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WARNING: If you have not watched the season three finale of Riverdale, then grab your favorite ballgown and get the hell out of here! For everyone else, let's discuss all the insanity that just happened...
Well, that was intense!
Riverdale's season three finale just raced across our screens and it was a blur of brutal battles, bloody twists and a very big flashforward.
We know that you must have a ton of questions right now as we try to piece together all of the Gargoyle King bombshells and spring break surprises, so ET called up creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to get the official explanations.
So how long has Penelope been plotting this? Has Cheryl officially lost her mind? Was The Farm always supposed to be this twisted? And what the hell happened to Jughead?!
Read on for the exclusive answers to 11 of our biggest Riverdale questions...
1. That finale was unlike anything we’ve ever seen on Riverdale! When did you realize you wanted to loop it all together with Chic, Hal and Penelope being our trifecta of evil?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: You know, that was actually [the plan] when I pitched season three -- that was kind of at the heart of the pitch. We wanted our season three mystery and crime noir moments to tie seasons one, two and three together. So we knew we wanted Jason’s murder, the Black Hood and the Gargoyle King all to tie together. And since our series started with the death of Jason Blossom, it felt like that could be our point of origin for all of this and that’s how we landed on the Penelope piece, then came Hal and then came Chic. But it all happened pretty early on.
2. By the end of this episode, Hal seems super dead -- I’m pretty sure you can’t come back from a bullet in the brain -- but we didn't actually see what happened to Chic and Penelope. What are fans supposed to believe?
Yes, Hal is very dead. But you know, we hear in Jughead’s monologue that Chic is in jail and Penelope slipped away into the night, so both of those things are true.
3. Things got really dark with The Farm in the penultimate episode when we realized that Edgar is actually harvesting organs from his followers. Was this always the plan and did you always anticipate that The Farm would be this twisted?
Well, we always did know that there had to be a dark secret behind The Farm. We had been telling sort of this story that The Farm was a self-help group, but they were also sort of a cult that talked about “ascending,” and they really valued being close to death and near-death experiences since they walked on fire and all that stuff. So we wanted something that was pretty shocking. [With] most cults, at the end you reveal that really it’s about a cult leader wanting to have sex with a lot of his followers and we wanted something different than that. We looked at the name “The Farm” and we thought, “Farm. Harvesting. Organ harvesting -- oh wow! That could be a way to sort of tie it all together. It’ll be unexpected and still sort of have some basis in reality.” Organ harvesting and organ trafficking being something that is a real thing.
4. By the end of the episode, we discovered that the members of The Farm have slipped away into the night and they’ve left Kevin behind. We’ve also now discovered that Alice is actually an FBI informant working undercover to take down The Farm. Was this twist with Alice always part of the plan?
No. I think we landed on that probably about halfway through this season. And you know, when we went back, we sort of thought, “Wow! Alice could have done all of these things to maintain her cover as a true member of The Farm.” So when we saw that it kind of made sense -- in Riverdale-sense -- we kind of ran with it.
5. The finale introduced us to the real Charles -- who actually looks like a striking combination of Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse! How is the introduction of Betty and Jughead’s older half-brother going to shake things up as we move forward in season four?
Yeah, I mean, you know we always tell family stories on Riverdale. We have done a little bit with Betty and Polly and a little bit with Jughead and Jelly Bean, but we haven't really seen a true sibling dynamic, so we wanted to introduce that character. You know, Betty’s brother in the comic books is an FBI agent, so it felt like we should do that too. Betty hasn't had a great relationship with a lot of her family members -- her father, her mother, her sister -- and we thought, “Well, what if we brought in someone and Betty could relate to him and have a good relationship with him?” So that’s kind of what we’re looking forward to exploring.
6. Cheryl has always been a little on the edge, but now she’s talking with her dead brother’s decaying corpse at Thistlehouse and it’s more than a little disturbing. How is that body not completely deteriorated? And then talk me through Cheryl's mindset for doing this.
We talked a lot about how decomposed Jason’s body would be. We thought probably the Blossoms got some really high-end coffins that were sealed airtight, and probably he was embalmed. They’re in a universe where he would be more preserved than decomposed. We also talked about the fact that maybe Edgar had Jason taxidermied, which is why he’s still around. As for Cheryl, you know, the character of Cheryl, in a way, will always be defined by the loss of her brother and the absence in her life she felt after that. That’s why she fell into the cult the most easily. The cult gave her back what she wanted most -- which was Jason. When we were talking about the end of the season for Cheryl, we thought, “Would Cheryl immediately put Jason back in his grave? Would she immediately say goodbye to him?” And we thought, “Well, she might hang onto him a little bit.” And so rather than inter him in the family crypt, Cheryl has sort of set him up with her. I don’t think Cheryl is crazy. I don’t think he’s talking to her. I think he’s someone who gave her comfort and still gives her comfort.
7. At the end of the finale, it was really great to see our four main characters sit together and acknowledge the fact that things have been insane in their small town and how they just want to have a normal senior year -- but then we get that bloody flashforward of Archie, Betty and Veronica during spring break. What do you want fans to know after they’ve watched that scene?
I think the idea was we’re always sort of subverting expectations on Riverdale. That’s sort of the basis of the premise of the show so we thought, “OK, it is their senior year. It is the time for them to spend as much time together because it’s the last time they’ll spend together maybe all as the group.” We then started to kind of think about those novels that some of us have read back in the ‘80s like Christopher Pike novels, or [Lois Duncan’s] Killing Mr. Griffin or I Know What You Did Last Summer, even the Donna Tartt novel, The Secret History. So we thought, “Oh, what if what binds our group together isn't just the camaraderie of senior year but a crime that has them at the absolute center of it?” That’s kind of where we started with that idea.
8. Jughead is missing from that scenario and Archie, who is covered in blood, is told by Betty to throw Jug’s iconic beanie into the fire. A lot of fans are going to assume that Jughead is going to die in season four. Why take him out of the Core Four? Why not anyone else?
We started to talk a bit about what we were going to do next season and we felt like one of the things that had never happened on the show was that something extremely terrible hadn't happened to one of our Core Four -- it was always peripheral characters. It’s true that Archie has been beaten every episode this season, [Laughs] but in terms of something that would really strike at the heart of the Core Four, it felt like one of them had to be at the bleeding heart of this crime, so that’s kind of how the idea evolved. It didn't start that way, but that’s kind of how we developed the idea though.
9. My last question for you is centered around the one and only Luke Perry. I talked to you about this a few months earlier about how you were going to address Fred’s absence and now you’ve decided to push that reveal off to season four. Can you talk to me about that decision and how you will be addressing Fred’s absence?
Obviously, we knew we had to honor Luke and address Luke’s death on the show. When Luke had passed, we had already pretty much plotted out the end of this season and written the end of this season. Rather than try to squeeze something in and potentially not get it right, we thought, let’s take a beat and let’s figure out really what would be the best way to honor Luke and to honor the character of Fred and let’s do it at the top of season four. Luckily, Molly [Ringwald] was already slated to come, so we kind of just reflected and wanted to give ourselves the time to do those things right.
10. So Molly Ringwald will be a strong part in season four to be Archie’s parent figure?
Yeah. We love Molly and we always love having her, but yeah, I think she’s going to be a bigger presence next season for sure.
11. Will we be seeing the passing of Fred or will he be stepping away from the Andrews family to find his own adventure?
We have an idea about that, honestly, though things may change over the next month and I’d rather not say for fear of it changing.