San Diego Comic-Con ended with a bang this year! The Beat had the pleasure of speaking to legendary showrunner, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, on what lies ahead for senior year on Riverdale, where he draws inspiration from and what the real mystery is this season.
While the excitement around season four is there, the heaviness and sadness from the untimely passing of Luke Perry was felt all around. The premiere will honor Perry and his hardworking, loveable character Fred Andrews in a beautiful way, with Perry’s longtime friend and former Beverly Hills 90210 cast mate Shannen Doherty joining the cast to say their onscreen goodbyes.
To kick things off, Aguirre-Sacasa commented on the big mystery and the flash-forward that we saw in the season three finale. He said, “The flash-forward is fun. That’s just one of our big mysteries in season four. The flash-forward kind of hits around halfway through the season. So, building up to it, you will see different glimpses and there will be different flash-forwards every episode that kind of fill in the gaps of that night and the immediate aftermath. Then we will see what happens that night and the second half of the season will focus on the ramifications and fallout from that.”
The threat in season four is different from seasons prior. “I would say that the mystery this year, or the threat this year is a little bit more than previous seasons. We’ve done serial killers, mafia stories, and hard crime. I would say that this year, it’s a little bit more suspense,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “It’s a little more like the films of Alfred Hitchcock, like Strangers on a Train, which is one of my favorites. It’s a little bit like the crime novels of Patricia Highsmith. There’s a The Talented Mr. Ripley aspect to it.”
He continued, “One of my favorite suspense novels is The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which is a wonderful book. It’s about a group of students at an elite college who unravel due to covering up a murder that happens. So, those are kind of touchstones for this year. I will say the mystery is a slightly slower burn this year by design, so that we could kind of focus on emotional and character storytelling.”
On that note, Riverdale is leaning hard into senior year. Aguirre-Sacasa said, “You know, I’m a big believer in like, if you introduce something, you do a lot of stories there. If you introduce the speakeasy, you do a lot of stories in the speakeasy. If you introduce boxing, we do boxing stories. And when we were gathering in the writer’s room, and I said, ‘Guys, this is it for high school and if you’ve ever wanted to do High School Story, it’s this year!’ So, we’re leaning into that. And it’s been really fun and bittersweet since it’s senior year. Archie Comics has always been defined by high school, and we will see senior prom and what happens after graduation.”
Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is heading to an intriguing new prep school in season four, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have scenes with the rest of the Riverdale High crew during senior year.
“This year we’re creating Stonewall prep, and they’re going to be Riverdale High’s big rival. We’re going to see a big football game between the two. Stonewall Prep is fashioned after one of my favorite films, Dead Poets Society, and that will be the touchstone for the school,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “When Jughead’s not wearing his new prep school blazer and tie, he will still be having scenes with Betty and Archie. He will most definitely be in Riverdale on the weekends.”
Sounds like this season is gearing up to be a wild ride. If you are an old fan like myself or a new fan, catch up on or re-watch Riverdale before it returns to the CW on October 9th!