The characters of Riverdale are all grown up, and they’re a lot different than we expected.
After an agonizing week long wait, Riverdale has finally jumped ahead seven years. Riverdale season 5, episode 4 delivered a lot of surprises, essentially resetting the stories of the town and its characters. It was one of the most exciting episodes in a while, and it set a great tone for the rest of the season that we can’t wait to jump into.
For now, let’s discuss the 11 most surprising reveals from the time jump and what they could mean for the rest of the season.
1. It’s 2021 in Riverdale!
After four seasons of obsessing over classic wardrobes, meandering pop culture references and old cars, wondering when the hell Riverdale was taking place, we finally have our answer…kind of. In reality, we have two very conflicting answers.
Despite the students graduating in the Class of 2020, Veronica boldly declared, seven years later, that “it’s 2021!” Whoops.
We’ll give the Riverdale writers a pandemic pass on this one, and assume that the quote from season 5, episode 4, “Purgatorio,” reflects the truth. The show is, in fact, now taking place in present day.
So what does this mean for Riverdale? Maybe something, but probably nothing. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa discussed the slip in an interview with E! Online, and he said that he still intends to maintain the “timeless” feel of the show, which we’re definitely on board with.
2. Riverdale is in shambles
We expected the personal lives of some of our favorite characters to look a lot different after seven years, but we couldn’t believe how much had changed in the town of Riverdale. Unfortunately, in the least surprising turn of events, Hiram is still just as villainous as ever, and with the moderating effect of the Lodge ladies absent, he’s gone full tyrant.
The fire department is gone, Sheriff Keller is the last man standing in the police force, “sketch alley” runs rampant with stray dogs and down-on-their-luck humans, and the “lonely highway” claims countless victims, including the newly introduced Squeaky. Riverdale is being strangled to boost Hiram’s SoDale profits, and things are only getting worse.
Of course, there’s no problem that our favorite chivalrous ginger won’t tackle, and he’s determined to bring his, and his father’s home back to its former glory. Hopefully starting with removing the Ghoulies from his house. If the not-so-subtle opening scene to the episode is any indication, this season will see Archie taking Hiram on, and hopefully down, once and for all.
3. Archie has already been axed from active duty
Before we really got to see him in action, Sergeant Andrews has been very honorably discharged back to Riverdale to run the RROTC. We don’t know many details, and I’m sure those will come out in a heart-to-heart down the road, but it had something to do with an incident that left him and a brother in arms hospitalized. Of course, it seems like Archie was a hero in said incident, saving his comrade’s life.
This shouldn’t be that surprising, since something obviously needed to happen to bring Archie back to Riverdale for an extended period. It’s sad that he can’t continue to do what he clearly loves, but he seems to have found an important piece of himself over the last seven years, and I’m very excited to see him apply that to his new leadership role. Even as a boy, Archie was an excellent mentor for kids at the Boxing Gym, so this could be a perfect fit for the new-and-improved, freshly coiffed Archie.
4. Reggie is working for Hiram Lodge
Reggie has taken up the mantle (see what I did there?) as Hiram’s assistant, seemingly taking the position that was offered to Archie at the end of high school. Reggie has always served serious henchman vibes, so this isn’t exactly shocking, but it is upsetting when you consider how entangled Reggie must be in all of Hiram’s villainy.
That being said, Reggie has showed a lot of loyalty to his friends in the past, and now that Archie is back in town, I can see that Bulldog pride seeping back in. Ultimately, I think Reggie could prove to be invaluable in taking Hiram down, since he has such a powerful seat at the right hand of Veronica’s father.
5. Riverdale’s La Bonne Nuit is now the Whyte Wyrm
We had no idea what Archie would find when he instinctively made his way down the stairs to his former flame’s speak-easy, but we certainly couldn’t have predicted that it would be a revamped Whyte Wyrm! This was one of the most jawdropping moments of Riverdale season 5, episode 4, especially since it was accompanied by a stunning performance by Toni Topaz.
Apparently the serpents bought the bar from Hiram Lodge and have turned it into their own little safe haven in the increasingly inhospitable town. So, what does this mean for the show? Hopefully it means that we get more serpent action, with Toni at the helm! The gang is officially an even more central part of the town, now that they’ve commandeered a portion of Pop’s, so we should be seeing a lot more of Toni, Fangs, and Sweet Pea in Riverdale season 5. It’ll also be interesting to see if/how Jughead gets involved now that he’s back.
Unfortunately, I can also see the Whyte Wyrm being at the center of a lot of problems this season. Doing business with Hiram Lodge is never a good idea, and he usually finds a way to make every deal benefit him a lot more than whoever he’s doing business with. I fear that he’ll attempt to take the Whyte Wyrm back, leaving everyone scrambling. It’s a very Hiram thing to do.
6. Toni’s family forgives the Blossoms, but Cheryl doesn’t
Toni is fully out to her family, but unfortunately, Cheryl seems to be a little bit out to lunch. It looks like she’s accomplished some of her goal of clearing the Blossom ledger, but she still believes that she and her family are cursed. She’s gone full Sarah Winchester, rebuilding her house to keep the curse from consuming her.
This is far from the fiery bombshell that we’re used to seeing, and the literal fire dancing around Cheryl in the opening sequence has me very worried for her. Also, Nana Rose is having her recreate paintings for some reason that I can’t even attempt a guess at.
