“Chapter Twenty-Three: The Blackboard Jungle” (Season 2, Episode 10) had it all: Archie holding a guitar (thankfully, not playing it), bedazzled collars, Juniper and Dagwood as 2018 It-Names, a new Black Hood suspect, Jughead’s awful snake puns and Betty’s weird sleeping positions. Phew.
Overall this episode felt like a return to form after a mostly unsatisfying mid-season finale, with new characters that actually bring something to the table and instead of the poorly inserted red herrings we met before the break. Really excited for the role Betty’s mysterious new brother plays over the next few episodes as our final picture of him was creeeeeepy.
But this isn’t your average TV show recap. Instead of going through what happened, we’re reviewing each regular character in order of how much we liked them (or how little they sucked, depending on the quality of the episode)—plus, some honourable mentions. The ranking generally reflects the most recent episode, but also takes into account each character’s history. For example, Hal Cooper could sacrifice himself to the Black Hood to save some babies in an orphanage and we’d still probably have a hard time putting him into the top 10.
A little bit about your reviewers: I’m Dom and I’ve been doing this since halfway through the first season over at my own blog, which I made specifically for the purpose of Riverdale Power Rankings after jokingly tweeting my feelings about each episode and realizing there was an appetite for it. Now we’re trying it out on FLARE. I’m not alone this time, either. In attendance, we’ve got my best friend Sam Sobolewski—her specialty is entertainment writing (I cover hockey; still not sure how I got here)—and she brings with her a wealth of knowledge of teen soap tropes.
Introducing our Riverdale power rankings:
1. Archie Andrews
Dom: Anytime Archie is No. 1 it feels problematic. This episode especially so considering it seemed as if his music career was going to start again and he also decided to insensitively ask Cheryl about her would-be assailant.
Sam: He also willingly agreed to become a snitch, which isn’t something I necessarily condone.
D: We generally have a No Snitches in the Top Five Policy, especially one as bait as Archie was at dinner. But to be fair, he did also snitch on himself, being honest with Veronica about his kiss with Betty.
S: Archie had a lot of moments this week. He asked about the legalities behind his role as an informant—smart. He asked for immunity for Fred and Veronica—also smart. He doesn’t believe the real Black Hood has been caught—super, super smart. AND he punched Nick St. Clair in the face, which I fully support.
D: The dude had two broken legs, so Archie isn’t exactly tough for this, but punching Nick St. Clair in the face is still basically all you need to be the top seed. F-ck Nick St. Clair.
2. Cheryl Blossom
S: Fascist Barbie had quite the week herself. Cheryl tried to lead the Jets vs. Sharks movement against the South Side Serpents, which wasn’t cool and led to zero dancing. But I get why she was trying to take control of her school life, what with her home life spiralling out of control and her mom essentially admitting to becoming a lady of the night.
D: Cheryl was the only student concerned about the over-crowding that would come from the school admitting South Side High students apparently, which was also my main concern when they announced the school closing. Cheryl has been spiralling downwards lately so it’s nice to see her back on her A-game with this episode. From sassy quips and blackmail to her apology to Veronica about spilling her secret, Cheryl brought the heat this week. Her entrance music during the coup was A Lil Much, but I’ll blame the music supervisor for that one.
3. Veronica Lodge
D: Archie doesn’t deserve this queen. Dude is out kissing HER BEST FRIEND like four minutes after they broke up and after two minutes of anxiety she was like, “Yeah, it’s cool, I still love you.” I would not have that kind of patience, especially for a guy who’s already hooked up with half of Riverdale High, faculty included (RIP Miss Grundy).
S: It’s been clear as Sweetwater River since this show began that Archie is a f-ckboy, and Veronica is way too good for him. But in his defence, she’s also super shady. She clearly knew about her parents’ meeting with Mayor McCoy to buy the South Side High land. She definitely knows her parents were involved in Nick’s injury. And that South Side welcome committee she put together? Fake. As. Hell. I do enjoy her power play movements, nonetheless.
4. Betty Cooper
S: I’d like to start by saying that I thought Betty’s pepper spray was dry shampoo when I first saw it and was really scared we were getting another blatant product placement moment. Luckily Riverdale has grown bigger than its easy, breezy, beautiful roots, and she was just being safe, resourceful and on brand with the pink bottle.
D: My girl could’ve been more resourceful if she took her brother who just got stabbed to the damn hospital.
S: He wasn’t even bleeding that much!
D: I hope you’re not the only person there to take care of me if I ever get stabbed.
5. Chic Cooper
D: Usually new characters need to earn their spot in the rankings with a few episodes. Chic earned it in like five minutes of screen time. He’s a game-changer on this show and immediately brings it out of its mid-season funk. He’s clearly not the smartest guy though seeing as he just lets anyone in to his room. Maybe if he didn’t he wouldn’t get stabbed? I’m no home security expert or anything, but that seems like common sense.
S: I don’t approve of his choice in career (“fantasy fulfillment”???), but I do approve of Chic. In the same way the Psycho Derek storyline revived One Tree Hill, this season of Riverdale needed the long lost Cooper and his sketchy apartment to breathe new life into it. Is Chic the real Black Hood? Did he plan on getting shanked just to get invited into the Coopers’ home? And does he kind of look like Eminem’s Stan? I don’t think so, but Dom does.
D: He does!!! Also, the opening scene where he’s telling his birth mother exactly what he’s been wanting to tell her for 20 or so years was haunting and heartbreaking. First scene, and he’s already giving us tour-de-force performances.
6. Alice Cooper
S: Speaking of tour-de-force, let’s talk about Alice Cooper’s wardrobe. Alice wore two stunning coats this week, and in a town where no one seems to dress appropriately for the weather, she probably deserves to be ranked higher for that alone. Mädchen Amick’s acting also went up to a 10 this week. I probably would’ve lost my shit if I found my mom chilling on my bed in the middle of the night while I slept, like Betty found her mom, but my heart went out to Alice all the same this episode.
