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There are big things coming in Season 6
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the 100th episode of Riverdale. Read at your own risk!]
We always should have known that Jughead was responsible for it all. Riverdale's 100th episode just blew up the whole show, quite literally, as it did its best to explain not only the origins of Rivervale, but also the reasons this show is so nuts in the first place. Basically, it's all just Jughead holed up in a bunker writing stories, and all his friends are just, as Cole Sprouse puts it, a bunch of actors.
"I've always thought of the Archie characters as like a theater troupe that sort of just gets dragged and dropped into various outrageous circumstances, whether it's in the digests, or in the show," Sprouse told TV Guide. "And it was fun to have this kind of meta-conversation about that theatre troupe and what that means."
The 100th episode served as the final episode in the Rivervale event series, and it all began with Jughead's body being found at the edge of town. But Jughead was also alive and well, if confused. He woke up in Archie's garage and forgot that he was supposed to begin teaching that day. When Betty (Lili Reinhart) got a call that he was dead, he went to investigate and found that his dead body had been clutching a comic called "Rivervale," with Betty and Archie's wedding displayed on the front cover. He then found a whole box of Archie comics in his own home, with no idea where they had come from, and as he read, he realized the comics were about him and his friends and things that had actually happened to them. He noticed that the first 95 chapters were about a town called Riverdale, and then suddenly they became Rivervale after an explosion in Archie's house.
Jughead then shared his findings with his friends, whose reactions varied. Reggie (Charles Melton) was mostly shocked by how he used to look very different (more on that in a bit), and Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) called Jughead an idiot for thinking Jason (Trevor Stines) was dead. In Rivervale, he's not dead, and he's waiting for Cheryl to meet him at the tennis courts. Jughead then discovered that Dilton (Major Curda) was still alive, teaching physics, and not interested in saving the universe in which he was dead. In fact, most of Rivervale wasn't thrilled about ceasing to exist, and it turned out that it was Archie (KJ Apa) who was most desperate to keep Rivervale alive. In Rivervale, people return from the dead, and maybe that could include his dad too. I simply was not prepared for that little moment of heartbreak, so thanks for that, Riverdale!
Riverdale's Cole Sprouse Reflects on the Show's Legacy Ahead of 100th Episode
As events of Riverdale began repeating themselves (like Jason being kidnapped by the Black Hood), Jughead learned that the two universes were about to implode, and everyone would die. It was the revived Narrator Jughead who eventually figured out how to save both universes, after a trip to the sweet hereafter Pop's, in which all his friends were spending eternity forever in their classic Archie Comics outfits. He realized that Jughead himself could be the power source for Rivervale, locked away in the bunker writing the stories that power the universe. That is, as Narrator Jughead said, an oversimplification, but it makes a sort of sense for all of Riverdale. It's just Jughead writing stories, and a troupe of actors playing them out.
In the prime Riverdale universe, Jughead arranged for Betty to get a phone call telling her to get out of the house to escape the bomb, so she and Archie theoretically got out safely. Jughead himself, however, did not. He was writing in the garage when the bomb went off, seemingly destroying his hearing.
Now, before we jump into what Sprouse had to say about the episode and what comes next, we must talk about the funniest part of the episode: the return of Original Reggie. After Charles Melton Reggie discovered that he looked different in early issues of the comics, Ross Butler-Reggie knocked on Veronica's door, confusing her greatly. The two Reggies were hilarious together, arguing and wrestling over who the real Reggie was. While Charles-Reggie went to Archie's bachelor party, Ross-Reggie appeared as the stripper at Betty's bachelorette party, but Veronica (Camila Mendes) later grounded the both of them as they couldn't stop fighting. Later she returned to find that they had both killed each other, but it's fine because everyone comes back to life in Rivervale! Anyway, I'd watch a spinoff of the two Reggies competing for Reggie supremacy.
Now, please enjoy a conversation with Cole Sprouse about this episode and what comes next for the town of Riverdale.
How does what happened in Rivervale affect what comes next for Riverdale?
