Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Riverdale season 3, episode 21: "The Dark Secret of Harvest House"
The Riverdale season 3 finale is almost here, bringing the mystery of the Gargoyle King to its conclusion, with the Black Hood and - in a shocking twist - Jason Blossom back in the mix as well. We spoke to Archie Comics CEO and Riverdale executive producer Jon Goldwater about what to expect from Archie and his friends in the future, as well as sister series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the upcoming spinoff show Katy Keene.
In last week's episode of Riverdale, Betty finally got to the horrible truth behind Edgar Evernever's cult The Farm, which has succeeded in brainwashing many of the show's regular characters, including Betty's own mother. Edgar's ultimate goal was actually to trick the "Farmies" into believing they needed surgery to remove the pain from their bodies, and use this is a way to harvest their organs and sell them on the black market. Meanwhile, Hal Cooper a.k.a. The Black Hood is back on the loose again, and the identity of the Gargoyle King has been revealed as... Cheryl's supposedly dead twin, Jason Blossom!
Elsewhere in the TV world of Archie Comics, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina recently wrapped up its second season with a radical change to the status quo in Greendale, and Ashleigh Murray - who plays Josie in Riverdale - is making the move to New York City for new series Katy Keene, which stars Lucy Hale in the title role. There's a lot to look forward to, so we asked Goldwater to break down what fans can look forward to, and how the three Archie TV shows could connect.
It seems like the finale is a Riverdale All-Stars. We've got the Gargoyle King in the mix and Jason Blossom and they might be the same person, the Black Hood's there as well... Can you give us any hints of what we can expect?
Jon Goldwater: I can't give you too much of a hint, but you just literally hit the nail on the head when you said Riverdale All-Stars. I'm going to have to steal that from you... It's going to be so much fun and I think everyone is going to be satisfied with how it all resolves itself.
Riverdale has teased some supernatural stuff, especially this season a lot of people were trying to figure out whether the Gargoyle King is just a monster. Will we ever see the show go full-blown supernatural?
Goldwater: I don't think so. I mean we save that for Sabrina, where we go real full-blown supernatural on that one. I think even though Riverdale teases it and we certainly go into fun areas that border on it, I don't think we're ever going to break that wall down and ever do anything supernatural. At least that's not on the drawing board for the moment... It's television, so I don't want to say never say never by the way, because it is a TV show. [laughs] Anything could happen, but right now that's not on the drawing board.
We came close to Afterlife with Archie recently when we had zombies - well, people hopped up on Fizzle Rocks. Could you see that being done as an isolated episode, almost like the musical episodes?
Goldwater: I got to tell you something. Afterlife with Archie is- I mean there's so many things I love about what we've done recently. Afterlife with Archie is so up there in my favorites that I wouldn't want to do it as just one episode. If we were going to tackle Afterlife with Archie, and I'm going to tell you this, we are absolutely going to tackle that without a doubt. I don't know if we're going to do it as maybe a feature film or its own miniseries or where we're going to go with that, but we are absolutely going to one day tackle Afterlife with Archie. I don't know if I see it within the framework of what Riverdale is as the show, as a standalone episode. I see it as something bigger than that, to be honest with you.
When I first watched The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I was quite shocked, because I grew up on shows like Charmed and the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch, where witchcraft was very soft and Wiccan. Then in that show, you've just got people full on worshipping Satan. Did you run into any challenges getting that onto the screen?
Goldwater: Well, initially, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was a graphic novel that we published. One of the things that I encourage all our writers to do at Archie is tell the story you want to tell, but tell it within the framework of the DNA of what these characters are. To your point, envision Sabrina as a Melissa Joan Hart type character and even in the comic books before then, she was a little more rough around the edges. The Melissa Joan Hart show was saccharine sweet a bit, and so when Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] approached me and he said look he's got this other idea for Sabrina to do a full-on horror series, a horror comic with it. I was like, "Hey man, that sounds a great idea, just knock it out of the park" - and he did.
I remember reading it and I remember thinking, wow, this is some pretty dark stuff. But what he was able accomplish throughout all the darkness - as you suggest, full on Satan worship and things like that - he was really able to A, tell a great story and B, keep the integrity of the lead character of Sabrina intact. She still is Sabrina, she is still a strong young woman, she is still fighting for good over evil. she still is very much based in family and friends and community. He was able to accomplish all of that in this much bigger dark setting and it just translated beautifully to the TV series we have now.
