Last summer, Stranger Things emerged as a runaway hit on Netflix. The sci-fi series hinged upon ’80s nostalgia, calling back to cinema favorites like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Goonies. It followed a darling band of misfit kids as they set out to rescue their missing friend from a parallel universe and its dangerous monster, the Demogorgon.
Perhaps the show’s most surprising breakout was newcomer Shannon Purser, who played Nancy’s (Natalia Dryer) best friend, Barb. She only graced a handful of episodes before being dragged into the Upside Down and killed, but the internet rallied around her early death, spawning hashtags, tributes, and fan art galore. The remaining cast has affirmed on several occasions that the character is unquestionably dead, but Purser will be making an appearance in another upcoming project: The CW’s Riverdale.
She’s already confirmed to guest star in “at least” three episodes for the series, but now details have surfaced about when and in what capacity. As reported by ComicBook.com, Purser will make her debut as Ethel Muggs in episode three, “Body Double.” She’ll team with silver-tongued vixen Veronica (Camila Mendes) to expose some of Riverdale High’s football players after rumors of a “shame book” begin to circulate. Elsewhere, Archie (K.J. Apa) has to make a tough decision that puts a strain on his relationship with Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel), Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) is forced to come clean about the last time she saw her brother, Jason, before his murder, and Betty (Lili Reinhart) enlists Jughead (Cole Sprouse) to help revive the school newspaper and investigate Jason’s death. The episode was directed by Lee Toland Krieger and written by Yolonda E. Lawrence.
Billed as a darker, grittier take on the classic Archie comics, Riverdale is yet another collaboration between The CW and Arrow-verse producer Greg Berlanti. The modern retelling centers on the murder of Jason Blossom and the aftermath that trails it. In line with the series itself, Purser’s Ethel will take a different direction than her original character. In the comics, she was known for her crush on Jughead, but here she’ll have a new romantic interest.
It will be interesting to see how Purser tackles the role. There’s certainly pressure to pull off the same standout turn she had in Stranger Things, and Ethel seems to be quite contrary to the nerdy, wholesome Barb fans first fell in love with. She does, after all, get tied up in a revenge plot. Nonetheless, it’s an opportunity for Purser to display her range as a performer, and if she nails the part it could be a major catalyst for her blossoming career.
Riverdale premieres Jan. 26 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. “Chapter Three: Body Double” airs Feb. 9.