Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on What That Cliffhanger Means for the Final Season of ‘Riverdale’

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the creator of The CW’s Riverdale, which is based on characters from the Archie Comics. The show will return for a seventh and final season. This interview will include major spoilers for the season finale, episode 6×22, “Chapter One Hundred and Seventeen: Night of the Comet.”

We had a great conversation breaking down what’s ahead for the show’s last season, the importance of bringing Cheryl and Toni back together in the finale, how the classic Varchie / Barchie love triangle will come into play, what ‘50s Toni might look like, Veronica’s “hard reboot,” and much more! Keep reading for all of the details.

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred: The Jughead Paradox” — Image Number: RVD605b_0006r3 — Pictured: Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones — Photo: Kailey Schwerman/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

First of all, we’re now in 1955 BC (Before Comet). Does this reset the entire series or are we going to spend the final season working back to where we previously were in Riverdale’s timeline/a certain point in that timeline? What’s the goal?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Well, you know, it’s funny, when we were talking about season seven and what we wanted to do with season seven, and when we found out it was going to be our last season, we really, really, really wanted to make sure that we weren’t running on fumes, kind of coasting and we really wanted it to be special. We talked a lot about that in the writers’ room, and one thing that kind of everyone agrees on— and you know, Riverdale is so divisive, but the thing everyone agrees on is whenever we see our characters in flashbacks, dream sequences, or whatever it may be in their 1950s iconic comic book outfits, everyone is delighted, everyone is– we are, the fans are, the actors are. I think when people think about the Archie Comics, they think of them in the ‘50s, they think of them as frozen in time. There’s something about the feel of them, the Americana of them, it’s just kind of in the DNA of Archie Comics. So we thought– and after the big sort of mythological, supernatural season six, it felt like we needed something that was really, really special.

So we landed on the ‘50s basically, and the idea is that we’re going to hunker down, be in the ‘50s, and kind of deconstruct not just Archie Comics but what Riverdale has been and have it in dialogue with what people think of as the Archie Comics. That said, it is not a clean break. It is very much in continuity with the first six seasons, kind of the same way that Rivervale ended up being in continuity with the rest of the season. Jughead remembers what happened the first six seasons, it’s in question what the other characters will remember but in my mind, whether or not they remember it consciously, there’s going to be an emotional memory of what they’ve lived through. So it is not a complete break. That said, we are also using this as sort of an opportunity to do some fun resetting of the table, a little bit of mixing and matching, adjusting backstories, and things like that, but it’s very much in keeping with what we’ve done the first six seasons.

Riverdale — ÒChapter One Hundred and Seventeen: Night of the CometÓ — Image Number: RVD622b_0385r — Pictured: Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom — Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Archie and the gang are now teens again, which feels very full circle to the first season, where we started. Will we be doing another time jump or is this the age we’re planning to end with?
No, I mean, they’re going to be teenagers, that’s the core of the Archie DNA as well. You know, it’s funny, there was one day, I can’t even remember what episode we were shooting, but I was talking to KJ and he said somewhat wistfully, “Gosh, remember when we were all in high school?” I’m like, “Yeah, I do. I do.” And Mark Pedowitz also was sort of— it’s funny when we started, not everyone wanted another high school show, do you know what I mean? I would get notes like, “Why is Archie being grounded? Are those really the stories we’re telling?” So I love the idea that everyone sort of became very nostalgic for a high school and our high school seasons. So no, for season seven, we are in the ‘50s and our characters are teenagers again.

We also found out a few things romance-wise in this finale. First is that Cheryl and Toni are soulmates, which I already knew but it’s confirmed now. They’re “written in the stars.” How will we see the two of them come together again as the end approaches?
Yeah, I mean, listen, there is no denying the power of Choni, we know it, the fandom knows that. It was really important for us to kind of tell Toni and Cheryl’s stories separate from each other but as we were kind of prompting the end of the season, we knew we had to start bringing them back together. I love that Heather says to them, “Listen, what we have is great. I have feelings for you, you have feelings for me but what you and Toni have is cosmic, what you and Toni have is destiny. You guys are soulmates.” So I can tell you that we will be telling Choni’s stories in season seven. It’s going to be interesting though because the ‘50s are such a different landscape for our queer characters and the way that they live their lives is so different, will be so different in the ‘50s. But that’s kind of one of the big things we talked about when we talked about going back to the ‘50s, is what that would look like. So Choni will continue in season seven. It’s going to be very different though from how we’ve seen them.

