Riverdale Season 4 Episode 17 Review: Wicked Little TownJustin Carreiro at . Updated at .
A new musical has arrived at Riverdale High on Riverdale Season 4 Episode 17!
Riverdale loves its musical theater, and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is a different take on the performances they've done so far. But, whenever the show is inspired by a musical, something bad happens in town.
Serial killer murders, cult arrivals, dramatic teen drama tied to coincidental songs ... everything is on the table. So, did Hedwig live up to the legacy of Riverdale's musical history?
"Wicked Little Town" captured the rebellious and edgy feel of the musical, with most of the characters and plots breaking free from their restrictions. However, the chapter felt disjointed at times as Riverdale tried to inject the songs/musical into the natural course of the story when it didn't fit.
Without the backdrop of a school musical where these songs could be played, the tone felt like Glee at times.
There was a strange blur between reality and fiction, with songs coming to life that you were unsure if they were happening or if just in a "performance" setting.
And, the random whipping sounds returned too. (Looking at you, Riverdale Season 3 Episode 16!)
For example, the second song with "Random Number Generation."
Kevin tried to convince Mr. Honey to allow his Hedwig and the Angry Inch song into the variety show by performing a number. The students ended up dressed in all numbers and trashed the school hallway.
Did they really think destroying the school would convince Mr. Honey?
It's most likely that this was all in the singing bubble world, but the hallway was still trashed afterward when Archie walked by to sign-up. Cleaning it up would've helped to define the separation.
It's the small little touches that count.
Though, my biggest issue with Riverdale Season 4 Episode 17 might be the motivation of the main plot itself. In the grand scheme of all the drama that happened, the reaction of not singing one song seemed ... a bit melodramatic.
Riverdale High experienced much more serious issues that needed the students to band together. This didn't compare to a town quarantine, a serial killer, or someone being kicked out of school.
Don't get me wrong, the chapter was fun, had some catchy songs, and dropped major shocking moments that we'll get into later. But, the entire rallying cry to sing a song didn't reflect the cause.
Betty: Does this band have a name?
Archie: It’s … The Archies,
Jughead: What? Was the Me, Me, Mes taken?!
Archie: We can change the name.
Veronica: No! The Archies … I like it.
Teachers/principals give their concerns for school-sanctioned events all the time, and Kevin could've sung anything else he wanted. Granted, Mr. Honey should open his musical knowledge outside of Oklahoma!, but Kevin only got barred from one musical due to its lyrics and tone.
If Mr. Honey also tried to stop him from performing stuff from Rent or Kinky Boots, that would expose further issues that might be at play that Mr. Honey wasn't saying.
However, just from what we know, the request to switch to a different musical wasn't completely unreasonable.
"Tear Me Down" was Kevin's moment to shine. Casey Cott did an amazing job performing the addictive track and channeling the vibe of Hedwig.
When he first appeared in full costume, took over the school system, and delivered that one-liner in front of the receptionist, I loudly cheered. The moment was so funny! Kevin barely gets any comedic scenes, so, amazingly, he got to show off his fun side.
Plus, he's got great vocal talent!
Kevin: What’s up, Riverdale?! Are you trying to tear me down?
Betty: That’s … wait… that’s not…
Kevin: Well, sorry, I’m the new Berlin Wall, baby. Now get your a**** to the music room!
We knew this from Carrie: The Musical and Heathers: The Musical, but this solo number was his best song yet. This vibe of the music room was electric, and we have the gift of Toni playing on the drums now as an awesome GIF.
Though similar to the hallway number, causing a commotion in the school was not the best way for Kevin to convince Mr. Honey to allow the song in the variety show. He's lucky that he didn't get suspended for his protest.
Cheryl and Toni's attempt to get Kevin back into the variety show was surprisingly tone-deaf. Not in the singing sense, but that they didn't realize everything they were doing was furthering Mr. Honey's stance.
He clearly had issues about the tone of the musical and its lyrics. So, why did they think dancing and singing to "Sugar Daddy" was a good idea?
It's literally a song about Hedwig getting pampered, indulged, and hooking up with his older sugar daddy!
Cheryl: On behalf of Kevin Keller and the entire student body, we urge you to hear our plea. Hedwig is not some fringed downbeat musical.
Toni: It’s fun! It’s an old fashioned red-blooded American musical comedy with something for everyone.
Cheryl: Including those of us who are more … strait-laced.
There were so many other tunes in the soundtrack they could've sung. Using this number handed Mr. Honey more ammunition against them to threaten the future of the prom.
