It’s the musical episode, kids! The CW and all of the cast and crew have been promoting the hell out of this (I even saw a promotion on Arrow Video’s Facebook page). Unfortunately for me, I feel completely ambivalent to musical. Though I did go to a high school that was mad about them. A rare but kind treat when you grow up in a small hick town.
I liked “Once More, with Feeling” so I’m okay with this. But all I could pray for going into this episode was one thing: let there be plot.
Jughead agrees to film the behind-the-scenes of Carrie: The Musical at Riverdale High. And Fred Andrews agrees to build the sets to spend more time with Archie, who is at least showing interest in music again. Mädchen Amick is playing Mrs White. Chuck continues his redemption arc. Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead begin to attempt to mend their broken friendships.
There’s a lot going on this week. So I get what I want.
The most important plotline, though, is someone is out to get Cheryl. After showing off her singing chops, she nearly gets offed by a sandbag. Kevin later informs Jughead that he found a letter in his locker from someone claiming to be the Black Hood. The letter demands that Cheryl’s role must be recast, but Kevin and Jughead keep it between each other.
Jughead, of course, shares the note with Betty. So Betty begins interviewing the cast to discover who might be responsible. Starting with Ethel, who believes she was born to play Carrie.
Kevin tries to pull Cheryl out after getting a second letter, but she refuses. But she doesn’t get much of a choice, as her mother refuses to give Cheryl to perform in the musical. But it’s not Ethel who is the understudy, but Midge.
But Betty is also being a bit of bitch, constantly attacking Veronica for being “typecast” as the mean rich girl, Chris. Thankfully, some stern words from Archie sorts her out, and she apologises. Bringing B+V together again.
Hiram tries to come between Archie and his dad by revealing the big secret: the new Firebird. Fred becomes upset, as he always imagined the guys picking out Archie’s first car together. To fix up a piece of junk: together. And it’s sad, and I’m still crying because Fred deserves everything in this world.
Archie begins to feel the reality of his choices. He sees the “dark path” that he is going down, and asks Hiram to stop meddling with his relationship with Fred. He then returns the keys of the Firebird. He goes out to get a junker, and asks Fred to help him fix it up. And I’m still crying.
So this is the true redemption story, everyone. Thank god Archie has seen the light (kind of).
Alice begins to breakdown over the course of rehearsals, coming to the realisation that she’s slowly losing her family. She begs Betty to stay with her. So Betty asks her father to stop by and make amends with her father. They agree to mend their relationship, but Alice admits the truth about Chic’s real father to Hal.
On the show’s opening night, the not-Carrie-White Cheryl returns to her mother’s home covered in blood to send a message: watch the fuck out. She threatens Penelope over the safety of Nana Rose. Cheryl demands her “emancipation” and the entirity of the house the Blossoms are occupying. It certainly looks as though the older Blossom got the message (I certainly love crazy Cheryl).
Before the show, Jughead goes through Ethel’s garbage and finds magazines with letters cut out. Letters like the ones used on the threatening Black Hood letters. She catches him and claims that the letters were for her “vision board.”
As the first act begins, something is clearly wrong. When Midge is meant to sing Carrie’s first lines, all is silent. When the set is moved, her body is revealed: nailed against the wall with multiple knives and a message from…
THE MOTHER FUCKING BLACK HOOD. BACK FROM THE DEAD, YA’LL!
While I’m not nuts about musical episodes, “Chapter Thirty-One” gets everything right. For one thing, it manages to move the storyline in a positive direction better than many of the last few weeks’ episodes have. But most importantly: it creates a reason to watch next week. Is the Black Hood really back? Is it an imposter? What does Ethel’s vision board look like?
Carrie as the musical was clearly the right decision. It’s certainly a cult musical, and it plays on high school tropes just as much as Riverdale does. But it’s also dark and twisted, leaving plenty of room for the show to get a bit twisted. And it was a very clever move.
It makes me feel so happy to be proved wrong. It was amazing to see Riverdale try something with a bit of balls again. Bravo, and well done all.