Just when we thought this show was going places, Riverdale has put us in a half nelson (we had to Google wrestling terms for this recap). Only two episodes since its return, and we’re starting to doubt whether last week’s drama-filled episode was the real deal or just a big tease.
This episode had it all: a weird mashup between the critically acclaimed movie Foxcatcher and the universally panned movie Why Not, an homage to a classic Simpsons episode about the importance of town statues, Hiram coaching the wrestling team, the history of the Serpents, “Veronica and the Pussycats” (no, seriously), and Kevin’s interesting internet habits.
But unless you’ve got a fetish for wrestling or Mark Consuelos in workout gear, Episode 11: “The Wrestler” was a bit of a letdown. This week we witnessed an overabundance of testosterone and no real developments in the mystery surrounding Chic—neither of which are appreciated this late in the game. The deep dive into Archie and Hiram’s relationship was important given Archie’s new after-school job as a snitch for the feds, but the overall story missed the mark.
Last week, we introduced our new way to recap Riverdale with our first-ever Power Rankings based on how much we liked each character (or how little they sucked depending on the quality of the episode). Archie led the lineup, and he’s still in top 5 this week—trust, we’re just as surprised as you.
1. Hiram Lodge (+16)
Sam: It may be the Year of the Dog, but I’m officially declaring it the Year of the Ram. Normally I wouldn’t condone an ex-con at the no. 1 spot on the power rankings, but Hiram “the Ram” Lodge ran Riverdale this week, both metaphorically and literally (those leg muscles, tho). He savagely ruined Archie in so many different ways this week that I too started to feel high off his power. And just like Hiram, I too will continue to tolerate Archie until this phase runs its course.
Dom: We try not to let recency bias cloud these rankings (and Hiram didn’t even have his own spot until now), but it’s hard not to see him as top dog this week. He was Archie’s daddy in this episode—and basically all of Riverdale’s too. The way he flipped the script on the protest was a master class in power and control as were most of his interactions with Archie. (His snide comments about Archie’s lack of wrestling talent in Veronica’s room were vicious.)
S: Also vicious was the line, “Boyfriends come and go but fathers are forever.” As if Veronica isn’t calling Archie daddy now. I have a lot of questions about Hiram’s reasons for not liking Archie, mainly that none have to do with his shitty music. But holding a grudge against your daughter’s boyfriend because his father slept with your wife once upon a time? Pretty petty. Luckily for Hiram, we at the power rankings love petty decision-making.
D: Still, it’s a little weird that he was at wrestling tryouts for teenage boys and that he picked Archie as a “volunteer,” but he got his point across and that’s what matters. Hiram is the most powerful man in Riverdale and now that his plans are starting to unfold in front of our eyes he’s becoming one of the most interesting too—even if most of his actions aren’t well-intentioned. Like he told Archie, he always wins and this week he comes out on top in the power rankings.
2. Archie Andrews (-1)
D: It still feels weird to have Archie this high two weeks in a row, but we have to give him credit: he resisted the urge to play his music in front of a large crowd.
S: I have a lot of doubt that Archie can play football, basketball, wrestle and still have enough brain cells left to pass French class as an elective—let alone write a song. But you know what I don’t doubt? Archie’s got balls. Bless his heart for trying to keep up with Hiram, even after his ass was handed to him in literally every way imaginable. He even scored himself an internship when his painful beating was finally over, an internship he can use to help get dirt for Agent Adams. Perseverance is important.
D: Archie definitely has courage. I probably would not be able to go up to my girlfriend’s dad and ask him point-blank: “Why don’t you like me?”—especially not if I knew he was a guy who breaks legs for fun. Adding that he took care of his daughter while he was in jail was even bolder and a bit sadistic. The dude is brave. Stupid. But brave. That’s basically his M.O. really. He’s like a ginger Harry Potter. Also gotta give him some credit too for beating Chuck, a noted dumpster boy, in wrestling despite being in a lower weight class.
