After dealing with the loss of Fred Andrews -- and in the process paying tribute to the late actor who played him, Luke Perry -- in the Season 4 opening "In Memoriam" last week, Riverdale hit the ground running tonight with the start of senior year. Unsurprisingly, with this being Riverdale, the momentous final year of high school for Archie (KJ Apa) and his friends didn't quite go as planned with the show's various characters having to navigate some unexpected challenges. But while the episode set the stage for many of the conflicts of the coming season, it was the final moments of the episode that may have fans wondering where things will lead.
Spoilers for tonight's episode of Riverdale, "Chapter Fifty-Nine: Fast Times at Riverdale High," below.
One of the key parts of tonight's episode was Jughead (Cole Sprouse) being recruited to attend the elite Stonewall Prep. After Jughead's short story contest submission failed to win but still captured the attention of Mr. Chipping (Sam Witwer) a teacher at the school, he offers Jughead a chance to go to school there. Jughead refuses, ends up being convinced to go on a tour of the school, and while there quietly takes a liking to the academic setting after a book club meeting. He still resists going there, at least until Betty (Lili Reinhart) convinces him to go. It's important to him, but Betty and Jughead can get through anything, including not going to the same school.
Once FP (Skeet Ulrich) hears of Jughead's decision to go, he is pleased and tells Jughead that he'll have a great year. And then the episode cuts to Spring Break where FP is leading a search party through the woods in the dark looking for Jughead. The scene is ominous -- and definitely proof of the year not exactly being great -- but it's also potentially connected to the flash-forward at the end of Season 3 in which we see Archie, Betty, and Veronica (Camila Mendes) in their underwear, covered in blood, standing around a fire with Betty urging Archie to burn Jughead's blood-soaked beanie. With Jughead's beanie being burned in the Season 3 flash-forward and now a search party looking for him in tonight's, it's starting to look really grim for Riverdale's resident writer, something showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa spoke a bit about earlier this year ahead of Season 4.
"Next season is the kids' senior year. It's their last year in high school, and we really want to locate their stories in the high school world," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "We started talking about what the big mystery could be, and we said it would be great if we kind of kept it in the high school kind of world. The other thing that we wanted to do is, this year Archie and Veronica weren't that involved in the Gargoyle King mystery — it was more Betty and Jughead. We loved the core four together in the finale. We wanted to do something that tied them all together for the core mystery and for a big secret, and it felt like having them all around that bonfire, minus Jughead, would be a way to tie them all together so that when we get to the central mystery of what happened that night and what led to the events of burning their clothes, it would be all of our foursome and not the kids split off again."
"I can't say anything specifically to that," Aguirre-Sacasa said. "All I can say is, I guess things look very dire for Jughead in that scene, for sure."
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.