Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the creator of The CW’s Riverdale, which is based on characters from the Archie Comics. New episodes of the sixth season will continue to air on Sundays from 8PM ET. This interview will include spoilers for episode 6×06, “Chapter One Hundred and One: UNBELIEVABLE.”
I spoke with the series’ showrunner about how Hiram’s death is going to affect Veronica going forward, the parallels between Riverdale and Rivervale, that big Cheryl and Abigail cliffhanger, Toni’s storyline for the rest of the season, the relationships, and much more! Keep reading for everything he shared.
I really want to start by talking about what happened with Veronica in this episode, leading into the next. We know that Hermione is visiting, Veronica is breaking the news to the town, and the title of the episode, obviously, hints at a funeral for Hiram. Are we going to see the toll that this is taking on her, and are her friends as well as Reggie going to support her through it? Because it is rare that we get to see that emotional content from her. We already kind of saw how she barely leans on anyone in that scene with her and Reggie when she wasn’t honest about what actually happened.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Yeah, definitely. I think kind of the death of Hiram and the way Hiram died definitely reverberates through the season and we do have a big Veronica Lodge episode. It’s funny, when we kind of started talking about it, we realized what an incredible presence Hiram has been in everyone’s lives in Riverdale but really in Veronica’s especially, of course. The sudden disappearance of that shadow or that presence, especially given the circumstances under which Hiram and his demise, would have a huge effect on Veronica. Even in ten episodes later, Veronica’s kind of still dealing with that in very unexpected ways. But yeah, no — we’re definitely digging into this story. It’s a big story for Veronica this season.
There are already so many parallels and hints to what we saw happened in Rivervale in this first episode back in Riverdale, but I do want to note that one of those parallels, the storyline with Reggie and his dad, changed. In Rivervale, he died and in Riverdale, he didn’t. Will these major differences continue? And since that was Reggie’s main storyline for his episode in Rivervale, will he be dealing with something new in Riverdale outside of that?
Yeah, I’m so glad you are asking about that. One of the things that I think will happen as we unfold the rest of the season of Riverdale is we will be seeing strange echoes from the events of Rivervale. Some of them very direct, some of them sort of ricocheting off in different directions, like the Reggie one. I will say that the story of Reggie and Reggie’s father is not over in Riverdale, and I do think that Reggie has story beyond his father, definitely story with Veronica, and definitely story with another character, who hasn’t come to the forefront yet. But yes, the emotional story with his father that we played in Rivervale echoes loudly through Riverdale for the rest of the season, absolutely.
Then we had that huge cliffhanger with Cheryl, Nana Rose, and Abigail. Can you explain how fans should expect that storyline to go, especially with this supposed curse?
Yeah, you know, it’s funny, Cheryl has always been a character who sort of lives in that very — compared to the other characters — a more heightened Gothic world. In Rivervale, she was sort of in her element, because we were in a sort of a supernatural world, and Cheryl and Abigail, as we revealed in her episode, that was sort of her element. Since we ended season five with the revelation that Archie, Betty, and Jughead’s ancestors had burned Abigail at the steak, even though we did the Rivervale of it, we wanted to pick up that thread in Riverdale, of course, as though no time had passed. One kind of a classic Gothic story is of tontines or reincarnations, and we thought that it might be a fun thing to see sort of Cheryl inhabited by a much angrier version of her ancestor. It’s a fun story. I think it’s a fun story for Mads. And I think you’ll get to see old-school, agent of chaos scene happen. But again, I think it also resonates at a deeper level and sets the stage for Cheryl’s story for the rest of the season. Let me assure everyone that it’s not going to be Abigail for the rest of the season.
I don’t have to tell you that fans absolutely love Toni Topaz, myself included. So I have to ask, will we see her getting a larger arc this season?
