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Riverdale S2 E11: ‘The Wrestler’ Review

Love ’em or hate ’em, family will always be by your side and will leave the biggest impact on you as a person. In this case, with a show like Riverdale, it certainly doesn’t shy away from making the fact that each family has their drama.

First off, the Cooper household is slowly adapting to the newest addition, Betty’s long-lost brother Chic. The emphasis on slowly is realised when Betty’s father Hal begins slandering Chic and making excuses to not be around him. Betty herself manages to form a bond with Chic, opening up to him about her self-harming habits from S1, but her efforts are derailed when she learns that Chic is a ‘video gigolo’ – a webcam boy.

And if that dose of family conflict wasn’t enough, the alliance between Mayor McCoy and the Lodges has turned uneasy, with the Mayor refusing to have her daughter Josie in the company of Veronica. This ‘slander’ puts Hermione on the defensive with the Mayor and places the Lodge/McCoy alliance in a gridlock. With Hiram’s mysterious ‘SoDale’ project riding on this ‘business relationship’ will the two parties be able to put their difference aside?

For dinner tonight, we're having Awkward Silence - The Cooper Family special...
For dinner tonight, we’re having Awkward Silence – The Cooper Family special…

The family feuds end there, but the feuding certainly doesn’t, as FBI Special Agent Adams pressures Archie into gaining more information on Hiram’s ‘criminal’ activities, which means Archie has to get closer to Hiram. Problem is, Hiram is a guarded person, meaning Archie will have to reach for the stars and beyond just to get his attention. And when Veronica gets involved, this turns into a seriously intense Boyfriend VS Father feud.

And to put all this intensity on simmer, the Southside/Northside feud has been kicked up a notch with the annual Picken’s Day Event (the celebration of Riverdale’s founding by General Pickin’s) and Jughead discovers Riverdale was found at the cost of the massacre of over four-hundred Native Americans. Armed with this new information and the Picken’s Day event soon to begin, Jughead and the Serpents must decide to take a stand and remind themselves of who they represent – the legacies of the slaughtered Natives.

Into the review aspect of this, we see the best performance and dynamic for this week in Mark Consuelos as Hiram Lodge, who managed to break the character out of his scheming businessman role and into an empathetic (and slightly standoffish) father figure. The performance by KJ Apa (Archie) also complemented Consuelos’ performance with a heated and competitive dynamic. The relationship between the two has never been clearer, so it’s good to see some more scenes between Hiram and Archie.

Some more credit to Hart Denton (Chic Cooper) and Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper) for this episode and improving the tense dynamic between their respective characters, with both the young Coopers affecting each other in new and foreboding ways.

Per usual, some elements of this week’s episode were a little touch and go, especially with the Picken’s Day sub-plot. Nice quiet town built on the foundations of an Indian slaughter? It might have real world messages and parables built in there, but in television, it makes for a very predictable plot element.

The biggest disappointment this episode without a doubt came from Josie, who still hasn’t gotten any serious character exploration. Call it poor character development, bad writing or racism for under-appreciating a minority character, but all of Josie’s scenes in this show have involved her being abrasive, manipulated or trampled on without any kind of reaction.
If Josie wants to be seen as an actual character in this show and not just a decoration for the show-runners to fend off liberal slander, then something needs to be done with her character.

I give this episode 3.5/5 Pickens’