Sprouse: I don't actually know too much, because we as actors, we're not really given too much about the upcoming episodes until about a week out. But I talked to [creator Roberto Aguirre Sacasa] a little bit, so from what I understand, there is going to be some connective tissue there between Rivervale and Riverdale. But I think just in a larger sense, what it's done is it's established a way for the audience to understand the sort of campy qualities of the show, which I really enjoy. The show has never taken itself super seriously. But the characters do, which is part of the joy of it, right? Cheryl is drowning some maple syrup, and that's par for the course. No one is really questioning why that exists. And I think when you're able to place that in lineage to the digest and place that in lineage to Narrator Jughead and Writer Jughead who was stitching this together somewhere in a bunker, you go, "Oh, now I get it. Now I understand why the characters have just suspended their disbelief and this seems to be normal." The characters are a theater troupe. Like the real Jughead that's in Pop's is being placed inside the body of a Riverdale Jughead who's moody and broody and introspective, and it just happens that way. And they're just playing the part. It's really interesting. I mean, I love this episode because it just explains a lot. I don't know how much it's going to affect Riverdale or if we'll ever mention that again. But it's given us a dictionary with which to understand the language of the show much better.
What is the recovery going to be like after that explosion? It seemed like Jughead's hearing was affected. Is he deaf now?
Sprouse: So Episode 6 and Episode 7 really dive into that in a sensory way and how it affects creativity and how it affects Jughead, and then you start to see the more arcane side effects of the explosion with Betty, Archie, and Jughead and how it has affected their worlds. By Episode 8, we introduce what is going to be the primary narrative of the second half of the season, so stay along for the ride.
Would you want to go back to Rivervale?
Sprouse: I don't know about Rivervale, but I love the way that we established how the worlds are being built. I'd like to revisit that again. My favorite Jughead is always going to be the one at Pop's, but I liked playing Narrator Jughead a lot. That was a lot of fun. But now Narrator Jughead exists no longer, now Narrator Jughead is just Rivervale Jughead. He's been absorbed, so to speak. But we'll see where the ride takes us!
What was it like making Narrator Jughead into a character?
Sprouse: Initially, when we first started filming the five-episode special when we had the sequences with Narrator Jughead, I had asked to give three different performances–one that felt a bit more Rod Serling, one that felt a bit more Ferris Bueller, and one that felt like the Jughead that we had seen in the previous seasons. And it seems like from what I have pieced together, that we arrived actually a bit more towards the Ferris Bueller of it all. I know people, you know people are linking like The Twilight Zone and all that sort of stuff but in terms of actual performance and even just the language that we had used or the way I was speaking, that we landed a bit more on the humorous side, which has been a lot of fun. So in the beginning, we didn't know what the tone necessarily was going to be for Rivervale, so I ended up sort of safeguarding that by providing three pretty distinct performances for each scene you saw Narrator Jughead, and then by about episode four of that special, we kind of got a sense of what the direction was. And so by episode five, Narrator Jughead is this sort of much more comical version of a normal Jughead.
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How did it go when you had to bring in Narrator Jughead to interact with other characters, including yourself?
Sprouse: It was great. I've been working alongside an identical version of myself my entire life, so it was par for the course. It was fun. I haven't actually seen the episode so I don't know the version of that Jughead that they chose, but I played Narrator Jughead with much less to lose stake-wise than Rivervale Jughead. So you kind of get the moody, everything is so serious Rivervale Jughead, and then you get Narrator Jughead who's like, "Whatever! We'll see!"
Tell me about revisiting some of the show's old relationships and characters. Ross's arrival was particularly funny and I did not expect that.
Sprouse: It was great. I still get along with Ross, Shannon Purser, and Major Curda, and it was nice to see those guys again and catch up with them. It's just sweet. Sometimes in this job, especially after 100 episodes and filming in the same place for six years, a lot of it can blend into one and it's nice to be reminded, "Hey, look at all this stuff that happened. Look at all these people that you've met." It's really beautiful.
Riverdale Season 6 returns in 2022.