Warning: This post contains details about Wednesday’s Riverdale season 3 premiere. Read at your own risk.
At least Archie will probably look good in orange. On the Riverdale season 3 premiere, the ginger hero took a plea deal for his murder case and was sent to a juvenile detention center. Also, Betty had what appeared to be a seizure after witnessing some weird fireside ritual involving her mom, Polly, the twins, and several Farm members.
EW talked to Riverdale executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about what’s in store for the rest of season 3, including Veronica’s speakeasy and a lotta Bughead snooping.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Season 2 of Riverdale was very much a thriller. What was the genre inspiration this year?
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: There are a couple of different strains. Last year we got, I thought, a lot of mileage out of overlapping mysteries. For instance, obviously, the Black Hood, the mystery of Chic, the criminal ascent of Hiram Lodge, all of these things. So this year, we’re doing something similar. We’re kind of launching a few different mysteries.
One of my favorite things recently of the last, I guess it’s now been seven years or so, was the first season of True Detective, which felt like it was almost dealing with an occult or a ritualistic murder kind of in a backwater. And we’re sort of telling a similar ritualistic crime [that] happens in Riverdale. And 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.
Is the murder mystery this year tied to the Farm, the cult that Polly and Alice have joined?
The Farm is a big plot of the season, but whether the Farm is tied to the murders is unclear. But we definitely are playing the Farm. It’s something we’ve been teasing since season 1, when Polly very cryptically said we were going to the Farm. I don’t know if you saw the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country? It’s obviously about a cult that sort of springs around near a small town, and it felt like that was a story that we might explore, that might feel relevant to the small-town deconstruction that we’ve been doing since season 1.
Are we going to meet Edgar, the leader of the cult, this season?
Yeah, we’re going to meet the Farm 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.
I loved things like The Stepford Wives, and so there’s almost a banality to the cult and a sort of generic-ism that, of course, gets sinister pretty quickly. But we start with an Ira Levin kind of benign entity that has sprung up around Riverdale.
There’s going to be a big flashback episode with the young cast playing their parents. Is that tied to the murder mystery?
Yeah, absolutely. You know one of the things that the kids discover pretty early on is that the murder victims in the present were playing a game called Gryphons & Gargoyles, which is of course the Riverdale version of Dungeons & Dragons.
And what our kids in the present discover is that their parents, when they were in high school, were also playing this game, and there was a similar murder that happened in the past. So it’s an homage to The Breakfast Club, but really it’s more of an homage to these YA thriller novels by Christopher Pike I was obsessed with, and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
Will Veronica actually open a speakeasy under Pop’s?
Oh, hell yes. I’ve been dying for a performance space since season 1. She does open the speakeasy. I think that happens in episode 3. It really is like this crazy 1920s speakeasy. Only in Riverdale would Veronica be running a speakeasy, but it’s great because Reggie’s working there, Josie’s singing there, Kevin is emceeing there. So it’s a nice franchise for us. Very noir.
Was there anything you learned from season 2 that you brought into season 3?
Yeah, season 2 was for sure a huge growth season for us. There are growing pains, you know what I mean? I think the Black Hood really, for instance, captured a lot of people’s imagination, but it was such a big story it did crowd out other stories. I look back on season 1 now and it seems positively quaint, basically, what’s going on with Archie and all that stuff. There’s a real charm to it. I think what we’d like to do is not necessarily pull back on the crime and the noir and the pulp, because honestly, I think people do love that and it gives us something to write towards. I think it’s also telling deep relationship stories.
So every year is a learning experience. I have a big philosophy: It’s impossible to go backwards on a show. You have to keep pushing forward. So yeah, hopefully we’re as ambitious as last year, but a little bit wiser, a little bit older. It’s not dissimilar from the kids being juniors. We’re no longer the newbies. We’ve had our growing year. Now we’re a little bit more confident in our stride, but we’re still not ruling the school like seniors are.