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred: The Jughead Paradox” — Image Number: RVD605b_0090r.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, KJ Apa as Archie Andrews and Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge — Photo: Kailey Schwerman/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

As for the Barchie/Varchie love triangle, you had Tabitha reveal to Veronica that it’s pretty much a 50/50 situation. How is that going to play out now— does Archie know or have any history with either Veronica or Betty in this 1955 timeline? Or is it basically a blank slate with him falling in love again?
Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to say too much about Barchie vs. Varchie. I will say that we are– you know, again, in going back and embracing the Archie Comics and the idea of the Archies in the ‘50s, one of the classic staples is the love triangle. We don’t wanna go and kind of just play the straightforward depiction of the love triangle, meaning both Betty and Veronica are fighting over Archie. I don’t think we’re ever going to play that. We never did and we’ve never wanted to, and I don’t think that’s going to be happening in the ‘50s but we are kind of reinvesting in sort of that young, new first love, first kiss, those tropes that we love from teen dramas. I know I haven’t really answered your question, but there will be a lot of Varchie and Barchie drama, and the story is not finished by any stretch of the imagination.

You have a great sequence with Tabitha and Jughead going on one final epic date. I really loved it. It was fantastic and amazingly done. What does that represent for their relationship going forward? Because we kind of see all of the different stages for them and it felt like closure but I don’t want it to be closure. Also, Jughead still remembers.
Yeah, I mean, I will tell you, it feels like Jughead and Tabitha– they were one of our big romances this season. They were a new couple and we invested in them, and the fans really, really connected with them. So when we were crafting the finale, we knew that whatever story we were telling with Jughead and Tabitha in the last episode, we wanted it to be an epic, romantic story. I love that it involves them watching Titanic, which is hilarious to me, and I love that you see them kind of go through the decades. It’s just so romantic, and I love the way Cole and Erinn played it. I love their kiss at the end, I love that they’re crying. I will say that Jughead absolutely remembers his relationship with Tabitha and if you recall, Tabitha was not in Riverdale in the high school years. She was a late arrival. So I think season seven is going to echo that in some way. But we are not done with Tabitha and we are not done with Jughead and Tabitha either.

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred and Twelve: American Psychos” — Image Number: RVD617b_ 0140r — Pictured: Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz — Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Will Toni be part of the main plot going forward and can you hint at the main plot at all? Many were disappointed she didn’t have powers this past season as part of the final battle.
Yeah, I mean, it’s funny, at one point, we had powers planned for everyone and weirdly, in our minds, Toni and Fangs had powers as well. I think they were gonna be ice and wind, I can’t remember. When we landed on the idea that baby Anthony was going to be immortal and kind of have the big piece of the story with Percival, we settled that Toni and Fangs would be Anthony’s protectors and that Toni’s superpower was really her maternal instinct. That was her essence for this season. So that’s what we landed, and I know that Vanessa and Drew, they’re friends, they loved playing all those domestic stories.

The room is starting next week. I mean, I think for us, the big question about Toni next season is, in the ‘50s– and it’s a question about all of our characters, what is the essential version of our characters in the ‘50s? So for instance, is Toni a ‘50s Serpent, or is she more like a Pink Lady? Do we go back to Toni, when we first met her, she was a photographer? I think we’re asking those questions about all of our characters. You know, Vanessa is an amazing singer, like, music was such a big part of the ‘50s– is that more of Toni’s identity? Those are the questions we’re asking about all of our characters, but yes, Toni will be front and center. Toni will be front and center.

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred and Nine: Venomous” — Image Number: RVD614b_1009r — Pictured: Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

One thing I did want to talk to you about was Veronica’s speech to Reggie. The past two seasons have really been going back and forth with her in terms of her future, more specifically her romantic future. But she was single for the majority of season six and she wasn’t happy— she wanted to be with Archie. Is there a path for her to learn that she can have both a relationship and maybe even a family if she wants as well as a successful work career? Because I hate the idea of a woman having to choose one or the other.
Absolutely, I mean, first of all, Veronica is one of my favorite characters. She’s one of all of our favorite characters. It’s funny, that speech to Reggie, that is a big clue for season seven. You know, she says, “I kind of want a hard reboot.” I love the stories we’ve told with Veronica. When we’ve been talking about her though, for season seven, the essence of Veronica in the comics is fun. She’s such a fun character and I think this season, she’s been wrestling, you know, her father died this season, and that sort of cast a pall over her. She was wrestling with her guilt about that and her feelings about that, and she wasn’t having as much fun, let’s say, as Veronica has in the past. I think in season seven, and we’re kind of coming up– I think we’ve got a really fun story for her for season seven, but it is embracing Veronica’s kind of more fun, free spirit. It’s not so much– she’s always been driven and career driven, and I think that comes from her father’s influence, but the idea is that she’ll be less focused on her career and more focused on having fun and kind of being fabulous without being too reductive about it, you know what I mean?

Yeah, I love that explanation. You put me a little bit at ease, Roberto, and I think that’s gonna put fans at ease as well. So thank you.
Yeah, like, I think she even says, “I want to be dating, I want to be having fun.” I’m excited about it. It’s actually one of the– when we talked about Veronica, when we talked about the ‘50s, seeing what we could do with Veronica in terms of the reboot and getting back to fun Veronica and like fabulous, that was one of the things that we were so excited about. Of all the characters, I think we’ve got a fun twist to her that people will be really excited about.

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