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Riverdale’s Showrunner Talks Final Cliffhangers, Incest, and His Plans for Season Two

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Beware, Archie fans, spoilers for the first season finale of Riverdale are below.

Just before the final episode of Riverdale’s first season ended, everything looked as rosy as an Archie comic book for the cast. Archie spent the night getting lucky with Veronica, Betty and Jughead were deeply in love, Kevin Keller was off somewhere doing gay stuff that no one knows about, and Jason Blossom’s murder had finally been solved. But then all hell broke loose: Jughead and Betty’s lovemaking was interrupted and he was inducted into the Southside Serpents gang.

Even worse, Archie was called to meet his father, Fred (played by ’90s icon Luke Perry), at Pop’s Diner because he had something important to tell his son. Instead of bonding over milkshakes like they usually do, Archie watched his father get gunned down by someone robbing the restaurant. Will Fred make it into season two? What can we expect for the rest of the cast? And just what was up with the incest plotline we found out about in the penultimate episode? Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa gave us some answers.

I have a very important question for you. Why did you kill Luke Perry?
[Laughs.] A few reasons. We knew we needed a big cliffhanger at the end of the season and we talked a lot about who that might involve. As we started talking about characters and relationships, in a weird way it was always about Archie and Fred, in terms of the theme of the show: Riverdale is not the town that you thought it was, and it had fallen into criminality and darkness. The one who always defended it was Fred. He’s chosen to stay and start a business and raise his son there. He was always representative of Riverdale, so what could we do to show the stake in the heart of Riverdale? Fred was a symbol of that.

Does that mean he’s dead for real?
It means you have to tune into the premiere. But I will say that Luke is in the season-two premiere.

That must have a huge impact on season two. What are you thinking about the direction for next season?
This is a huge impact for Archie, obviously. What happened to Fred is like Bruce Wayne seeing his parents gunned down in Crime Alley in Gotham City. It completely changes him and it galvanizes him and gives him purpose.

Also, Pop’s has always been the mythic heart of Riverdale and at various points in season one, people refer to it as the one place they feel safe. Betty says that to Archie at one point. Most of our emotional moments are at Pop’s. The idea that the heart of Riverdale was corrupted and what has been a safe place has fallen into crime and darkness hints at the theme of season two. It’s a civil war in Riverdale between the South Side, where the criminal elements reside, and the rest of the town. That’s what we’re exploring for season two — but always with the noir element and the true-crime element. The other big thing is that everyone felt safe in Riverdale and in Pop’s, and what happens when that is taken away and you’re in a world where anything can happen at any moment? What happens living in that fearful state of mind, in that fear and emotion where death can be lurking?

I think the saddest part of the finale for me was that Archie and Veronica got to get it on but Jughead and Betty get interrupted. Why is Archie the only one who can get laid?
[Laughs.] That is a very good question. Going into the finale, for a long time we thought we were going to keep Veronica and Archie from getting together and that was to be Betty’s first time. But as we were working on the finale, things happened and the Serpents picked the worst time to knock on that trailer door. Yeah, Jughead has yet to be consummated.

In the comics, Archie is always being torn between Betty and Veronica. How did you come up with the decision to put him together with Veronica full time?
Archie has done a lot of vacillating in season one. First he’s in love with Miss Grundy and then Valerie and then he’s questioning his feelings for Betty again. We wanted him to make a definitive choice. The other reason is because of things that are happening. It’s well-known that Veronica’s father is coming to Riverdale. We thought it would be the most dramatic to pick up a classic dynamic from the comics, which is Veronica’s father hating Archie. So he has to make a choice, and we can let them get settled and then see how that plays out.

You’ve mentioned Twin Peaks as one of the influences of the show. Was the incest twist with Polly and Jason Blossom an homage to Twin Peaks?
Honestly, it was much more an homage to Flowers in the Attic, which I read when I was a kid. And other things like Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher which has themes of incest. It’s more gothic stuff, but really all roads on Riverdale lead back to Twin Peaks.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Riverdale’s Showrunner Talks Final Cliffhangers, Incest, S2