It turns out that Riverdale's prized ginger isn't actually informing on his girlfriend's family to the FBI, rather his girlfriend's family was testing his loyalty with a plant. More specifically, Hermione (Marisol Nichols) hired the "agent" that's been contacting Archie to see if he would turn on the Lodges or not. When he passed the test, Hermione revealed herself to be the puppet master. Now Archie must decide how deep into the Lodge's "family" he wants to go.
This is Riverdale though, so Archie isn't the only one struggling with what direction his moral compass is pointing. Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Alice (Madchen Amick) had to call upon the Joneses — Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and FP (Skeet Ulrich) — to get rid of the dead body they'd originally dumped in a drain pipe. FP just got out of prison, but he's already putting himself at risk to help Alice, which could mean something big.
Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and episode director Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries) broke down the episode for TV Guide and a small group of journalists to preview what's next for Riverdale's dark characters.
When did you decide to add the twist that the agent was actually working for Hermione instead of the FBI?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Originally he was going to be an FBI agent. [Executive producer] Greg Berlanti had said, "Careful with the FBI agent stuff and the Archie going undercover for the FBI and wearing a wire." He said, "Archie shouldn't wear a wire. We did it on Dawson's [Creek]. People didn't like it." Or whatever it was. So really quickly, we were like, "OK, so let's say he's not an FBI agent. And then originally he was just going to be Hiram's right-hand man or informant. And then as we were writing the episode we thought, "Oh, people might think he's Hiram's, so what if we make him Hermione's?" So then we have that great reveal at the end on the fake cliff.
What does this mean about Hermione's role in the family?
Aguirre-Sacasa: It's funny. When we first introduced Hiram, there was conflict between Hermione and Hiram. Hiram sort of put Hermione in her place. As the show's been developing and the season's been developing, we kind of wanted to make sure that Marisol the actor had great stuff to play and we wanted to make sure that Hiram and Hermione were more equals and that she wasn't just like the gangster's moll or like Michael Corleone's Diane Keaton was just at home with the kids. We've been trying to build her up as well to be a formidable player in this.
What does Archie's future look like after his conversation with Hermione?
Aguirre-Sacasa: I think Archie started on a darker path in the first half of the season. When Fred was shot and when the Black Hood has his gun on Archie, Archie felt powerless and paralyzed. I think part of his journey this season is he never wants to feel that way again. He never wants to be in a position of weakness again, and there's something attractive about the way the Lodges do business. There's something attractive about the way that Hiram wields power that Archie is drawn to. I think that's what we're exploring in the second half of the season as Archie starts to get deeper and deeper into the Lodge family business. It'll put him at odds with his dad who's such a great salt of the earth, honorable guy. But that's what Archie's journey is on right now.
Will the Lodges stick together as a powerhouse couple? Or will Hermione start her own thing?
Aguirre-Sacasa: The question is how — it's funny that we also talked a little bit how they're like the MacBeths, they're a scheming couple. That's been fun to see them play, but it was fun when thee was a little bit of friction with them at the very top of the episode. We haven't been playing — we've been playing them in lockstep, so I think coming up we might get back to them disagreeing about certain things. I think that's fun too.
Are we going to figure out Chic's involvement in the murder?
Aguirre-Sacasa: We'll be feeling the repercussions of that murder probably for most of the rest of the season. I think we will find out what exactly happened in the kitchen, but it's more like the chain reaction that murder and cover-up sets up going forward as well.
How does Alice and FP teaming up to cover this up pan-out going forward?
Aguirre-Sacasa: We're going to find out much more about her relationship with FP. Skeet, Madchen, Marisol, Mark Consuelos, Luke - they're all great. We're starting a bigger story that involves all of the grownups in a kind of a more full-blooded way in the second half of the season. But I don't think it started yet in the episode we just screened. But everyone's gonna be drawn into one big story.
What's next for Mayor McCoy?
Aguirre-Sacasa: Mayor McCoy is now going to be Attorney McCoy. We don't have a lawyer character on the show except for Mary Andrews who's an attorney, but she lives in Chicago ... We love Robin Givens. When she read this script, one of the other grownups in a true Mean Girls way, said to her, "We heard you're stepping down from mayor and you're not going to be on the show anymore." We love Robin, so she's very much going to be a part of the show. In fact, we see her as legal counsel in the very next episode. So she's very much going to be part of the fabric of Riverdale. We still have a big family story for her and Sheriff Keller and Josie and Kevin coming up as well.
Julie, it's been a while since you've worked on a show that you weren't the showrunner of, so did that present any new challenges for you?
Julie Plec: Yeah, the biggest challenge is just you — I'm a younger director. I've directed a few episodes of The Vampire Diaries — so you have no idea what you know and what you don't know until you go to somebody else's show where not everybody there exists to like make you look good. And then you realize that no, they still exist to make you look good. If you are respectful and you're collaborative, they are dying to make you look good. So it actually turned out to be not much different other than some procedural stuff and really fun to go in and work with these actors. They're in that rush and the flush of being on a hit show in the second season before they hate you before they're like get me out, I'm dying here, and I'm suffocating and you know, please kill me and all that. That thrill for the crew and the cast, where on Wednesday nights they're sitting and ordering pizza in the office and having a viewing and they're all on social media. There's an energy and a buzz on that set on that you don't see very often, so it's fun to be part of something as it's kind of exploding.
Is there pressure going into directing a show that you haven't directed before because it has a certain look, you've got to follow suit versus what your vision of it was going to be?
Plec: Well the beauty of Riverdale is that its stylistic point of view is so specific and so precise. And then add on to that the extra layer of noir elements of this particular episode. All I had to do was pay attention and do my homework and then it kind of took care of itself. I think that, I think ultimately the best thing you can do to going into somebody else's show is just to learn it as intimately as you can in the time that you have to learn it. So I really did a beautiful crash course. So I see oh, they really shoot mostly in this size and they love that lens, and here's how they like to move the camera. You just kind of study it like you would break down a film in film school. And you go in and then you just pitch your ideas and sometimes they say 'Oh my God, that's so cool. We've never done that before, but yes let's do it' And sometimes they say 'You know, we've never done that before, we don't really shoot on zoom lenses so let's not do it.' It's just about the collaboration with the team.
Riverdale continues Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
Additional reporting by Kaitlin Thomas
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS, one of The CW's parent companies.)