Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter

Spoiler alert: This post contains plot details from the May 16 season finale of Riverdale. Read at your own risk.

Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) has been up to no good all season on Riverdale. From radicalizing Archie (K.J. Apa) to secretly buying Pop’s to pulling the strings on hits on Nick St. Clair (Graham Phillips) and Poppa Poutine (M.C. Gainey), Hiram will stop at nothing to protect his business interests and get what he wants.

By the end of season 2, he had successfully completed a season-long quest to destroy the Southside Serpents (and scapegoat them for any tragedy that befell the town in the process) in order to buy up land on the south side of Riverdale to implement his nefarious plans, which apparently include building a privatized prison, running drugs, opening a brothel, and who knows what other forms of vice.

And yet, Riverdale creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa says we ain’t seen nothing yet when it comes to how villainous Hiram Lodge can be. “Hiram Lodge can get much, much darker,” he says. “We saw Hiram as a manipulative figure in season 2, but he didn’t get his hands dirty. He influenced Archie. He influenced Reggie. He capitalized on Veronica’s love for him. But he didn’t get down and dirty in the mud that much.”

Aguirre-Sacasa adds that viewers “have not gotten the full extent of [Hiram’s] plans,” despite witnessing the machinations of a Southside cabal that includes Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) and Claudius Blossom (Barclay Hope), Penny Peabody (Brit Morgan), Sheriff Minetta (Henderson Wade), and the Ghoulies. “We’re going to see a much darker, more involved Hiram Lodge than in season 2,” he concludes.

A Kiss Before Dying
Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Hiram’s evil deeds also included framing Archie for murder, which resulted in the season-ending arrest of Riverdale’s boy next door. And that’s not all — Betty (Lili Reinhart) faced down her imprisoned father and the darkness inside herself, vowing to dispel it from her life; Jughead (Cole Sprouse) came back from the edge of death, only to be named the new head of the Serpents upon FP’s (Skeet Ulrich) retirement; Veronica (Camila Mendes) made it clear she’s no longer daddy-kins’ little girl; and Polly (Tiera Skovbye) returned to town to offer questionable emotional support to Alice (Madchen Amick) and Betty.

Given the whirlwind of events that occurred in the season 2 finale, Aguirre-Sacasa walked us through what it all means and where these threads might take the denizens of the “town with pep”when Riverdale returns for a third season in the fall.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Both seasons 1 and 2 were, at their heart, murder mysteries. Is it safe to say season 3 will be fairly different in that regard, since we did not end on a death?
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: They were very different seasons. One was a murder mystery; one was more of a serial killer in a small town. There will definitely be a genre element that draws on a tradition of pulp and noir, and a few other genres. There will be an investigation aspect to the season and a mystery aspect to the season, and I’m sad to say that probably Dr. Curdle in the coroner’s office will still be in business next season.

This episode ends with Archie arrested for the murder of the boy in the woods, who was actually killed by one of Hiram’s bodyguards. It’s certainly dramatic, but can you elaborate on how it will affect the core four and Veronica’s already strained relationship with her father?
In a weird way, Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead, they’re so different they shouldn’t be friends, really. They’re all such different archetypes, as we’ve talked about and dramatized a bunch. Archie is like the everyman glue that holds them together. He’s friends with Jughead, he’s friends with Betty, he’s dating Veronica. Jughead and Veronica don’t necessarily have a friendship. It feels like their friendship grows out of Archie. So the idea of Archie being thrust into a situation that potentially takes him away from the core four does threaten the integrity of the core four. Veronica and Hiram ended the season at odds. I don’t think this is going to help that at all. It is going to set up a big central conflict in season 3.

Have we truly seen the last of the Black Hood? Lochlyn Munro told me last week that Hal will definitely be returning, so what can you tell me about what’s in store for him and his relationship with the other Coopers?
I always say, “Never say never” on Riverdale, and the dead always come back. Hal Cooper is still alive, so we may see him, for sure. The Black Hood, again, never say never, but for a little bit, we can rest easy that the Black Hood is not going to break into our houses. It doesn’t mean we should leave our doors unlocked, but I think we’re okay for that specific thread.

Have we seen the last of Dark Betty? She seemed to be firmly making a choice to walk away from that side of herself.
That darkness within Betty will always be a part of her character, and that will always exist. We did lean into it, especially in season 2. She had it in season 1 and identified it. But I wouldn’t mind seeing Betty on the other side of that. Again, I don’t think that necessarily means Betty is completely healed; that will be a process. But I wouldn’t mind her smiling a bit more, is what I said to Lili [Reinhart]. I love when she’s smiling with Jughead in the hotel room. She’s been wrestling with something, and I wouldn’t mind seeing her a little more in control and a little bit of a lighter Betty for season 3.

Veronica pretty firmly separates herself from her father here, and Hermione is starting to have flickers of doubt. What can we expect from both of them? Are they going to continue to wriggle away from Hiram’s influence, or keep being pulled back under his spell?
A lot of season 2 for Veronica, she was a daddy’s girl. She called him “daddy-kins.” She followed Hiram, perhaps blindly. She certainly put him on a pedestal, and she loves her father. She still loves her father, but she’s done being a daddy’s girl. That doesn’t mean she’s done being in stories with Hiram. What it means is there’s going to be more conflict between the two, and their relationship won’t simply be parent and child. It will be more complex than that. We will keep playing the consequences of the decision she made in the finale, which is to reject Hiram’s money and all that that entails.

So, are both Cheryl and Betty officially Serpents now? Will they get tattoos, or is it like an honorary thing?
I think that’s something we hit in the season premiere of season 3. Are they Serpents? What kind of Serpents are they? What are the Serpents now that they’re not on the south side? Now that FP is retired? Now that so many of them have left? There’s fun to be had with Cheryl and Betty in the Serpents. Is that what Jughead imagined? Does it make it easier or harder to be in charge of the Serpents? Probably a little bit of both, I’d imagine.

Will we ever find out Chic’s fate?
Yes. Chic’s out there, right? We don’t know if he died. Betty didn’t ask Hal. If he is alive, we don’t know where he is. We don’t know when he might come back. Yeah, he’s out there. I really like that actor, Hart [Denton], who played Chic. Who knows, who knows?

Polly suggests her mother find healing with one of her friends from the farm who sounds fairly ominous (and cult-like). Can you tell us more about that at all?
We’ve been seeding the idea of the farm, and that the farm may not be as altruistic and as benevolent a place as Polly suggests. We might see a little bit of what the farm is and what it’s been like for Polly. What is this place, and what does it mean for Polly? What does it mean for Alice, who is sort of emotionally bereft or hollowed out at the end of season 2?

FP mentions moving to Toledo, but thankfully that doesn’t happen. Will we ever get a glimpse of Jellybean and Jughead’s mom?
Yeah, I think so. This is a show about friendships and friends in high school, but it is a family show. It does explore family dynamics, and we brought in Hiram and that really shook up the Lodges. I’m curious to know about Jughead’s mom. I’m curious to know about Jughead’s sister. And there’s definitely a possibility that they might be coming to Riverdale.

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Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter
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