Dec 23, 2019
Riverdale: A Chorus Line Carrie-s on
Turn on the spotlights and raise the curtain, everybody! It’s showtime at Riverdale!
If you remember from last episode, the kids are putting on a production of the musical Carrie. Not sure why they picked Carrie specifically, since the Broadway show bombed, but this is the same town that’s seriously considering a private prison as a chance for economic growth, so maybe Riverdale High can’t afford the rights to Bye Bye Birdie or Grease at the moment.
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Kevin asks Jughead to help him film a “behind the scenes” documentary of the musical production. Originally, I thought this was a dumb idea, but then I realized that Kevin is, in fact, sitting on a goldmine of drama. Betty (playing Sue Snell) hates Veronica (playing Chris Hargensen) because Veronica lied about the SoDale project, which makes things awkward for Archie (playing Tommy Ross). Things are also awkward between Cheryl (playing Carrie White) and Josie (playing Coach Desjardin) because Cheryl got violently jealous when Chuck Clayton (playing Billy Nolan) expressed romantic interest in Josie. Unfortunately, it seems that Kevin actually thinks he’s making a serious documentary.
The episode kicks off with “In”, the first song in the musical, as the Riverdale gang prepares for another day of high school and rehearsals. We work in our Obligatory Shirtless CW Male shot here by having Archie do push-ups as he studies the script.
Though, it’s not clear exactly how “musical” this musical episode is supposed to be. Most of the songs are performed in rehearsal scenes, but there are a couple such as “In” that have the students sing and go about their business as usual. The song finishes when all of the cast is assembled in the auditorium for rehearsals. Much to Betty’s dismay, Alice is also here, playing the role of Margaret White.
“To me, there’s nothing more amateur than age-inappropriate casting,” says Kevin, which is basically the opposite of the CW casting model. Somewhere, a Riverdale theater geek is gnashing their teeth at how they’ve lost out on a major role and something to beef up the college transcript.
Speaking of resentful theater geeks, Ethel makes a snarky comment under her breath about Cheryl playing Carrie. In her typical, melodramatic Blossom way, Cheryl interrupts rehearsal to sing “Carrie” and have a mini-fantasy sequence where she sings onstage dressed in a pink prom dress, similar to the one Sissy Spacek wears in the film.
The rest of the cast is impressed and this puts an end to their doubting of Cheryl as a leading lady. Well, mostly. After her performance, Cheryl almost gets hit in the head with a sandbag. Privately, Kevin reveals to Jughead that he received a mysterious note from someone claiming to be the Black Hood, demanding that Cheryl step down.
It wouldn’t be Riverdale without a Betty/Jughead investigation, and it looks like we just got ours for this week. Kevin, Betty, and Jughead are skeptical that the Black Hood, who’s supposed to be dead, would be emotionally invested in the casting of a high school musical, so they assume the true culprit is a bitter theater geek. Jughead and Betty immediately suspect Ethel, who wanted the role of Carrie. Betty interrogates Ethel in the least subtle way possible, while Jughead secretly films them. To her credit, Ethel quickly figures out that the two want her to admit something on camera, and swears she had nothing to do with the incident in the auditorium.
But things on set are troubled enough, with Betty being unable to hide her disgust for Veronica. Cheryl and Josie quickly made up during their duet, but sharing a stage with Veronica only makes Betty hate Veronica even more. After Veronica nails her big solo number, “The World According to Chris”, Betty snarks that the role has never been so perfectly cast. She points out the similarities between Veronica and Chris: they’re both spoiled, both have major daddy issues, and they’re both evil control freaks who try to control their boyfriends and best friends.
Goddamn, Bitchy Betty goes there. Kevin has the next Hills on his hands, truly.
Privately, Archie scolds Betty for being so mean to Veronica. He points out that Veronica doesn’t have much of a choice but to go along with her parents’ schemes. He reminds Betty of how quickly Veronica forgave Betty when Betty said hurtful things under duress from the Black Hood. Betty takes this to heart and apologizes to Veronica by singing the love ballad between Sue Snell and Tommy Ross to her.
Read into this what you will.
Just when you think the drama has settled, it comes back in full force. Kevin reveals to Jughead that he got another note from the Black Hood of the Opera, demanding again that Cheryl be replaced, and promising more violent sabotage if she isn’t. Kevin tells Cheryl about the threatening notes and Cheryl refuses to cow to “theater terrorism.” She makes a big weepy speech about how the musical will show everyone how far she’s come after all the abuse she’s endured. Before Kevin can say, “The show must go on!”, Penelope Blossom shows up to smugly inform Cheryl that participation in the school musical requires parental permission, which Penelope will definitely not grant. Against her will, Cheryl is out.
I guess the Black Hood of the Opera didn’t need to make threats after all.
