Welcome, all of you, to the Riverdale musical episode, or as I like to call it, a bright light in what’s otherwise been a very confusing season. Not only do we get singing, but this episode also delivers the kind of last-minute twist we want from this show. I should’ve known that the theatrics of a musical would pair perfectly with the theatrics of Riverdale. Anyhow, let’s get into it, shall we?
The hour wastes no time in giving us our first group musical number. After Kevin hands Jughead a camera — never a good idea to give an almost-too-curious person a camera — and asks him to be the official videographer for the school’s production of Carrie: The Musical, we cut to the real drama: Archie doing push-ups…wait for it…WHILE READING. Could Archie’s IQ one day grow to be as impressive as his biceps? THAT is the true mystery of Riverdale, and only time will tell.
The group number then leads us directly into Kevin welcoming everyone — viewers included — to Carrie: The Musical. Running down the cast, he announces Archie as Tommy, the boy next door, and Betty as Sue, the good girl. Veronica is taking on the role of mean girl Chris while Cheryl gets to play the iconic Carrie White, a fact that clearly isn’t sitting well with Josie and Ethel. Then there’s Alice, who has returned to the high school to play the part of Carrie’s mom because, as Kevin puts it, there’s “nothing more inappropriate than age-inappropriate casting.” Finishing out the cast is Chuck Clayton, desperate to redeem his reputation. He’s not a bad guy, he swears!! Watch, he can sing! How can he be a bad guy if he can sing?!
With the cast set, we get into the drama of it all. Betty’s still very mad at Veronica, whom she thinks is just perfect for the part of the “privileged selfish mean girl,” and while she’s busy explaining to Archie why his girlfriend is in the wrong, Cheryl is looking to prove her haters wrong. Are there haters? Maybe. There’s a good chance they’re only in her head and/or it’s just Josie and Ethel, but Cheryl takes the opportunity to stand up and belt out a solo to prove her vocal prowess. Annnnnd then a sandbag drops from the ceiling and nearly kills her. WELCOME TO RIVERDALE’S VERSION OF A FUN MUSICAL!
As for who was responsible for Cheryl’s near-death — but really like near-serious contusion incident — Kevin tells Jug that he received a letter in his locker from someone alleging to be the Black Hood. The letter consisted of cut-out magazine letters, and it demanded that Cheryl be recast. But Kevin’s not too worried yet, and as they say, the show must go on.
And go on it does, with Betty, Veronica, Archie, and Chuck wearing some amazing throwback jeans — and Archie dancing in a way that cannot be described with words. It’s truly magical, and I hope you all watch this number at least twice. Let’s just say: If you thought Archie looked sexy doing push-ups, wait until you see him enthusiastically snap!
From there, we cut to a hallway makeout sesh with Arch and Veronica, after which he asks if he can keep his car parked at her place. He hasn’t told Fred about it yet because he knows it will upset him. So for now, Veronica says “our garage is your garage,” only Hiram doesn’t agree. Seeing as how Fred’s mayoral campaign is all about family, the Lodges want to keep that family apart, which is precisely why Hiram shows up to the school — where Fred is working on the sets for the musical — and mentions the car to Fred. “A young man never forgets his first car,” Hiram says as he walks away. And as Archie expected, Fred is not happy. It seems Fred had a whole plan: They were going to find a car at the junkyard and fix it up together and partake in some serious father-son bonding, and now it’s all ruined!
Speaking of things being ruined, Jug betrays Kevin’s confidentiality and tells Betty about the Black Hood letter. Betty thinks it’s from Ethel, who wanted to play the role of Carrie, so she and Jug launch an undercover operation, which consists of Betty trying to get Ethel to admit to the letter while Jug creepily films the conversation from a (short) distance. Does Jug think that documenting the musical means documenting things like this? I told you they never should’ve given him a camera! Long story short, Ethel catches Jug because he’s not good at this, and tells them she’d never harm anybody. So that’s that. For now.
Back on stage, Josie and Cheryl are rehearsing a song about friendship, which more or less forces Cheryl to apologize for all of the crazy things she did in the name of her Josie obsession. And apparently that’s all Josie needs, because by the end of the song, the lyrics have healed them.
And while one friendship heals, another is…not looking great. After Veronica sings a song about how “My daddy taught me you’ll get nowhere being nice,” Betty decides to go for the jugular: She explains to Veronica why she’s the “literal embodiment of Chris,” a spoiled rich girl with major daddy issue who aims to control everyone around her, including her boyfriend.
Archie quickly sits down with Betty. He can’t understand how Betty could be so mean considering how quickly Veronica forgave her after the Black Hood forced Betty to say all those horrible things. So Archie poses the question of who should be playing Chris and who should be playing Sue? (Side note: Jug is creepily filming this whole conversation! I feel like this assignment is revealing something about Jug, and I’m not comfortable with it.)
That leads us into Tommy and Sue’s — so Archie and Betty’s — love ballad, “You Shine,” which quickly becomes a (platonic) love ballad between Betty and V. V admits she’s been a terrible friend. Betty disagrees. They sing. They hug. Conflict over! It turns out, musical really can save the world this town (and also, this show). (Next: Someone winds up dead)