Things are a mess on Riverdale heading into the show's mid-season finale.
The show's two central couples — Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse), and Archie (KJ Apa) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) — are in shambles, FP (Skeet Ulrich) has been pushed back into a life of crime by the Snake Charmer Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan) and the Black Hood still looms large.
If a serial killer on the loose wasn't enough drama, last week's episode ended with lifetime best friends Betty and Archie looking at each other with a serious case of heart eyes, implying that sparks are reigniting between the two. Are we heading for a love square implosion as the Black Hood picks his next victim?
TV Guide talked to Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about what to expect from Wednesday's episode and how afraid fans need to be for their favorite 'ships.
What did that look between Archie and Betty at the end of last week's episode really mean?
Robert Aguirre-Sacasa: We are heading into the mid-season finale. Archie, Betty, Jughead and Veronica have been through a crucible. They have been through the fires. The truth of the season is that they've been under huge psychological and emotional stress, particularly Archie and Betty. Archie's father was shot in front of him. That's not something that you step away from easily. Betty was in a psychological cat and mouse [game] with the Black Hood for several episodes. That is also something you don't shake loose. Both of their relationships seem to be imploding at around the same time. These two kids who are in way over their heads, as they both are, as we've seen from their actions, look at each other from across the window and it's for solace, comfort, maybe something more. It feels like they are both lost at sea and they are looking at each other, "Are you my life preserver?"
So should we think there are legitimate feelings there or are they just reeling from what just happened in their own respective relationships?
Aguirre-Sacasa: They've always got tons going on, but they have a very long-shared history. There are always feelings of affection between them. I think we saw at the end of last season when Betty was getting even closer to Jughead and Archie was getting closer to Veronica there was almost a sense of "the path not taken." I think that's always a little bit present in those kinds of relationships and friendships.
Jughead is so consumed with the Penny Peabody debt. How desperate is he to get rid of that going into the mid-season finale?
Aguirre-Sacasa: He's incredibly desperate. From the end of the finale last year, FP said to Archie, "You've got to take care of my son. There's darkness within him. He'll be drawn to the dark." That's been a big story for him that we've been telling all through this season. It's sort of starting to crystalize around Penny and FP. [Jughead] gets caught up in Penny's schemes because he's trying to help his father. He gets in deeper with Penny because he's trying to get his father out of jail, even though he's being manipulated. At the end of Episode 8, his worst dream has come true which is his father got out of jail and is almost immediately stepping into a life of crime. Penny is a big problem!
Jughead has really taken to being a Serpent. Is he really coming into the idea that being a Serpent is really who he is?
Aguirre-Sacasa: This is someone who felt like such an outsider last year and felt like he didn't belong. He literally was living under a stairwell when he wasn't living in a movie theater on the South Side. I do think that he's felt a sense of community and family that he hadn't before felt. That's what he's vibing with more than anything else.
Veronica was really open with her parents about everything that was going on with Archie. What does that say about her relationship with her parents this season and how she's bonding with them?
Aguirre-Sacasa: Since Episode 2 of this season, [Veronica] said, "Let's make a go of it, but mom and dad let's have complete transparency." Veronica has been getting in deeper with her parents and trying to integrate her parents with her friends more and trying to synthesize all those parts of her life. When she's telling them about Archie in Episode 8, it does suggest, "Oh, this is what normal kids and parents talk about. My boyfriend said, 'I love you' and I didn't say it back. What do you think I should do?" This is what Veronica wanted. She wanted her confidant back and her father back. It speaks more to what her character wants strongly than anything conscious.
The Riverdale mid-season finale airs Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 8/7c on The CW.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies)