Judgment day is coming for Archie Andrews (KJ Apa). The red-haired hero was framed for murder by Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) in the season 2 finale, and when the series returns, Archie’s trial comes to a conclusion (Penelope Ann Miller guest-stars as the town’s prosecutor). “It’s Labor Day weekend and it’s closing arguments for Archie’s trial,” explains executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. “His fate hangs in the balance, and in the premiere episode, the outcome of the trial will be revealed.” Archie’s sentencing is the least of the town’s worries.
Even though the Black Hood was caught by the end of last season (Betty’s dad, Hal, was the culprit), a new mystery has naturally popped up in Riverdale. “One of my favorite things recently was the first season of True Detective, and we’re sort of telling a similar ritualistic crime that happens in Riverdale,” says Aguirre-Sacasa. “We jokingly call it teen detectives meets True Detective, because we find Betty and Jughead investigating this really disturbing crime that seems to speak to the very twisted history of Riverdale.” Bughead fans will be happy to hear that this new crime spree gives Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) a lot of couple time. “What made people fall in love with them from the start was seeing them together as this team, a crimefighting duo,” says Reinhart. “You definitely see that within the first few episodes. They take this new killing spree under their belts, which is a lot for two teenagers to do.”
This leads to a much-anticipated flashback episode, airing Nov. 7, where the young cast will play their parents in high school. “The murder victims in the present were playing a game called Gryphons & Gargoyles, which is, of course, the Riverdale version of Dungeons & Dragons,” explains Aguirre-Sacasa. “Our kids discover that when their parents were in high school they also were playing this game, and there was a similar murder that happened in the past.” Reinhart says she’s not doing a straight-up impersonation of Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick). “Young Alice is so different from the Alice that you see today,” says the actress. “She’s not just this uptight, precocious, looks-down-upon-everyone teen; like, she was a Serpent.”
But Betty’s home life is also full of drama. With the revelation that her husband is a serial killer, Alice decides to seek some help from the Farm, a cultlike group that counts daughter Polly (Tiera Skovbye) as a member. “We’re going to meet the farm’s leader, Edgar Evernever but, equally important, we’re going to meet his daughter, Evelyn Evernever, who is an Archie character that we’re sort of reinventing for this storyline,” says Aguirre-Sacasa. The showrunner adds that The Stepford Wives was an inspiration for The Farm: “There’s almost a banality to the cult and a sort of generic-ism that gets sinister pretty quickly.” Naturally. This is Riverdale, after all.