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We continue our recap of the Riverdale series with episodes 11 and 12 of the second season, “The Wrestler” and “The Wicked and the Divine”. 

Join us for our weekly recap of the entire Riverdale series, starting with the first episode of Season 1. This will be a bi-weekly column (every Tuesday and Thursday), with two episodes reviewed each time, until we get caught up with the latest season. Catch up on everything you might have missed, including recaps for all of Season 1, using the links below — or just dive right into to our most recent recap below.

Season 1 Recaps:
Episode 1: The River’s Edge
Episodes 2 and 3: Touch of Evil and Body Double
Episodes 4 and 5: The Last Picture Show and Heart of Darkness
Episodes 6 and 7: Faster Pussycats! Kill! Kill! and In a Lonely Place
Episodes 8 and 9: The Outsiders and La Grande Illusion
Episodes 10 and 11: The Lost Weekend and To Riverdale and Back Again
Episodes 12 and 13: Anatomy of a Murder and The Sweet Hereafter

Season 2 Recaps:
Episodes 1 and 2: A Kiss Before Dying and Nighthawks
Episodes 3 and 4: The Watcher in the Woods and The Town That Dreaded Sundown
Episodes 5 and 6: When a Stranger Calls and Death Proof
Episodes 7 and 8: Tales From the Darkside and House of the Devil
Episodes 9 and 10: Silent Night, Deadly Night and The Blackboard Jungle


Episode 11: “The Wrestler” Synopsis

Archie, in an attempt to deal with his own issues and win over Veronica’s father, attempts to join the wrestling team. After a heated argument with him in his office and a triumph over Chuck Clayton, Hiram and Archie make amends and Archie  agrees to ‘intern’ under Hiram.

Betty bonds with her older brother, trying to keep him from leaving like Polly did and giving him an old laptop when his old ‘landlord’ throws out all of this things and destroys his computer. She learns from Kevin that Chic is a webcam model, and sees it as a way to release some of the pent-up darkness inside of her. She asks him to teach her and he agrees.

As Pickens’ Day, a historical holiday in town, approaches, Jughead discovers that the whole thing is built on a whitewashed lie. The truth is that the hero the town loves so much was a murderer, killing almost the entire Uktena tribe — the remains of the tribe becoming the Southside Serpents — in a twelve-minute long slaughterfest. After misstepping with his article on the subject, he — and, surprisingly, Cheryl — join in on a Serpent-based protest against the holiday in the town’s square. The statue of Pickens is later vandalized, with his head being removed.

Observations

— This episode has some spectacular directorial work courtesy of Gregg Araki (Kaboom, The Doom Generation). His expertise lends the episode a touch more punch, backed up by some surprisingly strong writing.

— Veronica and the Pussycats were good enough, I suppose, but I still wish Josie and the Pussycats were together. Although that dream’s about as dead as Jason Blossom is considering that, for all intents and purposes, this was Valerie and Melody’s last episode to date. To the best of my knowledge, their characters and actresses (Hayley Law and Asha Bromfield respectively) have no connection to the show post-this episode (although if you’re interested in seeing more of the former, Law does appear in the sci-fi Netflix show Altered Carbon).

— There’s so many better songs they could have used for the Chuck and Archie wrestling scene. The last thing I think about when it comes to wrestling is Jaden Smith.

— Seeing Archie and Hiram wrestle made me genuinely kind of uncomfortable.

— Learning about the origins of Serpent culture was very interesting, and I think that the show (surprisingly, considering literally everything else with this show) handled the subject with a careful and delicate hand. The whole thing with the Pickens statue reminded me of the current battle to remove Confederate statues from around the country —although the removal of the head and simulated blood paint at the end just made it seem a little bit silly.

— I hope that Cheryl joining the Serpents in the protest comes back. It was lovely to watch her rebelling against her mother in a productive way (instead of burning down a house), and I want more interactions between her and the Serpents.

— Why am I not surprised that they’re dragging Kevin into the whole thing with Chic being a sex worker. A lot of Kevin’s plotlines during this series end up involving him and sex, and I wish they didn’t because there’s so much more of the ‘small town gay’ experience to be explored here.

— Honestly, I don’t blame Sierra for being iffy about Veronica from a motherly standpoint. She still shouldn’t be, because she’s been involved in the dealings of the Lodges since Hiram bought the Twilight last season, but I can kind of get it.

— At first, I thought it was nice that Betty’s bonding with her older brother. But most sibling bonding sessions do not include the older one teaching the younger, not legal one to cam.

— So did this episode confirm that Hermione and Fred slept together, or does Hiram just think they did because they kissed a couple times?