Overall, I was most surprised to see where Cheryl was after the seven year time jump, and her story still seems to be shrouded in mystery. It seems like Toni has left the door open for her, so we’ll have to see if she’s able to bring herself to walk out of her house and through it!
7. Toni is pregnant
Okay, maybe this one isn’t as surprising for fans of Vanessa Morgan, since the actress gave birth to her son (named River!!) on January 29th, but she wouldn’t have been the first actress to hide a baby bump behind whatever prop she could find! It looks like Vanessa Morgan’s good fortune has become Toni’s, and we’ll soon have our first Riverdale baby. Sorry, I’m not counting Polly’s creepy twins.
As for the baby daddy? It’s a “secret, just for now.” To me, this sounds like someday it won’t be a secret, so I can’t wait for this fun fact to be woven into the storyline. On top of being on the verge of motherhood, Toni became the guidance counselor of Riverdale High, which I absolutely love for her. I can’t wait to see her doling out some desperately needed advice to our other favorite characters.
8. Kangs ‘stayed boyfriends’
At least one couple made it past graduation! I mean, once you’ve made it through a weird cult wedding together, what’s a seven year time jump? It looks like Kevin and Fangs are more solid than ever, now that they’re both college graduates and Kevin is working as the drama teacher at Riverdale High. I’m glad Riverdale let Kangs live. There needs to be some hope for love on this show.
In an interview with Decider, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revealed that “there is drama ahead for them.” I’m assuming he doesn’t just mean Kevin’s job, so I’m really excited to see more of this adorable couple, and hope that things don’t get too turbulent. Maybe there will even be wedding bells in the Riverdale season 5 future!
9. Veronica and her husband were in a mysterious accident
Veronica’s storyline was the thing I was the most nervous about before watching Riverdale season 5, episode 4. All we knew was that a “controlling and jealous” husband had been cast for her, so I was terrified that she had fallen into the same subservient patterns as her mother. Veronica has always been strong and fiercely independent, but she also clearly has some deep residual issues with her father to work out, and she didn’t exactly have a great model for a loving marriage. I was concerned that these things were catching up with her in her adulthood.
After the time jump, I’m much less concerned. While Veronica has made some concessions at her husband’s request after the “accident” (or at least she’s pretending to), she is far from the shrinking violet I had feared she’d be reduced to. She’s still just as assertive as ever, and she appears to have entered into this marriage for the right reasons. I breathed a true sigh of relief watching her killing it at work and holding her ground with her husband.
As for said husband, I don’t believe we have enough information to make a call on him yet. One possibility is that Hermione could be right about him. It’s a tale as old as time. The guy is attracted to the strong, opinionated woman, but expects her to shut up and be his doting wife once he has her locked down. If this seems outdated, it’s because it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still happening on a daily basis. If this is the case, I don’t think Chad is that bad, as long as he listens to her and treats her with respect. He just has certain expectations for their marriage, which he’s laid out, that Veronica can choose to agree to, or not. My bet is on the latter.
Another, much more sinister possibility, is that Chad actually is Hiram 2.0 and he’ll take what he wants by any means, including potentially causing the helicopter accident that got Veronica off of Wall Street. I’m almost certain that the “accident” was no accident. The only question is, was it caused by Chad, or Hiram? This will likely come out at some point this season, causing a lot of drama when it does! Either way, I don’t think Cheronica will last, but I am sincerely excited to watch her navigate a marriage and find out what she really wants and needs in a partner, so when she does find a new (or old!) love, it’ll be a stronger and more dynamic relationship than ever.
10. Betty’s buried under paperwork and trauma
I expected to jump in on Betty as she took down her millionth serial killer with the FBI, but that was far from the case in Riverdale season 5, episode 4. In fact, she’s still a trainee at Quantico, and has been put on desk duty due to an unfortunate incident with the Trash Bag Killer. She went in without back up, and was held captive by the “TBK” for two weeks.
If her nightmares are any indication, she’s been significantly scarred by the event. Betty always battled with her “darkness,” but she has been unbelievably resilient in the face of everything that’s happened to her as long as we’ve known her. Because of this, I was truly surprised to see how affected she is now. I’m sure that in dealing with her trauma in Riverdale season 5 we will also see her work through some unresolved issues from the past, which will be really good to see.
Will we see the TBK this season? I’d say chances are close to 100%. Especially after Betty’s speech about worrying about “who he’ll hurt” next. What would this show be without a serial killer, anyway?
11. Jughead has followed in the footsteps of his heroes, in more ways than one
Like so many great writers before him, not only did Jughead write a book, but he also developed a bit of an alcohol problem. As with Veronica, I was very nervous to see what Jughead had become during the seven year time jump, but also as with Veronica, I was pleasantly surprised.
Sure, he’s not doing great. He’s really struggling. But at least he’s struggling. To struggle means that you’re still trying, and that’s a hell of a lot better than not trying. I was really worried that we were going to find Jughead where we found F.P. when we first met him. He had all but given up. That’s not Juggy. He may be meandering through relationships and suffering from a severe case of writer’s block, but that’s nothing that a little home town mystery and some attention from his true muse can’t fix.
One thing that does have me worried for Jughead is the opening sequence. He was the person that Archie had to save, which makes me think that things could get worse for him before they get better. On a lighter note, I’m thinking we’ll spend some time diving into Jughead’s next project in Riverdale season 5. In fact, it’s possible that we’ve already begun with the Squeaky subplot.