Riverdale Rants: Reggie

We cannot finish our analysis on Archie without first looking closely at Reggie. Reggie, for the most part, is a plot device that is constantly being molded to fit the narrative. When the plot needs to be advanced or if it calls for a villain, Reggie is there to do just that. Reggie cannot act unless it affects the main narrative. In that way, he is probably on of the most important supporting characters. But it is also in that way that he is the shallowest. The only constant characteristic for Reggie seems to be his blind loyalty to the main cast. Although there are multiple moments where he severs his relationships to the main cast, fate seems to keep him around.

In the first season, Reggie is the typical jock bully. In the first season he picks on kids, is loud and obnoxious, and is naturally Archie’s rival in life. There isn’t much to say about season one Reggie because there isn’t anything there. He serves his role as FOIL character for Archie. Both teens are star athletes and popular, but the difference is that Archie has a sensitive side. Reggie helps cement Archie’s roles as a hero because of this clear contrast. While Archie is writing songs and being troubled, Reggie is being the stereotypical alpha. He works in the first season and there is no need to make him anything other than a plot device. Reggie creates a suitable amount of tension that works well in the first season.

The problem is that Reggie becomes more than just a foil character. In later seasons, his plot is over complicated by this weird back and forth between his blind loyalty and his own ambitions. It is no secret that Reggie is destined to be second to Archie. As the series progresses, there Reggie develops this clear resentment towards Archie. As hard as Reggie tries, Archie is always going to win. Archie gets the social status, the respect, the better dad, and the girl. If this show wanted to make Archie and Reggie more interesting, they should have done more with this rivalry. Despite the clear resentment that the show sets up, Reggie and Archie are best friends. I am not saying that they can’t be rivals and best friends but having them deal with the tension head on especially after Archie takes Veronica back from Reggie would have been nice.

I wish that instead of Archie having to fight drug dealers and corrupt city officials, they would have to face off against Reggie. I wish they gave Reggie a chance to win against Archie a couple of times. Because of how Archie is set up, the audience knows he will always succeed. It is the main reason why I think that Archie is a boring character. There is nothing to challenge him. When poor Reggie tries to compete, we all know he will come in second and they will be friends in the end. I want there to be a moment where Archie loses an important fight with Reggie, even if the fight is over Veronica. I want there to be a moment where Reggie takes Archie’s role as leader and lead his own army outside of the main narrative. But they don’t do that, and Reggie becomes this pointless servant.

The reason that Reggie exists then is because of his background. He is the only character who can do shady stuff without tarnishing his image. When there is a need for brute force, Reggie will be the one who takes the job. When there needs to be a crime committed, Reggie is the only one who can do it because he starts off the series as this tainted individual. The heroes cannot get their hands dirty and Reggie exist to do it for them. In this way, I believe Reggie to be the most tragic character because he is the only one who has to sacrifice everything to always be second place.

When he works for Veronica, he gives up his time, money, and even his car to help Veronica with her dreams. Despite getting beat up, losing his car, and getting shot, Veronica admits that she can’t see him as anything more than an employee. It is a thankless job to be Reggie. In retaliation, he tries to steal his car back causing some unnecessary drama. He eventually does go back to work for her again and even dates her until Archie gets his shit together and wins her back.

As a foil character, early Reggie works well enough. He represents an alternate possibility to Archie’s character, one that is deeply flawed and capable of doing wrong. For the most part, Reggie exists to show the audience how far Archie could fall if he didn’t have a strong support system. He also exists to show that even though Archie might fall from grace during his journey, he will never be Reggie.

The clearest example of this is in the second season. Hiram is back in town and has taken the two boys under his wing. Hiram manipulates the two teens to do his bidding, but only Archie is able see through the manipulation. Both are invested for similar reasons. Both are passionate about the same thing, but Archie’s strong sense of justice and possibly the soft sensitive side help finally see through the deception, although it is too late.

Reggie does what Archie can’t, operate in ways that are not heroic. But Reggie has the luxury of being redeemable by default. Reggie starts out the series as a bully, but still becomes friends with the main characters. Reggie goes into an angry crowd with the intention to kill, but he walks free. It seems that no matter villainy Reggie is a part of, he will be fine. Reggie will never outshine Archie. Reggie will never act on his own without consequence. Reggie can not exist if it isn’t to serve, removing any kind of depth his character could have. I really feel bad for Reggie because he is constantly being used, abused, and forgotten.

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