The title “Archie The Musical” helps to fully emphasize the importance of the final musical episode of the long-running CW series Riverdale. While music in the episode plays an integral role in the storyline, the questions and themes about identity are just as important to discuss.
Kevin’s musical is meant to be about the group in their senior year on the cusp of the rest of their lives, with Archie as the main character. Nothing is coming to light the way Kevin wants it. While he has developed a story and several compositions, his vision never quite matches how his friends see themselves or their relationships.
Archie’s song, “I Want”, is more of a ‘confused boy’ song, as Kevin’s composition introduces a young man who does not know what he wants. Archie’s conundrum surrounding the uncertainty of the song’s meaning matches his quandaries about his personal life. Although Archie’s love life has been a mess since the season’s beginning, bouncing between dating Veronica, Cheryl, and Betty, his ultimate bigger struggle is confronting how to handle playing basketball or giving into his passion for poetry.
Archie eventually gives in to his heart’s desire and admits to Frank that he wants to pursue and focus on poetry instead of devoting his time to the basketball team. The question of confronting or discovering one’s identity runs throughout many of the characters. Throughout the final season, Kevin, Clay, Cheryl, and Toni have bonded over keeping their romances a secret. While they have been honest with each other and some of their friends, they have not been able to be open and live honestly amongst their classmates.
Cheryl and Toni’s challenge to Kevin and Clay to write a song that is honest to them and their experiences allows the four to perform a song close to their hearts. But that does not mean it will make it into the performance. Trying to listen to his parameters of a mainstream musical, Kevin decides against putting the song in the show even though it means Cheryl and Toni walking away.
Being unable to be honest every day is hard enough, but to lie on stage as well is not how Toni and Cheryl wish to be involved in the musical. Betty and Veronica are also faced with these questions when they have to confront a growing connection. While there had been a previous tease that there was something more happening between them, “Archie The Musical” may have made things more complicated.
Veronica and Betty’s decision to focus on their friendship rather than fight over Archie is an important one. There is no reason for a boy to come between them and choosing each other instead of allowing unnecessary issues to occur because of Archie lets them skip over an uncomfortable rivalry. Questions arise. Do they just end up discovering something else about themselves and each other? Although they have agreed not to fight over Archie, Betty and Veronica seem to be leaning into the growing feelings between them.
Veronica and Betty’s duet goes from a friendly and more platonic portrayal of going from potential rivals to friends and then transforms into a more romantic suggestion that even ends with a kiss. If that kiss is meant to represent what is going on in Betty and Veronica’s heads as they sing, there is likely more to their story, especially when they discuss needing to talk about whatever happened between them during their song.
With Archie bowing out of the love triangle, saying he wants to focus on himself, it gives Veronica and Betty time to work out, confront, or experience whatever it is that comes next for them. “Archie The Musical” allows Riverdale’s final musical episode to go big, bringing in fantasy imaginations and choreography beyond what the show has demonstrated before. Even beyond this episode, questioning and coming to terms with identity is an important storyline for teenagers in high school to experience.
What did you think of the episode? Was it what you were expecting? Keep up to date with Culturess for more Riverdale news and coverage.