Dec 24, 2019
Riverdale: GLOW (Gorgeous Lads of Wrestling)
Do the Riverdale writers have a crystal ball or something? The storylines of Riverdale have been oddly timely for the current zeitgeist, despite being written and filmed months beforehand. Nick St. Clair attempting to sexually assault Veronica and Cheryl fits right in with the #MeToo movement, the gentrification of the South Side into So-Dale is similar to the pain a lot of major cities are going through, and I suppose you can argue the jingle jangle crisis is analogous to the opioid epidemic in America.
And now, just when there’s a lot of controversy over which statues of historical figures should remain on display, Riverdale’s storyline this week centers on whether or not a town hero can really be called that.
Also, wrestling. And lots of shirtless young men.
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Riverdale is preparing to celebrated Pickens Day, honoring General Pickens who was key to the town’s founding. Lodge Industries and Andrews Construction are sponsoring a Pickens Day celebration in an attempt to bridge the hostilities between the North and South Siders. As a gesture of goodwill, the Serpents have been asked to work as security, since they need work after Lodge Industries bought out all of their local businesses. Mayor McCoy is skeptical about the whole proposition, probably imagining some Altamont-type disaster under her adminstration.
She’s also unhappy that Veronica is sitting in on their business meeting at the Andrews house and offering ideas, like having the Pussycats perform for Pickens Day. Archie comes home after prepping for basketball season and offers to join in, so Hiram disbands the meeting quickly.
Archie tells Special Agent Adams about the Pickens Day meeting at his house when Adams comes by to drop off the official paperwork promising not to arrest Fred. Special Agent Adams demands to know who was at the meeting, and Archie lists everyone but Veronica. Special Agent Adams tells Archie that if wants the investigation to speed up, he should try to get into Hiram’s inner circle to get more dirt. This will be hard, because as indicated in the above screencaps, Hiram hates Archie.
But it just so happens that it’s wrestling season, and Hiram was a star wrestler back in the day, so he’s volunteering with the team. Archie decides to try out to impress him, despite Kevin warning him that wrestling is a lot different than football. Archie ignores him and tries to wrestle, but gets pinned down quickly by Kevin.
Turns out Archie is not a Zoya the Destroyer after all. Kevin brags to Betty how good it felt to take down Mr. Perfect Archie, who “has the physique of a 1970s porn star.” On the subject of porn stars, Betty wonders what to do about her brother Chick.
Hal is extremely hostile to the lad, even telling Chick to his face that he’s only there to fill the void of when Polly left, and Hal doesn’t trust him. Way harsh, Hal, especially considering Chick is the son you made your wife give up in high school. He snidely asks exactly what Chick does for work and exactly how he ended up getting in a fight with the motel manager.
Chick tells the Coopers that the fight started when the manager tried to force Chick to “entertain” some clients. Chick says some clients can be nice, but he has scars from the not so nice ones. Betty excitedly chimes in that she has scars on her palm from digging in her nails.
Later, Chick comes back to Casa Cooper in a bad mood because he went to the motel to get his stuff but the manager tossed everything out. Chick vents to Betty, “He threw out everything I need to survive: my laptop, my camera!” Betty reminds Chick that he can stay with the Coopers as long as he needs, but Chick scoffs that this isn’t a long-term plan, considering how much Hal hates him.
Chick hasn’t met the Archie gang yet, but after he sees pics on Betty’s phone, Kevin tells Betty that he recognizes Chick from cam boy sites. Betty is shocked by this news and I don’t know why, because Chick told her that he works in the “fantasy business.” What did she think that meant? LARP-ing?
Meamwhile, Jughead is working on his oral history report and interviews Toni Topaz’s grandfather, one of the founding members of the Serpents. He tells Jughead that the Serpents grew out from the local Native American tribe, the Uktena. The Uktena were all slaughtered by General Pickens on orders from Cheryl’s great-great grandfather, who wanted the Uktena’s land for his maple syrup business. Jughead is shocked that he never learned this before. Toni explains that this is an example of whitewashing history.
Jughead gets Betty to publish his scathing condemnation of Pickens Day and Lodge Industries for encouraging the celebrations in the school paper, which causes a bit of a stir in Riverdale. Cheryl is shocked and embarrassed at her family’s involvement in the massacre (especially since earlier in the episode, she was advocating for Pickens Day to be renamed Blossom Day), but Toni is pissed at the way Jughead painted her grandfather as a helpless victim and published the article without his permission. She tells Jughead that he can’t use her family’s story to fuel his vendetta against the North Side.
Jughead apologizes to Grandpa Topaz, but Grandpa Topaz tells Jughead that he’s reopened an old wound and now they need to find a way to heal it.
Meanwhile, Archie gives up on wrestling in favor of helping Veronica rehearse for Pickens Day. Hiram interrupts while they’re rehearsing and makes a snide comment about he’s no longer worried about Veronica being alone with him. Veronica defends Archie and says he’s “incredibly sexy” when he sings. Hiram looks pissed when she says that, and Archie backtracks that maybe he should stick with wrestling longer.
Hiram shows up at the next day of tryouts and asks for a volunteer to help him demonstrate a move. It must be noted that Hiram is super jacked for a dad. The Riverdale lads do not ignore this.
