After several weeks off, it seems like the producers of Riverdale had it all planned out to make a huge statement by dropping their musical episode A Night to Remember as a celebratory comeback, but maybe it all just worked out this way. I'm not this biggest fan of musicals but I can still appreciate a well-told story intertwined even as I kind of glaze over during the songs.
Before the break, we left off with Kevin (Casey Cott) announcing that he was about to have auditions for the play he had chosen to direct, Carrie: The Musical. We pick up with Kevin talking to Jughead (Cole Sprouse) as he asks him to be the videographer to document the production of the play. While it easily makes sense for that to be Jughead's role in the episode, I'm sure it's also an indication that not everyone in this cast can be gifted with fantastic pipes.
With that, the show jumps headfirst into the land of song and dance by giving us their first song which compiles a montage of all the players of this episode and showing of their morning routines and getting them into the theatre for the first production meeting. It's already a refreshing start of lively energy and bright smiles instead of the glum of teenage angst. Everyone introduces themselves and their character they will be playing: Archie (KJ Apa) as Tommy, "the boy next door," Betty (Lili Reinhart) as Sue "the good girl," Veronica (Camila Mendes) as Chris "the mean girl," and definitely not least Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) as the lead Carrie White. In a strange turn of events that probably only works for a show on TV, Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) comes from offstage and announces she is playing Carrie's mother Margaret White to the confusion of all. But wait there is one actor tardy to the meeting and that is every Riverdale High girl's favorite Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway) who confides to Jughead that he is trying to "reform my image."
Now that roll call is done we can get into the actual rehearsal but wait, there has to be a Blossom Break from diva Cheryl. She stands up and tells everyone that she knows people have doubts about her deserving her role so she has to belt out a solo number to quiet the naysayers. Afterward, everyone applauds in approval even though Ethel (Shannon Purser) is wearing a big frown that shows she isn't fully onboard. As Cheryl goes to sit back down, a sandbag zips down from above and falls at her feet and this gives the cast a moment of uneasiness. It couldn't all be happy here in Riverdale, could it?
Later on, Kevin takes a moment to tell Jughead that a note was left in his locker with the famous cutout letters style from magazines so no one can tell their penmanship. It is supposedly from The Black Hood and he is demanding that Cheryl is recast. In an effort to keep everyone focused on the play, Kevin tells Jughead they have to keep this note between them.
And with that we go to Archie, Betty, Chuck, and Veronica doing a musical number named "Do Me a Favor" wear they are decked out in 70's style bell-bottom jeans and really weird dated looking striped shirts. The dancing that they do looks like something out of an old PSA you watched in high school that warned kids about the evils of alcohol. But what can't be overlooked is the talent of Mendes and Reinhart as they overshadow their male costars as glowing songbirds.
After rehearsal, Archie expresses to Veronica that he would like to park the Firebird that her father bought for him at the Pembroke because he still hasn't mustered up the courage to tell his dad about it yet. Part of this also has to be his guilt about Fred (Luke Perry) offering to use Andrews Construction to build the sets for the play. While Archie thinks he has put a temporary lid on this problem Hiram (Mark Consuelos) knows that the relationship between father and son is already strained and wants to hurt Fred's "family values" mayoral campaign. He makes a visit to Fred and Archie at the school and blatantly drops a mention of giving Archie the Firebird and adds the line "a young man never forgets his first car" while he smiles at Fred. Fred is obviously very hurt by this and walks away while Hiram leaves and just enjoys the mess he has created. While Archie tries to apologize to his dad, Fred tells him that he had a plan that they would one day go to the junkyard and pick out "an old beater" together. Now it seems Hiram has cost them that opportunity.
Even though Kevin told Jughead to keep the note a secret there are no secrets between couples and Jughead takes this news to Betty and she agrees with him that it can't really be the REAL Black Hood. They figure it must be someone who is jealous and wants Cheryl out of the way so Betty assumes its Ethel. Her and Jughead try to plan a sting operation on the unsuspecting Ethel and record her talking about how she feels that she should be playing the role of Carrie. But before she says anything too incriminating she spies Jughead watching them with a camera and ends her heart-to-heart with Betty.
At the theater we find Cheryl and Josie (Ashleigh Murray) rehearsing a song but they are having a difficult time connecting because Josie stills holds a lot of animosity towards her. But Cheryl apologizes for all the antics she pulled towards Josie and they end up doing the number together. And apparently, nothing heals the souls like music because at the end of it they hug and all seems forgiven.
All isn't perfect yet though as the next day at rehearsals Betty takes a stab at Veronica after she gets done with a successful performance of a song. She brings up that Veronica is the perfect embodiment of the mean girl Chris because she is a "spoiled rich girl" with "daddy issues." Later on, Archie would sit Betty down and tell her she is being too harsh because Veronica is under a lot of pressure dealing with her family at home. He then takes it one step further and reminds her how Veronica forgave her after the Black Hood made Betty say all those horrible things about her best friend. The fact that Jughead is somehow filming this conversation unbeknownst to them is quite strange and invasive wouldn't you say? In an effort to fix things Betty finds Veronica later on and instead of having a girl talk they fittingly sing a song together called "You Shine" and the healing powers take over again and solve everything. If only real life was so simple.
