Monday, October 25, 2021

‘Riverdale’ Recap: Season 5, Episode 18 “Chapter Ninety-Four: Next to Normal”

The Riverdale musical episode is here! In “Chapter Ninety-Four: Next to Normal,” Alice creates a musical fantasy following Polly’s death to ensure everything’s fine with her life while Betty tries to bring her back to the real world. Meanwhile, Veronica and Archie take the next step in their relationship, as do Jughead and Tabitha.

Keep reading to find out what happened in this week’s episode of Riverdale, “Chapter Ninety-Four: Next to Normal.”

The Polly Aftermath

Following the discovery of Polly’s body, Betty and her mother are barely holding it together. Betty meets with the gang at the Whyte Wyrm. She’s holding up as well as she can, Dagwood and Juniper are surprisingly okay and Cheryl has taken them for a few days. Alice, meanwhile, is listening to a Next to Normal cast album on repeat. She had taken Polly and Betty to the musical on Broadway one year for Mother’s Day. It’s like it could be about them. Betty doesn’t know what her mom is feeling or thinking, just that she’s listening to it over and over again.

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Betty tries to get through to Alice, who is grieving and listening to musicals and looking at family photos. She needs to move on but Alice isn’t listening to her. It’s not just that she misses Polly, she misses everything.

Betty later finds her mother singing at a piano in the living room, which she ordered on “Glamazon.” Alice keeps bringing up the past, but all Betty wants to do is focus on the present.

Dinner that night is less than normal, as Alice has gone a little overboard. As Betty is trying to get through to her mother, Polly and Charles are at the table. Alice has everything she needs, all of her children. Betty brings out Polly’s ashes, hoping to bring Alice some closure. Though Polly tells Alice that she’s sitting right there. Betty suggests they see a Broadway show, it could be good for the both of them. Alice agrees.

Betty and Alice get ready to leave and as Betty names off everything she planned and the two business class tickets, Polly wonders why only two. Alice tries to explain to Polly and Betty tells her to not go there, it’s just memories.

The Truth Comes Out

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When Betty tries to tell Alice that she’s always been there, Alice begs to differ. She tells Betty she wasn’t there. She begged her to stay and she left for seven years. When she did finally come back, it all started with Polly. Betty drove her away.

“She’s dead because of you.”

Betty meets with Kevin and confesses what’s going on with her mother. She’s just lost, they both are. Betty figures maybe it is her fault Polly’s dead, but Kevin tells her it’s not.

She later takes the record player out of the house. Years ago Betty made Alice a promise she’d come back to Riverdale, but she broke that promise. Now she’s making a new one.

“I’m not leaving you alone, ever.”

Charles and Polly head down the stairs to leave one last time. All Alice wanted was for them to be a normal family. But maybe next to normal is good enough.

Next to Normal

And so, the musical begins! This episode is unlike previous musical episodes and is definitely more emotional. We start with Alice at the Cooper household wearing a traditional, perfect family, perfect mother dress and singing “Just Another Perfect Day.” The song perfectly, and weirdly, describes the Coopers. Charles comes in wearing a Riverdale High letter jacket, while Polly comes down the stairs wearing a cheerleading outfit. Betty then comes in, also wearing a traditional perfect daughter outfit. It’s like they’re in the 50s or 60s. The line, “Doesn’t kill me” is repeated, like it’s skipping, and Betty stops the record in the real world.

“I Miss the Mountains”

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As Alice is looking through photos, she sings the next song that recounts everything she misses. Betty goes along with her, singing but also closing the photo album and trying to get her out of it. While Alice misses the mountains and her life, Betty misses her mother.

“Perfect for You”

A Jughead and Tabitha duet? Yes please! Following a potential girlfriend/boyfriend talk, the two of them sing at Pop’s about their relationship. Cole Sprouse may not have wanted a singing career while he was on Disney Channel, but boy does he have the voice of an angel! His and Erinn Westbrook’s voices fit perfect together, and this is just the beginning of what will be “Jabitha.” As the song ends, the two kiss.

“Everything Else”

As soon as the duet ends, we’re taken back to the Cooper house to find Betty, Alice and Polly sitting down at the piano and singing. Though Betty comes into the living room to find Alice singing and playing by herself.

“It’s Gonna Be Good”

Dinner at the Coopers has turned into a showstopper with Alice, Polly and Charles, singing about how good it’s going to be.

“She’s Not Here”

Betty tries her hardest to tell her mom that Polly is no longer there, she’s got to let her go. Polly and Charles get up from the table and Alice sobs.

“Didn’t I See This Movie”

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It’s not a Riverdale musical episode without a solo Cheryl number! At the ministry, Cheryl sings this to her mom as she almost tries to perform an exorcism. Penelope keeps walking backward as Cheryl walks forward and splashes holy water on her face.

