Riverdale Focuses On the Important Stuff Archie in a Singlet

first_imgLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. SDCC 2019: ‘Riverdale’ Cast Spills Details on Core ‘Mystery’ for Season 4Top Movies and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019 Stay on targetcenter_img Archie Andrews is a wrestler now. Possibly concerned that a shirts-vs-skins basketball game moves too fast for the camera to focus properly, Riverdale spent last night’s episode shifting Archie’s sport to one where it can really linger on muscular dudes in spandex. Yes, this was an Archie-focused episode. Riverdale uses Archie to pump the brakes when the drama gets too wild. In a show filled with homicide, dark alternate personalities and noirish conspiracy, sometimes it needs to reset itself and remember it’s a show about teens. And these can be fun too. They’re ridiculous for a completely different reason. The show blows these stories out to cartoonish proportions so the stakes feel, on the surface at least, as high as all the other drama going on. Here, a story about a boy trying to get closer to his girlfriend’s dad turns into a vaguely creepy dick swinging contest between the two men.With a written agreement in hand from the FBI agent who still barely registers as a character, Archie starts spying on Hiram Lodge. Or trying to. Like pretty much everything Archie does outside of football and I guess basketball now, he’s really bad at it. Practicing for basketball tryouts, he misses a whole meeting between the Lodges, the mayor and his dad. The Lodges want to put together a party celebrating the founder of the town, in hopes that it will open up the town to the idea of their SoDale project. The mayor is worried about the potential for Serpent interference, and Fred Andrews floats the idea of hiring Serpents as security. Nooo Fred, you were supposed to be the sane parent! I guess bad ideas run in the Andrews family. But since Archie missed all that, the FBI agent pressures him to find a way to get on Hiram’s good side. Veronica has one idea: Hiram Lodge used to be a wrestling star. And wouldn’t you know it, the team is holding tryouts.KJ Apa as Archie and Mark Consuelos as Hiram (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)From here on out, the episode becomes Toxic Masculinity: The Show. And like, Riverdale seems aware of it, but only to a certain point. Like the show recognizes that Hiram is being super creepy towards his daughter’s boyfriend, but stops just short of having anything to say about it. Hiram watches Archie try his hand at the new sport and be repeatedly brought to the mat by Kevin, who actually knows what he’s doing. Later that night, he goes to Veronica’s room specifically to emasculate his daughter’s boyfriend. He tells Archie that after his display at wrestling tryouts, he’s not so worried about him being in Veronica’s room. Archie takes the bait, and leaves to practice the moves Kevin helped him with. Veronica’s annoyed “seriously?” was the realest line in this whole scene.The next day, Hiram decides to challenge Archie directly, offering to demonstrate a new move to the boys at tryouts. The coach is perfectly fine with this. Why wouldn’t you let an eccentric rich adult grapple with underage boys on school grounds? Nothing could possibly be wrong with that. Especially when said adult is transparently using it to assert dominance over the boy dating his daughter. Seriously, nobody has a problem with any of this? Hiram eventually makes it appear as though there’s no bad blood between him an Archie, if only to appease Veronica. Even that scene gets super creepy. While assuring Archie that he’s just a phase in Veronica’s life, he says, “boyfriends come and go, but fathers are forever.” Ew. But hey, say what you will about Archie, he’s determined. He eventually earns his way onto Hiram’s good side. Hiram has the wrestling coach pair Archie against Chuck, who’s in a higher weight class. Because who cares about safety? Archie takes the challenge and defeats Chuck, earning Hiram’s respect. By the end of the episode, Hiram has offered to train Archie in the ways of “business.” Whatever that means. Oh, also Archie doesn’t answer a phone call from the FBI agent while he’s talking to Hiram which… is totally understandable. What, are we supposed to think he’s on Hiram’s side now? Because not talking to the cops while you’re in the room with the guy you’re snitching on is just smart. It might be the only smart thing Archie does all episode.Cole Spouse as Jughead and Vanessa Morgan as Toni (Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW)There were parts of Archie’s story that were fun, but it could definitely have been a little shorter. The episode tried to balance out the silly wrestling story with a more serious subplot about Jughead finding out the true history of Riverdale. Researching for an oral history report, he interviews Toni’s grandfather and discovers a shocking truth: Riverdale was founded on the back of a genocidal campaign against the native people who lived there first. Yeah, welcome to America, Jughead. White people doing awful things to anyone darker than them is kind of a theme no matter what town you live in. The oral history report is never brought up again. Instead, Jughead writes a condescending article for the school newspaper calling out Hiram Lodge for celebrating a town built on stolen land. Apparently, it’s news to everyone in Riverdale because suddenly the mayor is inundated with calls from concerned citizens. Who read the high school newspaper. I’ll never understand this fictional town. The only one with any sense this episode is Toni, who rightfully calls out Jughead for co-opting her story. Her line about how it wasn’t Jughead’s story to tell is probably the best moment of the episode. In the end, Jughead makes up for it by organizing a protest where he, and the rest of the male serpents are silent, allowing Toni to tell her own story. Which is immediately co-opted and sanitized by Hiram Lodge in a depressingly realistic moment.Hart Denton as Chic and Madchen Amick as Alice Cooper (Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW)It’s hard not to feel just a little let down by the episode. It spent too much time on Archie and Hiram, which was fun enough, but definitely not the most interesting thing going on in Riverdale. Both Keven and Josie could have had interesting stories, but the episode stubbornly refused to focus on them. Keven having to train the golden boy who’s moving in on his sport? There’s dramatic potential there. Josie losing the Pussycats, caught between Veronica and her Mother and feeling she has no agency over her own life? There’s a great story in there. If only the episode cared about either. Betty and Chic’s story also went nowhere. It turns out Chic watched Betty sleep because he was wondering why she went back for him. Also, he’s a cam guy, which is somehow a bigger deal than prostitution. I felt like Jughead’s ending narration last week promised a lot that this episode didn’t deliver. And now, Chic is showing Betty his camshow business to explain how he escapes his dark side. There is potential in that story, but after a hit-and-miss episode like this one, I’ll wait to see how Riverdale handles it before getting too excited.last_img