Riverdale Season 2 Episode 18 Review: “Chapter Thirty-One: A Night to Remember”

Riverdale Season 2 Episode 18

“A Night to Remember” might not be the best episode of Riverdale Season 2, but it’s certainly the most fun the series has been in quite some time. A main reason for that might be that Riverdale goes full-on musical in this week’s episode. It doesn’t just have its characters sing during rehearsals for Carrie: The Musical or practice by themselves in their bedrooms; no, the show actually lets the songs from the production bleed into real life and, in the cases of Cheryl and Josie and Betty and Veronica, actually resolve conflict. Is it a little odd at first to watch Archie and the rest of the gang spontaneously burst into song? Definitely but the majority of the Riverdale cast has the pipes to belt out these numbers; plus, it’s a relief to have the characters so wrapped up in the music of the episode that there’s no time for the dark, dreary, and mostly uninteresting drama that has dragged down more recent episodes of the series.

In fact, “A Night to Remember” does a pretty terrific job of moving Riverdale away from storylines that haven’t worked as well during the back half of this second season. The resolution of Betty and Veronica’s fight leaves something to be desired. I’m the biggest Ronnie fan you’ll meet and what Betty says to her in this episode and how she says it is messed up, but there’s also some validity to her comments about Veronica’s behavior, ones that V herself even admits are true. So how the hell does Betty end up essentially apologizing to Veronica and not the other way around? However, even if the logic of their make-up doesn’t make complete sense, the fact that it happens comes as a relief, as does Veronica waking up to the fact that her dedication to her parents has caused her to make some questionable decisions,  choices that have caused her to revert back somewhat to her New York, mean-girl personality and hurt some of the most important people in her life.

Fortunately, Veronica isn’t the only character that appears to realize the error of their ways in this episode. Archie recognizes that he’s been on a “dark path” lately following everything that transpired with the Black Hood (more on him later) and his continued work with Hiram. He’s no longer the “boy next door” or “hero of the story” that Kevin believes him to be when he casts him as Tommy, but he makes an effort to get back to his former self after Hiram tries to force a wedge between him and his dad, “accidentally” mentioning the Firebird in front of Fred. When Archie sees how hurt his dad is and how devious Hiram can be to the people he claims to care about, he returns the keys to the Firebird to Veronica’s dad, telling him that he should never try to get between him and Fred again because it’s a battle he’ll lose every time. Archie then sells some of his music equipment to purchase an old, beaten-up car from Junkyard Steve so he and his dad can fix it up together like Fred did with his own father, and the tears that Fred tries to hold back throughout this moment feel real and earned. Archie’s spiral into the darkness started this season because of his dad, because he was afraid of someone hurting him again, because he was afraid of losing him. In “A Night to Remember,” he finally registers that his own actions are causing him to lose Fred, if not physically than certainly emotionally, and he understands that he needs to return to the son, friend, and person that he used to be before he becomes too twisted by anger, hate, and fear.

But how long will Archie’s path towards redemption last now that the Black Hood has reappeared in his most vicious way yet? In the final scene of this week’s Riverdale, everyone in the auditorium is horrified when the curtains reveal Midge, playing the role of Carrie, pinned to the wall, brutally murdered, with a message from the Black Hood written in blood: “All those who escaped me before will die.” Fred, Archie, and Betty are among the many that escaped the Black Hood’s wrath before, but with five episodes left this season, I doubt that Midge will be the killer’s only victim before he’s truly caught and brought to justice. More people are going to die in Riverdale before this is all over, and while it’s terrifying for the show’s characters, it’s incredibly exciting for viewers. The Black Hood arc of Season 2 delivered some of the show’s best episodes of all-time, and now that this season’s main villain has returned, I’m hopeful that Riverdale will return to that level of exhilarating fun and genuine heart again in this year’s final few installments, even if they lack the marvelous musical numbers of “A Night to Remember.”

Other thoughts:

  • Another conflict that’s dealt with through song that I didn’t mention above is Alice’s fear of being left behind, as she calls out Betty’s name while singing to Midge’s Carrie. Alice’s breakdown, in which she asks Betty not to leave her like everyone else, leads Betty to reach out to her father, who convinces Alice to let them try again with no secrets (Unfortunately, FP shows up at Opening Night to see the two of them reunited). Betty also appears to be the one who gets in touch with Chic and invites him to the musical, where he creepily tells her to “Break a leg.” I know Riverdale is making the Chic/Black Hood connection a little too obvious now, but my money is still on him being the serial killer.
  • After a pep talk from Toni, Cheryl goes into full-on Carrie mode and soaks herself in some type of blood-like substance before threatening her mom, telling her that she wants to be emancipated and ordering her and Claudius to leave the house. It’s amazingly over-the-top, which perfectly fits the Blossoms.
  • Jughead as videographer and co-investigator with Betty is SO MUCH BETTER than Jughead being the Serpents’ champion for the millionth time. I also think Cole Sprouse does a really nice job of grounding the over-the-top death at the end of the hour in reality. You can feel Jughead’s fear and concern for Betty before the video cuts out.
  • This entire episode feels very Glee, in more ways than just the singing, and I honestly don’t hate that.
  • Best song and performance of the night: I’d say it’s a tie for me between “The World According to Chris” and “You Shine.” Also, I knew Camila Mendes and Ashleigh Murray could obviously sing, but I had no idea Lili Reinhart had such a terrific voice. She’s sensational throughout this episode.
  • “I will not succumb to thespian terrorism.”

What did everyone else think about Riverdale‘s musical episode? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Katie Yu/The CW]

Riverdale Season 2 Episode 18 Review: "Chapter Thirty-One: A Night to Remember"
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Summary

The high school’s performance of Carrie: The Musical ends in tragedy in a strong episode of Riverdale.

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