Show creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa walks us through 'Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Woods'
It might seem like a dark, neo-noir teen thriller is a far cry from the primary colored Archie comics you remember from your youth, but the team behind Riverdale on The CW has been honoring the characters’ old school origins with some deep-cut details.
Did you catch the name of the group Archie forms to try to catch the masked murderer who goes by “The Black Hood”? It’s the Red Circle, a name pulled from an imprint of Archie Comics Publications in the late 1970s.
“We were trying to come up with different names for Archie’s vigilante group,” show creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa explained. “In the past, Archie Comics published a line of superhero comics that were under the imprint the Red Circle, which more recently has been the Dark Circle. But we wanted to go more old-school, so that’s where we got the name the Red Circle.”
And “The Black Hood” — how the murderer referred to himself in the letter he sent Alice Cooper — is also an old-school Archie reference. “The Black Hood was one of the Red Circle’s heroes — sort of anti-heroes,” Aguirre-Sacasa explained. But don’t expect the murderer to turn into a hero: “It’s just an homage, really, because that guy was really more like The Punisher, a real anti-hero, where I think our Black Hood is more malevolent, more like the Zodiac or something.”
And turns out “jingle jangle” wasn’t just the silliest name for a street drug the Riverdale writer’s room could come up with: “There’s a great old Archie song called ‘Jingle Jangle’ and when you watch the cartoon video of it, it looks very psychedelic,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “I honestly think we got a note from standards and practices that said we couldn’t use crystal meth or heroin, and it was like, oh my god, but drugs are a part of the world of Riverdale. So we starting thinking, what’s the Riverdale version of heroin? In Breaking Bad, remember they had the blue crystal? Okay, well, so they invented that for Breaking Bad, so what could ours be? And then I was like, let’s do ‘jingle jangle.’ It’s so perverse that it’s in Pixy Stix.”
And there’s one more scene from the season’s third episode, “Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Woods,” with a hidden influence: Kevin’s fake-out stabbing death in a stranger’s car was inspired by Brokeback Mountain. “That horrible scene where Heath Ledger is calling in the phone booth and he sees flashes of Jake Gyllenhaal’s death — that was what inspired that,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “We wanted it really to get underneath everyone’s fear and paranoia.”
Riverdale airs on The CW Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.