“I’m Alive”

Just before Betty and Alice leave for the city, Polly comes from behind and tries to convince Alice that she’s “alive” and more than just a memory. Betty tries to get her mom to leave but Alice doesn’t listen. Charles pops out of nowhere and also starts singing. Polly and Charles sing to their mom, telling her that they’re alive.

“I Am the One”

Trying to break through to her mom, Betty butts in and starts singing. She’s always been there. Polly, meanwhile, waves to Alice to come over. They need her, but Betty needs her as well. Alice sits down between Charles and Polly, who continue singing. Charles and Polly get up and when Alice turns her head to look at them, Betty moves her head to look at her.

“I’ve Been”

When Betty meets with Kevin and she admits what’s going on at home, the two of them begin singing. Kevin tells her, or sings to her, she shouldn’t give up now because she and Alice shouldn’t be alone.

“Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I’m Falling”

Immediately going into the next song, Kevin tells Betty to make up her mind, while Betty, Veronica, and Toni sing in desperation and perfect unison in different places. Kevin tells Betty to go back to her mother, pick up the pieces and catch each other.

“Hey #3/Perfect for You”

Jughead shows up to dinner with Tabitha and her parents and this duet is beautiful. The two of them leave to be by themselves and they solidify their relationship. While they and their relationship aren’t perfect, they will be perfect for each other.

“A Promise”

After promising Alice she won’t leave her, ever, Betty sings it to her. She’s there. Alice apologizes to Betty and the two of them hug. She never meant those horrible things she said.

“Maybe (Next to Normal)”

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Alice takes the urn with Polly’s ashes and just holds it. Betty sits down next to her and tries to convince her in song that things will get better. Maybe they can’t be okay, but maybe they’re tough and they’ll try anyway.

“Light”

We could all use a little light after a tragedy. The final song sung in this episode is all about the light we need, and the light the characters need. Following Polly’s memorial, everyone needs a breather. Back at the memorial, everyone is singing at Polly’s grave, including the twins. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking scene. It reminds us that “there will be light” in the darkest of times.

Varchie Takes the Next Step

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It’s time for Veronica and Archie to take the next step! Now that Veronica is officially divorced from Chad, she suggests to Archie it’s time they make up for those seven years after graduation they lost. Maybe it’s time they move in together. They both think it’s a great idea and Veronica moves in with Archie, as well as Uncle Frank and Jughead.

Veronica cooks dinner for her, Archie, Frank and Jughead. However, just as they’re beginning to dig in, Archie and Frank’s phones go off, indicating a fire. The two of them leave and not wanting to deal with the awkwardness, Jughead takes his plate to eat in the garage.

Veronica hears the shower running while sleeping and assuming it’s Archie, goes into the bathroom all ready for him, but it turns out to be Jughead. Frank is in the shower and it’s found out that Archie slept at the firehouse. Veronica is not so happy about her sleeping arrangements.

After thinking about their future together, Veronica tells Archie they should step back. They’re not in high school anymore.

Could This Be the Start of Jabitha?

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Tabitha shows Pop’s off to her parents and although she thought it would be nice to have dinner there for Mother’s Day, her parents made reservations for a much fancier restaurant. Upset at her mom and dad, Tabitha asks Jughead, who is merely cleaning tables, if that works for him. Going along with the plan, Jughead tells Tabitha it works great. Tabitha tells her parents that the busboy is also her boyfriend.

After her parents leave, Tabitha tells Jughead it’d be great if she had a buffer at dinner and Jughead is in. Though if she wants, she could just ask him to be her real boyfriend. But his timing couldn’t be less perfect.

“Riverdale, and the rest of the world, are in a perpetual state of crisis. There’s no such thing as perfect timing.”

It’s dinnertime with the Tates, but Tabitha’s father is still not over the fact she left Chicago to run the family business since she had a great career. Jughead shows up, looking as dapper as ever. Wanting to be alone, Jughead and Tabitha ditch Tabitha’s parents.

What Else Happened?

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In the midst of the musical fantasy, not everything was as important so here are some other things that happened in the episode!

  • Reggie has officially decided to pursue being a licensed stockbroker and has Veronica help him, though Veronica reminisces the life she had.
  • Desperate to find Britta a home after her parents kicked her out, Toni resorts to asking Cheryl for help. Since Cheryl went through what Britta is going through, Toni thought she’d be able to offer her a place to stay. Toni loved her and she knows the love she has. Cheryl agrees.
  • Toni and Fangs confess their love to each other.

And so another Riverdale musical episode has come and gone! Ships have sailed and ships have sunk, there was closure, there was emotion and there was plenty of music. Can’t get enough of the songs? Check here to see where you can stream and download the soundtrack!

Don’t miss the season 5 finale of Riverdale this Wednesday, October 6 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on The CW!

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Megan
Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvelstaylena if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.

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