Praise the Gargoyle King, Riverdale is finally back. While the looming new villain’s entrance is sure to get a lot of the post-show attention following Wednesday night’s season 3 premiere, “Labor Day,” a quieter, cuter, Bughead-ier moment deserves just as much scrutiny. We’re talking about Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead Jones’ (Cole Sprouse) instantly iconic swimming-hole adjacent heart-to-heart.
Jughead — he of ultra memeable “Have you ever seen me without this stupid hat on?” infamy — took off his trademark knit hat and put it on Betty’s head to assure her of their partnership. This is the first time Jughead Jones has ever dared to show us the top of his head. All of a sudden, the fairly short “Labor Day” scene becomes a historical Riverdale moment and a sign of Bughead’s enduring love.
To make the moment even more special, it’s time to reveal who came up with the GIF-able idea to allow Jughead to doff his chapeau for Betty: Bughead’s portrayers and real-life couple, Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse. Just ask Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
“That was decided by Lili and Cole, honestly. It’s come up a couple of times. Lili or Cole will say, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cute if Jughead took his hat off and put it on Betty’s head?’” the writer explained to reporters during his series’ New York Comic Con appearance. “I’m a purist, so I’m like, ‘I don’t think Jughead should take off his hat ever.’”
Aguirre-Sacasa’s wariness over Jughead’s defining style choice makes sense, as Riverdale’s creator has also been the chief creative officer of Archie Comics since 2014. The comics publisher is, of course, the source material for the CW’s bloody, sexy hit.
Despite their boss’ reticence to let Jughead remove his signature hat, Reinhart and Sprouse still tried out the “Labor Day,” scene with the sweet gesture during shooting. Riverdale’s leading stickler was immediately sold. “I don’t even know that I knew [about the stage direction] until I saw the footage,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “But I’m like, ‘Obviously it’s going to be an iconic moment and let’s go for it.’ … It’s the cutest, I’m happy about it.”
While watching Jughead prove his affection to Betty by sharing his hat with her is “the cutest,” the entire moment, which was penned Aguirre-Sacasa, is already pretty great. Throughout the season 3 premiere, it becomes increasingly clear Betty has obsessed over innocent neighbor and best pal Archie Andrews’ (K.J. Apa) murder case to avoid processing the trauma of learning her dad (Lochlyn Munro) was the Black Hood all along. Finally, out in the woods with the boy she loves, Betty can let go of the terror she has been grappling with for months (anxiety that even led her to begin prescribing herself Adderall).
“We’re going to get through it,” Jughead reassures her. “From now on, we’re partners. In Serpents, in life, all of it. Okay?” Betty can’t help but beam at Jughead over his words before the pair kiss. Hat or no hat, Tumblr hearts were inevitably going to flutter over that kind of A+ boyfriend behavior.
The strength of “Labor Day’s” Bughead scene speaks to why Betty’s portrayer Lili Reinhart was so excited for fans to see the season 3 opener. “It’s such a good premiere. I feel like it has everything you want to see. It has the core four together,” the actress told reporters at NYCC, confirming Betty’s official status at Jughead’s Serpent Queen simply means the title “put them on the same team” this year.
While the entire cast assured journalists Bughead is rock solid in season 3 — “As of right now, they’re together and they’re strong,” Reinhart said amid filming for episode 8 — we shouldn’t expect endless smooth sailing for the couple. It’s possible there are two major roadblocks ahead: Jughead’s mom Gladys Jones (newly-announced addition Gina Gershon) and the mysterious new Evelyn Evernever, whose casting has yet to be announced.
Although Reinhart doubts Gladys has to “approve” of Betty for Bughead to continue to thrive, she does suspect Jughead’s mother, a loyal Serpent herself, might present a few issues. “[The relationship] might be hard to balance if Gladys moves back to Riverdale and gets more involved,” Reinhart mused. “I think that could put a divide between [Betty and Jughead]. I’m not sure.”
The shadowy Evelyn, who will be a new Riverdale High student in season 3, is even more of a question mark. Much of “Labor Day” calls into question just how dangerous Alice Cooper’s (Mädchen Amick) new “Farm” cult actually is (the premiere suggests they have a whole fire magic thing going on). Well, Evelyn is in the center of whatever The Farm really is, since she is the daughter of its leader, Edgar Evernever (another still-uncast character). “[Evelyn] is going to have some tension with Betty and you definitely don’t know what her agenda is,” creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa teased. “Some bad things start happening and it always seems Evelyn is lurking in the back of them.”
So maybe, just maybe, hold onto all the sweet Bughead-y hat moments you can for now.
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