Sometimes, there's no activity we enjoy more than trying to figure out what is happening on Riverdale.
It's a difficult task even when the show is airing, but since now we have to wait until at least January to get new episodes, we're working with what we've got. And what we've got is four episode titles and four related Archie comic scenes, tweeted out by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
Season four prematurely ended just before prom on a cliffhanger related to whoever had been leaving creepy videotapes on people's doorsteps, with the tapes escalating to recreate a murder that had only happened in the first draft of a fictional story Jughead (Cole Sprouse) wrote.
Meanwhile, Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Archie (KJ Apa) had a big conversation about the kiss they had shared, which, Aguirre-Sacasa told E! News, only confirmed Betty's feelings for Jughead and just made Archie more confused. That story is definitely not over yet.
Riverdale held its first Zoom table reads on Sept. 2 and Sept 3 and from the script title pages that Aguirre-Sacasa tweeted out, it looks like we'll get three more episodes of senior year before a seven-year time jump (according to Reinhart) takes the main cast from their late teens to their mid '20s.
The first episode is called "Climax" and in the accompanying comic strip, Betty is thrilled to accept a casual promposal from Jughead.
"Lots of big stuff happened [in the next episode], particularly for Archie and Veronica," Aguirre-Sacasa said after the finale aired. About half of the prom episode was filmed, but too many Archie and Veronica scenes were missing for it to air.
"We just didn't have some key relationship scenes between Betty and Jughead and Archie and Veronica, especially Archie and Veronica," he said "And it felt like OK, as much as I'd like to end with senior prom, I just don't think that's possible."
The second episode of season five is called "The Preppy Murders," with a comic strip that seems to imply a Varchie breakup—though who couldn't feel that coming from a mile away?
The strip is from a 2018 installment of Archie in which Veronica confronts Archie about him still having feelings for Betty and she breaks up with him, getting rid of all the gifts he's given her. Jughead has Archie flip a coin to help determine which girl he wants to be with, and he chooses Betty.
The title makes it seem like Jughead's old Stonewall Prep classmates might be returning either to murder or to be murdered, but either way it might play into the theme Aguirre-Sacasa was planning for the end of season four.
The story Jughead was writing in what became the finale was about the gang trying to get rid of Principal Honey. The first draft involved murdering him, but Jughead then had a realization that they didn't have to murder him. In fact, nobody had to murder anybody, and maybe this whole group of kids is a little too obsessed with murder.
"As we were writing [the episode], it felt like 'Wow, we could use this to show kind of a funhouse mirror against what our kids normally do.'" Aguirre-Sacasa said. "It felt like a way to almost deconstruct that, and what's interesting that is that theme carries us through to the end of the next three episodes, this idea [of] violence as entertainment or the kids becoming desensitized to violence and what that means...It's a big theme for us this season, what Jughead realizes in this episode."
Episode three is fairly obvious. It's called "Graduation" and the comic is someone holding a photo of the gang in their caps and gowns.
The text reads: "Sometimes I feel like standing in the middle of Main Street and screaming, 'Archie Andrews grew up! He's not an innocent teenager anymore, so stop treating him like one!' But I guess you don't really care about that!"
This is where Riverdale theoretically leaves high school behind, though Aguirre-Sacasa was feeling apprehensive about that.
"At the beginning of the season we said that we were going to focus a little bit more on the high school stuff, and I feel like we did, like the last football game and the last Vixens, and then prom and getting into college and a lot of those things, and really, I'm asking how do we keep that franchise going?" he said. "High school, it's so important to the characters and the brand. And I guess in a way I'm not ready to say goodbye to it, is the truth."
But based on the look of the fourth episode, we're definitely not in high school anymore.
Episode four is called "Purgatory" and the accompanying comic panel is extremely worrying. It's from Archie 1941, which was a miniseries released in 2018 and 2019.
Jughead, Betty and Veronica are at a cemetery underneath a large ghostly photo of soldier Archie, who has apparently died. In the comic itself, Archie was presumed to have died in battle in World War II. Betty and Mary believed he was still alive, and he was. He was saved by Reggie and ended up with amnesia, which is why it took him a while to get home.
Could this mean that Archie's joining the military in season five? Are we getting another death fake-out, like we did with Jughead in season four? Or does "Purgatory" actually refer more to those years in your '20s when you don't know what to do with yourself?
Hopefully no one is actually dying, but this is Riverdale—anything could happen.
Riverdale returns to The CW in 2021.