D: Your mom is so nice and sweet that I truly doubt you’d be that alarmed. The scene in the car after Chic (rightfully) rejected her was a tear-jerker.
7. FP Jones
S: I didn’t think it was possible to achieve full Riverdaddy status while wearing a bow tie and apron, but folks, FP Jones has done it.
D: FP is forever and always the #1 Riverdaddy. His Serpent Wisdom was on point as always as he tried to reason with his idiot son by speaking his language: serpent metaphors. There were way too many this episode, each one more corny than the last.
8. Jughead Jones
S: I think we had a record number of snake metaphors from Jughead in this episode. Taylor Swift would’ve been proud (they were just as well-written as Reputation). Other than that, Jughead was pretty meh for me. Jughead, you went to South Side High for a month. The fact that you’re the most vocal about the snakes shedding their skin and ditching their Serpent jackets while at school is trying a little too hard.
D: Honestly, they didn’t even give Jughead a real leather jacket so how important can it really be to him? The whole “Well I guess I’m suspended” scene after getting asked to take his jacket off was cringy AF. I love Jughead. A lot. It pains me to have him this low on the rankings, but his massive effort toward belonging feels very out of character for him. What happened to the Weirdo Who Didn’t Fit In and Didn’t Want To Fit In?
S: He got lost in the grass of his many lame snake metaphors.
9. Toni Topaz
S: Not too many lines for Toni this week, but you’ve gotta respect her commitment to play the Riverdale High game and ditch her Serpent jacket from the school hours of 8:30-3:00 p.m. to keep the peace. I didn’t need Veronica’s primer on Toni’s last name, but I now know Toni has a last name, which is good I guess.
10. “Sweet Pea”
D: I have never felt more bad for a character on this show than I did for Sweet Pea having to wear the school uniform with that awful turtleneck sweater. My dude acts tough as a Serpent, but he folded like a house of cards to any actual authority figure.
S: I’ve never disagreed with anything you’ve said more in my life. Was it pretty questionable to enforce the uniforms only on the South Side students? Absolutely. But it’s winter. The man needs to keep his neck warm, and a polo alone wasn’t cutting it.
11. Reggie Mantle
D: Not really sure what the rules of “shirts and skins” are in Riverdale, but I am exactly zero-percent surprised everyone chose skins. Of course they did.
S: Reggie didn’t say anything super gross or weird this week, which was a plus. He did try to frame the Serpents for his graffiti tag, but honestly that was one of the best snake drawings I’ve ever seen in my life. More Reggie and Archie as adversaries, please.
12. Fred Andrews
S: It pains me to say it, but Fred Andrews is the human embodiment of the shrug emoji. He spends one week as Lodge Enemy No. 1 and another letting them pay his hospital bills for 20 percent of his company.
D: If Riverdale was in Canada this wouldn’t even be an issue.
13. Kevin Keller
S: I’m happy to see Riverdale introduce some new eye candy for Kevin since Joaquin’s untimely departure. Maybe the writers can throw the man a few more lines here and there as well.
D: Also thrilled about Kevin’s new boo. I don’t want to see my boy cruise around the terrifying forests of Riverdale where people are getting shot and stabbed (but not killed) because The Black Hood actually ain’t shit.
14. Josie McCoy
D: Josie has entered her Beyoncé stage of Josie and the Pussycats apparently. I’m here for her branching off, not here for the fact the Riverdale writers apparently have nothing for her to do other than be the object of Cheryl’s creepy lust for a couple of episodes.
S: The Pussycats deserve better than being cast aside because nobody cares about Archie’s music. The Pussycats should not be silenced because one white boy won’t stop trying to release music no one is asking for.
15. Penelope Blossom
S: “You wanted me to get a job, Cheryl, so I did,” may go down as the greatest line uttered by any television parent in the history of time. I have never been more shook by Penelope Blossom in this show’s 23-episode run, which is saying a lot for her character arc thus far.
D: The new job was A Lot to handle, and I’m not even a Blossom.
16. Hal Cooper
D: Bruh, Chic is for sure not Hal’s kid. Look at his face when Betty tells him about it. It’s a little heartbreaking, sure, but who hasn’t shipped Alice and FP (obviously Chic’s actual father) over this trash man.
S: Even if Chic does end up being Hal’s biological son, it would take an episode of Maury for someone to claim custody for him once Chic is outed as the true Black Hood (or is he???).
17. The Lodges
D: The Lodges are usually one entity because they’ve stopped having their own scenes, so you can basically combine them and not miss a beat. They’re also usually near the bottom because they’re clearly some of the most deplorable humans in Riverdale.
S: Things that were not deplorable: Hermione’s dress. *kisses fingers* They’ve also got Veronica officially streamlined into their scheming, so point for the Lodges there.
Special Agent Adams: The poor man’s Special Agent Dale Cooper, and proof that people do make it out of this town alive.
“Fangs:” Very here for Kevin’s new boy toy. He can get it.
Mayor McCoy: Really excited for the episode arc of Riverdale in season seven where the show goes full legal drama dealing with all of the Mayor’s corruption.
Principal Weatherbee: Relax with the uniforms man, some of us are here for the hotties and no one’s pulling off Riverdale prep.
Polly Cooper: Girl, those are the dumbest names I’ve ever heard in my life. I seriously thought she said one of them was called “Dankwood” like she named it after the strand of weed she was on when she thought of these sorry-ass names.
Nick St. Clair: Never been more satisfied than seeing this guy get punched in the face repeatedly. Again, f-ck Nick St. Clair.