On The CW series Riverdale, which just received a second season pick-up, new rumors are swirling about who was behind the murder of Jason Blossom. As tensions build when Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) father shows just what a mess he is, Veronica (Camila Mendes) takes her fight with her mother to a whole new level, and viewers will get a real sense of just how all of these different families in Riverdale really feel about each other.
During this phone interview with Collider, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who is also Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics, talked about what he’s learned from completing the first season of Riverdale and how that will affect things for Season 2, how proud he is of the series, the Jughead-Betty (Lili Reinhart) relationship, Archie (KJ Apa) feeling like the odd man out, that we’ll definitively know what happened to Jason Blossom by the end of the season and the clues they’ve laid throughout, what viewers can expect when Molly Ringwald comes to Riverdale, and what getting a larger episode order could allow them to do with a second season. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: First of all, congrats on the Season 2 pick-up!
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA: Thank you so much! We’re really happy and excited!
We’re at the mid-way point for this season, as far as the amount of episodes we’ve seen, but you’re finished shooting the first season already. What did you learn from completing a season of the show that will affect or change how you approach things in Season 2?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: That’s a good question. Every show has its own special recipe or special formula. For a lot of shows, and certainly for Riverdale, a lot of Season 1 is discovering what that is. It’s a pretty big canvas with a lot of characters, so it was figuring out tone. It was figuring out how to balance the humor with the darker elements, and the soapier relationship stuff with the mystery stuff. It was figuring out how it was good when all of the kids were in one story, working together, as opposed to on different tracks. It was important that they all would check in, at least in one scene. That was one of Greg Berlanti’s early diagnosis in watching the first few episodes. It’s good when they’re together, talking about what they’re wrestling with. We tested the waters on how taboo we could go, and what we discovered, by the end of this season, is that we can go pretty taboo, and that the characters’ integrity still holds. I think we found out that, whatever story we were telling, it is always good when it has that David Lynchian/Twin Peaks Riverdale twist with something sinister curdling at the edges, or there’s a really dark shadow underneath the story that is a twist or a different riff on it. All of that is what we’re taking into Season 2, in terms of the big over-arching mystery and the character relationship stuff, as well.
This episode really feels like things are solidifying among all of the relationships and friendships, and that we’re getting a better understanding of how all of these different families work and how they’re connected to each other. Did you feel like you were really hitting a groove at this mid-way point, or did that come earlier or later in the season for you?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: I’m really proud of the entire season. I do think, with Episode 7, the show graduates to something a bit deeper and more ambitious than a teen show. I really think that the story with Fred and Archie and Jughead and his father is a really deep story about fathers and sons, and what we think of our parents and what the truth of that situation is. The Veronica story is really, really fun. She goes clubbing and she negotiates with her mom, but at its core, it’s about a deep betrayal that a mother did to her daughter. I think that’s a more grown-up Arthur Miller, “She stole my name,” kind of thing. And Betty and Polly have a fun story, but at its core, it’s about sisters who were separated and are being reunited. So, I do feel like this episode does graduate to something that’s a little more adult, a little more complex, emotionally, and a little bit deeper.
Even though Jughead was confirmed to be asexual in the comic books, you’ve followed the chemistry between Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse and taken the Betty and Jughead route. When and how did that come about, and what can we continue to expect from them?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: Very early on, when we were talking about the series, I thought there was something really interesting about the fact that Archie’s two best friends – his best gal friend, Betty, and his best guy friend, Jughead – would start a relationship, and that would be unexpected to Archie and he’d have to wrestle with that, a little bit, in the way he’d lose both of his best friends. In a way, the only common denominator between Betty and Jughead was Archie. They knew each other through Archie. It happens a lot, when friends start dating, that you can feel, like Archie feels, a little bit like the odd man out. Even though Archie is starting his own relationship, there is this idea of, “What a minute, this isn’t how it should be.” The other thing that’s really interesting, for me, about Jughead and Betty is that they’re so different. Betty is a cheerleader, she’s the editor of the school paper, and she’s the perfect girl-next-door. Jughead is much more of an outsider, a misfit and a loner from the wrong side of the tracks. I thought that would be an interesting relationship to play, which we do in subsequent episodes.
Will we definitively know what happened to Jason Blossom, by the end of this season, and once we do know the answers to those questions, if we were to go back and watch the season, would we see clues that we didn’t notice, the first time around?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: You will absolutely know who killed Jason Blossom by Episode 12. With that knowledge, if you went back and watched the season, you would see clues laid out, pretty clearly. We wrote a lot of the season before we started filming. It was a luxury because we were a mid-season show. So, we were able, in some places, to go back and adjust scripts, once we drilled down and zeroed in on the ending.
We know that Molly Ringwald will showing up in Riverdale soon. What can we expect from Archie’s mother, and how will she be shaking things up?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: We’re so happy to have her! She’s an icon, and she’s also a great actor and lovely to work with. I will say that she comes to Riverdale for very personal reasons. There’s a lot of unfinished business between her and Archie, and her and Fred. But she does get caught up in the mystery and does have a role in how that unfolds, in the back half of the season.
What are the big questions that we should be asking ourselves, for the remaining episodes, this season?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: Obviously, you should be asking, who killed Jason Blossom? Will Jughead figure out what’s up with his father, and how will that affect their relationship, moving forward? Betty and Jughead are so different, so is that a good thing for their relationship or a bad thing? What happens when they’re first tested? That’s something that’s going to come up. For Archie, he’s just started maybe dating Valerie, so is that going to go the distance, or is it going to be another one of these Archie relationships that he can’t quite fully enjoy and invest in because of his own baggage?
Do you already have a pretty good idea of what Season 2 will be, and are you looking to do around the same amount of episodes, or would you like to have a few more to work with?
AGUIRRE-SACASA: We haven’t heard, definitively, about the size of the order. The writers and I have been meeting and we’ve definitely started talking about what the concept and theme and what the genre element will be, but it’s still a little too early to talk about. We’ll do that, around the finale. The good thing about having more episodes is that it would allow us to tell more stories about our supporting players, who are wonderful and are played by wonderful actors. We all want to do more with Kevin and Josie, and all of those people. The really big advantage of getting a bigger order is that we could do that, and we could have some episodes that are stand-alone. We have a couple of episodes this season that are sort of stand-alone episodes. Episode 3 was sort of a stand-alone episode, and Episode 10 is sort of a stand-alone episode, but because we only have 13 episodes, we really have to hit the mystery hard, in every episode. So, if we had a big order, we could include those special stand-alone episodes that people really like.
Riverdale airs on Thursday nights on The CW.