It’s been all doom and gloom in Riverdale this season. There have been—spoilers ahead!—multiple murders (R.I.P. Midge), a gang war (Serpents vs. Ghoulies), and even a serial killer known as the Black Hood (see ya, Hal Cooper). It’s a lot for one small town. (Speaking of which: Why aren’t more people moving away? I mean, seriously, what are you waiting for?)
Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa knows things have been super dark, but it’s by design: He wanted to set up tonight’s emotional, character-driven finale. “Part of the fun [of these dark stories] is to pay them off, so the episodes leading up to the finale had to be super-charged,” he says. “This way in the finale we can tell quieter, more emotional stories.”
But with Jughead literally clinging to life in F.P.’s arms and a second Black Hood out to terrorize everyone, how “quiet” can things really be? So, before the series’ second season comes to an end, we checked in with Aguirre-Sacasa to find out exactly what to expect—plus, what’s ahead for season three. Read on.
There’s no way Jughead can die in the finale, right? Anything you want to say to calm down Bughead fans?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: I think what’s more important than the question about whether Jughead lives or dies is the sacrifice he was willing and did make. That’s as important, strangely, as whether he lives or dies. Listen, I’m an optimistic guy, even though there’s darkness in everything I work on, and it felt like Jughead got into a very dangerous world—the Serpents’ world, the world of gangs, the world of crime—and we needed to see the consequences of that. The bigger thing, to me, is that he made a really heroic gesture for the Serpents. Did that work or didn’t work? It’s a question I know Jughead cares more about than anything else.
The last few episodes have been quite dark and gritty. Why did you decide to go that route? And what does it mean for the finale?
RAS: Over the season, we’ve told some big stories like the Black Hood, Chic, the Ghoulies, Hiram Lodge…. Part of the fun of setting up these stories is getting to pay them off, as we did on riot night when all the evil characters attacked Riverdale at once. It felt like the organic way to play that out. For season one, [executive producer] Greg Berlanti gave me one of the most valuable pieces of advice, which was to resolve the Jason Blossom murder mystery in episode 12 so that episode 13—the finale—could be quieter and return us to characters, relationships, and friendships. We did that as well this season. We brought things to a head [in last week’s episode], so in the finale we could re-dock with our characters and tell quieter, more emotional stories. But we’ve been teasing the civil war from episode one; we’ve been teasing the Black Hood from episode one; we’ve set these plates into spinning motion, and we wanted them to come crashing down.
You recently mentioned on Twitter that Cheryl’s mom, Penelope, has a lovely moment of redemption in the finale. Care to elaborate?
RAS: Nathalie Boltt, who plays Penelope, has been a really great sport about all the horrible things her character has done to Cheryl. Even though it doesn’t make up for all the things she’s done—like sending Cheryl to the insane asylum conversion camp—we wanted there to be a glimmer of someone who was also victimized in ways we’re going to learn, and still have a glimmer of love for Cheryl.
Will Cheryl and Toni officially becoming a thing by the end of the season?
RAS: Cheryl and Toni has been such a gift this season. I’m so happy that after so much drama, duress, conflict, and darkness that Cheryl’s finally feeling loved and feeling a deep connection with someone. I think she’s felt unloved since season one. She’s felt unloved by her family and the person she had the deepest connection with, her brother Jason, died. I’m really rooting for Cheryl and Toni. It’s funny because all of season one we kept saying, “Who can date Cheryl?” and we kept saying, “[This person or that person isn’t] good enough, smart enough, witty enough, strong enough.” Then Toni Topaz came along. It was like, wait a minute, these two seem evenly matched. So, I’m hopeful.
Let’s switch gears to Alice Cooper and F.P. Jones. Now that Hal Cooper is in jail, will that pave the way for those two to get together? Perhaps in season three?
RAS: The idea of F.P. and Alice getting together has really captured people’s imaginations, and it’s captured Madchen [Amick] and Skeet [Ulrich]’s imaginations as well. They obviously have incredible chemistry, as we’ve seen this season. The fact that they were married to other people was an obstacle; Hal is maybe no longer an obstacle, but I have to remind everyone that F.P. is married to Jughead’s mom. It’s not completely smooth sailing ahead.
Will we meet more of Jughead’s family—like his mom—next season?
RAS: It’s definitely a possibility.
How will season three be different from the first two? Will Molly Ringwald becomes a series regular?
RAS: The writers’ room started last week—and the way that season one was a murder mystery and season two was a serial killer thriller and a mob in a small town, season three will also have a genre element. It’ll draw on the tradition of pulp and noir, but it will be different from the murder mystery and the serial killer and mafia story. And listen, Molly…I love whenever Molly’s on Riverdale. I’m hopeful we can lure her back in season three. She’s the best.