Through four and a half seasons of Riverdale, we have never once been satisfied by the answer to the question, "What year is it?!"
We've never asked that question more times than we did during the past couple of episodes, which saw Archie (KJ Apa) head off to war in an old-fashioned Army bus just before a seven-year time jump. Even when Veronica (Camila Mendes) straight up said, "it's 2021," we were still wondering what year it is. Because didn't it also used to be 2020, before the show jumped seven years into the future?!
Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa agrees that yes, the show is a little confused about what year it is.
"Yeah, we're definitely in a time paradox," he says. "I think it would have been less jarring if we'd had the organic season break. But yes...the show's timeless so that's what we're hanging on to, to be honest. Like yes if you if you really, if you really analyze it it's like we're either in 2028, or we've been seven years in the past...there's a discrepancy there for sure."
And yes, he also acknowledges that Veronica claimed post-jump that it is still 2021.
"Yes, she says it's 2021," he agrees. "But I think in the graduation episode it was also 2020...there's a discrepancy there for sure."
It's fine. We'll just learn to accept that Riverdale exists out of time and move on, because there are way more important things to talk about after that time jump.
There wasn't a lot that hugely surprised us in this intro to the new era of Riverdale, but there was a lot that made us excited about what's to come. Archie's having PTSD dreams of fighting a war on the football field, and he's basically been forcefully retired from service. Now he's back in Riverdale to help sign other kids up for war, but the town isn't what he remembered it to be.
He finds Toni (Vanessa Morgan) singing at a bar with her band, and she catches him up on what's happened. She's pregnant and now runs the Serpents, and the town has fallen apart thanks to—who else?—Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos). Everything's on fire, Archie's own house has been trashed by the Goolies, and even the bus stops have been torn to shreds, prompting our favorite bit of concern from Archie: "Where are people gonna sit for the bus?!"
Apparently it's not a problem, because the bus doesn't come to Riverdale anymore.
Inspired by Pop's retirement party (not by his murder, which the episode sort of tricked us into thinking it was), Archie got all his friends to meet him back in Riverdale, so we caught up with each of them just before they got his unexpected phone call.
Betty (Lili Reinhart) has been sidelined to cold cases by the FBI after she got herself captured by the "Trash Bag Killer" and the killer got away. Veronica is in a less-than-ideal marriage and hiding her pawn shop job from her rich husband. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) has writer's block after the success of his first book and is in debt and getting evicted. None of them are particularly thrilled with their current situations.
"The title of the episode is 'Purgatory,'" Aguirre-Sacasa reminds us. "And we talked about all of our characters were frustrated or trapped in their new lives, as opposed to thriving."
That makes it the perfect time to head home for a retirement party and for a bit of a mystery. The very end of the episode found Squeaky, a very recent employee of Pop's, hitchhiking her way out of town. A semi stopped to pick her up, and we learned via voiceover that she would never make it to California.
While that mystery currently is not related to any of the main Riverdale characters, that will soon change. And we should be worried.
"As that mystery unfolds, it starts enveloping all of our characters," Aguirre-Sacasa says. "And in some ways tragically, including a character we've known and loved since season one."
For more scoop on the episode and what's to come, scroll down!
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.