Will Melissa and Josh (Cicely Strong and Keegan-Michael Key) find true love and make it out of Schmigadoon in this final episode of the season, or will they be stuck there forever? Will the town disappear for a hundred years? Will Pete the Milkman get injured again in the sixth episode of Schmigadoon!?
Schmigadoon! dropped the first two episodes of the six-episode series on AppleTV+ July 16, following with weekly episodes on Fridays. And Playbill, lovers of all things musical, are glued to the screen trying to spot all the spoofs, allusions, and Easter eggs.
Read on as two Playbill staffers go scene-by-scene calling out plot points and the Golden Age musicals that inspired them. If you're behind, get caught up with our re-caps of the first and second, third, fourth, and fifth episodes.
The moment before:
Our main couple (who isn't a couple anymore) has seemingly found true love, each with a Schmigadoon villager: Melissa with the handsome Dr. Lopez (Jaime Camil), and Josh with the sadder-but-wiser Emma (Ariana DeBose). However, there are a few hitches that may threaten their happiness and prevent their escape from the town. Namely, Doc Lopez's intended and Emma's son.
EPISODE 6: How We Change
Talaura: It's 17 hours before Schmigadoon and Melissa and Josh are on their camping trip attempting to set up a tent sans instructions which ends in laughter and sleeping under the stars. I think anyone who has ever tried to put together a piece of IKEA furniture with a partner and made it out alive will recognize that this is true love.
Then it’s back in Schmigadoon with Josh right where we left him at the end of last week’s episode—on the forest floor holding his heart rock. Carson scurries by, having run away from Emma, angry at her for lying to him this whole time about being his sister/mom. Josh schools him on forgiveness and insists that love and relationships require work.
Logan: If only he’d Come Down From That Tree after running away Into the Woods.
Talaura: Stahp. Emma enters, she and Carson make up, and she proposes to “cross that bridge” with Josh and start a new life in New York City, and Josh is all, “let’s do it!” I am constantly amazed by this dope who consistently says all the right things, then does all the wrong things. And also all the times he says all the wrong things. Get it together, Josh.
Logan: Meanwhile, Melissa is sleeping on the side of the road where Countess Gabrielle abandoned her when Jorge and his mother arrive to rescue her. Turns out Doc Lopez has decided Melissa is who he really wants to be with and Melissa thinks she agrees until the elder Lopez launches into a heartfelt monologue wondering if Melissa truly loves her son. Musical theatre has long loved sage advice from elders, from Arvide Abernathy in Guys and Dolls to Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady. These characters also tend to get the song everyone skips when they listen to the album—thankfully we forgo the song altogether in Schmigadoon! And of course, Melissa reveals she still wants to make things work with Josh. Jorge takes it exceedingly well, still giving his now-unrequited love a ride back into town.
Talaura: He's gorgeous. He'll find someone else. (Says his mom...but also...☞)
Emma, Carson, and Josh stand hand-in-hand-in-hand at the bridge out of town, but Josh, with tears in his eyes, can’t do it. “You changed me, made me a better person,” he tells Emma. Poor little Carson is confused, but Emma, the smartest girl in town, releases Josh. He’s off to find Melissa in Schmigadoon. Hooray, Josh! HOO-RAY.
Logan: Hooray indeed! Back in the town square, it’s election day and Mildred Layton is ready to eviscerate Mayor Menlove at the polls. Mildred is on the attack as she addresses the townspeople, pointing out that Mayor Menlove’s secret homosexuality not only shocked the town, but so shamed his wife that she’s been too embarrassed to be seen in public. Just as the vote is about to happen and it looks like Mildred will win handily, Melissa bursts in looking for Josh. “Did I miss something? Was there a song?” This is of course a reference to monsters that leave to go to the bathroom in the middle of shows.
Talaura: Then Josh runs in, interrupting the second attempt at a vote. Melissa apologizes to him: “I’m sorry for acting like everything that wasn’t perfect was a failure...I choose to believe in us.” And Josh just stands there for a minute. Kind of like at that anniversary dinner when he listened to her affectionate toast and just replied “I feel the same.” BUT THEN HE STARTS SINGING. The man who hates musicals and has thus far refused all his song moments is now singing. Was it completely unexpected...not entirely. Is it completely effective? YES.
Logan: Classic musicals are really good at giving you the resolution you saw coming hours ago while somehow still moving you as if it was unexpected, which is probably at least partially why they have become so enduring. This song sounds like it was captured live rather than pre-recorded in a studio, and I really appreciated that. The emotion in his voice is palpable, and I’m not crying YOU’RE CRYING.
Talaura: (Yes, I also am actually crying.)
Logan: This song, “You Make Me Wanna Sing,” doesn’t have a direct model, but echos lots of heartfelt love songs in musical theatre like Music Man’s “Till There Was You,” Sound of Music’s “Something Good,” and Funny Girl’s “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” to name just a select few.
Talaura: And then the lights dim and they are alone dancing a pas de deux. And now I have to go back to an earlier episode and find Melissa’s line about musicals. Please hold.
Okay...I’m back. Episode 4: “You're in a musical. That's how musicals work. When you're too emotional to talk, you sing. When you're too emotional to sing, you dance.”
