After the climactic finale of Riverdale last season involving the Gargoyle King and the Farm, it’s quickly revealed that nothing gold can stay as Riverdale season three is bookended with a flash-forward showing our favorite foursome covered in blood and missing an essential member.

We caught up with showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on what to expect from the flash-forward we saw at the end of the episode and what to make of seeing Archie, Veronica, and Betty standing around a bonfire, covered in blood, with no sign of Jughead but his iconic beanie.

Amidst the night shoots and freezing temperatures of Vancouver, the ambitious filming for the final episode brought cast members together, who were still reeling from the sudden passing of Luke Perry. Indeed, the premiere of the fourth season will serve as a tribute to the late actor who portrayed Fred Andrews.

Aguirre-Sacasa divulged that the flash-forward would be one of the big mysteries of the season. “The night of the flash-forward kind of hits around halfway through the season. So, building up to it we’ll see different glimpses; we will do different flash-forwards, one every episode, that [will] fill in the night of and the immediate aftermath. And, then there’ll be the night. And then on the second half of the season, we’ll see the ramifications and the fallout from that.”

Having done everything from serial killers to mafia stories to cults to conspiracy horror, this season takes on a decidedly academic tone. Fitting, as it is the kids’ senior year in high school. Aguirre-Sacasa talked about seeking out a slower mystery for the upcoming season, wanting to focus more on emotional storytelling and character development. Adding that he goes into everything full throttle, approaching his writer’s room with, “It’s this year or bust,” when it came to high school stories.

Touching on the ephemeral space of time in a high school senior’s final year, caught between the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in life, Aguirre-Sacasa added that this bittersweet vibe would be hanging over the season. As a story so defined by high school, what happens to Archie once high school is over?

While we’ll have to wait until the end of the season to get the answer to that, in the meantime we have enough scholastic vibes to go around. In season two there was the introduction of wrong-side-of-the-tracks Southside High, now, in season four, we get to take it in the opposite direction with Stonewall Prep.

Fashioned as Riverdale High’s rivals and Jughead’s new school, the prep school will be painted with shades of Dead Poets Society and School Ties. The rivalry will undoubtedly bring back football!Archie as Aguirre-Sacasa teases a big football game between the Riverdale Bulldogs and the Stonewall Stags in the upcoming season.

All in all, it’s shaping up to be a deliciously intriguing fourth season of The CW’s hit show. Drawing inspiration from films like The Talented Mr. Ripley, Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train and Rope and crime novels by Patricia Highsmith and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, the mystery of the season will undoubtedly play into the ambiance and suspense of each episode.

Riverdale will return in three weeks on Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 on The CW.

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