So this is it, Riverdale fans. After a little more than four seasons, The CW and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's long-running series is throwing the gang into a seven-year time jump and tonight viewers get to see how life's been treating them since we last saw them. "Chapter Eighty: Purgatorio" finds Archie (KJ Apa) returning home from the military, shocked to see what Riverdale's become under Hiram Lodge's (Mark Consuelos) reign as Toni (Vanessa Morgan) gets him up to speed on what's gone on. To save the town, it's going to take the reunited efforts of Betty (Lili Reinhart), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), Veronica (Camila Mendes), Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), Kevin (Casey Cott), and more to not just save Riverdale High- but also the future. But after all this time, how much do they really know about one another- or what's happened since they were last together?
Thankfully, the fine folks at EW had a chance to ask Aguirre-Sacasa what he could reveal about what viewers should expect, and here's a look at some of the highlights:
On This Season Feeling Like Both a Series Finale & a Reboot: "Yeah, the graduation episode definitely feels like that is the end of a big story that we started in the pilot and it kind of hearkens back to when we first pitched Riverdale. Some of the executives that we pitched it to said, "So is this just a high school show?" I remember thinking, "Gosh I hope not, I hope it continues into young adulthood." It's funny, I remember back in the day saying, "To me, I think Riverdale ends when Archie has a child." But without a doubt, the graduation episode feels like a pretty big end of a chapter, and in a way, episode 4 is a pretty hard reboot, but still Riverdale-ian."
Why a Time Jump Was the Right Route to Go: "We did decide very quickly because all of the kids were seemingly going to different colleges and we didn't want them to all go to, like, Riverdale University. And in terms of drama, for me, college is a less appealing version of high school stories. In terms of what we're most excited about is that after four seasons of pretty elaborate, complicated storytelling, this time jump allows us to start with a clean slate, drop in the middle of stories and then have people catch up. And it allows us to play new dynamics. Now it's not just Betty in scenes with Jughead, now it's not just Cheryl and Toni in scenes together. That's what's been exciting for the actors too, they're really excited about playing characters closer to their age."
That Archie-Betty Kiss Had Lasting Impacts: "I think so. With Betty and Jughead, there was a break that we will see. In my mind, part of the reason they split up is because of the Betty-Archie kiss. I think when the kiss happened, no one wanted it to ruin their last couple of weeks in high school so they hung on to get through that, but there's still fallout from that and I think that's kind of the reason. And though we will see particular details why, I think it's fallout from that kiss. It cut really deep."
To learn if viewers will get a look at any mid-time jump moments and who Aguirre-Sacasa thinks has changed the most over the seven years, check out the rest of the interview here.
Now here's a look at preview images and episode overviews for the next two weeks of Riverdale:
Riverdale Season 5, Episode 4 "Chapter Eighty: Purgatorio": SEVEN-YEAR TIME JUMP — After spending seven years away from Riverdale, Archie (KJ Apa) returns to find the town is now under Hiram Lodge's (Mark Consuelos) grip and on the verge of becoming a ghost town. When Toni (Vanessa Morgan) catches him up on what's been going on, Archie reaches out to the rest of the gang to return home. Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Casey Cott, Charles Melton, Drew Ray Tanner and Erinn Westbrook also star. Steve Adelson directed the episode written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
Erinn Westbrook (The Resident) joins the cast for the fifth season as Tabitha Tate, the ambitious, entrepreneurial granddaughter of Pop Tate. Seeing serious business potential in her family's business, Tabitha's come to Riverdale to take over Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe in the hopes of franchising the iconic diner, even as the town around it struggles to survive. Broadchurch star Chris Mason will be taking on the recurring role of Chad Gekko, Veronica's husband. Set to make his debut during the fifth season's fourth episode, Gekko is a controlling and jealous husband who works on Wall Street and sees himself as an "alpha dog," Gekko is threatened by Veronica's Riverdale life- especially her bond with Archie.
The CW's Riverdale stars KJ Apa as Archie Andrews, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom, Marisol Nichols as Hermione Lodge, Madchen Amick as Alice Cooper, Casey Cott as Kevin Keller, Mark Consuelos as Hiram Lodge, Skeet Ulrich as FP Jones, Charles Melton as Reggie Mantle, and Vanessa Morgan as Toni Topaz. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and Jon Goldwater executive produce. Filmed in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the series is produced by Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios in association with Berlanti Productions.