overinflated.
Gotta say, I am HERE for the Penelope Blossom prostitution storyline. She’s owning her evil now, cattily telling Cheryl in a graveyard that the Blossoms have always sort of been criminals. Blossoms have always “had a hand in everything,” which makes them sound like evil masterminds. Penny takes the opportunity to rub her new job in Cheryl’s face again, and it’s delightful.
Betty gives her brother a laptop from school (which seems illegal somehow), and has a heart to heart with him about why she took him in. Chick’s suspicious that Betty is being too nice to him, so he must not know about Betty’s chronic “gotta fix my family” complex.
Later in the episode, Hal says that he can’t attend Pickens Day because he has some…uh…odd jobs to catch up on around the house. At this point, again, I’m really thinking Hal could be the Black Hood!
Hiram and Archie have a drawn out confrontation for most of the episode. We get to see them wrestle physically, but we also get to see Archie’s gears turn as he wrestles emotionally with Hiram. The two confront each other in Hiram’s office which, despite being forbidden to Veronica early in the season, is a frequent set piece now. Archie tells Hiram that he “took care” of Veronica while Hiram was in prison, which seems like an INSANE thing for a SOPHMORE IN HIGH SCHOOL to say to his girlfriend’s dad.
Hiram is impressed by threats and cattiness though, so he decides to train Archie, waking him up early to jog (Hiram is better) and eat a breakfast of egg whites and veggies at Pop’s. Hiram just wanted to take the opportunity to tell Archie that he’ll “never win,” that Archie should say that they’re cool now and that this “phase” will run it’s course and Archie will be gone soon.
Then Hiram says a stupid line: “Boyfriends come and go, but fathers…fathers are forever.” Um. What. Hiram has some wonderful lines and, as my roommate Jenni said, “For a show that has a band called the Pussycats, Hiram Lodge is the cattiest bitch of all.” He is indeed.
Veronica comes to watch Archie wrestle in his singlet that shows off his entirely hairless chest. Really, how is he so hairless? Archie has to unexpectedly wrestle Chuck Clayton, even though Chuck is in a higher weight class. Oh no. The two wrestle to Jaden Smith’s “Watch Me,” which is a weird choice at best. It’s basically Jaden doing his best Kanye impression, and it’s a great example of how Riverdale makes bizarre music choices that actually pay off sometimes.
During Archie’s match, he pins Chuck, ultimately winning, all while he locks eyes with Hiram, as if to challenge him for Veronica’s heart.
The time for Pickens Day arrives. Hermione and the Mayor have a little stand off right there in the middle of the foggy fair. And then the drama truly begins.
Hal arrives out of nowhere to confront Alice and Betty, telling them that Chic is a webcam dude who is just too much for the family. What I don’t understand is that Chic told the family, pretty bluntly, that he has clients, works in wish fulfillment, etc.. What did they not understand about that? Why is all this a shock now? Hal storms off and Penelope Blossom looks evilly at him while twirling a candy apple. And that is the moment I knew she was gonna sleep with Hal.
Veronica and the Pussycats sing a cover of “Union of the Snake” by Duran Duran that is catchier than I want to admit.
Jughead’s protest arrives on the scene and Toni says that everyone should honor the legacy of the Native Americans who died at the hands of Pickens. Hiram takes the opportunity to make the whole situation about him and promote his new development venture. Jughead makes a move to run up to Hiram and…I don’t know…punch him? But Toni’s grandpa stops him.
Penelope says she’s going to give Hal a proper dessert and says she has “nowhere to be.” Yep. I called it. Penny is loving her new job.
Chic confesses that he watched Betty while she was sleeping. Um. Ok. Maybe that’s something we don’t share? Betty takes that news incredibly well and listens as Chic tells her why he does webcamming, how he does it to escape. It’s kind of a sob story, and I’m not buying it. I get that Betty, and maybe Chic, struggles with anxiety, but calling it “darkness” and acting like it’s something to run from, not confront head on, is ridiculous. Betty probably needs counseling, and webcamming isn’t going to do that for her.
Hiram and Archie have another chat, and Archie says that he wants to buy back Andrews construction one day. Hiram offers to begin Archie’s “business tutelage” and Archie seems into it, but I suspect he may be interested for FBI REASONS.
Jughead dramatically informs the viewer that AN ACT OF DESECRATION has taken place. We see as Pickens’s statue stands, beheaded and splattered in red paint. Dun dun dun!
Kelli: So, I already talked about how I think the Uktena subplot is pretty legit, but I didn’t even get to comment on my favorite new subplot: BETTY’S GONNA BE A CAMGIRL. I am so fucking ready for Dark Betty to make her triumphant return.
As far as Archie’s Lodge internship, I’m never excited about things involving Archie, but I’m always excited about things involving Hiram, so I guess it evens out. I do feel for Veronica, though; she’s surrounded by idiots.
Mary: It seems like, at least for one episode, the writers seemed to forget about the Black Hood, but that’s OK because we weren’t here for the Black Hood anyway, not really. I’m still wondering if the BH is Hal or Chic. Honestly, Chic seems like the obvious choice, so it’s probably not him?
I’m less invested in finding out who the BH is and more invested in seeing what kind of craziness Hiram is up to. Hiram is terrible, and so so so petty. That’s a combo made in drama heaven.
The wrestling was the most ridiculous thing of the episode (though I won’t say the season because…you know…the red circle video), and I’m still not sure why it was such a focus. Why does Hiram like wrestling? Why did he think it was OK to wrestle Archie? Why did the coach let him just sit in on practices? Why do they all have to wear little singlets to practice? Who is waxing KJ Apa? These are questions that will never be answered, and I’m OK with that.
Will the sexual tension increase between Archie and Hiram? Will Betty bring out her black wig again? What the hell happened to Jingle Jangle?! Share your theories with us, and stay tuned for next week’s edition of THE RIVERDALE RECAP.
--Kelli & Mary
About the Blog
The authors of this blog are four women with opinions about pop culture. That's all you really need to know.