Riverdale has fast become one of The CW’s most streamed shows, so its renewal for a second season hasn’t exactly come as a surprise. The angst-ridden teen drama, with more than a touch of Twin Peaks, is based upon the characters from Archie Comics and has proven to be darkly funny, emotional, and insightful. Riverdale has quickly built a large and very vocal online fandom, with fans speculating on various ‘ships’ as well as wondering who carried out the murder that is essentially underpinning all of season 1.
Riverdale opened with the mysterious disappearance of Jason Blossom, and by the end of the first episode, his body had been discovered with a gunshot wound to the head. Theories about who might have killed Jason range from it being his twin sister, Cheryl, with whom he shared a weird relationship that has a heavy incestuous vibe, to Betty’s dad who bumped him off to get revenge over an old family feud. Right now, as things stand, the murderer is still at large and Betty’s sister, Polly, is pregnant with what she says is Jason’s baby.
Going forward into season 2, Riverdale’s renewal could well have an impact on how the murder mystery plotline develops. Twin Peaks managed to spin a murder mystery out over two seasons, and it could well be that showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa will do the same with Riverdale, meaning we won’t actually discover who carried out the killing for a long time. However, when season 1 finished filming, season 2 was not in any way confirmed, so it seems likely that we will know the name and possible motive of the killer by the end of this season, just in case the show hadn’t been renewed. Assuming that will be the case, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the murder storyline has reached its conclusion.
Riverdale’s second season could end up revolving around the fallout from Jason’s death. Whoever carried out the murder, assuming it is a character already established on the show, their actions will have far-reaching consequences for friends and family; relationships will be fundamentally changed and it could make it hard for family of the murderer to remain in such a small town. Certainly, there’s enough material there to make the fallout one of the main storylines of the season.
Archie Comics featured all the characters we already see on screen, but there’s also another very famous creation that we haven’t seen yet: Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In the comic universe, Sabrina lives in Greendale, which is on the other side of Sweet Water River to Riverdale. Sacasa has already strongly hinted that we will see her appear in season 1, and that she will be a very dark character, which is why some fans are speculating that Riverdale could take one massive twist and end up as a complete alternate universe.
Sacasa previously created Afterlife with Archie; a comic book in which all the Riverdale characters are trapped in a zombie apocalypse. In the comic, this happens when Sabrina tries to save Jughead’s dog, but the undead animal then bites Jughead and the apocalypse ensues. Many fans are now thinking that Riverdale could replay these events or similar, after a glimpse of undead Jason Blossom in his twin sister, Cheryl’s dream.
Further credence is given to the theory when you consider that the morning of Jason’s disappearance, Cheryl was rowing him across the lake to Greendale. Maybe he got caught up in some dark happenings over there which resulted in him now being undead. Before we all get too excited, though, Sacasa also notes that it will be very difficult to introduce a supernatural element to the show, and he would hope to introduce Sabrina in such a way that she would fit within the mystery genre, but still be a witch, which then leads to another possible way for season 2 to go.
Let's head back to Twin Peaks for a moment; Laura Palmer’s killer was revealed to be a character who was inhabited at the time by a dark force named Killer Bob. After Leyland, the host, dies, Killer Bob then goes in search of a new host. Drawing on that as influence, it could be that Sabrina has the power to inhabit other people, and has done so in order to murder Jason; this would tie in with Betty’s erratic, dark behavior that we’ve already witnessed, when she seems to absent herself and turn into a much darker personality. Though that is still a supernatural twist, it is not as far out as a full on zombie apocalypse, and would also be a novel way of introducing Sabrina to Riverdale. It might not even be Betty that she inhabits, but another Riverdale resident; possibly Polly?
Everything points to the fact that the murder mystery storyline will still play a large part in Riverdale’s second season, and that Sabrina could well be tied into that somehow. While we don’t know for sure how it will all play out, it doesn’t look as though season 1 will be cut and dried, ready for something brand new to happen in season 2. Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead, describes season 1 as an origin story, meaning presumably season 2 will build on these characters and the season 1 arc. An event such as a brutal murder in a small town won’t just be forgotten overnight, so whatever Riverdale does have in store, it’s bound to be eventful.
Riverdale airs on The CW on Thursdays at 9pm