[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Season 4 finale of Riverdale, "Killing Mr. Honey." Read at your own risk!]
Riverdale may not have ended Season 4 exactly how creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa imagined thanks to the production shut down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but the impromptu finale still left fans with their jaws on the floor Wednesday evening.
Episode 19, "Killing Mr. Honey," was directed by series star Madchen Amick, and featured multiple murder fantasies as the core four and their friends plotted how to get back at Principal Honey (Kerr Smith) for ruining their senior year. Interspersed between the fantasy and story sequences, the voyeur who has been sending static videotapes of the front of the characters' houses stepped up their game. The new replica video showed "Jughead" (Cole Sprouse) and the rest of his friends killing Mr. Honey for real.
What was the meaning behind the ominous video, and what are the voyeur's real motives with these disturbing tapes? Those are questions that will have to partly be answered when the show eventually returns for Season 5. Amick teased to TV Guide during our preview chat for the episode that Riverdale was "planning on a bit of a time jump, after [the teens had] all gone off to college and something brings them back to the town," so we caught up with Aguirre-Sacasa to discuss how the abbreviated Season 4 is changing plans for next year and whether that big time jump is still on the table.
How has this interruption altered the plan for Season 5?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: We still had two and a half episodes left to shoot. Obviously the thing we were really building to was was graduation in Episode 22. So, when all of this kind of happened, the first thing I did was look at all the footage from Episode 20. Even though we had already shot the big event, which was prom, there were so many important character scenes between Archie and Veronica and Betty and Jughead that we couldn't quite cobble together the finale. I think a few other shows managed to take that footage from their last episodes and do that. We couldn't. Then I saw the director's cut of Episode 19, "Killing Mr. Honey" and I loved it. I thought that it was really fun because all of the kids were in one big story together, which we don't always do on Riverdale and it had a really gruesome, shocking, cliffhanger that I think really bumps the videotape mystery up to the next level.
So we thought, "Okay, well let's make this our finale. It's special. It's got all the kids in it. It forwards the mystery in a really good way. Then we'll do prom as our season premiere next year. It's not ideal, however, I love this week's episode. And I love that we're not short-changing things like prom and graduation. We're saving them to do them next year.
I heard the plan was to do a big time jump at the end of this season to after the kids have gone to college. Is that still in the cards for Season 5 or something that will have to be re-worked considering the shutdown?
Aguirre-Sacasa: We're in the room right now. We're doing the room via Zoom. We are definitely talking about what Season 5 looks like. We are definitely picking up right where we left off in terms of the mystery, in terms of the relationships...Then we're talking about what we can do. Usually, time jumps are the best when they happen in between seasons, but we're definitely talking about all of our different options, but I can tell you that the first three episodes back, continue exactly where we left off.
Does that mean we won't be saying goodbye to some of our parents as soon as we thought we would?
Aguirre-Sacasa: I called Marisol and Skeet and said, "Listen, guys. Obviously we haven't finished this season's storylines. We want to do that and we want to make sure we give you guys the right send-off."...Marisol already knew what we had planned for Hermione and really loved it, and wanted to make sure we weren't going to change that -- which we weren't. Skeet was completely down. As I said to them earlier, I said, "Even even though they're leaving as series regulars...neither character dies. My hope is that they're a part of Riverdale as long as there's a Riverdale. Even as we talk about stories for Season 5, if Hermione and FP fit into those stories, we're writing them that way and hopefully, we'll be able to use them, depending on what other commitments they have.
Betty seemed ready to squash whatever was going on between her and Archie in the last episode. Is that actually done or could those feelings come back up in Season 5?
Aguirre-Sacasa; At the end of last episode, when Betty and Archie were in the bunker, it felt like Betty, you know, whatever the liaison was, it felt like for Betty, it sort of reconfirmed her feelings about Jughead. For Archie, when it ended, I think Archie felt kind of confused and a little bit lost about what he wanted. So you're definitely still playing [with that]... In Episodes 20, 21, and 22, the episodes we'd written, [Barchie] was a huge part of those episodes, and we're still playing them. Neither Veronica nor Jughead have found out about any of this. I don't know if this is a spoiler, but I can tell you that they definitely will find out in very different ways. I don't think it's the end of the drama or it's the end of the love quadrangle by any stretch of the imagination.
Does the voyeur have anything to do with Jughead and Veronica finding out? Because that person knows a lot about this friend group.
Aguirre-Sacasa: I can tell you that the voyeur is focused on other things besides the two ships of Bughead and Varchie, but you're so right that the voyeur probably knows about it. But the voyeur is focused on other, darker, things.
Can you talk about what the voyeur's motives are for sending these videotapes? The Black Hood wanted to cleanse Riverdale's soul of sinners, but what is the point of these tapes?
Aguirre-Sacasa: The voyeur is a very insidious villain. What the voyeur is doing is recreating horrific crimes that happened in Riverdale, that happened to our characters. In a way, it sort of is demanding that the kids, who have become desensitized to violence or moved on and processed it a certain way, look at their high school experience and these traumas, and deal with them before they leave Riverdale. That is sort of a theoretical, highfaluting idea of what the voyeur is doing. When the voyeur is revealed, there will be a very personal reason for why the voyeur is doing this, but I think thematically, it is this idea of deconstructing the crimes, and weirdly the idea of the show Riverdale, which is the idea that kids can experience crimes and gruesome murders and that must do something to them. It must affect them in some way. We don't always play that, but that's what it feels like the voyeur is interested in -- the idea of trauma and what that does to a town and a group of kids.
So..it's like therapy, but make it Riverdale?
Aguirre-Sacasa: Exactly. We always talk about influences, and one is this filmmaker named Michael Haneke, who makes really, really intense, [thrilling] psychological movies that are always about dark things. One of the things that he always does in his films is he explores children and violence, and teenagers and violence. That is kind of what inspired this.
Mr. Honey leaves Riverdale High at the end of the episode but is just going to Stonewall Prep. Have we seen the last of him?
Aguirre-Sacasa: When we asked Kerr to come be the new principal, obviously, first of all, [we] loved the idea of getting someone from a previous teen hit show to come. From the first day he was on set, it was like, "Oh, this. I totally get this." He's so happy doing this. He doesn't mind being a villain...he was so great. We wanted to do a lot with Kerr. Now, there is a universe where Mr. Honey is dead at the end of the episode as well. I don't want to say too much, but I will say he's been amazing and I'm really grateful for him because he did a great, great job.
Riverdale returns next season on The CW.