Riverdale High performed Heathers The Musical, Cheryl and Toni got back together, and Principal Weatherbee and Fangs became members of The Farm on Riverdale Season 3 Episode 16.
Below, TV Fanatics Brandon Vieira, Kat Pettibone, and Becca Newton debate Archie and Josie taking a chance on their romance, Veronica's reaction to her parents' separation, and their thoughts on the musical.
Riverdale debuted its second musical episode after last year's Carrie musical on Riverdale Season 2 Episode 18. Share your thoughts on the Heathers musical episode.
Brandon: While I don't think it measured up to Carrie the Musical, it was still "big fun!" I don't know a ton about Heathers (it's on my never-ending "must watch" list, so I think that took away from some of my enjoyment as well).
That being said, it was nice to see more people participate in the singing this time around and see people that don't get to shine on Riverdale that much get their chance in the spotlight. It was a great episode for Toni whose performance was killer!
I always thought she was too good for Cheryl, but after this episode, I know that for a fact is true now.
I also appreciated getting to see Fangs and Sweet Pea get some screentime and storyline progression, it rarely happens for those two. Musical episodes are always a hit or miss, but Riverdale's best episodes always seem to be during these musical moments.
Kat: For a musical episode, I thought it was great. The songs were weaved fairly seamlessly into Riverdale's overarching plot, and the cast did an excellent job executing each musical number. Best of all, I loved how the writers used Heathers as an opportunity for Riverdale to lament on itself.
One of Riverdale's biggest criticisms is "Why can't these kids just act their age?" and Heathers helped answer that question: the town simply won't let them.
Even when they try and take a stand against things, something will always pop up to haunt them. The final number was a great representation of that. The kids attempted to reclaim their innocence while their parents looked on, horrified at the realization of what they've done to their children.
Then, just when you think things may change for these kids, Edgar stands up and reveals half the town is now under The Farm's control. It's honestly a pretty poignant allegory for today's youth, whose innocence has also been stolen away by society.
Betty: I know what you’re up to.
Evelyn: Lowering Sweet Pea’s solo?
Betty: Cute. This entire musical is just one big recruitment drive for you, isn’t it?
Evelyn: I’m sorry, I don’t follow.
Betty: The Farm is sponsoring the play. You strong-armed your way into co-directing, your warm up sermons, exercising trauma through art … screams cult recruitment!
[Evelyn places her hand on Betty’s hand. Betty glares at her]
Evelyn: Betty, dissect these trust issues.
[Evelyn pulls her hand back]
Evelyn: The Farm is producing and I’m co-directing for one simple reason: to have BIG FUN.
Becca: What I liked best about this episode was how the song and dance numbers made it seem like the episode was moving at the usual breakneck pace, but the end result was actually more character than plot driven.
This was a more balanced episode than per usual as it was able to deliver plot momentum, character moments, and more screentime to supporting characters without sacrificing one objective over the others.
Hiram and Hermione announced their separation, but Veronica didn't take the news well. After all the evil that happened between her parents, why did Veronica not want her parents to split up?
Brandon: Veronica's relationship with her parents is so confusing and hard to follow. Some days she hates one or both of them and then other days, she loves them so dearly.
Sure, all teenagers are a little fickle when it comes to their relationship with their parents, but Veronica's relationship is next level. Considering she attempted to convince her mom to leave her father multiple times. I don't really get why she was so shocked and sad when they finally announced they were splitting up.
Anyone with eyes could see that there was no love between them anymore.
Hopefully, Veronica doesn't try to parent trap them and keep them together. But, Hermione deserves better than Hiram, and this is her chance to finally free herself from his grasp.
Kat: This confused me. I understand an initial shock of sadness, but I'm not sure what Veronica's motives would be for trying to keep her family together. She has tried to persuade her mother to leave Hiram multiple times, so now that it's happening, what exactly are her problems?
He's a liar, murderer, mobster, and drug dealer who tried to kill her boyfriend just because she disobeyed him. Why does she want to continue a relationship with him at all?
Perhaps, Veronica's wishy-washy feelings on her family are meant to be relatable, but it just comes off as poorly defined. Being disappointed your family turned out this way is one thing, but actively trying to keep them together, knowing how toxic it is?
Veronica is too smart for that.
Becca: My take on Veronica's reaction was it meant to convey how despite everything, she's still just a teenager who, like so many others, wants her family back together.
