Did ‘Riverdale’s “Graduation” Tease a Josie and the Pussycats Reunion?

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There were a lot of fabulous moments on last night’s (February 3) Riverdale high school graduation episode, but one brief mention probably raised a few questions for the casual fan; and for the more hardcore fan, a few more. So, what happened to Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) on Riverdale? And are Josie and the Pussycats coming back for a time jump reunion?

In the episode, the gang all gets together post-graduation to bury a time capsule under the football field. Rude to the Riverdale High groundskeeper, but otherwise a sweet moment as each member of the cast pulls out objects that meant something to them over the past four years. For Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), that’s programs from all the school musicals, as well as a pair of very recognizable cat ears.

“I’m putting in programs from my musicals, as well as a pair of Josie’s cat ears,” Kevin says. “I wish she was here with us.”

Given the regular amount of murders on Riverdale, you’d be forgiven if you momentarily thought, “wait, is Josie dead?” Well, good news: she’s not! In fact, Josie left Riverdale back in Season 3’s “Chapter Fifty-Four: Fear the Reaper” in order to travel the country with her father, honing her music. She briefly returned in the Season 4 premiere, “In Memoriam,” to support Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) after his father Fred (Luke Perry) was killed by a hit-and-run driver, but that was supposed to be it for her on the series.

The reason? Josie moved to New York to join the spinoff Katy Keene. Set five(ish) years later, Katy Keene saw Josie moving into an apartment with the titular Katy (Lucy Hale) after being on the road since Junior year of high school in Riverdale. Over the course of the first (and only) season of the series, Josie got a record contract, put together a new Pussycats to support her, and work with, and battled with the villainous — yet sympathetic — Xandra Cabot (Camille Hyde). Ultimately, she began to find her own sound, and work her way up the ranks of the music world in NYC, before the show was canceled.

Like most of this week’s “Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation,” the episode is meant to call back to the first episode of Riverdale, as well as wrap up four years of storytelling on the show before next week’s “Purgatorio” jumps seven years forward. Including Josie, a key part of the cast since that pilot, seems vital; though it’s pretty clear that due to COVID restrictions, they probably could not get Murray back on set for this final hour. Hence Kevin’s shout-out in the time capsule scene.

However, the mention might serve another purpose: teeing up a Josie and the Pussycats reunion in Season 5 of Riverdale.

Though “Graduation” was originally meant to be the Season 4 finale, due to COVID shutting down production on Riverdale in March, 2020, it’s now the third episode of Season 5. That means it has to wrap up storytelling from Season 4, but also function as a part of the overall season currently being broadcast. That’s certainly sent fans spiraling in speculation when it comes to seeds planted in the episode for the future of various couples. But it’s possible the Josie mention was also laying seeds, this time for the eventual comeback of Riverdale’s favorite band (sorry, Green Day).

First, a note about time, inasmuch as it matters at all to Riverdale. Technically, Katy Keene takes place five years later than Riverdale, and Riverdale is jumping seven years into its future next episode. If you take the “five years later” to mean after Josie left the show, then if she does show up this season it would be about three years after the end of Katy Keene. So plenty of things could have happened to her in the meantime.

The bigger question mark is what happened to the Pussycats, aka Valerie Brown (Hayley Law) and Melody Valentine (Asha Bromfield). After Josie decided to pursue her own musical sound, the duo completely disappeared from Riverdale, last appearing halfway through Season 2 on “The Wrestler.” Particularly given Josie and the Pussycats are so key to the lore of Archie Comics, it was a bizarre swerve to see them cut out of the series, and arguably also pretty frustrating on the representation front (the show has grappled on and off with issues relating to actors of color).

But! There’s a silver lining here. After a pretty public blow-up on Twitter last year involving actress Vanessa Morgan, it seems that behind the scenes the show had already been having serious conversations about how to do better by their diverse cast. Morgan’s Toni reportedly has gotten a significant upgrade post-time jump, and Erinn Westbrook has joined the cast full-time starting next episode as Pop Tate’s granddaughter, Tabitha Tate. So after their confusingly unreferenced exit, could the Pussycats be making a comeback, as well?

Not for nothing, but: Murray has been very quiet about what project(s) she has lined up post Katy Keene; Bromfield has a role on Netflix’s Locke & Key that could conceivably keep her busy, though it’s a smaller role that could allow for flexibility; and Law has a few projects according to IMDb, but again, possible flexibility there.

And moreover, Law and Bromfield haven’t been shy about teasing something on Twitter. On January 24, Law tweeted an iconic Archie Comics panel that led to a frenzy from fans:

Bromfield quote tweeted with a star-eye emoji, which further freaked out the fans. For her part, Murray has not gotten in on the Pussycats teasing, but the absence of Murray’s support does not mean the lack of it.

Regardless, it’s clear the interest is there from the fans, Law and Bromfield also seem to be less than burned by the experience and into the idea of these roles, and those dangling ears in this week’s episode potentially could point to something more.

Just to throw out one scenario? With Archie returning after seven years and finding it hollowed out by Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), what better to help bring some pep back to the town than a reunion of Riverdale’s favorite band, Josie and the Pussycats?

Until then, we’re all ears.

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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