In this episode of Riverdale, titled “Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wrestler,” Archie works overtime to gain Hiram’s trust, Betty learns disturbing news about Chic and, as the town celebrates Pickens Day, tensions between the North and South hit a new high.
The residents of Riverdale prepare to celebrate Pickens Day, a commemoration of its founding. Hiram Lodge wants to use the event as a way to promote the SoDale project, mainly in an attempt to win over the Southside parents who are pressuring Mayor McCoy to reopen Southside High. Hiram and Fred want to sponsor Pickens Day, making it a big celebration that will hopefully distract SoDale detractors. Mayor McCoy worries that an attempt to bring the warring factions of Riverdale together could backfire, while Sheriff Keller is concerned that the Serpents might cause trouble.
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Hiram already has a solution for the Serpent problem — he’s hired them to work security for the event. Fred chimes in that this whole idea is a great way for the Mayor to let the people of the Southside know that she hasn’t turned her back on them.
Chic may have returned to the bosom of his family, but Hal isn’t exactly welcoming his estranged son with open arms. Hal is looking for answers about Chic, particularly why he arrived at their home a bloody mess. Chic tells Hal that the man who beat him up is a man named Marcel who, in addition to running the Last Resort Hostel where Chic has been living, sometimes books clients for him. On the night Betty rescued him, Chic didn’t feel like working, and Marcel was trying to convince him otherwise.
Hal wants to know what type of clients Chic works with, and Chic doesn’t offer specifics about his work, only that the aforementioned “clients” range from nice to nastier than Marcel (read on to learn all about “fantasy fulfillment”). Chic offers to show the Coopers some of his scars, and Betty pipes in that she’s got a few of her own — crescent moons on her palms. Chic knows she got them from digging her nails into her palms, claiming he used to do the same thing.
Agent Adams (whether this guy is legit or not is a big question mark) brings Archie a written agreement, ensuring Fred immunity if Hiram goes down. Archie reveals that the Lodges and the Mayor were just at his house for dinner, which piques Adams’ interest. Adams questions why Archie wasn’t on the guest list, and Archie has to explain that he was at basketball practice. (It sounds stupid because it is stupid.)
Archie wants to expedite this whole process so he can stop spying on his girlfriend’s family and get back to his normal life (which includes sleeping with much older women, solving murders, delivering drugs and apprehending serial killers). Adams encourages Archie to find a way to gain Hiram’s trust.
Betty shares the news that Chic is home, and Kevin remarks that Chic looks familiar after seeing the lost Cooper’s picture on her phone. (Tag that piece of info for later.) The whole gang is eager to meet Chic, but Betty wants to give her big bro some time to acclimate. Veronica suggests that Betty bring him to Pickens Day.
Archie Sucks Up and Jughead Gets a History Lesson
Archie questions Veronica on how he can endear himself to her dad. She suggests wrestling. Hiram was captain of the wrestling team when he attended Riverdale High. Lodge Industries is pretty much bankrolling the team, and Hiram will be sitting in on the tryouts. Archie decides to forego basketball in order to score some points with Hiram.
Jughead interviews Toni’s grandfather for a history project. He’s one of the founding members of the Serpents. He tells Jughead about the Uktena, people native to the area before Riverdale came into existence. The Uktena were savagely slaughtered by General Pickens. Jughead is shocked that the town has a statue of Pickens, which is odd since Jughead is bright enough to understand America’s history of genocide and colonialism.
Pussycats and Porn
Kevin remembers where he’s seen Chic before. Chic is a webcam boy/video gigolo. I’m not sure which is more disturbing, Chic pimping himself out for money or Kevin who, in addition to picking up ass in the woods, also cruises random dudes online.
Veronica is eager to get the Pussycats back together for Pickens Day, but Mayor McCoy isn’t a fan of the idea or, apparently, of Veronica.
Veronica questions Hermione as to why the Mayor would be giving her the cold shoulder, and Hermione suspects that the Mayor isn’t comfortable with Veronica’s involvement in the family business. Ronnie might let it slip to Josie that her mother is as crooked as they come.
Archie begins wrestling tryouts, and Kevin warns his friend that wrestling isn’t like basketball and football. Mr. All-American is certain he can handle himself, right up until he gets pinned twice by Kevin. Needless to say, Archie fails to impress Hiram.
Jughead has a scoop for Betty. He tells her about Toni’s grandfather, but in addition to the old man’s account of Riverdale history, Jughead’s done some additional research. Barnabas B. Blossom hired Pickens to forcibly remove the Uktena tribe. He did so by slaughtering 400 innocent men, women and children. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Serpents, the last remnants of the tribe, are being squeezed out of existence. And Hiram Lodge is choosing to honor Pickens instead of making amends. Jughead thinks it’s a story that needs to be told.
Betty, who is still trying to find a way to approach Chic about his career in porn, will have to put that convo on hold. Chic informs her that Marcel threw away all of his stuff, everything he needs to survive. Betty can’t believe Chic even went back and reminds Chic that Alice promised he could stay as long as he wants. Chic calls Betty crazy for thinking this living arrangement is long-term.
In an effort to sooth the savage beast, Betty digs up an old laptop and offers it to Chic. He accepts the gift but not her apology.
Veronica, realizing the way to Hiram’s heart may not be wrestling after all, suggests that Archie sing with her and the Pussycats on Pickens Day. She thinks Hiram will get a kick out of seeing them perform together. The two rehearse in her bedroom and are interrupted by Hiram, who gives Archie a hard time over his poor showing at tryouts. Hiram thinks Archie may not be “man” enough for wrestling and might be better suited for singing with a group of girls. Archie slips Ronnie the tongue and promises Hiram that he’ll see him at tryouts. No more Pussy for Archie.
