'Riverdale' Musical Postmortem: Why [SPOILER] Had to Die and 6 More Burning Questions Answered! (Exclusive)
By Leanne Aguilera
WARNING: If you have not watched the musical episode of Riverdale, then turn around and run out of the auditorium because we're about to discuss the deadliest spoiler of the season...
The Black Hood is back – and he's taking a stab at revenge!
Wednesday night's highly anticipated musical episode of Riverdale, "Chapter 31: A Night to Remember," ended with a gruesome murder (R.I.P. Midge!) and the mysterious return of the true Black Hood. ET called up Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to get the exclusive scoop on tonight's musical twists, Cheryl's bloody vengeance and the answers to your most burning Black Hood questions!
1. Midge is dead! The Black Hood killed her off in the most gruesome way we've ever seen on Riverdale. How did you decide that Midge was the one who had to die?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: We've known that the Black Hood was going to come back for a while and we thought that the most unexpected way for the Black Hood to come back was during the musical episode. The Black Hood has killed people – Miss Grundy, the Sugar Man – he's shot people, and unsuccessfully killed people, so we wanted to make it clear when the Black Hood came back, that the stakes were real and people were in danger. We wanted his return to be tied to a character's demise. It's funny because I love the actress [Emilija Baranac] who plays Midge. We did everything we could to try to keep her alive, but in the end, it was just that the Black Hood could not be stopped.
2. There were quite a few characters backstage before the musical – like Chic, Sheriff Keller and Moose – who did not need to be there. Is it safe to say that the Black Hood was there that night?
Well, I think based entirely on the fact that Midge was backstage and then the next time we saw her she was dead onstage – yes. The Black Hood was in the theater at the school that night, for sure.
3. Seeing Cheryl threatening her mother while covered in blood à la Carrie White was both creepy yet captivating. Can you explain your decision behind her dramatic gesture and taking the power back from Penelope?
All season long, Cheryl and Penelope have been locked in a power struggle. It started, actually, in the first episode of the season with Cheryl withholding the oxygen, and over the season, the power has shifted. Penelope maybe tried to kill Nana Rose Blossom and she certainly tried to have Cheryl locked away in the Sisters of Quiet Mercy, so we knew that Cheryl needed a very grand and bold return and we needed something really, really dramatic. It was honestly more about Cheryl getting back to her place of power more than, say, terrorizing Penelope. In a weird way, that bucket of blood is a baptism – a rebirth for Cheryl. Cheryl is Cheryl, so she always does the big, dramatic gesture, but it felt like it was earned – especially after the last few episodes where she's been going through so much difficulty.
4. There was a musical twist in this episode: Betty and Archie's duet, "You Shine," was turned into a duet between Betty and Veronica as a way to repair their friendship. Why did you decide to change which characters would be singing this song?
It's funny, we shot the full number [onstage between Archie and Betty], and we recorded the full song, but weirdly that song was always going to be about Veronica and Betty and about their friendship. That's actually why we wanted to include that song. We wanted the Betty and Archie song to lead into it and to give a little bit of context for the song, but the idea was always to take a song that was in the original "Carrie" musical for the boyfriend and girlfriend, Tommy and Sue. When we listened to the lyrics, it felt very appropriate for friends to bolster each other and, like in musicals, we wanted the songs to actually change the characters or deliver us to a new place. So we started with [Betty and Veronica] being fractured and ended with them in a good place.
5. Which production numbers during this musical episode were the most challenging to bring from script to screen?
Gosh, that’s a really, really good question. The opening number, ["In"], was shot over several days and involved all of the cast in different locations, so that one took a lot of organization and coordination over a few days. In the number "A Night We'll Never Forget," the scene when they're all in the dressing room is one long take, and that was really difficult [to shoot]. The truth is they were all pretty difficult. The ones where it was just a duet onstage were a little less challenging and those ones were a little bit easier to manage. The numbers with big choreography like Veronica's number, "The World According to Chris," that was a big production number [and "Do Me a Favor"], those ones were a little bit more difficult to pull off, but I think everyone was up to the challenge and loved doing it.
6. Overall, what was your goal with Riverdale's musical episode?
We really wanted to have some fun with this episode. All season long we've been wading into some pretty dark waters between the Black Hood and then with Hiram as the kind of godfather with the mob and Chic kind of being a sketchy character. We wanted to get back to a little bit of a classic high school rite of passage, which is doing the school musical. This is something that a lot of our fans, a lot of us and a lot of kids on the show have done, so we really wanted to do something that was very, very different from our typical Riverdale mode of crime and noir and darkness. We wanted to do something fun with the musical, but we did still want to keep the Riverdale flavor. Doing a musical like Carrie – which was a cult musical and based off of a horror novel about high schoolers – it felt like this was the way to do something that was new and fresh and fun for us, but still kind of keeping in the Riverdale tradition.
7. Now that the Black Hood is back, and we only have four episodes left in this season, where do we go from here? What does the Black Hood's return do to this town who thought that they had caught and killed this man?
I think the place we go from here is things get much, much, much, much more intense for the last few episodes. I think our characters are in mortal danger in a way they've never been before. There are now four episodes left and I would say as intense as things have been in Riverdale, this amps up the danger and the drama to a level that even we haven't done. I think that there's great character stuff and romance stuff, but it's super intense. The Black Hood is only one of the millions of problems that Riverdale is about to face.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.