Jughead (Cole Sprouse) pitches his big idea to Archie (KJ Apa) early in this week’s episode of Riverdale and it’s from which we get the title for this episode. Jughead thinks Riverdale needs a folk hero, and that folk hero needs to be Archie Andrews. Why Archie, you ask? That’s easy. A folk hero is someone with great abs and terrible decision-making abilities. Wait, sorry, no, that’s not it. A folk hero is someone pure of heart that the people of Riverdale can rally behind in order to break Percival Pickins’ (Chris O’Shea) sway over the town.
And what a sway he has. No one is immune to Percival’s psionic suggestions. Well, almost no one. Jughead reads up on psychic defenses, and shares his findings with Archie and Betty (Lili Reinhart). To keep Pickins from making them do things out of character, they need to focus on an anchor point. For Archie, it’s a photo of his deceased father, Fred.
It’s good that Jughead gives Archie this advice, as Pickins does try to bend Archie’s will to his own and finds Archie able to resist him. Archie starts his track to becoming a local folk hero by attempting to get into The Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Toughest Man. Not a hard task for a guy who can’t be hurt or injured. He does some carny-level stunts in front of a Guinness judge to prove his toughness.
While Archie was able to resist Pickins, unfortunately, Jughead didn’t fill in Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), Percival’s other main target in this episode. Veronica initially wants nothing to do with Pickins, but as soon as he offers her three years of rent paid in advance in cash, Veronica decides to rent him a room at her casino’s hotel. That mistake allows Pickins daily access to her, access which he uses to foment dissent in the gang, but sets up Veronica in a feud with Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) and Toni (Vanessa Morgan).
You see, not only does Veronica start offering Pop’s-like food at her casino, but she also serves free drinks, which means that the casino quickly cuts into Pop’s and the Whyte Wyrm’s bottom lines. In retaliation, Toni and Tabitha have a burlesque song night at the Whyte Wyrm, which Pickins tips Veronica off to, and she attends wearing that giant blonde wig “disguise” that somehow continues to fool people. She’s not happy, and neither is Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner), who is worried that if photos and stories leak out about this, it will hurt his and Toni’s custody battle with Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) over baby Anthony.
It all works out for Veronica, Tabitha, and Toni though. Tabitha talks sense to the other two and is able to pierce through Pickins’ hold on Veronica, by suggesting a profit sharing partnership between the casino, the Whyte Wyrm and Pop’s. This definitely moves Tabitha up Pickins’ list of targets.
Pickins’ other main target is Archie, who scheduled a boxing match with KO Kelly (Zane Holtz) to get his folk hero rep. All he needs to do is not get KO’d. Not hard for a guy who is nigh invulnerable, right? One problem: Pickins gets in KO’s head and tells him to literally walk into traffic, which he does. Pickins offers himself as a replacement, citing his boxing experience from university, in a winner take all, loser leaves town type match. But instead of leaving town, Archie has to dedicate the statue Pickins made of his ancestor, General Pickins, a universally despised historical figure who was responsible for the local native population centuries ago.
Archie happily agrees to the match. What could go wrong? Well, apparently everything. Pickins brings it to Archie hard and fast in the ring, sending him to the mat multiple times before ultimately knocking out a battered and bloodied Archie. But how? Pickins had some help with palladium in his boxing gloves. How did he find that out? He convinced Alice to let him into Betty’s room while Betty was sleeping, woke her up, asked her what Archie’s weakness was, and sent her back to sleep with instructions to forget this conversation. Presumably, this all happened before Jughead told Betty how to defend herself against Pickins, That, or being woken out of a deep sleep didn’t allow her enough time to get her psychic defenses in place. Either way, Archie didn’t come out a folk hero, and Guinness now won’t even name him the World’s Toughest Man, since he was so routinely beaten in the ring.
Meanwhile, while all this is going down, Cheryl finds out she’s pyrokinetic. Remember when everything in Riverdale that looked supernatural could be explained away like the ending of a Scooby-Doo episode? I miss those days. Now things look supernatural and on close connection are confirmed.