The trailer and rumblings around Riverdale‘s musical episode confirm it’s going to be epic. For one, Cheryl Blossom—the show’s most important but woefully underused character—snagged the lead, titular role in Riverdale High’s production of Carrie: The Musical. That means she’ll be up front and center (preferably with a spotlight on her at all times) as Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Archie (KJ Apa), and the less-iconic characters sway in the background.
In fact, Jughead’s quite literally going to be in the background: He’s not even in the musical. Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), the director, has tasked him with filming behind-the-scenes footage, which leaves plenty of room for Cheryl to get the shine she deserves.
Riverdale‘s show-runner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told Glamour this was an intentional move. “Jughead has always been Riverdale‘s resident storyteller, so it actually made sense for him to be the documentarian for the production,” he said. If you read my recaps, you know I’ve been eagerly waiting for this to happen. Jughead’s beanies have been dominating Riverdale‘s narrative for far too long.
Honestly, though, Jughead might still dominate the narrative, even behind the camera. The Riverdale musical episode hasn’t aired yet, so it’s unclear how prominent Cheryl or Jughead or any of the characters will be. This show is known for its twist and turns, so fans should expect the unexpected going into this specialty episode.
That’s essentially what Aguirre-Sacasa told us when we sat down with him to chat about it. “People who aren’t fans of the original Carrie: The Musical stage adaptation are going to love this episode just as much as diehard fans out there, and I have a feeling will inspire a new generation of Carrie: The Musical fans,” he said.
The episode, however, isn’t just dedicated to staging Carrie: The Musical. The same storylines from the last episode, which aired March 28, will play into this one. Remember, everyone has essentially turned against Veronica (Camila Mendes) after they found out she knew about her parents’ plans to turn South Side High into a prison. This musical, though, forces the characters to come together for a unified cause.
“All of the previous storylines from this season definitely play into the musical episode in a big way,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “At this point in the season, all the various relationships between the characters have become so fractured, and this production of Carrie: The Musical really brings our characters back together in a big way.”
One of those “fractured” relationships is between Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Josie (Ashleigh Murray). In the last episode, Penelope Blossom essentially manipulated Josie into thinking Cheryl was creepily obsessed with her. This, in turn, caused Josie to bail on plans to break Cheryl out of Sisters of Quiet Mercy. Aguirre-Sacasa told Glamour we’ll see this relationship play out in the musical episode.
“You’ll see in this episode how we tackle that relationship head on. Cheryl’s been through a lot these past two seasons, and you really feel for her and her journey by the end of this episode. Hopefully Josie can be as understanding as our audience,” he said.
Aguirre-Sacasa teased other character developments for Cheryl, as well—specifically about her love life. (In case you somehow forgot, Riverdale High’s resident queen bee came out of the closet a few episodes back.)
“It’s funny because in season one, one note we kept getting was that Cheryl didn’t have a romantic plot line, but the timing and the story never felt right,” he said. “She was dealing with the loss of her brother and her father’s betrayal throughout the first season, so we always knew in season two we would want to dive in deeper with her character.”
So does this mean Riverdale‘s going to dive deeper, as Aguirre-Sacasa puts it, into Cheryl’s relationship with Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan)? After all, the two Riverdale Vixens did kiss after Cheryl escaped Sisters of Quiet Mercy, so perhaps Toni’s the unexpected love interest fans have been waiting for.
“In terms of [Cheryl’s] relationship with Toni, Madelaine and Vanessa have been friends for a while, so they already have such great chemistry together,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “With the introduction of Toni, we realized there was this whole aspect of Cheryl we had yet to explore, and felt this was the perfect introduction to this side of everyone’s favorite River Vixen.”
Regardless of what happens, Cheryl will have at least one family member on her side: Nana Rose. The grand matriarch of the Blossom family fed Toni information about Cheryl’s whereabouts when she was missing—directly defying Penelope Blossom and Uncle Claudius, who disapprove of Cheryl and Toni’s relationship and sent Cheryl away for gay conversion therapy.
“We thought it was important to show that Cheryl does have genuine love and acceptance in her life from somebody in her family,”Aguirre-Sacasa added. “It’s good to balance that out with the nefarious actions of Penelope and Uncle Claudius. Nana Rose is definitely a ‘Choni’ shipper.” That being said, Aguirre-Sacasa did add we’re not done seeing the “inner horrors of the Sisters of Quiet Mercy,” so Cheryl may not be out of the woods just yet.
We’re also not out of the woods with the Black Hood. March 28th’s episode implied that Arthur Adams (John Behlmann), one of Hiram Lodge’s (Mark Consuelos) goonies, is the masked madman who we thought was dead but is still wreaking havoc around town. Aguirre-Sacasa says we shouldn’t rule him—or anyone else—out, because the mystery isn’t over yet. “At this point, it’s safe to say that everyone is still a suspect,” he said. Yeesh.
Riverdale‘s musical episode airs Wednesday, April 18 at 8 P.M. ET on The CW.