Riverdale is back! And back with the musical episode of the season! Yes, it’s been over a month since the last episode, but is it just me or did the wait for a new episode of Riverdale seem extra long because we’ve been cooped up inside our houses?
Another VHS tape waits outside the Cooper house as we enter into the latest Riverdale musical episode. This season’s musical inspiration is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The whole cast joins on in on a rendition of Wicked Little Town, the song from Hedwig that shares its name with this week’s episode title. Cole Sprouse has a pretty nice voice. The Coopers aren’t the only ones to receive a tape. Everyone in town seems to have gotten one, including Pops. Oddly enough, he seems to be hosting a viewing party at the diner. People are transfixed by these tapes, despite them being hours of the same, unchanging and monotonous footage.
Over at the Community Center, Archie (KJ Apa) is serving as Hiram’s (MarkConsuelos) spotter on the bench. These two. Do two people have a weirder relationship? “Hi, we both tried to kill each other. Let’s be workout bros.” Archie lets it slip that he knows Hiram is sick. Hiram doesn’t take that news well, and tells Archie to forget it, quickly.
Jughead volunteers to help Charles analyze the videotapes. Is there much to analyze? Jughead wants to keep his helping Charles secret from Betty. I’m guessing because she wants him focused solely on essays and salvaging his GPA.
Principal Honey (KerrSmith) isn’t down with Kevin (CaseyCott) wanting to put on Hedwig, which sends Kevin into the second song of the episode. After nearly two decades after he was on the show, I still associate Kerr Smith as Jack, Andi’s gay brother, on Dawson’s Creek, so it’s weird seeing him taking up the homophobic side of the argument here.
Archie signs up The Archies for the upcoming variety show. While practicing, Archie busts a string, which sends him to the garage, where he finds his dad’s old guitar. Fred used to be a band called The Fred Heads. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see Luke Perry rocking out to a Fred Heads song. I like that Archie inherited his egocentric nature from his dad, both of them fronting bands named after themselves. The next day, he breaks the news to the gang that he signed The Archies up to perform at the Variety Show. Oh, and apparently also the name. He didn’t run either by them. Jughead rightfully ridicules the name, asking Archie if The Me, Me, Mes were already taken. Nice one, Jughead.
Kevin, in full drag, hit the loudspeaker and invites the school to see him perform in the music room. With Toni (VanessaMorgan) on drums, Fangs (DrewRayTanner) on guitar, and Sweet Pea (JordonConner) on bass, he rocks out to Tear Me Down. A pissed off Principal Honey pulls the plug on him as Kevin hits the last note, and bans him from the variety show.
Kevin and the girls (Veronica (CamilaMendes), Betty, Cheryl (MadelainePetsch) and Toni) have a sleepover. Everyone is having fun except Kevin, who is bummed about being kicked out of the variety show. This sends Betty into a rendition of Wig in a Box. Cheryl and Veronica quickly join in, and make Kevin over in a beehive wig. Toni takes the next verse, and before you know it, Kevin is in a Farrah Fawcett wig looking like Betty’s stunt double.
Cheryl takes up Kevin’s cause. She, Toni and the Vixens interrupt Honey’s lunch at Pops and plea Kevin’s case by performing Sugar Daddy for the assembled patrons. I have to say this for the Vixens, whether it’s performing at Pops or a funeral, they always put together elaborate dance numbers with only hours (minutes?) of rehearsal time. Toni threatens that everyone might change their song choices to Hedwig songs. Honey counters that any student that does that will find themselves banned fromRiverdale High’s senior prom.
Archie hits the gym hard, going through a Rocky-ike training montage. Hey, aren’t you supposed to be studying too? Jughead’s not the only one in danger of missing graduation due to poor grades if I remember correctly. His gym sesh is interrupted by a series of frantic texts from Veronica. She’s worried about her dad; he’s been missing his doctor’s appointments. Archie lets it slip that Hiram has been secretly working at his gyrm for weeks. Veronica doesn’t take the news well, angry at Archie for hiding this from her.
Jughead falls into equally hot water when Betty finds him working on the VHS mystery instead of studying. Jughead is frustrated. How frustrated, you ask? Frustrated enough to jump into a rendition of Exquisite Corpse. Across town, Archie feels the same vibe and sings Exquisite Corpse at Veronica. Betty and Veronica back up their boyfriends angrily, each lady walking out on their man at the end.
Honey emerges from his office to find 100 blonde wigged Hedwigs in the hall. The Riverdale wig shop never did such good sales in a single day! The students’ protest backfires and Honey cancels the variety show completely.
Betty and Archie compare notes on their love problems from today. Uh-oh, please don’t kiss. I’m really not down with the “we now have feelings for each other since our fake kiss” subplot going on here. Despite the variety show being cancelled, Betty and Archie decide to still practice The Origin of Love. Even The Archies were going to get in on the Hedwig action at the variety show.
Jughead’s getting nowhere with his VHS investigation, which can’t feel good, because he’s gambling being left back focusing on this so much. He pops in another tape.
Archie and Betty share a microphone with the chemistry of Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt, falling into a passionate kiss (!!!) as the song ends. Seriously, I feel like Bruce and Steven almost end up in the same kiss any time they’re sharing a microphone.
Jughead surprises Betty in her room with a thoroughly researched paper on the Salem Witch Trials. He apologies to Betty for being pissed off before and kisses her. He tastes Archie on her lips and likes it. Just kidding. Betty, guilt ridden, cries as Jugs leaves.
Veronica then has her turn to make her significant other feel awkward and guilty by showing up at Archie’s with cupcakes and an apology. Archie sounds like he’s about to confess to kissing Betty, but Veronica doesn’t let him get a word in. After Veronica kisses him, he seems content with keeping his mouth shut. Betty watches all this from her window. We get a Wicked Little Town Reprise from Betty and Archie as they both look guilty but also both fantasize about attending the prom together.
Honey may have cancelled the variety show but it found a new home at La Bon Nui. Cheryl introduces The Archies who perform Midnight Radio to a packed house.
They close out their song from atop Pop’s roof. Hey guys, the Beatles you are not. The whole town seems to be in attendance for this number, students and parents alike. Even Honey is there. Jughead has a nasty realization on top of the roof though, the VHS stalker might be out in the crowd. He spots many people taking video, most on cell phones, but there are handheld video cameras out in the crowd too. My first suspect would be the dude with the 1987 VHS camera straight out of The Goldbergs. Jughead flashes back to analyzing a videotape in the bunker. A guy in a comic style Jughead mask and S sweater faces the camera, alone in the woods. Behind him, someone in a Betty mask creeps up behind him with a rock, smashing him in the head, knocking him to the ground. The real Jughead reacts viscerally to this. I honestly cannot describe just how creepy old style comic masks of the Archie gang look. These should be used in the next low budget horror movie to conceal the villain’s face. Michael Myers has nothing on these masks.
Are Charles and Chic the VHS Bandits? They have to be, right? Or are there two sets of crazies intent on ruining the lives of The Archies for the remainder of the season? If so, what are Charles and Chic up to? Also, The Archies is my new favorite way to refer to the fab four main cast on Riverdale.
As you may have read here on The Beat, Riverdalehad to shut down production early in the days of COVID-19 when a crew member tested positive for the virus. When we’ll get to see the end of this season is anyone’s guess, but the finale has not been filmed yet. We’re at episode 17, so we have 4 to go. We’re wishing good health to all Riverdale cast, crew and fans. Stay safe!