Definitely, I think the two big things that Toni’s facing this season are one, being a new mother, which we saw a little bit in Rivervale when La Llorona came after her baby, and two is sort of balancing her two lives. By her two lives, I sort of mean, her day life at Riverdale High as a guidance counselor, as sort of a pillar of the community, then her legacy as the Serpent Queen, her and Fang’s relationship, the fact that they grew up in the Serpents, and that the Serpents have always been a little bit of outsiders. I think for kind of the rest of the season, Toni’s gonna be sort of navigating those two worlds. Lots of conflict coming up from enemies old and new, I could say also regarding Toni. Then lots of fun stuff with her and Fangs, played by Drew, of course. One of the fun things about the Abigail story is it does bring sort of Cheryl and Toni back together, not in a romantic way, but in a fun story.
This episode also introduces Archie’s new enemy for the season. What’s next with that?
I assume you’re meaning Percival Pickens. How do you know he’s the villain for the season?
I definitely got that vibe from his entrance, but also when the casting was announced, they mentioned him being Archie’s enemy.
It’s true. It’s funny, no one shows up in Riverdale to be Archie’s friend, it’s always an antagonist. Yeah, we do have the mysterious arrival of Percival Pickens and we know that the Pickens family has a very sort of dark history in Riverdale. Let me say this, we’ve just gotten a whisper of Percival, but he does bring a lot of bad tidings and ill wits with him. But, I’ll say this, it’s not just for Archie, it’s for basically all of our characters including, for instance, Toni.
The show is also clearly experimenting with supernatural elements this season. How far are we going with that? Is that something that’s going to be throughout the whole season and beyond for another, or is this something that’s going to be the arc specifically for season 6?
Yeah, every year, every season we kind of do experiment with different genres as you know. One season we sort of did a bunch of like stories inspired by The Godfather and Goodfellas, we did a murder mystery, and then we did a cult storyline — we’ve actually done a couple of cult storylines. One of the things that we kind of said for this season was imagine if Stephen King or M. Night Shyamalan was in the writer’s room of Riverdale, what that would be, and we sort of took inspiration from some of those stories where yeah, the supernatural kind of creeps in from the fringes, do you know what I mean? And sort of infects a classic Americana town or that. So it is starting to seep in a little bit from Rivervale into Riverdale in hopefully — I always say in a grounded way, but it’s Riverdale so take that with a grain of salt. But yes, it’s sort of something that it is a little bit of a river that runs through this season.
Of course, I have to ask you about the relationships. So I have a two-part question. Obviously, we have these new relationships (Barchie, Jabitha, Veggie, and Tangs), what is ahead for them? We’re getting to explore some of them for the first time. Then you also have fans dedicated to the former relationships (Varchie, Bughead, Choni, Kangs). Should they have hope that these characters will share the screen again eventually?
Yeah, I mean listen, it’s funny, it’s like in terms of sharing the screen, 100%. We definitely have Jughead and Betty stories. We definitely have Cheryl and Toni stories. But to be honest, because the first five episodes were Rivervale, we actually haven’t officially explored Barchie, Toni and Fangs, and Veronica and Reggie in our canonical Riverdale. So we are doing that. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be major drama. I can also tell you that some of our characters who are historically coupled will be single for longer than an episode. We are gonna kind of explore that as well. So lots of relationship drama coming, absolutely.
I am personally a fan of the friendships on the show. I love the different dynamics between the characters. Is there one that you are most excited for fans to see their storyline this season?
Yeah, I think because of sort of the story that we’re telling with Percival and kind of this epic battle that’s brewing, I will say that one of the treats this season is you do see our main characters — of course, they have their own storylines, they always do — working together. We see more of Jughead and Archie together. We see more of Archie and Tabitha together. You see more of Toni and Tabitha together. We’re writing a really fun, big Betty and Veronica episode right now. So as a sort of side effect about this season that we’re doing is getting our characters into stories together. Betty and Cheryl have stories together. So yes, we are definitely seeing more friendship stories and more unexpected pairings.