In the season three finale of Riverdale, a flash-forward sequence left fans scared when it seemed to suggest that Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) may have died. In the scene, Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes), and Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) are standing around a fire in their underwear. The scene, which takes place a year in the future, is set in the woods, where the trio talk about needing to burn Jughead's trademark beanie cap. Given Jughead's absence, and the fact that he has not been apart from that beanie since he was a kid (fans have seen pictures of young Jughead wearing it), the implication seemed clear -- but was it?
Apa, Sprouse, and series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa all gave different answers on that question, and while the exact truth is not clear, the consensus seems to be that Jughead was, at least at one point, alive and present in that scene. While both Apa and Aguirre-Sacasa say that Jughead's absence is due to Sprouse objecting to being in his underwear outdoors on a frigid Vancouver night, Sprouse says -- and Aguirre-Sacasa backs him up -- that it is not that simple.
"Things are always happening on the fly," Apa told ComicBook.com during an interview at Comic-Con International in San Diego this weekend. "Like that scene was meant to be all four of us, but it was four in the morning and Cole was too cold to be naked at 4:00 AM in the morning. So they rewrote it to make it just three of us -- which makes it more interesting. I think the writers also challenging themselves by doing things like that too. I think they now, like they create things on the fly, they're improvising all the time, which is cool."
"No, no. It wasn't that," Sprouse told us shortly after. "They gave [the scene] to us right before we shot it, which is kind of normal. You don't want people to know the ending until it's the end of the filming schedule, because it reduces the potential for spoilers. But I think it's interesting, and I think the idea of him burning his beanie is visually stimulating, and a good little hook. I'm excited. I think that they had had that plan for a little bit, and I'm hard-pressed to think that they would ever change the entire narrative of the storyline because someone's cold."
We asked Aguirre-Sacasa to, King Solomon like, make a final determination on exactly what happened during the shoot, and how worried fans should be about Jug. It seems that both actors are telling the truth -- at least in substance -- and that Aguirre-Sacasa had originally meant to keep Jughead off the board for that scene.
"I'll tell you that the true story of that. Originally, when we wrote the story, we were just going to do Archie, Betty, Veronica, and then the studio and network both said, 'Don't do that. We know what you're trying to do, but put Jughead in it,'" Aguirre-Sacasa said. "So we put Jughead in it, and originally they were going to be wearing their clothes. The director of that episode called me and said, 'Hey, Lily had an amazing idea. Why don't they have, why aren't they in their underwear? And they'd just burned their clothes.' And I was like, 'That's a great idea. Let's do that.' So when that came down, Cole was like, 'I don't want to be standing in my underwear freezing, and so can we please be in our clothes again?' And the writer on-set called me. I said, 'You know what? I think Cole's right. I think if he doesn't want to be at freezing, I don't think he should be in the scene.' And he wasn't in the scene. And so we got what we originally wanted, and then the network and studio were like, 'Why wasn't Cole there?' I was like, 'he didn't want to get cold.' So it was a great confluence of events."
Pretty tricky, Riverdale...! Whatever the case, the end result was a chilling scene that will likely continue to have repercussions up through at least the middle of season four.
Riverdale will return on October 9, 2019, with "Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam," a special episode honoring the late Luke Perry, who starred on the series until he passed away last spring. After that stand-alone episode, Aguirre-Sacasa said, fans can look forward to a more standard, fast-paced and twisty Riverdale season.