3. Kevin Keller (+10)
S: I appreciate the fact that Kevin Keller excels at a sport involving men in tight spandex. I also appreciate Sheriff Keller’s pride at his son’s wrestling success. But I still want Kevin to do more in this show than just expose the town “video gigolo.” (His words, not ours).
D: I’m still a little concerned that Kevin “recognized” Chic from somewhere and it was because he was, in Kevin’s words, “a webcam boy, a cybertrick.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just didn’t think anyone actually clicked on those ads? Now we know (a little too much frankly).
S: Kevin’s weakness for ’cam clickbait may be of concern, but he did gloriously slap Archie around on the wrestling mat, which will always earn extra credibility in the power rankings.
D: Anytime anyone kicks Archie’s “1970s porn star” lookin’ ass it’s worth major points here.
S: And he now runs a popular gossip column in the Blue and Gold. You know you love him, xoxo.
4. Toni Topaz (+5)
D: I was very skeptical about Toni when she was first introduced as a thorn in the side of Bughead’s endgame, but she’s really grown as a character since. She provides a good voice for the Important Issues of Riverdale and puts white boys like Jughead in check. The peaceful protest to Riverdale’s version of Columbus Day was a great scene to showcase the Serpents aren’t as violent and dangerous as their reputation suggests. They just wanted the hurtful, vile statues that represent a shameful past of Riverdale’s history taken down. Is that so hard? (Cough, America, cough).
S: Toni’s grandfather, Thomas, was also Mr. Crabby Apple Tree on the hit Canadian children’s show The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon, which by association should skyrocket her to the top of the power rankings alone. But yes, calling Jughead out on his bullshit was also very important to me.
5. Betty Cooper (-1)
S: Vanilla Betty Cooper discovering the world of webcam modelling is not the storyline I anticipated going into the post-midseason mark of Riverdale.
D: First stripping, now she’s going to dabble in the world of being a ’cam-girl? Where is the line?! Do the writers not realize how depraved this storyline is for a high school sophomore or junior?
S: I feel very weird about this direction of Dark Betty, but will hold all reservations until the short black wig officially comes out. Speaking of weird, how do we feel about Betty giving her estranged brother a laptop to help him continue his webcam empire? Heartwarming, or super creepy?
D: Creepy. Not as creepy as Chic turning her on to it though. The brother-sister ’cam-world tag team is Not OK. We already dealt with enough implied incest in Season 1—we don’t need it as a recurring theme.
6. Chic Cooper (-1)
D: We learned a little more about Chic this week. We learned that he has a bit of a short temper. We learned why he was creeping on Betty while she slept. Oh, and we also learned what he did for a living. That was fun. We’re still debating whether Chic is actually hot, but apparently the debate is settled considering he has a captive audience in “fantasy fulfillment” that thinks so.
S: I am on Team Chic Is Not Hot. I’m also still on Team Chic Is The Black Hood. Chic is totally playing into Betty’s curiosity about her inner darkness. I’m not sure why he’s recruiting his sister to join his webcam empire (I’m not sure I want to know, to be completely honest) but whatever it is, it can’t be good. His confession about watching Betty while she slept was a little too convenient, in my opinion, but hopefully next week we see another sinister side of Chic exposed to ramp up the drama.
7. Jughead Jones (+1)
S: I’m getting a little bored of Jughead’s crusade against the north side of town. His cause was good, but his intentions were selfish, and boy does he have ANGST. Can someone get this guy a burger from Pop’s and remind him that a month ago he was doing just fine as the resident weirdo of Riverdale High?
D: As Jughead’s no. 1 fan, I hate that I have to agree, but I do. He’s gone from quirky to just plain annoying this season. I did like that he owned up to Grandpa Topaz for his shameful appropriation of his story, but that whole saga just goes to show Jughead could benefit from some Journalism 101. First lesson: when you call an important source for your story, maybe don’t lead with the most difficult question possible, lest you get no quotes at all.
8. Cheryl Blossom (-6)
D: I feel like there’s a correlation between episode quality and how much screen-time Cheryl gets. This week it wasn’t much, but her storyline still showed a decent side of her where she showed remorse for the sins of her ancestors.
