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Riverdale boss on how the show chose its killer

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW
Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

This post discusses plot points from last night’s Riverdale.

Just as Cole Sprouse promised, last night on Riverdale we found out who killed Jason Blossom. A flash drive hidden in a letterman jacket contained footage that outed Jason’s own father, the wig-wearing Clifford Blossom, as the murderer. So, in order to learn more about how this came to be, we sent some questions over to showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. According Aguirre-Sacasa, Clifford was always in the running to be the perpetrator of this evil, but, if he didn’t, one of the town’s other dads would have. Indeed, almost by accident, Riverdale ended up a tale of fathers and sons. You can read our thoughts on the reveal here, and the rest of Aguirre-Sacasa’s answers—including his admission that Jughead will eat a “GINORMOUS burger” next week—below.

The A.V. Club: Did you always know you wanted to make Clifford the killer? What was your plan to misdirect the audience from that?

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: When we pitched the first season to Warner Bros. and The CW, we had three potential killers in mind: F.P. Jones, Hiram Lodge, and Clifford Blossom. And reasons for why each of them would’ve done it. At one point, they were going to all be working together, and it was going to be a little more like The Orient Express. And then, for a few episodes, it was maybe gonna be Hal Cooper. But as we got deeper into writing and filming the season, we discovered that our show was at its most vital when we were subverting the classic archetypes, tropes, and themes set out in the classic Archie comic books. So as we kept thinking about the most shocking, transgressive way in which Jason could have been killed—the ultimate subversion of the safe, wholesome universe presented in the comics—that’s when we started to lean towards Clifford. A father killing his own son in cold blood is nothing if not taboo, and we thought that if we could get Clifford to a place where he might conceivably do that to Jason, and really land the shock of it, that would be a pretty chilling way to wrap up the mystery we’ve been building all season.

AVC: There’s still one more episode left, but do you plan on continuing the Blossom mystery through the second season?

RA: I can’t say very much about that without spoiling next week’s finale, but rest assured that the Blossom family has more secrets yet to be revealed. Their messed-up story is far from over.

AVC: What interested you about exploring Jughead’s relationship with his father this season?

RA: Honestly, the chemistry between the two actors—Cole Sprouse as Jughead and Skeet Ulrich as F.P. In their first scene together (in episode four), they had maybe all of six lines, but everything crackled around them. The center of the show… shifted for a moment. And weirdly, I never thought that Riverdale would be a show about fathers and sons, but that’s one of the hearts of the series, I think. There are a few great father-son relationships on our show—Archie and Fred, Kevin and Sheriff Keller—that we’ve only begun to explore. But all of the actors are so good, you just want to keep going deeper and deeper with them—you just want to see them in scenes together.

AVC: What was the thinking behind the reveal that the Coopers and Blossoms are related?

RA: When we started the season, we spent a lot of time talking about the history of Riverdale and its main families. Basically “The Secret History Of Riverdale.” And one of our younger writers—James DeWille—pitched this connection between the Coopers and Blossoms. And I love anything that’s gothic, and incest, for good and bad, is a classic gothic trope. Like Flowers In The Attic, a big inspiration for the Blossoms, and The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe. Two of my favorites. And I remember when we revealed the first pieces of backstory about the Blossom-Cooper blood-feud in episode five, there was talk of cutting some of that material out of the episode, but I was like, “No! No, we need that for the incest!”

AVC: When will Jughead eat a burger?

RA: The wait is almost over. He is filmed—in glorious, full-color close-up—eating a GINORMOUS burger in the finale. Although, for the record, he actually has eaten burgers in a couple of scenes earlier in the season—they’re at the edge of the frame, but they’re there, I promise! And given how passionately people feel about this, I promise there will be A LOT more burger eating in season two. Get ready.