Riverdale has officially crossed over to the dark side.
After revealing Jason Blossom's killer in the penultimate episode, Riverdale's freshman finale focused on its core characters and how they're dealing in the aftermath of Clifford Blossom's suicide and the dawn of a new, darker age for their seemingly idyllic small town.
It turns out that Jason's death wasn't the last act of malice for Riverdale. The finale ended with Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) being shot in front of Archie's (KJ Apa) eyes during a robbery at Pop's. On the other side of town, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) joined the Southside Serpents as Betty (Lili Reinhart) watched hopelessly on. Veronica (Camila Mendes) didn't have long to enjoy the splendor of finally having sex with Archie before having to prepare for her felon father's return from prison and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) burned down her house after a failed attempt to kill herself to "be with Jason."
The final episode of the season set up a lot of questions for Season 2. Fortunately, TVGuide.com was able to talk to Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about the episode and what's in store for Archie and his friends as Riverdale tumbles into darkness.
Why did you shoot Fred and what does that set up in Season 2?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: When we started talking about how to end the season and what would be a really, really great cliffhanger we talked about a lot of different options. There are a lot of parts to the show but one of the most emotional and moving to me, and I think to the writers and viewers, has been Archie's relationship with Fred and the love that Fred has for Archie. Archie so looks up to Fred and it felt like that would be a real sucker punch to Archie.
The other thing that made it a terrible, almost inevitable, [situation] is that if the thesis of the show is that Riverdale, this wholesome town that you thought you knew, is actually a place of danger and crime and darkness — Fred is the one character that has always believed in Riverdale. He grew up there. He chose to set up his business in Riverdale. He chose to raise his son in Riverdale. He wants Archie to stay in Riverdale. The idea that the person who mosts believes in Riverdale would become a victim of the darkness that is enveloping Riverdale felt very, very, resonant.
The last thing is that we talk a lot about Archie being the hero of the show. Heroes are tested. I started thinking about the literal heroes of my childhood that I would read. I started thinking of Bruce Wayne when he sees his parents gunned down in Crime Alley. He makes a vow. Peter Parker, when his uncle is shot by a burglar he makes a vow. We really want to start this idea that Archie is going to be the hero of our series, we really need to give him a galvanizing moment unlike he's ever experienced. It felt like that is Fred being shot before his eyes, Archie's worst fears coming true. It sort of speaks to a different Archie in Season 2. He's no longer the kid who has to choose between football and music, Valerie or Veronica and all of this stuff. This is a guy who is going to be on a quest for revenge and hopefully towards heroism, but it's a different Archie in Season 2 if that makes sense.
Does Fred being shot open a chance for Molly Ringwald as Mary Andrews to return?
Aguirre-Sacasa: Listen, we all love Molly Ringwald as Mary. I think everyone loves Molly as Mary. I think that's a very good reason for her to come back to Riverdale, though Mary needs no reason to come back to Riverdale. We love her so much. I wouldn't be surprised if Mary Andrews comes back.
Jughead is now a Serpent! What implications does that have and what kind of barriers is that going to create between him and Betty as well as the rest of his friends?
Aguirre-Sacasa: When I talked about it with the director I told him that this is really a Godfather-like moment for Jughead and Betty. It was like the end of The Godfather when Dianne Keaton is on one side of the door looking in at Michael as he joins his mafia family. That is what we feel the moment is like for Betty and Jughead. She's seeing Jughead take a step further into this gang that his father was a big mover and shaker [in]. I think absolutely that is going to create friction with Betty and with all of the kids. We've got a Jughead who is potentially going to a new school, potentially living in a new part of town and potentially joining the Serpents. The questions are: Is Jughead going to be honest about that? Does Jughead keep that apart from his friends? That's a big story for Betty and Jughead in Season 2, for sure.
There's been a lot of Dark Betty this season, but Dark Cheryl stole the show in this finale. What can you say about what's ahead for Cheryl after she's burned Thorn Hill down?
Aguirre-Sacasa: Cheryl is sort of a fascinating character. She's a character you dream about having on your show because that actress, Madelaine Petsch, can do anything. She can do emotion. She can do humor. She can do really scary stuff. It's all about the Blossom women now. Jason, of course, has been dead for a while. Now Clifford is dead. In my mind, Cheryl and Penelope are sort of locked in this tangle of death. It's a power struggle between these two very formidable women. In my mind, they might even be in the half burned down, crumbling, ancestral home, just the two of them in the long empty, freezing hallways.
As strong and as fiery as [Cheryl] was in Season 1, she very much was under her parents' thumbs. They were quite cruel to her. That's not the dynamic any longer. Clifford is gone and I don't think that Cheryl is going to take much more crap from Penelope. We're going to see a new world order emerging out of that fire in Thorn Hill.
Another huge development in this finale was the resurgence of the love triangle. I personally have been waiting to see Archie look at Betty the way he does in the finale all season — but what made now the right time to bring all of that up?
Aguirre-Sacasa: I have to give credit where credit is due. Greg Berlanti, the Godfather of all of this, he really pushed for the mystery to be solved in the penultimate episode so the last [episode] could really focus on the characters and the relationships. I wrote the first draft of the finale and he said, "Roberto, there's no love triangle in this!" I said, "Oh my God, you're right!" There's always something unspoken between Archie and Betty. For Archie, he's always been a character that likes to keep his options open and vacillate. Before he fully commits to Veronica there's one more look over his shoulder at Betty, do you know what I mean? He is committed to Veronica.
We also found out that Betty has a mystery older brother. Can we expect that to come back up in Season 2?
Aguirre-Sacasa: In a way, the great stories about the Coopers or the theme of the Coopers is the perfect family and what that family looks like. In Season 1, we sort of had Polly show a real crack in the perfection of the Coopers. I think there's a good chance that Betty's brother will do the same.
Another shadowy figure on the show is Hiram. His pending release is having a huge effect on Hermione in this episode. We see for the first time why those two make a good match. Are we going to see her continue going in that dark direction or does Fred calling her out have an effect going forward?
Aguirre-Sacasa: That's a really good question. I think that a character being caught between two things is always good. That said, I really like that as the season progressed that Hermione's motivations got murkier and more complicated. My hope is that when Hiram arrives they are working together like Frank and Claire Underwood [on House of Cards] or Lady and Lord MacBeth — kind of on the same page. We'll see what happens when Hiram gets here.
What does Hiram's return mean for Veronica since she's sort of turned against him in the last few episodes?
Aguirre-Sacasa: Hiram has a lot to answer for. The ultimate sort of judge about Hiram and whether he's reformed and whether he's good and whether he's worthy of being a father and a husband — that rests on Veronica's fashionable shoulders. Absolutely, the person who is going to trust Hiram the least and really be watching Hiram like a hawk is Veronica.
Riverdale returns next season on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies)