Riverdale EP Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on the finale, season 4, and handling Luke Perry's death
Warning: This article contains spoilers about the Riverdale season 3 finale. Read at your own risk!
I need to add some Kahlua to my Pop’s chocolate malt after that intense finale.
The third season of Riverdale wrapped up by revealing that Penelope Blossom (Nathalie Boltt) has been the mastermind behind all of this Gargoyle King business (with the help of a not-dead Chic and an escaped Hal Cooper).
But the big twist was the time jump to spring break NEXT year with Veronica (Camila Mendes), Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Archie (K.J. Apa) burning their clothes and swearing they’ll never speak of this night. Also, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is missing but Archie burns his iconic beanie. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
EW talked to EP Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on what’s in store for next season, including a tribute to Luke Perry.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with that flash-forward: We see Veronica, Betty, and Archie standing in their underwear around a fire and burning their clothes as well as Jughead’s beanie. What can you tease about this?
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: Next season is the kids’ senior year. It’s their last year in high school, and we really want to locate their stories in the high school world. We started talking about what the big mystery could be, and we said it would be great if we kind of kept it in the high school kind of world. The other thing that we wanted to do is, this year Archie and Veronica weren’t that involved in the Gargoyle King mystery — it was more Betty and Jughead. We loved the core four together in the finale. We wanted to do something that tied them all together for the core mystery and for a big secret, and it felt like having them all around that bonfire, minus Jughead, would be a way to tie them all together so that when we get to the central mystery of what happened that night and what led to the events of burning their clothes, it would be all of our foursome and not the kids split off again.
People are definitely going to think Jughead is dead. What can you say about that?
I can’t say anything specifically to that. All I can say is, I guess things look very dire for Jughead in that scene, for sure.
Did you always plan from the beginning of the season for Penelope Blossom to be the Gargoyle King ringleader?
When we were talking about season 3, it felt like if we were going to introduce another big bad or another murderer or something like that; rather than introduce an entirely new one, what would be cool is if we somehow tied all of the different threads together in one sort of big uber-narrative.
Once we landed on that, we realized that the series started with the Blossoms and the death of Jason revealed something about the town. It felt logical, then, in kind of completing that three-season story line, it should kind of circle back to the Blossoms. The Blossoms are at the root of the evil in Riverdale. We pitched that at the beginning of season 3, and things changed for sure, but the core idea and the core knowing that we were going to kind of start turning back to the Blossoms was there early on.
Penelope is MIA at the end of the season. Will she be back to haunt Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch)?
Here’s the thing: I love Penelope Blossom and I love the actress Nathalie Boltt and originally, she was going to be in jail or die, and we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do either because we love the character and the actress so much. So our plan is to bring back Penelope, and we have a couple of ways of doing that. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Penelope Blossom.
Cheryl seems a little off the deep end, hanging with the corpse of her dead brother Jason. Is this gonna be like a Norman Bates situation?
The defining element of Cheryl’s character is the loss of her brother and the death of her twin brother. That will always kind of haunt and define Cheryl, and in season 1, there was a real gothic heroine quality to Cheryl, and we wanted to get a little bit back to that. I don’t think it’s going to go as extreme as Norman Bates but it will hopefully put us in a place where we can go a little bit weirder and more twisted with the Blossoms.
One of my favorite reveals was that Alice (Madchen Amick) has been working with the FBI to take down the Farm. Is Alice going to be missing all of next season?
That story’s not over. Edgar’s not in jail, and Alice is MIA. We are going to resolve that story. It’s not going to be the season-long story, though. We’re going to resolve it pretty quickly, and I think what we’re really excited to play is the idea that Alice has her lost son back and that Betty has her half-brother, Jughead has his half-brother. So it’s not like Alice is going to be missing for most of the season or that the Farm is going to continue for most of the season. That is an outstanding thing, though.
So we also finally meet Alice’s son Charles. Is he as nice as he seems?
Even when we introduce someone with the best of intentions, like this person is normal, this person is a good person; the way things shake out, there are always secrets and one thread we’re going to pick up with is the idea that Betty finds out in the penultimate episode that she has the serial killer gene, and that’s a story line that we’re going to continue into season 4, and Charles will have a part of that.
Oh my gosh. Is this going to be like Mindhunter?
I love that show, so yeah. Teen Mindhunter?
Speaking of crazy families, Hiram is still manipulating everyone from jail. He’s like the indestructible villain. What can you kind of say about that?
Here’s what I love about Mark Consuelos: Sometimes when you make a character a villain, the actor’s like, “I don’t want to do this, the fans will hate me.” Mark is the exact opposite. Whenever he gets a script, he calls me or texts me and he’s like, “Okay, another item checked on my bucket list.”
Hiram’s like the Kingpin from the Spidey comics or The Punisher. He’s powerful no matter where he is, jail or no jail. In the finale, a little bit of a hint: When Hermione is arrested, she is on the phone with someone and she says, “I can’t believe Hiram was hiding that from me,” and before Hermione can tell Veronica what that is, she’s arrested. We’re going to pick that thread up in season 4 — the mystery of what Hiram was hiding.
We didn’t see Gladys (Gina Gershon) in the finale but do you imagine will see her again?
Yeah, look, I always say to these actors when they come and work on the show, “If you had fun, come back and do some more.” So I think there is a universe where Gina comes back. For us, for Jughead, and for the Jones men, I think the big change is Jellybean, and both FP (Skeet Ulrich) and Jughead have been kind of like single dudes living in a trailer, kind of dirty, and now they’re living in a house with Jellybean. I think part of it will be FP being a father to her and Jughead being a big brother to her.
There wasn’t a discussion of Fred (Luke Perry) in the finale. Do you know yet how you’re going to handle his character?
I’m so glad you’re asking about that. We obviously are going to deal with Fred’s death on Riverdale. When Luke passed, we’d already more or less outlined the last two or three episodes, and we didn’t want to rush that or get it wrong. So we are 100% going to deal with it narratively at the beginning of season 4, and we want that episode to really honor the character of Fred and honestly, to honor the actor Luke and our friend Luke. I’ve read online that they’re like, “Ooh, Riverdale‘s not dealing with this. Is Fred going to just be on a business trip?” So Tim, I would be so grateful if you make it clear that we are 100% going to deal with Fred’s death. We didn’t want to rush into that at the end of the season and give it short shrift or not make that story as great and emotional as it needs to be to honor both the character and the actor. I think that’s going to be a big part of Archie’s journey next season, honestly.