9. Veronica Lodge (-6)
D: I’m sorry, but “Veronica and the Pussycats?” F-ck that.
S: Not only did she insert herself into the Pussycats (did anyone want this? Anyone? *crickets*), Veronica also encouraged Archie to sing with her and the Pussycats. ABSOLUTELY NOT.
D: Can you imagine Archie and Veronica and the Pussycats?
S: I don’t want to.
D: I didn’t think there was anything worse than Archie’s Music, but Veronica’s Music has become a strong contender. Most of her other moments were pretty cringeworthy too. Calling Archie’s singing sexy and then making out with him in front of her dad? Power move in theory, pretty gross in practice.
10. Alice Cooper (-4)
S: Again, a little concerning how easily Alice has replaced one daughter for her estranged son, but she’s so happy! It’s hard not to be happy for a happy Alice, especially when it involves her telling Hal off with a giant smile on her face. Another strong showing in the wardrobe department too, Alice.
D: I think Chic just reminds her of her life without Hal, a life where she’s happy. Who can blame her?
11. Josie McCoy (+3)
D: I hate turtlenecks with a passion, so I can’t believe I’m saying this… but can we talk about Josie’s outfit this week? That yellow turtleneck was killing the game this week:
S: I didn’t even notice her yellow turtleneck, which is a clear indication to how little I’m paying attention to Josie this season. Her lack of storyline is criminal, and I will not be quiet until she’s reunited with the Pussycats or given something else to do than be micromanaged by her mother.
D: Veronica did her so dirty. “The Pussycats are a brand.” Duh. And you can’t just steal it like that girl.
12. Fred Andrews
S: Fred was given a spot at the table involving the most prominent people in Riverdale, so it’s nice to see some people still remember he’s alive and kicking.
D: The mayor. The sheriff. The richest family in town. And Fred. The power dynamics in Riverdale are extremely strange. The fact he was also Hermione’s mistress (mister?) and is now at the same table as her husband makes it even stranger.
13. “Sweet Pea” (-3)
D: He did nothing but hold up a sign this week, but boy did he do a great job of it.
S: I was hoping we’d see Sweet Pea suit up in the wrestling spandex, but I too find peaceful protesting to be wildly attractive.
14. Reggie Mantle (-3)
S: I actually didn’t know Reggie was in this week’s episode, but Dom spotted him during the basketball scrimmage at the beginning of the episode. Was he shirts or skins this week, Dom?
D: Is that a real question? Of course he was skins.
15. Hermione Lodge (+2)
D: The Lodges were once combined in the power rankings, but Hiram was critical to the plot on his own terms meaning we had to separate them. Hermione has potential to be more than she’s been so far. It was teased this week, but her storyline is not there yet.
S: She didn’t do anywhere near the damage her husband did this episode, but the teaser for the battle royale between her and Mayor McCoy was enough to keep Hermione from the bottom of the power rankings.
16. Penelope Blossom (-1)
D: Business is clearly booming for Penelope, who tries to comfort Hal at the end in her own special way. I honestly can’t think of a less likeable pair on this show.
S: I was physically jarred by the pride in Penelope’s eye recounting her family’s history of brothel ownership. But I am curious whether Penelope and Hal’s new “special relationship” will be a purely physical one or a more meddling and menacing one.
17. Hal Cooper (-1)
S: What is this so called “life” Hal claims he’s trying to plan? What are these so called “things” he is claiming to be catching up on around the house? Bitch, you barely live in your own home. Hal’s resentment towards Chic only further makes me believe Chic is not his son. And although in the end Hal will probably be right about not trusting the estranged Cooper, he’s so much fun to hate on right now.
Special Agent Adams: Starting to realize the problems with using a teenager as an informant—like basketball practice getting in the way.
Mayor McCoy: Like a worse Kris Jenner.
Chuck Clayton: Didn’t think Chuck was worth shit. Then he lost to Archie in wrestling, so we KNOW he ain’t worth shit.
The Pussycats: These cats ain’t loyal.