After a mid-season return that was (in my opinion. In My Opinion! Calm down now!) lacking a bit, is Riverdale able to recover? How does it advance the many stories going on? Is it better than Monday Night Raw’s 25th Anniversary? Yeah, probably. Anyway, on with the show!
1. Rasslin’ to Get the Girlfriend’s Dad to Trust You
Let’s get something out of the way: Amateur Wrestling is boring. Sure, it’s more “real” and I’m sure those that just like the physicality enjoy it, but it just doesn’t have the same weight of a guy beating up his rich boss every other week or a rivalry based around one wrestler trying to convince another wrestler he is a cat. Which is why I’m glad that the sport is very much window dressing here, with Archie trying out for the wrestling team in order to get the respect/trust of Hiram Lodge, who himself was on the team in high school. It also gives some subtle, and not so subtle, looks into Hiram’s character, who believes in power and dominance over all, and sees Archie as unworthy of his daughter. It is drowning in toxic masculinity and does set up that Hiram is really not that good of a person.
2. History Shows White People Are Bastards
On a storyline for this episode, we have the General Picken’s Day festival, celebrating the founder of Riverdale. Jughead, for a history report, interviews Toni’s grandfather, the oldest living Serpent and finds the gang has a deeply rooted connection to the General. Which, being this guy was a General and the United States’ history is awash with the blood millions of non-white people, it comes as no surprise the town was founded on the slaughter of 400 Native Americans. I’m actually surprised how well, at least to me, this plot was handled. Because Jughead publishes the story in the high school’s paper and Toni is furious because it wasn’t his story to tell. I really liked that and it highlights something with Jughead: he really isn’t one of the Serpents. He may have been born on “the wrong side of the tracks” but he did grow up around Archie and Betty and everyone at this school before he ever really ingrained himself in Southside.
3. Brother Cooper!
I knew you’d come! (Hey, I’m getting my fill of wrestling references. Deal with it) But in seriousness, I was ready to have this plotline fade away and classify itself as unnecessary with everything else going on; however it manages to redeem itself a bit. With the “startling” revelation Chic is a camboy (and I say “startling” because everyone watching this show kinda figured that out last week?) and the reasoning he tells Betty for why he does it: partially for money but also as a form of escape from the darkness that he feels he has inside himself, something Betty has grappled with throughout the show. It sets up an interesting dynamic between the two going forward. With that said: I remember Betty is not Lilli Reinheart and if this show actually shows her doing any camgirl stuff I may have to #DELETE this INFERNAL show myself!
4. Veronica and the Pussycats?
Perhaps the smallest story happening right now is the one between Veronica and Josie, who would like to try to get the Pussycats back together for a one-night only gig for the Picken’s Day Festival, but we see they are getting dragged away by the escalating tensions between the Lodge couple and Mayor McCoy, who doesn’t particularly like being in the pocket of the former. Their scenes together are brief, and it does feel more like it was used to escalate the stories of the parents, but the last scene, with Veronica leading the reformed Pussycats with Josie being the outsider, could lead to something interesting, I hope?
5. Much Better
Was the pacing improved? Yep. Did the episode have good themes? Yep. Did it cutdown on going overboard with the general Riverdale madness? Yep. Did it avoid cringey moments? Yep. (Jury’s still out on the Betty stuff, but still.) This was a much needed improvement on the last episode of the show. In fact, maybe my favorite episode of the season so far? And it wasn’t even a campy crazy episode. It was very concise, it knew what it wanted to do, and did it. I’m glad my fears last week were unfounded. Well done, Riverdale.Continued below
…#YepMovement. #DownWithShane. Okay, I’m done with the wrestling references! Bye Bye!