Although, I want Riverdale to continue to integrate more grounded storylines alongside the outlandish ones. The Lodges are the last family who can execute a "teen-goes-through-a-rough-time-because-parents-are-divorcing" storyline well.
Hiram and Hermione's evil deeds plus the non-existent family dynamic makes it difficult to muster up any sympathy over the situation, even for Veronica, because how could anyone think a couple that has willingly endangered each other's lives should stay together.
Josie and Archie are going to give their romance a real shot at a relationship. Will it last or is it only delaying the inevitable breakup?
Brandon: I think their romance will last until the end of Riverdale Season 3, with one or two breakups in between, but whether it last past this season all depends on whether the Katy Keene show ends up being produced.
The two do have more chemistry than I thought they would have, but part of me still wishes we got to see more of Josie and Sweet Pea's relationship. It was such a missed opportunity and something that should've been explored further.
However, the one plus for Josie is that her being with Archie means she likely will get more screentime than she ever had before, so that gives her some decent exposure before she moves on to Katy Keene.
Also, Archie and Josie being together for a long period of time will give us a nice break from the inevitable reunion for "Varchie."
Kat: If we didn't already know Josie was leaving the show for Katy Keene, I would say this relationship may last for a while. The two are really great together; excellent chemistry and lots of potential stories to tell. Their dynamic is so youthful and sweet; it really grounds the show.
Archie should be that character, the one most implemented into the work of high school, so it finally feels like he's back on track.
Unfortunately, we know Josie won't be around for long, so I'd say we're just denying the inevitable. I'm still enjoying it while it lasts though; they are just so darn adorable.
Becca: In analyzing whether or not Josie and Archie will last, it's difficult to ignore the news of Ashleigh Murray joining the Katy Keene spin-off. It is possible for Archie/Josie to continue once Murray is no longer a regular cast member.
Given how Katy Keene is supposed to take place some years after Riverdale's current timeline, Josie can be said to still be in Riverdale even if we no longer see her barring guest start appearances in one or two episodes.
However, I don't see the writers wanting Archie in a romantic relationship with someone who is almost always off-screen for many reasons, but mostly because boxing sequences alone won't fulfill the shirtless Archie quota.
Meanwhile, if Josie is single or in a romantic relationship with someone else on Katy Keene, then Archie/Josie has an expiration date, regardless of them being a couple on Riverdale.
Also, even though we're aware of the timeline differences between the shows, it would be weird to hear Archie and Josie are in a relationship when watching Riverdale, and then see Josie romantically involved with someone else on Katy Keene.
It's possible Katy Keene won't make it past the pilot stage, but it seems unlikely given the success of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the niche it could fill in the wake of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend going off the air.
My assumption is the writers have taken the likelihood of Murray leaving the show into consideration when writing the remaining episodes and will end Archie/Josie before the season is over to prevent the relationship from causing issues on both Riverdale and Katy Keene.
Kevin and Fangs kissed during the ritual at The Farm. Could Riverdale be starting a new romance between them?
Brandon: That would be fantastic! Despite never getting a ton of attention, I've always loved Fangs, and I always thought he and Kevin had great chemistry ever since Fangs was Kevin's assistant in Carrie the Musical.
I would love it if a real relationship eventually develops between them, but as of now, I think they are both just being used as puppets in The Farm's game.
Who knows if Riverdale sees real potential between them or not once The Farm is officially done with? I always thought Kevin's squeaky clean persona fit better with guys who had a bit of an edge, like Joaquin.
Fangs has that same edge, but also a heart of gold. The dude deserves some love, and not from someone whose dad's trying to kill him.
Kat: That was such a confusing scene. It didn't really fit into the rest of the musical, but I have to think it will come up again in later episodes?
Evelyn obviously drugged them into believing they had manifested some connection over the trauma of Midge and used that to her advantage. Why getting them together helps her plan for The Farm though, is another question.
I have always wanted to see Fangs and Kevin develop a romance, so I'm here for that. But, this way seems a little strange, and my guess is it's not real and won't last.
Maybe they'll break away from The Farm eventually and realize they do like each other. That would be refreshing to see.
Becca: I could see Riverdale making Kevin/Fangs official after The Farm's influence wears off, but it needs to be made clear there was an underlying attraction between the two prior of joining The Farm.
(I don't think the hints of Kevin/Fangs during Riverdale Season 2 is enough of a setup because the hints were either rumors or weren't conclusively romantic, were primarily included to make the reveal of Fang's relationship with Midge more shocking, and then all hinting immediately stopped after said reveal.)