Kevin casts Midge as Cheryl’s replacement, which makes her happy because this is the first time her character will have major screen time. Toni comforts Cheryl over this latest disappointment. Cheryl sighs that she’s not the same girl who burned down her house and helped her brother fake her death. Toni encourages Cheryl not to give up and to stand up to her mom, but Cheryl is unsure how to do that when she’s still a minor and needs freaking parental permission to sing and dance in the high school auditorium.
Midge is no Cheryl, but even if she had the same stage presence as our favorite Blossom, Alice would still steal the show right out from under her. During rehearsal for the number “Stay Here Instead”, Alice gets too into the song and starts crying, and Betty is the only one who knows why. Earlier, she found Alice leaving a tearful voicemail for Chick, who has apparently been ignoring Alice since she kicked him out of Casa Cooper.
Alice runs off stage and Betty runs after her to comfort her. This is like the fourth time rehearsal’s been interrupted due to cast member drama.
Alice sobs to Betty that everyone keeps leaving her. Polly is gone, she and Hal are separated, and Chick left too. Alice doesn’t tell Betty this, but earlier in the episode, Alice went to Pop’s to visit Mr. Jughead at work with flirtatious intentions. I think something happened between them last episode, because when he blew her off, Alice was extremely hurt in the kind of way you feel after you hooked up with someone and now they’re pretending you don’t exist. Betty decides to cheer her mom up by inviting Hal to come to Casa Cooper on opening night, before the musical starts. Hal comes in, bearing peonies and apologies. Alice reminds Hal that she’s allergic to peonies.
Despite this rocky start, Hal apologizes to Alice and asks to come home. In turn, Alice admits that Chick is not his son. Hal always suspected, but he’s not mad about this decades-old betrayal. He tells Alice that he’s fine with it and they’re a family again. At school, Mr. Jughead sees Hal and Alice being lovey-dovey and gets a sad look on his face. Oh, and Chick shows up for opening night too. He says hi to Betty backstage, but things are awkward so he goes back to his seat.
Speaking of awkward family relationships, the father-son bond between the Andrews men gets strengthened. Archie doesn’t want to tell his dad about the Firebird that Hiram bought, but Hiram knows that the Lodges’ best strategy to stop Fred from winning the mayoral race is to keep Archie and Fred apart. Hiram tries to drive a wedge between them by dropping in on Fred as he works on the sets for the school play to casually ask if Archie’s taken him out for a spin in the Firebird. Fred plays it cool and pretends to know about the car, but privately, he chides Archie for accepting the car. “Did I raise you to be spoiled?” Fred asks.
He then tells Archie that he had hoped the two of them would pick out his first car together and fix it up, like Fred did with his father. Archie (finally!) realizes that Hiram has been manipulating him and gives back the car. He buys a jalopy and shows it to Fred, promising that they can fix it together. Archie then warns Hiram that if he tries to drive Archie and Fred apart, it’s a battle he will lose. I guess that blood brothers pact didn’t really mean much after all.
Meanwhile, Cheryl goes to the Blossom mansion, dressed as Carrie White on prom night to threaten Penelope.
Cheryl demands to be emancipated and allowed to move into the Blossom mansion with Nana Blossom. She warns Penelope if she hurts Nana Blossom, Cheryl will end her. Penelope agrees, because you can’t really say no when your daughter shows up drenched in pig’s blood.
Backstage, the teens all have the giddy excitement that accompanies opening night. They practice their songs and gush over how close they’ve gotten to each other. Veronica tells Chuck that he’s forgiven him for the maple syrup incident and he can be friends with everybody. Jughead goes around to do last minute interviews and finds cut up magazines in Ethel’s dressing room. He suspects she’s the Black Hood of the Opera, but Ethel insists the magazines are for her “vision board”. Also interestingly, Midge and Moose appear to have some sort of private discussion before Kevin interrupts them, and Moose is later seen angrily storming past Jughead.
I thought there was going to be some sort of last-minute switcheroo where Cheryl, emboldened by telling off her mother, would show up backstage and demand to take her part back from Midge, but Riverdale writers pull out a whole different twist. As Alice finishes her solo onstage, the backdrop lifts up to reveal Midge, seemingly stabbed to death and pinned to the wall. On the wall is a message from the Black Hood, swearing that he’s alive and coming back to finish what he started.
Poor Midge. She finally lands a leading role, but then gets cut. Literally.
The Real Archie’s Weird Mysteries I Want Solved:
- The kids need parental permission to do the school musical? I can understand getting permission for going on a field trip, or playing a contact sport, but why does the school require permission to be in a musical? Penelope acknowledges that Riverdale rules are weird, but this is just ridiculous.
- Who is the Black Hood of the Opera and the actual Black Hood? I refuse to believe the real Black Hood would concern himself with high school musicals, so I bet that Moose and Midge teamed up to plant the fake notes so Midge could get the lead role. The Black Hood, who operates on a twisted form of justice, disliked their shady tactics and “murdered” Midge. I put “murdered” in quotes, because the Black Hood rarely succeeds in killing anyone. Midge got shot at and survived without a scratch.
- Why does Archie drive with his headphones on?