Oh, Riverdale, please never change. Your ridiculousness is always a delight, and you somehow manage to keep getting more ridiculous. However, last night’s season six premiere on the CW set a bar so high I honestly don’t know how you’ll top it. It was also the beginning of a five-part Riverdale “event” and it kicked things off with a bang.
Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa)—the heart of the show, which will be a pun in just a few sentences—died at the climax of “Welcome to Rivervale.” But rather than getting shot by one of the town’s many criminals or stabbed by one of its many serial killers, Riverdale decided to make it special. After being tricked into going to the Blossom estate in the dead of night, he’s knocked unconscious, tied to a stone altar, and then Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) sacrifices him by cutting out his goddamned heart and holding it aloft, Temple of Doom-style, in front of the entire town. And I mean the entire town—Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Kevin (Casey Cott), Toni (Vanessa Morgan), Betty’s mom (Mädchen Amick), Archie’s own uncle (Ryan Robbins)—who surround Archie as it happens, standing around serenely knowing the death of Rivervale’s most pure-hearted soul will bring a great bounty to the town.
You might think Riverdale isn’t wild enough to kill off its main character, to which I would respond: yeah, I think it might be. But it’s more likely he’ll just be dead for the rest of the five-part event because this is clearly not happening in the real Riverdale; the first and foremost clue obviously being that the town is called Rivervale. There are others, including Jughead’s Rod-Serling-in-Twilight-Zone-style opening introduction to the episode. There’s also the fact that at the end of season five, Archie and Betty find a bomb under Archie’s bed, which is seen blowing his house to kingdom come. In the season six premiere, Archie wakes up with a start when he dreams of an explosion, telling Betty he dreamed of a town called Riverdale.
Honestly, at first glance, Rivervale seems exactly like Riverdale, assuming you believe that Cheryl would sacrifice a deer in the middle of her maple tree forest and use its blood to draw ancient runes. (I certainly do, even if she weren’t currently leading her own religion/cult at the moment.) The first real sign that Rivervale is a place of supernatural horror is when Toni and Fangs go to a doctor because their new baby won’t stop crying and he suggests putting a tiny frog in the infant’s mouth. So it makes perfect sense that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s chief witch, Sabrina Spellman, will be stopping by later in the event.
It’s unclear what exactly is going here—it could be a dream Archie is having while he’s in a coma after the explosion, or maybe one of Jughead’s books seen in live-action—but showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told TV Line that it’s somehow in-continuity, “meaning that things that happen in Rivervale would continue or echo or speak to the events of Riverdale.” He also said that Archie wouldn’t be the only death during the five-episode special, so there’s more to look forward to.
Rivervale—er, Riverdale airs on the CW on Wednesday nights. After the remaining four episodes of the event come out, the rest of season six will debut sometime in 2022.
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