— Is it incest if Penelope and Hal have sex? Did Penelope marry into the Blossom name or did she make Clifford change his last name? Important questions.

— Riverdale Parents Ranking: Fred, Sierra, the Lodges, Alice, Hal.

Quotables

Top cursed lines from this episode:

“It’s like, yeah Archie, you have the physique of a ’70s porn star, but that doesn’t mean you can wrestle.” – Kevin


Episode 12: “The Wicked and the Divine” Synopsis

It’s time for Veronica’s confirmation ceremony (delayed by a few years because her parents wanted the same Monsignor who baptized her to do it) and she invites everyone to it. In spite of her struggles with her family’s sin and her own, she goes through with the ceremony and affirms her relationship with Archie in the process.

Jughead, working with Betty to try and find out who cut the head from the General Pickens statue, comes in contact with Penny Peabody again. She’s returned to try and help with the two-week eviction notices now plaguing the Serpents, only to threaten to leave if not given back her pay and the chance to cut off Jughead’s tattoo with a rusted knife. In the end, it turns out Tall Boy was pushed by Hiram Lodge to cut off the head to cause chaos and he’s kicked from the Serpents.

Archie begins trying to get close with Hiram, going so far as to tell him about an assassination plot being planned by two of his associates, Papa Poutine and Lenny Kowalski. His actions put him in Hiram’s good graces and lead to Papa being taken out gangland style – shot in the back of the head. When asked about this by FBI Agent Adams, Archie admits nothing.

Betty, having tried camgirling at the guiding hand of her brother, sticks up for him when Hal argues against him staying with the family. Most of the episode is spent with her and Jughead trying to find out who took the statue’s head, especially since it cost them both their journalistic positions. She votes with the Serpents to kick Tall Boy out, being a Serpent in name if not in jacket, and ends up having sex with Jughead in his trailer. She returns home to find her mother covered in blood, standing over a corpse.

Observations

— First of all, I’ve read most of The Wicked and The Divine, the Kieron Gillen-run comic from which this episode takes its name, and I would highly recommend it. Besides some head explosions, the comic isn’t really horror, so I won’t be covering it for the website. But it’s still deeply recommended.

I feel like we need to talk about how many sexual situations Betty Cooper’s been dragged into. I don’t care about her and Jughead having sex, that’s at least normal. You know what isn’t normal though? A sixteen year old stripping in front of adults in a bar and then camming because her older brother taught her how. Why do we keep putting Betty Cooper in these situations?

— I just wanna come back to a point I keep making: this wouldn’t be happening if Betty could get the therapy that she desperately needs. Let these teenagers have therapists for goodness’s sakes.

— Sometimes I can take this show seriously, like last episode with the good writing and the good directorial work. But then I remember that this show has a character named Papa Poutine (rest in peace) and a drug called Jingle Jangle, and all of my ability to take this show seriously goes up in a puff of smoke.

— This probably isn’t the last we’ve seen of Tall Boy or Penny Peabody, especially not Penny. She won’t be able to go through with the ‘cut off Jughead’s tattoo with a rusty knife’ plan though. I’m sure no one wants the apparent golden boy of the Serpents to get tetanus.

— So Archie’s now Hiram’s lap dog. Remember when Archie gave up on crime after getting suspended from school and removed from the football team? What happened to that Archie? No amount of kisses from Veronica are worth this, I don’t think.

— Speaking of Veronica, I thought the confirmation ceremony subplot was actually very nice. It was good to see her struggling with the sins of her family and her own sin, and while I’m not a Catholic it was good to see her taking some comfort in her faith. Plus, her grandmother interacting with Archie was adorable.

— I’m still sure Hal is the Black Hood. The man has too much anger and too many secrets to not have at least something to do with that whole debacle.

— So what are the Lodges going to do with the Southside High land? I don’t think they’ve done much at all with the land for the drive-in, at least not yet.

— I don’t understand the usage of Bittersweet Symphony during the confirmation ceremony, but it was still a good rendition.

— Nothing like losing your virginity and coming home to a dead body and your mom cleaning up blood, I guess. This might as well happen.

— Riverdale Parents Ranking:Fred, The Lodges, Hal, Alice. Alice gets bumped down because, while I’m sure that Hal is the Black Hood, we don’t have evidence that he did it. We do, however, have evidence that Alice killed someone. Sierra doesn’t get a parent ranking this episode because she was just there for the ceremony and to tell the Lodges about the Southside land.

Quotables

Top cursed lines from this episode:

All of the scene with Betty camming. It made me feel very uncomfortable and vaguely queasy.

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