Pep Talk: Riverdale Episode 211, "The Wrestler"

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Riverdale 211 The Wrestler

How much darker can the RIVERDALE writers take the beloved characters of our innocent youth? They've faced down a serial killer, beaten a date rapist, and joined gangs. What's left, really?

Well, for starters, we could take the girl-next-door and turn her into an Internet Cam actor. No, really. Betty Cooper (LILI REINHART) finds her brother, Chic (HART DENTON), and brings him to live with her family. Mother Alice is fine with it, but father Hal is decidedly put out, especially when he learns what Betty already knew -- and enabled: that Chic is a cyber-trick, an online gigolo. (Betty found out from her GBFF Kevin Keller (CASEY COTT), so I guess we know how Kevin spends his online time.) Hoping that Chic can help her deal with the darkness she feels within her own self, she allows herself to be mentored in the world of click-and-fap.

Meanwhile, Archie (KJ APA), is prodded by FBI Agent Arthur Adams (JOHN BEHLMANN) to get closer to Hiram Lodge (MARK CONSUELOS). When Veronica (CAMILA MENDES) tells Archie that her father is a big supporter of the high school wrestling team, Archie switches from basketball to try out for wrestling -- and gets pummeled. Hiram already doesn't believe him to be good enough for his daughter, thinking him just another boyfriend fad, and through the coach makes things harder on Archie than necessary, pitting him against Chuck Clayton (JORDAN CALLOWAY), who's a weight class higher than Archie. But Archie's a quick study, and pulls out a win when he needs to, impressing Lodge enough to have him bring Archie into his business as an intern. But the question now lingers as to whether Arch is more committed to the FBI agent who wants to get dirt on Hiram, or to impressing his girlfriend's father.

All this occurs as the town prepares itself to celebrate its founder. But Jughead (COLE SPROUSE) learns that the town was founded after Cheryl Blossom's (MADELAINE PETSCH) ancestor hired people to exterminate the existing native population, the survivors of which evolved into the Serpents. Jughead publishes the story, and the celebration ends up getting marched on by protestors. But that's not even the biggest thing to happen at the celebration! Veronica feels the chill from Mayor McCoy (ROBIN GIVENS) when she tries to practice a song with Josie (ASHLEIGH MURRAY), and mentions this to her mother, Hermione (MARISOL NICHOLS). When the Mayor then informs Josie about Veronica's connections to her parents business dealings, prompting Josie to call off the collaboration, Hermione gives Veronica another idea: since Josie was already taking the direction of a solo act, Veronica steals The Pussycats!

Almost unnoticed is the spat between Alice and Hal Cooper over Chic, a spat which Alice wins (as usual). Almost unnoticed, that is, except by Penelope Blossom (NATHALIE BOLTT), who has taken up the life of a madame to make ends meet. As the episode closes, she's coming on to Hal, and he's looking pretty happy about it. So if the union of their two children, Jason and Polly, was considered incest, wouldn't hijinks between Hal and Polly take that a generation closer to the source? There are an awful lot of flowers in RIVERDALE's attic!

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0