Speaking of Sabrina's image and how you maintained that through the darker series. Archie Comics was once thought of as very clean-cut and almost defined by that which is quite far removed from Riverdale with all the mob dealings and serial killings going on. What do you think is one thing that stayed the same throughout all the 70 plus years of Archie?
Goldwater: I think we've stayed the same is who the characters are as people. Now in Riverdale, of course, they're in all sorts of different situations than they are in the old school, very charming Riverdale comics. Archie is still Archie, he's still for his friends, he still goes to Pops. Now granted, it's a different version of Pops than what we had in the comic books. He's still best friends with Jughead. Betty and Veronica are still best friends. I mean, there are things that have not been broken in the last 80 years that maintained today in Riverdale. I think that's why people love the show so much that it's these characters that people love.
We've seen Riverdale brush up against Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, like in "Tales from the Darkside" when Archie and Jughead took a trip to Greendale, and then the latest season of Sabrina she took a trip to Sweetwater River. Will we ever see them actually full-on crossover?
Goldwater: I got to tell you something. I don't think so, but I would never say never. There's so much interest out there in making that happen, I personally would love it, but I don't know if it's ever going to happen... I hope it does, but I don't know.
Right now, comic book adaptations have never been bigger. Avengers: Endgame just made $2 billion in less than a couple of weeks, but comic book sales themselves have actually been kind of on a downward trend over the same time period that the movies have been exploding. Do you think there's an explanation for why there's that disconnect?
Goldwater: I do think there's an explanation actually. I think it's just the world we live in today. I don't think it has anything to do with the quality of the comic books or people enjoying comic books. I think the writing in comic books in general - not just at Archie, where I think our writing and our art is better than it's ever been - I think it's really across all the comic book companies. It's very strong. It's just there's just different ways that people absorb entertainment now there's so many options out there.
I mean when I was a kid you didn't have the video games, you didn't have the 800 channels, you didn't have the mobile phone where you're communicating with your friends 24/7, so you would actually sit down and read a comic book, you know what I mean? You'd actually have to entertain yourself. Now, you don't really have to do that. It's just a product of the times that we live in. I don't think it has anything to do at all with quality of comic book or anything like that. It's just where we are in 2019. Unfortunately, I don't see the publishing side of things getting any better. I see it probably shrinking a bit more and then stabilizing. I don't think we've candidly hit rock bottom yet. I don't. I think unfortunately there's a little bit more to go in terms of where we're going to bottom out in terms of sales.
The cool thing is that now TV shows and the films and all those things are more popular than ever. There's different ways that we can monetize things and that's what we're doing at Archie between Riverdale and Sabrina, and the soon to be Katy Keene show and a hundred other things. It gives us a chance to tell great stories and really work on the stories before we have to take them out into the big screen so to speak.
I'm kind of glad you touched on Katy Keene because that was going to be my next question. Can you give us some idea of what kind of show that's going to be? Is it going to be a musical or is it going to have a certain theme to it?
Goldwater: The pilot's finished and it is so special, so spectacular. It's the kind of show that the world needs today. It's full of life. It's full of joy. There is absolutely music in it. There's dance in it and it takes place in the big city of New York. Our cast is so special, from Lucy Hale who plays the lead character of Katy Keene, to Ashleigh Murray who plays Josie on Riverdale and snuck out of Riverdale to join Katy and be her roommate in New York. It's a really special show and I think people are going to love it. The world needs a show like Katy Keene today. Just like Riverdale and Sabrina have their own distinct flavor? Katy has that show has its own distinct flavor as well. It's much different than Riverdale. It's much different than Sabrina. It's very much its own unique thing.
What's the plot of Katy Keene that you're allowed to give away now?
Goldwater: It's two young women in New York. Katy Keene and Josie McCoy. Josie, of course, is actually from Riverdale who are roommates in the big city and they're both pursuing their dreams. Josie of course as a singer and Katy as a fashionista, a fashion designer. They're both pursuing their dreams in the city of New York.
Could we see a crossover between Katy Keene and Riverdale?
Goldwater: I don't know yet. I mean they kind of exist in different sort of time frames a little bit. I think our first goal is to tell some great Katy stories and make a great first season of Katy and then we'll see where we go from there. We're focusing all our energies right now on making the first season of Katy fantastic.
Archie went toe to toe with a bear this season and he didn't die, which is impressive. Now he's had all this boxing training. Can we see a rematch with the bear? Can I put in that request for season 4?
Goldwater: Put in that request, but I'm going to tell you something: Archie's become quite a dangerous boxer, so I am still going to take Archie against the bear any time.