But just as everything is coming together for the cast a dark cloud still finds a way to sneak in as Kevin receives another note from the Black Hood 2.0 still asking for Cheryl to be recast. Feeling he has no choice Kevin tells Cheryl he has to remove her from the lead and she does not take this news well. But to make things at least easier for Kevin, Cheryl's mom Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) shows up and states that she is pulling Cheryl from the play because she as the parent is allowed to do so. And since Penelope is just interested in making her daughter miserable this comes as no surprise. When the cast meets for rehearsal you would think that Kevin would give the role to Ethel but instead, he announces he's giving it to Midge Klump (Emilija Baranac) who he had made Cheryl's understudy but just hadn't told anyone. Ethel again looks very disappointed.
Speaking of disappointment, Alice Copper has had her life reinvigorated by her fling with F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) recently but when she shows up to Pop's to visit him at work he blows her off. C'mon man, she's even wearing that favorite snakeskin blouse you like! To make matters worse Chic (Hart Denton), her son she kicked to the curb will not return her calls either so now she feels she's lost him as well (good riddance). All of this emotion finally takes its toll on Alice for when she does a mother/daughter number with Midge on stage, Alice ends up changing the words of the song from saying "Carrie" to "Betty" and pleads "Don't leave me Betty" before running off into the wings.
Betty would chase her mom down after the song and try to talk to her which ends up being quite a big confession. Alice tells her how she gave away her son, how she and Hal (Lochlyn Munro) aren't living together and also her relationship with Betty is "frayed." But Betty is there for her mother and embraces her while all the tears are pouring down her face. So in an effort to try and heal her mother Betty gets her father, Hal to come back, bearing flowers and ask Alice for forgiveness and if he can move back in. Alice hesitantly agrees and this makes Betty really happy that she was able to put them back together.
When Fred shows up at the school to continue his work with the sets Archie realizes how much he's wronged his father. He returns the Firebird to Mr. Lodge and tells him not to "try and get between me and my dad." To try and fix things Archie sells some of his music equipment (we only ever see him play that guitar anyway) and goes out to buy a massive fixer-upper car from Junkyard Steve so that he and his dad can work on it together. When he shows Fred what he has done and tells him he gave back the Firebird, his dad is overcome with emotion by his son's gesture. While we see Fred about to cry it's a safe bet that he's not the only one at this moment. Don't try and deny it.
Now it's opening night for the musical and all of our actors are in huge spirits as they break into another song showing their anticipation to show off all their hard work to the community. I have to admit that there's something in the rhythm of this number that I found really appealing and catchy. My favorite one of the whole episode.
BUT we're not quite there yet as first we find Cheryl walking in her Carrie prom dress into ThistleHouse and she properly covers herself in blood (I'm quite curious on where it came from) to confront her mother. She tells her that she is done with this partnership between her and Uncle Claudius to hurt her and Nana Rose. She wants them out and to be emancipated or she will just burn down the whole place (again). Big kudos to Petsch for being able to deliver such a speech while covered in layers of sticky goop. On the story front, cheers to Cheryl! But does this mean Toni (Vanessa Morgan) is going to move in? Just asking.
Back at the theater, things are a little frantic as it's almost curtain call but even in the house, there are moments as F.P watches Hal and Alice have a romantic moment which clues him in that he has now lost whatever it is he was hoping with her. Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins) is walking around backstage which seems a little off for a school play, and Fangs (Drew Ray Tanner) is caught by Kevin giving Midge some "last minutes notes" in her dressing room. Now Fangs wants to actually put in some artistic effort? As Jughead is looking for Ethel he goes into her dressing room and finds a bunch of cut up magazine clippings in her trash but she tells him they are just for a vision board. Where does she have time to be doing a vision board in her dressing room? This is why she didn't get the lead role.
After he leaves her, Jughead gets checked in the hall by Moose (Cody Kearsley) who all of a sudden has shown up to support his lady, Midge. Veronica tells Chuck he was a "Victorian gentleman" during the production and says that he is no longer a pariah in the eyes of the group. In the category of "unwanted guests," Chic shows up backstage to wish Betty good luck but her reaction is that she could've done fine without it.
During the show, Alice is on stage and singing a number about how she is sorry about how she is treating Carrie and asks her to come out of her closet. When the wall lifts behind them it is not what everyone expects but instead, Midge is stuck to a wall, stabbed with several knives and the words written on the wall around her say "I am back from the dead. All those that escaped me before will die. -B.H." Alice screams and then the audience knows this is no longer part of the act. Damn, I liked Midge. She was like a cute little fairy that just showed up from time to time. R.I.P. Even though everything started out all jolly, it's Riverdale so it couldn't end that way. Now that the Black Hood is back, any guesses on who it is? What will happen with Archie's ongoing relationship with the Hiram? And if there is a Junkyard Steve is there a Pawn Shop Alan or a Cattle Ranch Darryl? We'll have to wait until the next episode debuts on The CW to find out.