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'Riverdale' creator breaks down the Stephen King-inspired supernatural twists of Season 6
Riverdale has always been a weird show, but now it's flat-out giving characters superpowers.
Riverdale has always been a show that's embraced the weird. In its five-and-a-half seasons on The CW so far, the show has flirted with numerous subgenres, telling stories with serial killers, mob connections, dangerous cults, and much more. Earlier in its sixth season, the show even engineered a crossover with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and went full-on into a parallel universe with the five-episode event known as "Rivervale."
At this point, it shouldn't be surprising that Riverdale is trying something new in a run that's already packed with big narrative ideas. But in its most recent episode, the show seemed to go full-on supernatural in a way that even longtime viewers might not have been expecting. So, what's the deal with the latest twist, and where will things head next?
**Spoilers for Riverdale Season 6 ahead**
Last year's winter finale explored what was going on with the "Rivervale" event, establishing a parallel universe in which Jughead could essentially influence the prime Riverdale universe by writing stories about himself and his friends. In the process, he managed to save Betty and Archie from death by steering them clear of an explosion at the Andrews house. Now, as we rejoin the characters in the spring premiere, Jughead is deaf because he happened to be too close to that same explosion, while Archie and Betty are...different. Archie seems to be completely invulnerable, while Betty has developed a kind of aura-reading psychic ability. It all feels like something that should have happened while the show was playing around in an alternate universe, but it's unfolding in what appears to be the prime Riverdale timeline.
"We knew we couldn't sustain that level of all-out supernatural, but there's actually a really hilarious sort of tradition in Archie Comics, like Jughead's Time Police, Archie's Weird Mysteries, and Archie's Madhouse that are kind of more supernatural and bonkers stories," Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told TV Guide. "So we thought, well, why don't we do that? Let's imagine that Stephen King or M. Night Shyamalan were in the writers room and we could allow the supernatural from Rivervale to sort of creep in and out suddenly at the edges of our storylines."
In letting the supernatural creep in, Aguirre-Sacasa and the show's writing team also made sure to give a little bit of extra thematic emphasis to Betty and Archie's newfound powers. Longtime viewers of the show will note that, even though they seem to be superhuman now, their gifts are very much in keeping with their respective places in the longer Riverdale narrative.
"When we were talking about this, we wanted to pick up on abilities the characters had already sort of displayed or manifested," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "We always joke that Archie's unkillable, and with Betty, we've made a big deal in the past that she's been able to identify serial killers by looking in their eyes and having this sort of sixth sense about it. So that's how we started talking about these gifts, if they're gifts, or curses, if they're curses."
So, we're back from a parallel universe, and yet the explosion at the Andrew house seems to have allowed some of that universe to leak into the main Riverdale timeline, giving Archie and Betty these abilities. What happens next, especially now that the show's previous big bad, Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), seems to be out of the picture? Aguirre-Sacasa teased that viewers should keep a close eye on rising antagonist Percival Pickens (Chris O'Shea), a character the show's creator called "a villain like something out of a Stephen King story." As Percival makes his moves, Betty, Archie, and Jughead are going to find themselves in the midst of a new struggle, and the supernatural elements we see now could be just the beginning.
"I think what we'll discover is that sort of a big battle is brewing in Riverdale," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "We talked about it in the past, about the heart of Riverdale or the soul of Riverdale being at stake. This season, we're finding out that that is more literal than we've ever meant before. So they don't know it yet, but they're manifesting powers for a very specific reason."
Riverdale airs Sundays on The CW.