Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven’t watched Thursday’s season one finale of Riverdale!
Riverdale ended its first season with a bang on Thursday! Just as the town was unraveling the truth behind Jason Blossom’s death, another shocking blow came in the finale’s last moments, when Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) was gunned down during a robbery at Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe as son Archie (KJ Apa) helplessly tried to intervene.
ET: After revealing Jason’s killer in last week’s penultimate episode, the finale was tasked with tying up the loose ends, but also setting us up for season two. Can you talk to me a little bit about planning this first season and where you hoped to be in the finale?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: The big question, of course, of the season was, who killed Jason Blossom? When we made the decision to answer that in the penultimate, I think it put an extra burden on the finale, because it was like, you know, you can’t have a finale that’s just tying up loose ends. There has to be a new story, and in a way, no matter what, it has to sort of be bigger than the penultimate episode, which was pretty big. We really wanted to bring all of our characters kind of to a head, and develop the relationships that we’ve built up over the season, and push them even further.
The biggest thing, probably, is where Archie ends up. About halfway through the finale, he’s in a really good place. He’s saying to Veronica, “I want to be for you what Jughead is for Betty,” and he finally fulfills his destiny as a hero and saves Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)… and his friendships with Betty and Jughead are in a good place. He’s sort of made his peace with everything, [and then] he walks into the bathroom at Pop’s, but when he comes back out, his world is completely shattered, because he sees his greatest fear literally happen before his eyes, which is his beloved father is gunned down in front of him.
That puts Archie in a very different place for season two. The way we’re thinking of what happens in Pop’s in the last moments of the finale is really the equivalent of Bruce Wayne seeing his parents gunned down in Crime Alley, or Peter Parker learning that his beloved Uncle Ben was shot by a robber. That really set those two characters on their hero’s journey. For Archie, he is the hero of our show, but before he gets to that heroic journey, it’s going to be a journey more of revenge, and a journey of darkness and violence begetting violence. So it’s going to be a really different Archie for season two. That’s really exciting. So that was something that we wanted to [do], to get Archie to that place, of course at a terrible cost.
Will the identity of Fred’s shooter be the overarching mystery of season two?
The mystery that launches season two is absolutely who shot Fred Andrews, and why? Much like Jason, we’re going to learn that there are a lot of possible — and not only possible, but likely — suspects amongst our town… Much as the murder of Jason revealed a lot of the dark, gothic underpinnings of Riverdale, the same will be true of the person who shot Fred. That investigation is just going to lead into even darker waters.
Jughead’s voiceover at the end hints that Fred getting shot was no accident. Is there anything to the theory that this might have been orchestrated by the Lodges, who were trying to force him out of the construction business?
I think there’s definitely a lot to that theory… Hermione (Marisol Nichols) says to Veronica, very clearly, if Fred doesn’t sell, it’s going to be really bad for him. And the next thing we see is Fred getting shot. I think that’s one of the first, most likely suspects in my mind.
And we’ll see even more of that family’s inner workings in season two, with the onscreen introduction of Hiram Lodge (the newly cast Mark Consuelos). What’s to come for Veronica and her parents?
In the finale, we see [Veronica] drawing a line with Hermione, you know, she calls her mother “Lady Macbeth.” So the idea is, is it going to be Veronica against both of her parents next season? One of the classic dynamics from the comic books is that Veronica’s father, Hiram Lodge, has historically always hated Archie… With Veronica getting in deeper with Archie, and her father’s arrival imminent, I think we’re gonna both honor that classic trope, and then subvert it as well. I think that’s where a lot of Veronica’s conflict is going to reside in season two.
It was a little worrisome to see Jughead ultimately embracing his father’s legacy, the Southside Serpents, both for Betty and the viewers. Is he going to be headed down a dark path next season?
You know, we love our homages on Riverdale, and the last beat for us is kind of like that moment at the end of the first Godfather movie, when Diane Keaton is looking at Michael Corleone, Al Pacino, in his study, being surrounded by his mafia family and they’re all there kissing the ring. For us, Betty being on the inside of the trailer, seeing Jughead put on that Serpents jacket, is sort of the same moment.
I think in season two, Betty and Jughead’s story is going to be Jughead sort of following in his father’s footsteps and perhaps distancing himself from Betty, and Betty struggling to hold on to Jughead. Betty [also has] her own dark side, which the Serpents sort of speak to, but it’s sort of the double life of Jughead: the life with his friends and with Betty, and then the darker side, which is being part of this gang, like his father. So that’s really going to be their central conflict.
Riverdale’s core foursome are very clearly coupled up by season’s end — Jughead and Betty say “I love you,” and Archie and Veronica make things official — but it seemed like there were some hints that Archie’s also feeling something for Betty. Will we see that play out more in season two?
Yeah, I think the love triangle, whether we’re playing it directly, or it’s just bubbling underneath, it’s always sort of a part of the show… In the second episode, Archie says to Veronica that, when they were little kids, Archie had said to Betty that they were going to get married when they were 18. And I think that conversation with Betty in The Blue and Gold sort of speaks to that. In a way, it hearkens back to simpler times, when it was just Archie and Betty… it’s sort of this goodbye to that time, and now, she’s with Jughead and he’s with Veronica. There’s a little bit of nostalgia in that scene.
I think he does really have strong feelings for Veronica, and Betty obviously has strong feelings for Jughead — she loves him, she says — but you know, there’s always something about your first crush, I think. There’s always a little part of your brain that imagines what could have been. I think that’s what that scene is about.
Betty’s family drama also came to a head in the finale, when her mother (Mädchen Amick) revealed that she gave a son up for adoption in high school. Are we ever going to meet Big Brother Cooper? What’s to come for that family?
For me, the big Coopers’ story of the series is family; their ancestors, being a perfect family, owning all of their flaws, and things like that. We really learned a lot about the Coopers through Polly (Tiera Skovbye) in season one. And I think in season two, you know, when you say there’s a secret, mystery brother out there, I think eventually you have to pay that off… I think he’s going to be a very different character than Polly, but again, it’s going to kind of put the Cooper family unit under the microscope and really yet again test it. That’s what I think that story and that family is about, truth-telling and secrets.
Another family that was forced to deal with the consequences of secrets this season was the Blossoms, as it was discovered that Jason’s death came at the hands of his drug-smuggling father. After that revelation, Cheryl went off the rails a little, attempting to drown herself in Sweetwater River, and ultimately, setting the family’s mansion ablaze. What’s next for her?
Cheryl was sort of baptized in the river of ice, and then, like the phoenix, stepped out of the flames, reborn into something even scarier, perhaps, than she was in season one. She has even less to lose, and [by setting the house on fire] she sort of burnt the rot that has infested the Blossom family for generations. She sort of expiated that.
For [Cheryl in season two], a big thing is, it’s just her and Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) now. And Penelope was quite cruel to Cheryl in season one, and she really did have Cheryl under her thumb. I think what we’re going to see in season two is that that power dynamic has shifted, and really, it’s these two formidable, unbalanced women, locked in a no-holds-barred power struggle.
Have you started planning any season two storylines yet? Any hints of what’s to come?
In the finale, Betty alludes to it with Jughead. She says, “I don’t want to let the civil war rip us apart.” I can tell you that there’s a civil war brewing between the north side of Riverdale and the south side. That’s something that will really be playing out and complicating our characters’ lives throughout the season.
Riverdale will for return for season two on The CW.