Otherwise, them getting together solely due to The Farm is creepy and weakens the narrative because brainwashing plots are more interesting when it's shown the brainwashing doesn't force people to act against their will but is instead used to convince the targets to give in to their impulses.
The cast performed a medley of tunes from Heathers. Which was your favorite performance of the night?
Brandon: There were multiple fun numbers, and my first instinct is to say the performance of "Seventeen" mainly because we got to see Jughead sing for the first time. However, I can't deny Toni her due.
"Dead Girl Walking" was one hell of a number.
Vanessa Morgan absolutely killed it! It managed to be sexy, but also heart-aching at the same time. Her talents aren't showcased nearly enough on Riverdale, but when they are, she really shines.
Cheryl: Ummm, did you have a lobotomy for breakfast? You’re wearing my signature color!
Toni: You don’t own the color red. Red existed before you.
Cheryl: Not at Riverdale High. Here, I invented red. I am red.
[Cheryl snaps her fingers and two girls stand behind her]
Cheryl: Sorry, but this school is not big enough for the both of us, faux-pink lady. And I was here first. Go to Centerville High or Westerberg, I don’t care. But you have until first bell Monday to clear every trace of yourself out of these halls. Copy?
[Cheryl flips her hair in Toni’s face and walks away]
Kat: I really thought every performance was excellent, but the finale was the first scene in Riverdale to make me cry. It was such a grand statement that was so deeply rooted in raw emotion. It almost felt like a completely different show.
The moment was so deeply layered in complexity, and I really appreciated that. It tied in well with the opening number of "Beautiful" as well.
I'm always a fan of big ensemble numbers because I know how much work it takes.
Becca: "Seventeen." It was the song whose inclusion felt the least forced into Riverdale's narrative. It genuinely felt like the characters were only singing to each other whereas the other musical sequences always had a "we're performing for an audience" vibe to them.
The minimal choreography was a plus as I wasn't a fan of most of the choreography throughout the episode. Most of all, I liked how it finally gave (some) characters the chance to mourn the destruction of their lives.
Edgar Evernever made his big debut as the followers of The Farm creepily clapped their hands after the musical. Were you surprised that The Farm increased their numbers this fast? Will the group join in to help Betty stop them?
Brandon: First off, seeing Chad Michael Murray was a real throwback to my One Tree Hill days, and it took me a while to even realize who was playing on this show. Once I figured it out, I laughed at the thought that he's supposed to be Evelyn's dad.
However, looking past all this, I won't say I'm too surprised about The Farm's increase in numbers.
Betty just assumed that they were going after people she knew, but obviously, The Farm is much more powerful than she could've imagined. This has to be a wake-up call for her friends (not including ones like Kevin and Fangs who have already been brainwashed) need to finally start helping her.
Betty's been fighting this fight all alone for such a long time now, and I hope Veronica, Archie, and Jughead lend her a helping hand instead of also falling for Edgar's trap.
Whenever the friends work together, they're able to take down the criminals in Riverdale. And, if they don't do that, the town of Riverdale will soon become the town of The Farm.
Kat: I wasn't surprised. I was excited! It was such a great way to end the episode.
The juxtaposition of the song against Edgar's clapping; it really set the tone for what's to come. I'm relieved The Farm storyline is finally taking center stage, and we're weaning off of this dreaded Gryphons & Gargoyles mess that has gone on for too long.
I'm also a huge fan of Chad Michael Murray and think he is perfectly cast in this role.
I hope the kids meant what they sang and plan to help Betty take down The Farm, except we know some of them are already under Edgar's spell. I'd say it's probably going to be split down the middle, with the Core 4 being the one ones who don't give in to his charms.
Becca: Having someone murdered during the play would have been too much of a repeat from last season. Once it was known The Farm was sponsoring the school musical, I was expecting an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque ending, and it was time for such a moment to happen.
This season has been pretty good about slowly ratcheting up the tension, and the creepiness of The Farm's actions, but the plotline reached the point where it needed to up the ante, which the creepy applause scene accomplished.
During the next batch of episodes, there will probably be an arms race between Betty and The Farm over whose side the remaining characters will be on.
Betty will have some success in getting other characters to help her, but The Farm's ranks will continue to grow. Kevin and Fangs are already indoctrinated. This episode made Veronica, Reggie, and Sweet Pea emotionally vulnerable, which could mean they'll be the next ones to join The Farm.
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Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.