After a month-long break, Riverdale returned to television screens tonight, and revealed a pretty major thing about one of its characters.
Spoilers for tonight's episode of Riverdale, "Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Hills Have Eyes", below!
Tonight's episode focused quite a bit on Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), and the relationships she has with various characters. After being verbally abused by her mother Penelope (Nathalie Boltt) and uninvited to Veronica's (Camila Mendes) weekend getaway, Cheryl began to feel negatively about herself. While Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) tried to comfort her through it all, Cheryl pushed her away.
Later in the episode, Cheryl and Toni crossed paths again, in the lobby of a local screening of Love, Simon. Cheryl apologized for how she'd treated Toni, blaming it on her recent home life, and the perception that she's "loveless." Toni then invited Cheryl to sit next to her during the movie, something that Cheryl accepted.
Following the movie, the pair sat at Pop's, where Toni remarked that she'd noticed Cheryl crying during the movie. Cheryl revealed that she related to the movie's story in a unique way -- because she'd fallen in love with her female best friend, Heather, while in middle school, only for Penelope to shame her for it.
And with that, Riverdale essentially confirms a theory that some fans have had for quite some time now: Cheryl is canonically bisexual.
Some had interpreted Cheryl as LGBTQ almost since Riverdale's inception, and began to see inklings of it earlier this season in "Tales from the Darkside". In one vignette of the episode, Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) is shown growing paranoid about a potential stalker only for the audience to learn that Cheryl had been behind the recent displays of affection.
While a few Riverdale fans were hesitant about that Cheryl/Josie storyline -- and how it would carry over into the representation of Cheryl's sexuality -- the added backstory presented in this episode adds a bit more context to that. It sounds like, overall, Cheryl is still in the process of coming to terms with her sexuality, while dealing with the trauma of knowing that her mother disapproves of it.
"The way that I justified this is that Josie has extended a hand to Cheryl, a friendship," Petsch said recently. "And Cheryl is either misreading it, or she doesn't know how to communicate those feelings back. So instead, she's become obsessed with the idea of having somebody in her life, because she's been alone her entire life. I don't think she handled the situation correctly at all, but it was just her way of not knowing how to communicate feelings and still figuring out her sexuality."
So, how will Cheryl handle her sexuality going forward? Will Toni be a sort of mentor in that, or will their relationship become something more in the process? Riverdale fans will just have to stay tuned to find out.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.