At the center of every Riverdale season is a question. Who killed Jason Blossom? Who is the Black Hood? How did a bunch of suburban teenagers get roped into filming sexy tickling videos for money? (Okay, fine. That last one was technically a subplot, but it remains an enigma.) The CW drama’s Riverdale season 5 premieres Jan. 20, but fans are already trying to solve a new Riverdale mystery: what’s going on with that seven-year time jump, and when will it happen?
After last season’s finale, mastermind Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa confirmed that the show’s fifth installment would include a time jump into the future. “Since all of our characters would be going to different colleges, my instinct has been to leapfrog over four years, and kind of pick up with everyone there,” he told Entertainment Tonight.
The jump won’t happen right away, though: there are still some high school storylines and milestones to wrap up, including the almost-canceled senior prom. The first three episodes of season 5 will include Riverdale High’s prom and graduation, and probably offer some insight into the gang’s post-grad plans. The season’s fourth episode, scheduled to air on February 10, will then introduce us to the grown-up versions of Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), and the rest of the crew.
The time jump — which will push the Riverdale world seven years into the future — was always planned, but the decision to move it mid-season came after the COVID-19 pandemic halted production; the first three episodes of season 5 were originally supposed to be the last three episodes of season 4. “We still had two and a half episodes left to shoot,” Aguirre-Sacasa told TV Guide. “Even though we had already shot the big event, which was prom, there were so many important character scenes between Archie and Veronica and Betty and Jughead that we couldn't quite cobble together the finale.”
Aguirre-Sacasa shared a snippet on Instagram that seemed to suggest Archie, Betty, and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) will return to Riverdale High after the time jump, possibly as teachers. Thanks to a Katy Keene cameo, we also know that Kevin (Casey Cott) goes on to work in the school’s drama department.
And we have some intel on what’s ahead for other characters, too. Reinhart told Stephen Colbert that Betty becomes an FBI trainee, and Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni, revealed on Instagram that her pregnancy was written into her character’s storyline. And as far as relationships go, Veronica will have a husband — but not Archie or even Reggie (Charles Melton). According to Deadline, her new love interest Chad Gekko (Chris Mason) is a “controlling and jealous” man who works on Wall Street and becomes particularly threatened by her friendship with Archie. He’ll first appear in episode 4.
“Time jumps happen in between seasons,” Aguirre-Sacasa told ET. “But this is an extraordinary year and these are extraordinary circumstances.” And symbolically speaking, the leap makes sense. This past year has aged everyone — even our favorite TV characters.