Plus, it's surprising that they went through the entire number and still goaded him afterward. (Cheryl is amazing and all, but she should read the room.)
The same goes for the protest at Riverdale High with the Hedwig outfits.
Mr. Honey just threatened a wide-scale ban on prom if anyone performed a Hedwig song. Instead of taking a moment to assess the situation, everyone doubled-down like they thought Mr. Honey would cower away. Have they not learned anything from their stuffy principal?
Mr. Honey is a no-nonsense stick in the mud. He would gladly shut everything down to assert his authority. The variety show was his latest casualty; at least it wasn't the prom.
I expected a smarter move of attack from the group.
This move furthered a character trend that Riverdale has pushed for a while now: the teens revolting against the adults to get their way.
This happened during Riverdale Season 4 Episode 10 against the cheer coach, and the many instances against Principal Weatherbee, Hiram, Alice, and so forth.
It's a defiant trope that works well in teen dramas since it causes conflict and makes the adults the villains, which is a lot of plots they're in. But, the trope only has a shelf life while the teens are at Riverdale High.
The amount of chaos they cause without consequences is a stretch already. Once they're at university or in the real world, no one will put up with their shenanigans.
Just imagine if Cheryl tried that same thing with her professor!
When it came to the relationship drama, some of the Hedwig songs fit nicely with the movement of the couples. There's trouble in paradise for the #Bughead and #Varchie shippers out there as #Barchie rises from the ashes again.
I'm happy that Veronica made amends with Archie about their fight over Hiram. Their troubles spiraled because Archie discovered a secret that he didn't realize was more serious than it was.
Hiram is fully to blame for not taking his illness seriously. He put himself at risk for pushing himself to the limit when he should be resting.
In Jughead and Betty's case, it's understandable why Betty was mad at Jughead.
After everything that happened at Stonewall Prep, Jughead has a chance to graduate with his friends, but he wasn't taking it seriously. Betty went out on a limb to help him. Jughead was being too much like Jughead.
Though, if "Exquisite Corpse" was any example, their fights were a little too angry. They didn't need to destroy and trash things in their heated fight. The best course of action was taking a breather and walking away; they were too emotional in that number.
The couples should've used their words. (Oh god, I'm sounding like an adult now...)
Should we be preparing for a secret affair between Betty and Archie?
The kiss during "The Origin of Love" in the music room was one thing; they were emotional and kissed (cheating is never cool). But, their longing looks and window touching during "Wicked Little Town (Reprise)" is a huge flashing alarm.
Even the flashback to the homecoming dance of Riverdale Season 1 Episode 1 heightened their romantic longing!
Archie: When I saw that signup sheet, I flashed back to sophomore year. I was on stage, freezing up from stage fright. Until I saw my dad, and suddenly I could just play. He gave me the biggest huge afterwards.
Betty: He was so proud of you. He was always so happy whenever you played. Look, just because Veronica and Jughead aren’t here, that doesn’t mean we can’t rehearse?
The scene gave off a "what could've been" vibe. Archie and Betty shared the same reminiscing moment of the past that could've been taken had they'd gotten together instead of Archie rejecting her.
(It's even present in the lyrics when Archie talks about he was younger then and foolish.)
Betty and Archie are in throws of romantic nostalgia since these feelings were present for many years pre-series. They'll have to figure out if it's true love or unclaimed baggage, but they shouldn't be cheating on their relationships to find that out.
The VHS mystery seemed like an afterthought in the overall story of "Wicked Little Town."
Whenever it came up, it was used as a plot device to further a song before disappearing. The chapter could've gone on without it being included.
The video footage Jughead found, on the other hand, looked so creepy!
Someone is toying with him by using the Jughead and Betty masks to mimic the rock murder. It must be someone familiar with the crimes, like Bret and Donna, or it could be what ties Chic and Charles back in?
Whoever it is, they have their camera lenses set squarely on Jughead and his friends.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Jughead's comeback to Archie about the band name was spot-on. He didn't even think of anything else.
How did everyone at Riverdale High have easy and quick access to the same Hedwig wig?
The "Wig in a Box" number could've been a montage in an '80s teen film.
"Midnight Radio" by The Archies was a tad rough. Everyone was off vocally and didn't fit together. Not the best performance of the chapter.
- How did people have video cameras ready for a spontaneous song on the roof of a diner?!
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Seventy-Four: Wicked Little Town"?
What was your favorite song in the chapter? Will Archie and Betty explore their romance? Will Mr. Honey get his revenge on his students for their protest?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic. Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments below.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.