The last episode of Riverdale’s fourth season was the show’s least dramatic finale yet — which is really saying something, seeing as it included an actual murder. While it was definitely disturbing to watch Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) discover what might have been a video of their principal getting stabbed to death, it’s worth noting that it was hardly the most shocking thing Riverdale has thrown at us. In any case, if the end of the season felt abrupt, there’s a good reason for that. And if you’re still wondering when we’ll see the Riverdale squad take prom and find out who’s filming and distributing those snuff videos, there’s already a tentative date set in place. According to TV Guide, Riverdale season 5 is slated to air in January 2021.
Before concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic shut down filming, Riverdale had three more episodes planned for season 4. Executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine that the first of these three, an episode centered around senior prom, was about “half or two-thirds” of the way filmed. “When we shut down, the first thing I did was I looked at all the footage from Episode 20 to see if we could cobble together a finale from that,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “And honestly, though we’d shot the prom, which was amazing spectacle and had great emotional stuff, there were so many scenes between Betty and Jughead, and Archie and Veronica, which we hadn’t shot, that it felt like, ‘Let’s let that episode be.’”
Instead, Aguirre-Sacasa decided that season 5 will open with prom, a scene he recently teased with a bootleg photo on his Instagram:
“When we go back, we have to finish three days of one episode that we were filming in March,” she said. “So we're all going to be significantly tanner...maybe I've gained weight during quarantine so I'll look a little different.” Reinhart also told Fallon that at the end of August, the cast and crew will head back to Vancouver, quarantine, and then start filming. Aguirre-Sacasa also confirmed that timing with an August 24 Instagram that called out his last visit with family before leaving for Vancouver.
Thanks to Aguirre-Sacasa and the cast, we actually know a lot about what season 5 will entail. After prom, we’ll see Betty, Archie (KJ Apa), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and the rest graduate in what would have been one of season 4’s final episodes. Mendes revealed on Live with Kelly and Ryan that Riverdale will have a time jump following the three postponed episodes. “We’ll be seeing these characters like five years from season 4, in their adult life,” she explained. “So now we’ll all actually be playing adults our own age.” (In her Fallon interview, Reinhart said the jump would be seven years, but maybe that's what Mendes meant by "like five years.")
Fans can also look forward to learning more about Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) in season 5. In June, Morgan wrote a series of tweets disclosing that she is paid less than her fellow actors and denouncing TV shows that hire Black actors to play “side kick, non dimensional characters.” She added that she is “used as the token biracial bisexual” on Riverdale. In response, fans flooded Twitter, demanding equal pay for Morgan and a backstory for Toni.
“There is definitely a lot of Toni’s backstory [in season 5],” Aguirre-Sacasa told Entertainment Tonight. “We meet some of Toni's other family members. It’s a good story.” He also teased that the Archie-Veronica-Betty-Jughead love triangle (love square?) will continue into season 5. Presumably a lot will have changed that might shake that dynamic up in that five (or was it seven?) year time jump...