Hiram picks Archie and pins him down into a headlock quickly. “This is a simple, but effective move when your opponent gets cocky,” Hiram announces to the rest of the team. “Demoralizing him is the key if you want to win.” To Archie, Hiram whispers that he always wins.
Wins what? His daughter? Hiram knows that’s illegal in almost every state, right?
Betty gives Chick an old laptop and webcam. Chick demands to know why Betty gave him this stuff and he’s not going to take her “aw shucks” standard replies. Betty admits that she has a dark side that she doesn’t understand. Chick obviously has a dark side and Betty was hoping he could help her understand hers. She tells Chick she knows about his webcamming, and she’s cool with it, and here if he wants to talk about it. Chick is weirded out by this. He’s not going to discuss his sex work with his long lost little sister! He leaves Betty, looking a little creeped out.
Speaking of being creeped out, Hiram continues to set off my Creeper Alarms. Archie finally confronts Hiram and demands to know why he doesn’t like Archie. First, Hiram says that since Fred slept with Hermione AKA a married woman, Archie probably has the same “weak moral character.” That doesn’t make any sense, since by that same logic, Veronica also has the same weak moral character as her cheating mom. Archie keeps pushing, and finally Hiram tells Archie that he’s not worthy of Veronica and can’t take care of her. “I took care of her while you were in prison!” Archie shoots back. Veronica interrupts their arguing and Hiram backs down, claiming that he and Archie were making plans to practice wrestling.
Hiram actually does invite Archie for an early morning jog. Well, more like he texts Archie at 5 am and is like, “Come on out, loser! We’re going running!” After a super competitive run, Hiram treats Archie to a healthy breakfast at Pop’s. He tells Archie that they’re going to tell Veronica they bonded over this little breakfast, but Hiram will continue hating Archie secretly until Veronica comes to her senses and dumps him. “Boyfriends come and go, but fathers are forever,” says Hiram.
At the last day of tryouts, Archie has to go up against Chuck Clayton, who’s a full weight class above him. But Archie’s practice has paid off and he defeats Chuck. Hiram looks disappointed.
Cheer up, Hiram! It’s time for Pickens Day celebrations! Alice uses the occasion to formally include Chick as a member of the Cooper household, which Hal isn’t happy about. He stays home from the festivities and then shows up to yell at Alice. He found Chick’s laptop and his webcam activities, and he screams at Alice that Chick has to go and he’s outraged that Chick is replacing Polly. Alice stands up for Chick and reminds Hal that she threw him out once and she’ll do it again. Go, Alice! Honestly, she should just leave him now. It’s been well established that Alice is too good for him. Hal storms off and Mrs. Blossom notices. She offers to give him some “comfort”, if he likes.
Anyway, Veronica performs with the Pussycats sans Josie because Mayor McCoy told Josie to stay away from Veronica. Mayor McCoy suddenly doesn’t like the way Lodges do business and doesn’t want Josie to get tangled up in whatever schemes the Lodges come up. To their credit, the Lodges have a nifty way of getting their schemes to always work for them. Jughead, Toni, her grandfather, and a bunch of Serpents show up to protest Pickens Day. Toni takes the mike from Veronica and announces that it’s unfair that the Uktena tribe had their land stolen from them, and now Lodge Industries is stealing the South Side from people too. Hiram goes up on stage and applauds Toni for speaking her mind, and claims this is an example of how Riverdale is so great where young people can stand up for what they believe. He adds that the new neighborhood SoDale will continue that proud tradition, and the crowd cheers him on. Jughead wants to jump on stage and yell at everyone but thankfully, Grandpa Topaz stops him.
Back at Casa Cooper, Chick comes into Betty’s room to talk. He reveals that he came into her room late at night and watched her sleep, trying to understand why she would help him. He tells Betty that he can see she’s lonely, and maybe they’re supposed to help each other understand their dark sides. He admits to Betty that he webcams to have a form of escape. Betty decides she wants to try that too.
Hiram invites Archie to his office and tells Archie that he’s impressed by what he saw in the wrestling ring. He asks Archie about his plans for the future. Archie says he hopes to get an athletic scholarship to college and lately, he’s decided that he wants to go into business. Hiram offers Archie to get some business experience at Lodge Industries. Archie ignores an incoming call from Special Agent Adams to accept.
In the morning, Hermione, Hiram, Mayor McCoy, and Sheriff Keller gather in front the statue of General Pickens, which has been vandalized. Someone decapitated the head of the statue and splashed it with red paint, signifying blood.
At least, I hope it’s just paint. You never really know in Riverdale.
The Real Archie’s Weird Mysteries I Want Solved:
- Why does Mayor McCoy suddenly hate the Lodges? She was pretty happy to shut down South Side High in exchange for a future campaign donation. Why the regrets now?
- Why is Hal such a jerk to Chick? I can understand that he’s grieving for his runaway daughter but really, he can’t even spare an ounce of empathy for his long-lost son who did sex work to survive?
- I know Chick has had a different upbringing than Betty, but surely he must know that an underage girl shouldn’t be camming, right?
- Mrs. Blossom didn’t really have sex with Hal, right? Don’t the Blossoms and the Coopers have a blood feud? And aren’t they technically related?
- On the subject of incest, what is up with Hiram and his “daddy’s little girl” obsession with Veronica?