Hal continues to treat Chic like garbage, telling his son that all he’s doing is filling the void left by Polly. Chic doesn’t seem upset by Hal’s words and promises that he never expected to stay for free.
Tales from the Darkside
Hiram takes a more hands-on approach at tryouts, using Archie to demonstrate his trademark move. Hiram gets Archie in a headlock, telling the other boys it’s the perfect way to demoralize and dominate their rival. This is the key to winning. Hiram whispers in Archie’s ear, “I always win.”
Jughead shows Toni his article. It calls on the residents of Riverdale to pay reparations to people like Toni’s poor, broken-down grandfather. She isn’t down with Jughead using her grandfather to fuel his vendetta against the Northsiders. She makes it clear that this story wasn’t Jughead’s to tell.
Later, Chic questions what it is Betty wants from him. He doesn’t believe anybody functions without an ulterior motive, not even Betty. She admits that there’s a darkness in her she doesn’t understand, and she thought he might be able to help her figure it out. She reveals that she knows about the webcamming and offers to talk about it or their shared scars anytime he wants, but Chic takes a pass.
Mayor McCoy forbids Josie to perform at Pickens Day, especially since Jughead’s article has riled the local population. Josie doesn’t get her mother’s issues with Veronica, so the Mayor decides to divulge just how dirty the Lodges are, including Veronica (leaving out her own shadiness, to be sure). Josie immediately lets Veronica know that she’s not about to be manipulated by a Lodge, and that includes skipping Pickens Day.
Cheryl goes to Penelope, who confirms that Cheryl’s great-great-great-grandfather did exactly what he’s accused of doing. Penelope explains that the Blossoms have had a hand in everything in Riverdale since the beginning, the good and the bad.
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Archie has had enough of Hiram looking down on him, so he confronts the man face-to-face, demanding to know why Ronnie’s dad doesn’t like him. Hiram calls out Fred for sleeping with Hermione and questions why he should believe that Archie doesn’t share Fred’s weak character. And even if Archie isn’t a cheater, he’s still not good enough for Veronica in any way. Hiram doesn’t think Archie will ever be able to take care of Ronnie.
Archie points out that he took care of Veronica while Hiram was in prison. (Not a good idea, Arch.) Veronica walks in on their heated discussion, and they’re forced to retreat to separate corners.
Hiram calls on Archie the following morning to go for a run. Over breakfast, Hiram explains his love for wrestling. It’s about sheer will and knowing your opponent, possibly better than he knows himself. He explains this is why Archie will never win. Hiram plans to tolerate Archie until Veronica grows tired of him. Boyfriends come and go, but fathers are forever.
Jughead apologizes to Toni’s grandfather, Thomas, but defends himself by stating that he’s tired of the town dismantling the Southside piece by piece. The man tells Jughead that he opened an old wound and now something has to be done to heal it, and Thomas has something in mind.
A large crowd turns out for the final day of wrestling tryouts, including Veronica, who was invited by her father to watch Archie. The coach pairs Archie with Chuck Clayton, who is in an entirely different weight class. It’s obvious that Hiram’s behind this and is hoping Ronnie will watch Archie get humiliated. (Hiram hasn’t heard Archie sing.) So after some coaching by Kevin and by sheer force of will, Archie emerges victorious. On second thought, maybe this was just a test, and Archie passes.
Pickens Day arrives, and Hiram requests that Archie stop by his place later. It seems the two have things to discuss.
Chic, Alice and Betty attend their first family outing, which is promptly ruined by Hal. Hal did some snooping and learned all about Chic’s online activities. Hal insists that Chic has to go, and Alice knows why (intriguing). But Alice has thrown Hal out once before, and she’s ready to do it again. It doesn’t look like Chic is going anywhere.
Veronica decides that if Josie and her mother don’t want anything to do with the Lodges, that’s fine with her. This leads to the big debut of Veronica and the Pussycats at the town event.
The Serpents arrive at the festival to protest. Some protesters have tape over their mouths, and Toni grabs a bullhorn to announce that they’re representing the dead and the silenced. She goes on to educate the crowd about Pickens Day being built on a lie. Mayor McCoy glances at Hiram, likely squirming to say, “I told you so.”
Hiram interrupts Toni and does some serious spinning, praising Riverdale for being the kind of town where young people stand up for justice, where a young girl can defend her grandfather’s honor and where everyone can celebrate the living legacy of the Uktena. His speech earns him applause and a new enemy named Jughead.
True and False Confessions
Chic confesses to Betty that during his first night at the Cooper home, he came into her room while she was sleeping. He was trying to figure out why she’d come back for him, and now he thinks he knows why. Chic believes Betty feels alone. He opens up about why he webcams. He does it for money and as a way to escape his own inner darkness. Betty wants him to teach her how to do the same. (Bust out that dark wig, naughty Betty’s making a comeback.)
In another Cooper-family development, Penelope Blossom decides to offer Hal some “companionship.” The whole Cooper clan is into fantasy fulfillment. At least we know what the hell that means.
Hiram is ready to start fresh with Archie. As long as Archie is dating Veronica, Hiram will expect the best for him. This means learning how to navigate the business world from a master. (There are always two — master and apprentice.) Of course, Archie’s newfound interest in dollars and cents is just a ploy to gain access to Hiram’s inner circle, and you’d think Hiram — a master at reading people — would know that.
And someone has decapitated the Pickens statue, which means further escalation of hostilities between the North and South Sides.
Will Hiram come between Archie and Jughead? Can Archie keep his secret? What other secrets is Chic keeping? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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