riverdale 6x04

‘Riverdale’ season 6, episode 4 review: Happy sad endings are the best

Riverdale season 6, episode 4 dove into the Blossom family history in the most magical way.

I think we all would have guessed that Thornhill was the most haunted place in Rivervale, but we didn’t know exactly how until Riverdale season 6, episode 4. With Bailey’s Comet and Thornhill as anchors, we travelled back to 1892 and 1957 to discover all of the magnificent ghosts that have found a home within those walls.

Let me just start off by saying that I’m absolutely obsessed with this episode, and it’s probably one of my favorite episodes that Riverdale has ever done. It’s always so fun to explore the deep and dark history of the town and its families, and this episode did it in such a delicious way. It was a perfect exploration of how much things have changed, while somehow remaining exactly the same.

Of all the Rivervale episodes, this one felt most like it could fit right in with the regular series. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Cheryl remained a witch in some capacity going forward. I don’t even think it would change the dynamic of the show that much. She has already started performing “miracles” with her ministry, and she’s constantly trying to convene with the dead in one way or another.

Thornhill has always felt like a relic, so it didn’t feel strange at all to rewind over a hundred years from that setting. I love the idea that generations of Blossom women have both found and given sanctuary there, before the various evils of the town slowly seeped in like the Blossom’s precious maple syrup.

I loved the theatrical nature of Riverdale season 6, episode 4. It was a brilliant idea to have the characters and generations seamlessly transition by literally walking out of scenes to be replaced by the next story. It was beautifully done, and you could just tell how much fun the Riverdale cast was having playing with this new form of storytelling.

When the sun first rose on Abigail, Poppy, and Cheryl in their respective decades, my first thoughts were that I was really sad for Cheryl. Abigail greeted the day with so much hope, and Poppy with pride. Cheryl, on the other hand, had a hardness to her. As we learned later, she bore the full weight of a century long curse, and it was taking its toll.

Spending time with each of the Blossom women, we saw that Abigail had a full, untarnished heart and mind, which was easily opened to new ideas by Thomasina. Poppy, having been literally burned before as Abigail, had developed a shrewdness. She knew the rules of the game, so she figured out ways to beat it, giving her fellow women courage and tools to do the same.

Interestingly, the Cheryl Blossom that we’ve come to know and love over six seasons of Riverdale seems to have the best and worst of both women. She has a huge heart and craves deeply to open it, but she can border on naïve and has been taken advantage of in the past. When this happens, she closes up and quickly escalates from shrewd to combative, hurting and rejecting people before they can do the same to her.

riverdale season 6 episode 4

Abigail and Thomasina’s relationship definitely mirrored that of Cheryl and Toni, with Thomasina opening up Abigail’s world like Toni did for Cheryl. Thomasina’s murder was crushing, but their epic, life-and-death-spanning love story was beautifully told. I felt so much for both women in Riverdale season 6, episode 4, and am rooting so hard for their beyond-the-grave endgame.

This episode did such a good job of exploring different ways that women have been persecuted for being who they are and loving who they love throughout time. In 1892, Thomasina was called a “saucy, sapphic wench” and murdered, while Abigail was cursed and burned at the hands of a man because of their independence from men in general.

Poppy was jailed and deemed a “sad, sexually repressed spinster,” as well as a communist, because she emboldened women and lived an empowered life. In a non-segregated space, no less! I love the idea that Tabitha and Betty’s ancestors were able to live better lives and leave better legacies because Poppy was resourceful enough to help them and they were brave enough to listen.

Poppy’s love story was less satisfying, but just as powerful. The connection between Poppy and Bitsy was palpable, and this story was so beautifully acted by Lili and Madelaine. I fully felt Bitsy’s fear at Jack’s vitriol, and my heart broke as Poppy’s spirit did when her freedom was taken away.

That brings us back to Cheryl and Nana Rose in the present day, trying to free Abigail’s spirit from Fenn’s curse of everlasting and solitary life by performing a transference. Excitingly, they did this with the help of Sabrina Spellman, who has known Cheryl for years in the world of Rivervale! She was as spunky as ever, and felt right at home in Cheryl’s gothic world. I definitely wouldn’t be upset if these two stayed friends and Sabrina made more appearances in Riverdale.

Cheryl/Abigail’s soul has been replaced by the soul of Nana Rose, who was on her way out. This was definitely a “wait, what?” moment, but to have only one of those in an episode of Riverdale isn’t bad. As a standalone story that likely won’t affect the rest of the show, I liked this outcome. “Happy sad endings are the best,” after all. Sabrina also put an interesting spin on it, playing on the fact that she actually died in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, saying, “there is no death for witches, only transformation.”

Does this mean we’ve lost Nana Rose for good? Probably not, since plenty of other characters have perished in the Rivervale. Luckily, the body count is almost complete, since next week’s 100th episode of Riverdale will be the last of the five-episode event. Check Subjectify for our review of Riverdale season 6, episode 5, “Chapter One Hundred: The Jughead Paradox.”