Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on How ‘Rivervale’ Connects to ‘Riverdale’

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the creator of Riverdale, which is based on the characters from Archie Comics. Season six just premiered with “Chapter Ninety-Six: Welcome to Rivervale.” New episodes of Riverdale’s five part event, titled Rivervale, will air Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW. The show will then return in March. This interview will discuss spoilers for episode 6×01.

WELCOME TO RIVERVALE — Following the explosion that ended Season Five, a new day dawns in the town of RiverVALE, where everything is as it should be. Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Reggie (Charles Melton) are now the town’s power couple, while Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook) move in together. But with Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) demanding a return to the “old ways,” this serenity will surely not last. And how could Archie (KJ Apa) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) possibly have survived?

I had the chance to speak with the showrunner about how the events in Rivervale will play into the rest of Riverdale’s sixth season, what’s ahead for all of the couples, Archie’s death at the end of 6×01, Sabrina’s big entrance into Riverdale (or Rivervale), the 100th episode, and much more. Keep reading for all of the details!

Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW

So, Rivervale is clearly an alternate universe. How can we expect the consequences and events to go into the rest of Riverdale season six?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Okay, well, I tried to tell as many people as would listen, that this five episode event is absolutely in canon, it is in continuity. In fact, there’s a line in one of the episodes, that I won’t say who, but one of the characters says, “This is not an imaginary story.” I will say that one of the things we always kind of try to do on Riverdale is, even when we are telling really outlandish, seemingly disparate stories— for instance, Jughead and the Mothmen last season or Betty and the highway killer story— we always tried to draw all of those strands together by the end of the season, so that what seems random and contradictory, actually is part of a bigger tapestry. Now, some people might argue that we do that successfully, some people might argue that we don’t do that very successfully, but when we sort of set out to do this event and kind of wanted to take a big swing, and do horror and the supernatural, we thought, “Oh, that’s fun. What would be really amazing is if somehow we figure out a way for that to resonate beyond the five episodes, and to somehow feed into and tie into our bigger storyline for season six.” So in ways both very small and subtle, and in ways kind of huge and immediately apparent, the events of Rivervale will 100% be felt, continue, and develop in Riverdale. And again, various things happened to various of the characters in Rivervale and we’ll sort of keep playing either that exact story or something very similar to it beyond the event.

We see Archie has died in Rivervale and then we have the whole thing with the bomb in Riverdale. Can you talk about what this means for the character and what’s next with this storyline?
Yeah, I mean, it’s coming out after and I don’t think it’s a spoiler, but I can tell you that after 5+ years, after trying to kill Archie for five years, Archie is finally dead at the end of 6×01. That’s not a spoiler, that’s fact, and he’ll be dead in 6×02. Our characters will talk about Archie being dead and not feel too bad since they all killed him, but I think there’s some regret there for what they did, for sure.

I’m still trying to figure everything out with Cheryl. She seems to be in control and she was the one who said the curse, what can you tell me about what’s going on with her? Is she under someone’s influence?
That’s a really good question. No, Cheryl is not under someone’s influence in 6×01. She’s always… I mean, it’s funny, when we were kind of talking about this episode, about the arc, leaning into horror, and leaning into the supernatural, it sort of felt very organic to make the person who embodies that Cheryl because she’s always sort of existed kind of in a gothic space different from our other other characters. When we sort of started wanting the idea of doing a story that was a folklore story like The Wicker Man, it was like, “Okay, well, who is the keeper of all those old ways, pagan ways, and secrets?” And it was like, “Well, the oldest family in town is the Blossoms.” She’s sort of the most aristocratic of the characters, right? Like, the Blossoms pretty much feel like they’re barons and baronesses. So it felt right, whereas Archie sort of embodies purity, the self made man, and the worker, not the aristocrats. It felt like that was where the conflict should be in 6×01 to sort of illustrate how the rules of this world work. It’s nice to have Cheryl front and center though, I think.

Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW

What can you tease about the 100th episode?
I mean, we can’t say too much about it, though we will hopefully be talking about it closer. The nicest thing I will say about it is that the 100th episode, by a miracle, landed with the fifth episode of our five episode arc. That never works out, our schedule normally never works out on Riverdale, like where we break, when the pandemic hit, when you come back, it usually never works. I mean, that was why– remember last season, we like had the first ten episodes then there was like a six month break? We didn’t even know about that and it was sort of like, “Oh, we would have written the episodes probably differently.” But it worked out great and it allowed us to tell a very unique story that was both the 100th episode and the fifth episode of our arc. So that was a very happy confluence of events that we usually don’t benefit from, so to the universe, I thank them for that.

I want you to give me one sentence to tease what’s ahead for each of the couples in season six:

Choni (Cheryl and Toni)
There is hope.

Veggie (Veronica and Reggie)
Troubles are ahead.

Barchie (Betty and Archie)
Fulfilling their destiny.

Jabitha (Jughead and Tabitha)
Huge fans of Jabitha, the first five episodes really puts them through the wringer, but we’re rooting for them.

Varchie (Veronica and Archie)
Rediscovering a new status quo for themselves.

Bughead (Betty and Jughead)
Bughead fans will be very happy with episode 6×05.

Kangs (Kevin and Fangs)
There is some Kangs love in 6×03.

Photo: Kailey Schwerman/The CW

The whole “everything is as it should be” and “meant to be” themes are clear and even stated, I believe, in both the episode and summary. It seems to very much apply to the chosen couples in Rivervale, can you give some insight here?
I mean, I think that a lot of the relationships that are in play in Rivervale are either new or relatively new. And again, in keeping with what we’re saying, which is that Rivervale is its own, but it continues into Riverdale, there’s a lot to mine with our new couples and we’re just getting started, truthfully, I will say that.

I told everyone if we spoke again, that I’d ask you about Jughead and Veronica’s friendship. Will we get any Jeronica interactions this season?
I will tell you that you do see some Jeronica in 6×05, absolutely.

In the premiere, I really loved the small Jarchie moments. Are we going to see more of them going forward?
Yeah, honestly, we are. I mean, of course, there’s the fact that Archie’s dead but putting that aside, yes. We just kind of wrote an episode that did have Archie and Jughead working together, and it felt really good, it felt like we hadn’t seen that really for a while. It was great to get the guys together, so you will see that 100%.

Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW

You have Sabrina coming, what can you tell me about her entrance and storyline?
It’s a pretty epic, star entrance and a lot of her story is with Cheryl. Again, you plan for these things and you hope for these things, but you kind of never know how they’re actually going to play out. In this case, it played out so well and only made us all kind of hungry for more.

Can we maybe see more of these crossovers in the future, even with different characters from CAOS?
I mean, I think people love those characters and anytime we can use them, 100%. I mean, it’s always a complicated negotiation, but hopefully, everyone will be excited about seeing Sabrina and that might open the door for other things too.

So I know we said Rivervale is all going to be canon. Do you have plans for the rest of season six already? Do you know where you’re going with it? If so, is there anything you can tease?
Yeah, I would say that we definitely do, and I would say that one of the great things about the Rivervale arc and the mini series is that it sort of has opened the door, I think, to a new genre and things that we kind of have not done before on the show, we’re getting to do, and I think it’s probably because of the events of Rivervale. So again, stories that start in a genre and Rivervale continue in Riverdale, sort of in a more grounded way, but it’s definitely a different genre for us and feels very fresh. The cast, I think, is really enjoying it and I know we, the writers, are as well.