The cast and creators of the hit CW series Riverdale took the Hall H stage at San Diego Comic-Con Sunday to talk about the much-anticipated third season of the series, and it seems like a lot of changes are in store for Archie and his friends.
Last season left fans on a cliffhanger as Archie (KJ Apa) was hauled off to jail after being framed for murder, while Veronica (Camila Mendes) took over Pop's, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) became the new Serpent King, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) joined the Serpents, and Betty (Lili Reinhart) made peace with the murderous past of her father. It was a lot to process, and we shouldn't expect the third season to really slow down at all.
As if to emphasize both the complex nature of the show and the seemingly constant threat of something weird going down in Riverdale, the Hall H panel also included a combination recap and teaser clip. So, if you feel like you've already lost track of all of Season 2's complexities, it gives you the bullet points right up front, before teasing what's next. It starts, as Riverdale often does, with something nice: Archie and his friends sharing milkshakes and taking the newly driveable jalopy out for a little Labor Day weekend fun. Then the darkness creeps in. Take a look. The new footage starts around the 2:05 mark.
Yes, that's right...Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) is now involved with "The Farm," and The Farm is indeed some kind of creepy baby offering cult. The Cooper family can't hold things together even for a second, can they?
That, of course, isn't the only trouble brewing in town, as the tensions between the different factions in the town are still very much present. The Serpents were able to rally and reorganize at the end of last season, but Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) and his little cabal of powerful citizens and thugs were able to do the same. It's that tension that will help drive some of the story when the show returns.
"When we meet them in the premiere, they're trying to maintain a peace between the Serpents and the Ghoulies and Hiram that quickly gets disturbed in our first episode back," showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said during the panel.
The dynamics within the Lodge family itself are also shifting, as Consuelos noted one of Hiram's primary goals in the new season is to be "a thorn in his daughter's side," while Veronica and Hermione (Marisol Nichols) attempt to re-establish their bond after the horrors they faced together last season, and Veronica focuses on the new power she has over at Pop's.
"I think Veronica is going to be an entrepreneur in Season 3, in addition to being a high school student," Mendes said. "I think we'll see a side of her we haven't seen before."
Things will also be changing for the Jones family, as Aguirre-Sacasa revealed Jughead's often-referenced sister Jelly Bean will finally arrive on the show sometime around Episode 8. Plus, the dynamic between Jughead and F.P. (Skeet Ulrich) is shifting, as the older Jones takes a more advisory role now that his son is in power with the Serpents.
"He takes on a new role this season helping (his son) make the Serpents strong again so they can live out the big plan," Ulrich said.
Then, of course, there's the issue of Archie's arrest and pending murder trial, which Apa teased as one of the storylines that will lead off the season. It's hard to imagine a Riverdale where Archie is just rotting away in prison, but even if he's found innocent, there will be fallout.
“Season 3, the first episode starts off with Archie on trial for murder… We’ll see if he’s going to go away or if he’s not going to go away,” Apa said. “The distance and separation between [Veronica and Archie] would be tough.”
Mendes agreed, and said she thinks Veronica and Archie will "run into some problems" as the season progresses.
But what about that creepy Farm stuff from the teaser? According to Reinhart, the new season will pick up, as the footage suggests, at the end of the summer, so we'll learn what each character was doing while school was out. Betty was busy, but a new mystery is waiting for her at home.
“Betty spent her summer doing an internship,” she said. “Alice and Polly kind of attack her and their new weird spirituality with the Farm… Betty wants to stay far, far away from them.”
Speaking of the Farm, Aguirre-Sacasa also teased that, in addition to Jelly Bean, another new character will be the strange spiritual organization's leader, Edgar Neverever. No word yet on who will be cast in that role, but Aguirre-Sacasa said the show is talking to some "really exciting gentlemen" about the part.
That's a lot of upheaval for Riverdale to face in its third year, but Aguirre-Sacasa also hinted at something hopeful that was often absent from Season 2: Friendship. The second season placed the season's core characters at odds with each other, to the point that even Archie and Jughead were at each other's throats at times. Season 3, according to its showrunner, will bring back some of those old bonds.
"For sure we're gonna see Betty and Veronica being friends again, and Archie and Jughead being friends again," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "We're gonna focus on the friendships again."
What else can we expect? Well, Aguirre-Sacasa couldn't leave the panel without a couple of themed-episode teasers. We'll also be getting a flashback episode "pretty early in Season 3" that will see the main teen cast playing younger versions of their parents, and also teased that we will "definitely" get another musical episode of the show in the future.
Riverdale returns October 10 on The CW.
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