If you were looking for shirtless, moody teenagers, boy is Riverdale the show for you.
Before we get into this week’s episode, make sure you remember what happened last week as well. And be aware that spoilers for this episode will be following. This week on Riverdale, things actually stayed relatively low-key. Low-key as in everything was over-the-top and crazy, but a little bit less so than usual.
The biggest struggle this episode, and the one it takes its title from was a pretty simple one: Archie and Hiram Lodge were beating their chests at each other. Since Archie is now essentially an undercover FBI agent, he was tasked with getting more personal with Hiram to undercover his illegal activities. So Archie joined the wrestling team because Hiram loves wrestling. And Archie sucked at it! So sadly, Archie gained no respect from Hiram. And while he was technically doing it for FBI reasons, that got under Archie’s skin. He wanted Hiram’s respect. This led to a series of almost funny scenes of them trying to out-man each other. Hiram calling Archie out as a volunteer to get body-slammed when he clearly wasn’t volunteering honestly got a chuckle out of me.
In the end, Archie was able to get the best of Chuck Clayton in a match, and that gave him a little leeway with Hiram. Hiram offered to help mentor Archie in the world of business, which Archie accepted. This would’ve been a perfect opportunity to do undercover work, but Archie ignored a call from his FBI agent at the same time he accepted the job, implying that he was taking it for himself rather than for the law. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t exactly as it appeared to be. There’s more than a few examples of an episode ending on a shocking revelation, only for the characters to explain that wasn’t really the case in the next episode.
Meanwhile, in a plotline that did not intersect with the others at all, Betty dealt with the issues of bringing her long-lost brother back into her family. Her mother was happy to accept him as an alternative to Polly, but her father very openly treated him like trash the entire episode. We also learned that he does webcam porn for money, which kind of threw off Betty. But after she and her mother stood up for Chick against her father, they got a little bonding.
While I’m still not sold on him being entirely stable, it appears he isn’t quite as sinister as the ending of the last episode made him out to be. Betty confessed she’s always felt a kind of darkness inside her she didn’t know how to deal with, which we’ve seen at different points since the first season, and Chick admitted the same to her. But Chick dealt with it, at least in part, by making webcam porn. Things got really uncomfortable when Betty asked Chick to show her how to deal with her darkness in the same way. And that is kinda problematic because again, he is clearly making webcam porn. And Betty is definitely a minor. So unless he just showed her some porn, which would also be weird, we should infer that Betty and Chick considered making what would essentially be child pornography. Now we don’t know how this is going to turn out, so I’m not jumping to conclusions. Sure, this show sometimes isn’t quite aware of its own characters’ ages, but surely it wouldn’t be so blind as to allow for a minor engaging in creating porn.
Jughead, now the most Serpent-y Serpent of them all, got angry at the rich people this week. I think plotlines about crime teens being angry at rich people are great ideas, but this one fell a little flat for me. Jughead, while interviewing Toni’s grandfather for a school report, discovered that Cheryl Blossom’s great-great-great-great grandfather and the town’s founder together murdered 400 people from an Indian tribe just to take their land. That same Indian tribe eventually morphed into the Southside Serpents. Jughead was so outraged that he published an article in the school paper outing the situation to the townsfolk. Along with only having one police officer who never does any work and everyone eating at the same diner every day, the high school’s newspaper having serious editorial power is probably the thing that sells the small-town vibe of the show the best. Anyway, Toni got upset at Jughead because it wasn’t really his story to tell. So rather than tell the story anymore, Jughead and Toni’s grandfather staged a protest where everyone but Toni remained silent. Hiram Lodge then turned that protest around into a “isn’t my company great” speech. The whole event moved poor Cheryl to tears.
This episode was overall a little flimsy. Despite displaying all its usual strengths in visuals and costume design, it couldn’t mask how simple and inconsequential the story was. I don’t know about you, but I was most interested in the continuing adventures of Cheryl’s mom being a prostitute who is way too into being a prostitute. While seeking to find a new direction in this half of the season, Riverdale stumbled a little, but will hopefully get back on its feet next week. I give “The Wrestler” 7.5 puffed-up chests out of 10.
What were your thoughts on this episode? Share them with us at SuperBroMovies.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 on The CW.