‘Riverdale’ Season 4 Trailer Toasts to a Mysterious Senior YearSDCC 2019: ‘Riverdale’ Cast Spills Details on Core ‘Mystery’ for Season 4 Stay on target At first glance, you wouldn’t think Riverdale as the type of show that would typically work as a musical episode. You don’t see teen dramas willing to do something this weird. But Riverdale isn’t like other teen dramas. It’s willing to go more experimental than most other shows like it. And it’s so theatrical and melodramatic anyway that it almost makes more sense as a musical.The episode sets itself up efficiently, with Kevin asking Jughead to make a behind-the-scenes documentary about his production of Carrie: The Musical. But don’t go thinking this is just going to be a showbiz mockumentary episode. I mean, there is that, but the very next scene lets you know exactly what kind of episode this is going to be. As Betty, Veronica and Archie get ready for their first rehearsal, they sing “In” from the actual Carrie: the Musical. So not only is this a found-footage type episode, it’s a full on musical episode featuring songs from the real musical they’re putting on.Cole Spouse as Jughead (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)The cast introduces themselves, and Cheryl is playing the lead role, which she lets everyone know through song. And Betty’s mom is playing Carrie’s mom, because this whole thing isn’t weird enough. Seriously, how is this the musical that all these kids know and are obsessed with? Speaking as a former theatre kid, it’s an odd choice.Now, it’s been a while since I spent any significant time around a high school, but are kids way into musical adaptations of 1970s horror movies now? Rent, Wicked, Spring Awakening, those were the shows high school kids were obsessed with. Carrie was the kind of show where one person would randomly come across the cast recording and become obsessed with it, weirding out everyone else. (I might have been that person.) Whatever the reason they chose this musical, my inner theatre kid is flipping for joy with every song.As the episode goes on, it becomes clear why this musical in particular was chosen. The characters of the musical line up nicely with those of Riverdale. It really is the perfect musical to give this jukebox treatment to at this point in the story. It lets the characters work out their emotions through song, which I’m a huge fan of. Cheryl is able to express her regret over her former obsession with Josie by comparing herself to Carrie. Later, Betty uses Veronica’s character to call her out and, after a talking to from Archie, the two make up through song. Normally, this out-of-nowhere confrontation and quick resolution would annoy me, but… it’s a musical! That’s what happens. And yeah, maybe I’m being more lenient on this episode than I normally would be, but it’s hitting me right where I live. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Plus, it’s nailing the movie musical aesthetic.Camila Mendes as Veronica (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)There’s even a little bit of Phantom of the Opera going on. When the cast is introducing themselves, a sandbag falls onto the stage. Accompanying it is a note that purports to be from the Black Hood. This would be a weird time to bring that story back, but honestly I was hoping it would. That arc ended in such an unsatisfying way, I’ve been waiting for some reveal, some hint that they caught the wrong guy. This really doesn’t seem like the Black Hood’s M.O., though. Whoever this phantom is, he wants Carrie recast. The threats get more serious as Kevin refuses. Betty thinks Ethel might be behind the threats. She and Jughead try to question her on camera in the most awkward and obvious way possible, and she’s naturally offended. Yeah, she feels she was born to play Carrie (ah the young character actor’s lament), but she’d never hurt someone to get what she wants.The role eventually has to be recast anyway because Penelope Blossom, in true Carrie’s mom form, forbids Cheryl from participating. The role goes to Midge. I love how this high school musical takes over the entire town as one only ever could in Riverdale. This is the town where the school newspaper is the only reliable source of investigative journalism. Of course the adults get way too invested in some kid’s passion project. Even Alice Cooper gets a chance to work through her emotions, using the mother’s song to work through her feelings of abandonment. Her husband left, her daughter left, she kicked her son out, and she’s afraid Betty’s going to leave her too. It’s a rare, genuinely empathetic moment for Alice. The adults on Riverdale rarely get those.KJ Apa as Archie, Lili Reinhart as Betty, Camila Mendes as Veronica and Jordan Calloway as Chuck (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)Even Archie is made better by this musical business. He’s been especially unbearable in recent episodes as he falls further under the Lodges’ control. But after singing a few songs, he’s back to the dopey good-natured boy we can actually sort of root for. Hiram Lodge tries to give Hermione an advantage in the election by driving a wedge between Archie and his dad. Archie doesn’t want his dad to know that Hiram gave him an expensive car, and Hiram finds an excuse to spill the beans. Archie spends a couple of scenes being a whiny teen about it, but at least we can kind of understand where he’s coming from on this. In the end, he makes the right choice. He finally stands up to Hiram, telling him not to try and come between him and his dad. He gives the car back and buys an old junker he and his dad can work on together. It might be the sweetest moment we’ve ever seen from Archie. Who knew all it took was a musical for him to not be a complete dumbass? Maybe he should break out into song every week.Of course, it’s Carrie, so we weren’t getting out of this episode without a little horror. First, from Cheryl. She doesn’t get to rejoin the musical, but she puts on her own Carrie act at home. She approaches her mom, covered in blood. She says (metaphorically, I assume) that it’s Jason’s and her father’s. She demands emancipation, threatening to burn down the house if she doesn’t get it. I know this is pretty typical as far as Riverdale drama goes, but her speech gave me chills.Camila Mendes as Veronica, Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl and Ashleigh Murray as Josie (Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW)The true horror, though, was saved for the very end. After the cast warms up, Jughead tries to call Ethel for places. He looks in her dressing room, and finds cut up magazine pages. It looks a lot like she’s the Black Hood/Phantom, but she angrily insists it’s for her mood board. Then the show opens. After a fantastic opening number, the backdrop rises, and there’s Midge. She’s been stabbed multiple times, pinned up against the set. Even for Riverdale, it’s a gruesome death. Next to her body is a bloody message from the Black Hood.While I’m sad for Midge, I’m so happy the show is coming back to the Black Hood. It ended so poorly in the first part of the season; I was sure there had to be more. Now we know there is. And though I don’t think Ethel is the actual Black Hood, I’m almost sure she’s involved. Maybe working with him. And not just because she wanted to play Carrie. Remember during Archie’s Red Circle days when Ethel claimed she was being stalked by a truck? Nobody ever saw the truck. That plus the magazine clippings makes me think she’s not as innocent as she claims.Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl (Photo: Katie Yu/The CW)We’ll find out more next week, but for now, I’m still coming down from that excellent musical episode. Sure, the dubbing wasn’t great, and the voices didn’t always sound quite right, but… have you ever seen a classic movie musical? Especially one from the 70s? I’m not going to say it was completely intentional, but this episode is far from the only filmed musical with awkward song dubs. It helps that Riverdale completely gets how musicals work. You wouldn’t know it by how they’ve awkwardly shoved musical numbers into episodes before, but they really nailed the song placement here. In a musical, you don’t just burst into song randomly. You do it when your emotions are so heightened; you can’t do anything but sing. Riverdale understands this, and that’s why last night’s songs were so effective. I mean, it basically lives at that level full time. We’ll see if it can finally make good on the Black Hood story next week, but for now, I’m just glad we came back to an episode like this. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.