The CW’s Riverdale returned on October 10, 2018 to kick off what promises to be another wild and twisted season. During our interview at the New York Comic Con, series creator/executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa shared insights into this third season of the popular series including details on the season’s flashback episode featuring the parents as high schoolers.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa also discussed balancing multiple storylines, potential breakout characters, and casting Gina Gershon to play Jughead’s mom.
Riverdale season three airs on Wednesdays at 8pm ET/PT.
What are the challenges of being able to get weird and strange with Riverdale without alienating viewers?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “That’s kind of one of the big challenges of the show is now we’re entering our third season. We did a murder mystery season one, we did a serial killer season two, we did a Godfather-like story in season two. You don’t want to repeat yourself, but the show kind of needs a strong genre – crime or pulp or noir elements. It’s always figuring out what is that element and how is it different from earlier iterations.
As to how do we know when we’ve gone too far and it’s just too weird and gonzo, you know we just trust our guts a little bit on that. We’re always pushing forward and when there’s the safe choice or the risky choice, we almost always go for the risky choice. I think people really respond to that. It’s also kind of like once you start down that path, it’s hard to go back and just tell stories about Archie wanting to write a song.”
Who’s going to be the breakout character in season three?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “That is a really good question. I think the Gargoyle King is going to be something that I hope people talk about. But in terms of characters, they’re all doing really good stuff. I people are really excited for Jughead’s family to come to town. I think they’ve got really good stuff.
Who was the breakout character do you think last year? Toni?”
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “Yeah, Toni, in terms of new characters. I think Toni and Cheryl, people are excited to see more of those two – and we will. Everyone’s got good stuff, I think.”
Living in this MeToo environment, will we learn more about the Hermione and Hiram relationship? There have been hints but it’s never been fleshed out the kind of abusive relationship they have.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “Yeah, we’re definitely going to explore more about the Hiram / Hermione relationship. The question of is Hermione Hiram’s puppet and is she trapped in a marriage to a potentially violent guy. We’re definitely going to explore that. Or, is it something that we don’t even know yet or quite understand? It could be that, too.”
How would describe the storylines you’ll be exploring this season?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “One thing that we’re doing is we’re launching two or three pretty big storylines in the first eight or 10 episodes. One is the Farm that Polly and Jason were going to go to comes to Riverdale, so we explore what the Farm is like. That’s a mysterious cult-like organization. Then there’s a pretty gruesome ritualistic death of two Riverdale High students that is a mystery we’re going to be exploring as well.”
You’ve said the actors are allowed to give you input into their characters. Can you cite anything in particular that they’ve contributed?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “Yes, I can give you one very specific example. Madelaine (Petsch) told me that she wanted to do archery. So, the reason Cheryl got into archery is because she said she would like to do it. And she thought that I had forgotten about that but when the Black Hood went after her, she got her old bow out. So, that came directly from her.”
Can you tell us anything about a potential new musical episode this season?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “I love musicals. My background is in theater and I think everyone loved that musical. I did too. We want to do one but I’m not going to lie, that was the perfect musical at the perfect point in the season. It linked up with the stories.
To me, it has to be the right show at the right time with the right characters or else it will just be a less-than version, in which case we won’t do it. But I’m hopeful. I love musicals.”
Are we looking at a full-fledged gang war this season?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “When you pitch a show…I never thought that Riverdale was going to be a crime show or a gang show or a drug show or anything like that. It is all those things now. We are definitely going to see more stuff with the different gangs in Riverdale. Absolutely.”
And we’re also going to see the younger versions of the parents?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “We do in a flashback episode. Episode four, really early on. It turned out really, really well. I think fans will be really excited for it.
We see the grownups when they were in high school. What’s interesting is we see them as they were, how and why they became friends, and then how and why they became the grownups we know today. It’s not like we see Alice as the preppie buttoned-down sweater-wearing. We see Alice as a Serpent. We don’t see FP as a Serpent. We see FP as the big man on campus who was hiding his Serpent past. I’m really excited for that episode. I think it’s special.”
With such a terrific ensemble, how do you make sure you weave each character into the story? Is there someone you’re hoping to work more into the storyline this season?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “Yeah, it’s always the supporting actors. I think all of the cast on this show could be leads and could have their own show. We have a huge cast and it’s finding time and real estate to tell deep stories for all of them. I think we’re getting a little but that’s one of the core challenges of this show, I think.”
Are we going to get to go to Greendale at all?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “That’s a very good question. Let me think… Through episode 10 not yet.”
Not yet? So, there is the potential?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “Always.”
Are there any unusual or weird pairings that we might not expect for season three?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “I think one of the weirder pairings is Veronica and Jughead. They haven’t really done much but we have a couple of strange team-ups between the two of them.”
Is Veronica now the only character who’s not a Serpent of the four? Does that change?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “Yeah. Membership of the Serpents is going to go through…there are going to be some changes to the Serpent membership over the first 10 episodes.”
How difficult was it to find the right people to play Jughead’s family?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: “Very difficult. That’s why we kept putting it off. We were going to introduce them in the first episode and then we couldn’t find them. It’s like, ‘Okay, we’ll save them for the more middle section.’ You know when you’ve got Mark Consuelos and Madchen Amick and Luke Perry and Skeet Ulrich, it has to be somebody who can hold their own against all of them and hopefully tell part of the strange Riverdale story. Enter Gina Gershon who is that.
I love that she was in one of my favorite noir movies, Bound, and she was in Killer Joe which is another kind of neo-noir. Of course, Showgirls and stuff. But really for her crime movies she feels like she’s telling that story, which is really nice.”
More on Riverdale Season 3:
- 8 Things About Riverdale Season 3 We Learned from the Parents
- KJ Apa Interview
- Lili Reinhart Interview
- Madchen Amick Interview