Riverdale boss talks season 4 finale, says season 5 will open with prom
Warning: This post contains spoilers from the season 4 finale of Riverdale.
When Riverdale shut down production due to social distancing measures, they were only able to complete filming through episode 19 of what was originally scheduled to be a 22-episode season. That means episode 19, which aired Wednesday night, now serves as the season 4 finale, and in that hour, the students of Riverdale High took down Mr. Honey — who's now moving over to Stonewall Prep — and tried to find out more about who's behind the town's mysterious video tapes. (Spoiler: They still don't know.)
EW spoke with Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa about the finale and what the shortened season will mean for next year.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Obviously this is a show where the mystery is so important, and an early end means you don't get to solve it. But this episode does end on a cliffhanger, so in that way it works. What was your reaction to episode 19 having to serve as your season finale?
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: It's funny, we had shot almost two thirds of episode 20, which was going to be our prom episode. And we looked at that footage and tried to see if there was a way we could cobble together that episode. We actually had shot the prom, where a lot of very dramatic things happen, but we still hadn't shot some big character moments between Archie and Veronica and Betty and Jughead. So we kind of just couldn't do that. However, when I saw the cut of 19, what's great about it is all of the kids are in one big story together united against Mr Honey. And it does end on a pretty shocking, disturbing cliffhanger. So, it sort of was like, "Oh wait a minute, this could be a great season finale" and then prom would be a great season premiere next year. So it worked out in kind of the best way possible given everything. Obviously we would have loved to have finished the full season, and the last three episodes are fantastic. But to me, this one is fun. It's a special conceit and it brings everyone together, which I think people love.
So you mentioned you'll just make episode 20 your premiere, which was my next question: Do you feel that the mystery of the end of the season translates easily into opening a new season?
Yeah, we had written episodes 20, 21 and 22 and when we talked about season 5 and some of the big events like prom and graduation, it would feel like a cheat if we somehow didn't do those. So we're essentially starting the season with the last three episodes of season 4, and partly because they're dynamite episodes. I mean big, big, big changes happen. We are continuing the mystery and the relationship drama straight into season 5.
Speaking of relationship drama, Betty and Archie seem to have put aside their feelings for now, but I'm interested why now felt like the time to resurface that relationship? And have we seen the last of it? She did keep a diary!
She did keep one of her diaries. I mean, it's funny, for a lot of season 4, Jughead and Betty had spent it apart. He'd been at Stonewall while Betty had been at Riverdale High. And I think they also were feeling like maybe their lives were going in different directions. So when we were talking about doing that story, the musical felt like the right time, because when people do musicals, they spend a lot of time together. Even though it was a variety show, it just felt right to pick up that thread. We had just done the story where Betty and Archie had pretended to be together. It felt organic to what we were doing. The relationship drama will always be one of the driving forces of the show. And though the status quo is a little bit returned in episode 19, the story is nowhere near finished yet.
Marisol Nichols and Skeet Ulrich had announced that they'd leave at the end of season 4. Have there been conversations about having them come back for season five to film a goodbye?
Yeah, I've talked to all the actors and I called Marisol and Skeet and I said, "You know guys, obviously we still want to finish the stories we started in the season." And both of them were like, "Of course, let's do it." And again, neither Hermione nor F.P., this isn't a spoiler, but they're not dying. My hope is to have them be a part of Riverdale for as long as Riverdale continues.
Is there like a particular storyline you're most bummed you didn't get to finish/most excited you'll get to at some point in time?
I think it's graduation. I'm really proud of the last episode. Actually, the last two. The prom is really classic Riverdale. And I thought 21, it was a real emotional episode and a lot of people's emotional stories kind of climaxed but really, it's graduation. It's such a rite of passage. So many graduations were canceled this year. I really, really loved that episode. So I'm looking forward to doing it at some point.