Logan: Mildred brings us out of the dreamy haze very upset that these two rabble rousers have garnered any sympathy with the townspeople. “Have you forgotten what they’ve done to this town?” Cue Emma standing up for what Melissa and Josh have done for Schmigadoon, helping everyone to see that they should live freely as their true selves even if they did shake a few things up, much like Marian finds similar pros to Harold Hill’s impact on River City despite his trying to con the whole town. Even Mrs. Menlove appears and lets everyone know she’s not ashamed of her husband at all. “The Mayor is finally being honest about who he really is, and I love him for it.” We love an ally! The town takes a cue from Mrs. Menlove and starts making their own bold public declarations. Emma tells everyone she’s Carson’s mother, Betsy says she’s a socialist, and even Danny reveals his ring toss game is completely rigged. Much to Mildred’s chagrin, it turns out she has a secret as well: Nancy, the unwed mother, is Mildred’s daughter, and her husband is gay and has feelings for Mayor Menlove.
Talaura: Mildred has a meltdown. Then no one votes for her because she called them toilet people. Not even her (soon to be ex?) husband, Reverend Layton. Mayor Menlove wins reelection by a landslide, and in struts a familiar red-uniformed marching band as Aloysius says he’s “honored to be Schmigadoon’s first openly gay...anything!” Am I hearing some “76 trombones” phrasing mixed with the Schmigadoon theme song from that band? Has that phrase always been there? What is Besterman doing to me?
Logan: But this is a happy musical, so even our villains are going to get a second chance. Melissa tells Mildred she’s been a judgmental asshole, but it’s never too late to change. This gets us into our grand finale, “This is How We Change.” We’ve been living solidly in classic musicals of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, but with the people of Schmigadoon newly liberated, we move forward to some more modern musical theatre, specifically Sondheim. The first part of the echoes Sunday in the Park With George’s “Sunday,” but then they break out the tambourines and move to a more gospel-rock-infused version of the song, which gave me big Stephen Schwartz Pippin and Godspell energy—”Morning Glow,” “We Beseech Thee,” etc. Perhaps most importantly, Ariana DeBose finally gets to really belt. Thank you, Cinco.
Talaura: Melissa and Josh head to the bridge, followed by the entire town. Josh hugs Emma and Carson goodbye. Melissa hugs Mayor Menlove (and shoots a little warning look at Mildred). They take each other’s hand and begin to cross the bridge into blackout.
In my heart of hearts, I believe they are true loves and they cross out of Schmigadoon.
Logan: This has been such a fantastic series. When I heard about this show happening and that it was titled Schmigadoon, I remember thinking that with that title this show would either be incredible or completely terrible—I’m happy to report it was the former, needless to say! Like the best parodies and satires, Schmigadoon! pokes fun at these classic musicals while also paying tribute to why they are still so beloved, some 80+ years after they originally premiered. I love when Melissa talks about how love in musicals isn’t always logical and that’s why they let the songs do the heavy lifting. She’s right! There’s a magic in these older shows that can make them rife for making fun of when their plot points are taken out of context, but they’re also beloved and incredibly moving because of the power of music and of emotionally direct storytelling. At the same time, this show was definitely not afraid to point out where these classic musicals fall short in authentically reflecting the real world, from outdated views on marginalized groups to ideas of love and relationships that, without a lot of nuance, can create very unrealistic expectations. In some ways, Schmigadoon! is a great roadmap on how to engage with these older works in a world that has drastically evolved since they were written.
Talaura: Laughing at those old musicals felt like it gave me permission to love them again. Like many musical theatre fans I’m sure, those Golden Age musicals made me the person who I am. And I think Schmigadoon! ultimately is a testament to musical theatre’s power to do that. It’s about the Harolds that change River Cities and the Marians that change Harolds (and the Marias and Captains, Nellies and Emiles, Melissas and Joshes, and Mildreds and Aloysiuses). It's music that changes hearts and opens worlds for the Talauras and Logans watching them from living rooms in Oklahoma(!) and Texas.
I am so sad this is over. I am so happy this exists.
Do we wanna Top Three?
Logan: Well my number one is easy: The Countess’s “Of course I’m a Nazi” made me laugh so hard I had to pause and rewind the episode—It is such a comedy gift that a classic and beloved family friendly musical involves Nazis. Maybe it’s because I watched it most recently, but I also thought the finale in general was fabulous and very moving. Like we said above, you could see it coming from a mile away that Josh would sing at the show’s emotional climax, but they totally earned it and it really got to me. My last one has to be Melissa teaching reproductive health to Nancy and her seaman in a song I have since learned is hilariously titled “Va-gi-na.”
Talaura: 1) The series love song "Suddenly." I've been singing it for three weeks now. It's super charming and if you told me it was Loesser-Lerner-Loewe-Lane trunk song, I would believe you. 2) I really was bowled over by "Tribulation," both the writing and performance. That number was just top notch. 3) We never mentioned it, but there's a running gag throughout the series with Pete the Milkman (see paragraph one) that has a really fun payoff during the final episode confessionals. 4) And also everything else. 5) And that I can watch it again. Right now.
"How We Change," the sixth and final episode of Schmigadoon!, is streaming now on AppleTV+.