I generally despise musical episodes of TV shows. Not only because they always feel completely awkward and out of place, but because they usually highlight the stars who have had musical training, and embarrass the ones who have not. There are always contrived plots set up to facilitate the musical episode and more often than not, they’re awful. Riverdale showcases music more often than most shows, yet I was still fully convinced it was going to be a train wreck. I am happy to report I was dead wrong.
Riverdale Recap: “Chapter Thirty-One: A Night to Remember”
Airdate: April 18, 2018
Jason Stone directed the episode written by Arabella Anderson & Tessa Leigh Williams (#218).
It’s hard to unpack piece by piece exactly what happened during this episode as it centered around the kids preparing and performing Carrie the Musical through song for about 85% of the episode. The writers managed to move story forward within the context of the songs in a wholly believable way. Veronica is playing the mean girl, while Betty & Archie play the good girl and boy next door. Cheryl is Carrie and Jughead serves to video document the entire process.
Through song, both Cheryl & Josie and Betty & Veronica repair their friendships. Let’s hope they stay this way for a while. Ethel is mad she didn’t even get the opportunity to tryout for the role of Carrie, but is she angry enough to pretend to be the Black Hood and send death threats to Kevin about Cheryl?
Hiram attempts to drive a wedge further between Fred and Archie, who is still the worst. Fred is really hurt when he finds out Hiram gave Archie a Firebird and Archie accepted it. He tells him his intention was for them to go to the junkyard and pick out an old jalopy to fix up; the way he and his dad did. Fred is a precious treasure and Archie does not deserve him. Seeing how genuinely hurt his father is, forces Archie to reflect on his recent behaviors. He returns the car to Hiram and asks that he stop trying to get between them. He then surprises Fred with quite possibly the oldest car he could find in the junkyard. It was a sweet sentiment working toward rebuilding Archie as a character. It’s going to be a long road from here still because the character assassination that’s gone on this season has been severe.
Speaking of assassinated characters, I love some good scene chewing from Alice Cooper, but I’ve gotten a bit tired. It’s time to give her a rest; she isn’t just chewing scenery, she’s eating the show. I love Madchen Amick and I adore Alice, but she’s the sort of character you love in dribs and drabs and she has had an enormous amount of screen time this season. Why was she in this musical? And why is Betty being forced to constantly parent her own mother?
One character I hope is being redeemed is Hal Cooper. Yes sorry guys, I’m Team Halice, not Falice. Hal begs Alice to let him come home with flowers and confessions. He tells her he always knew Chic wasn’t his and he doesn’t care. He shows up to support her at the musical which FP sees and leaves. I’m looking forward to the eventual casting of Jughead’s mother and holding out hope for one of Skeet’s former leading ladies. Hint: Robin Tunney or Neve Campbell.
Cheryl goes full on Carrie, doused in blood and holding a candelabra to Penelope. She accuses her and Claudius of trying to murder Nana Rose and asks to be emancipated. She wants Thistlehouse all to herself. I’m leaning in to the idea that the Black Hood is Uncle Claudius. It would be very Riverdale to make the same guy the villain of season 2. Same face, different name.
Speaking of the Black Hood, it appears Ethel was not the one sending death threat letters to Kevin. After Alice’s big number, the curtain opens to reveal a dead Midge surrounded by a warming message from the Black Hood. We’ve circled back around to this villain of the season. Friendly reminder that Sheriff Keller was seen walking the halls right before the murder… Sheriff Killer? Or Uncle Claudius?
This episode was a delight and a departure from the breakneck storytelling speed they’ve been at all season. This shows greatest moments are often found when the kids are beings kids doing fun things like putting on a musical.