Entertainment

Everything We Know About 'Riverdale' Season 3 (So Far)

riverdale season 3
The CW

Warning: Spoilers from Riverdale follow.

Riverdale is not in a good place.

Though the Season 2 finale wasn't without its happy moments -- Jughead's coronation and the Southside-Northside high school team-up to name a couple -- the darkness that infiltrated the town has multiplied. Now, for every safe haven like Pop's, Hiram can count three strongholds of his own, including the sheriff's office. With the forces of evil far outnumbering our heroes, it's going to take some particularly strategic maneuvering to restore order. Who's going to save Archie from imprisonment? Will Betty take her throne? And, uh, are the Black Hoods really gone for good?

With production already underway, here's everything we know about Riverdale Season 3, a compendium we'll update as more information becomes available.

When is Riverdale Season 3 coming out?

The CW renewed the hit teen drama earlier this spring, promising a quick turnaround. Not long after the announcement, in mid-July, production began, with early reports suggesting a 23-episode run. Things appear to be going swimmingly, as the show is slated to return October 10 -- which puts it a day before last year's Season 2 premiere -- at 8pm on The CW, with new episodes airing each Wednesday thereafter. If you're the type who likes to binge, they're all also likely to appear a few months later on Netflix. Speaking of: Now's a good time to catch up.

Who's coming back for Season 3?

As a general, albeit slightly morbid, note: We have yet to hear that anybody important who's still ALIVE is sitting Season 3 out. That means you should expect to see the core group -- Archie (KJ Apa), Veronica (Camila Mendes), Jughead (Cole Sprouse), and Betty (Lili Reinhart) -- back. Same with the more influential peripheral characters -- Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), Josie (Ashleigh Murray), Kevin (Casey Cott), Fred (Luke Perry), Alice (Mädchen Amick), Hal (Lochlyn Munro), FP (Skeet Ulrich), Hermione (Marisol Nichols), Hiram (Mark Consuelos), Sierra (Robin Givens), ex-Sheriff Keller (Martin Cummins), Sheriff Minetta (Henderson Wade), Penelope (Nathalie Boltt), Malachai (Tommy Martinez), and Claudius (Barclay Hope) -- and, likely, many of the even smaller ones.

A couple smaller characters just got promoted

Fans of Toni and Reggie are in for a treat. Per TV Insider, the actors behind the two characters (Vanessa Morgan and Charles Melton, respectively) have been promoted to series regulars for Season 3. "Toni Topaz has been a break-out character for us since Jughead met her at Southside High -- and that’s thanks to Vanessa Morgan's fearless, winning performance," showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told the site, shouting out everyone's favorite new power couple. "We're thrilled that the adventures of this fan-favorite will continue into Season 3. Long live Choni!" Melton had the unenviable task of replacing 13 Reasons Why's Ross Butler, but his work didn't go unnoticed either. "He’s a terrific addition to the gang," Aguirre-Sacasa said, "and in Season 3, we’ll be seeing A LOT more of him."

Archie's mom will probably show up

If you're thinking Archie could use a lawyer, we're right there with you. Here's the thing: Guess who's a lawyer? His mom! -- a convenient fact that has prompted many a fan to wonder whether we could see the return of Mary Andrews (Molly Ringwald). "Yeah, right?" agreed Aguirre-Sacasa in an interview with TVLine. "You’d think Archie’s mom, as a lawyer, would get involved. I love Molly on the show, and I always welcome Mary Andrews' visits to Riverdale. I can’t imagine a world in which she lets this happen without getting involved."

Same with Jughead's family members

Archie's not the only character who could have distant family members resurfacing in Riverdale. An unnamed producer promised TVLine that viewers should prep for the debut of Jughead's mom, Gladys, and his precocious, 10-year-old sister, Jellybean, aka "JB." There have been hints for a while -- Jughead's phone calls, throwaway comments, and, of course, the threat that came in the Season 2 finale. For a brief second, FP sounded keen on packing up and taking Jughead to join the rest of the family in Toledo, Ohio, but given the younger Jones' recent coronation, that plan is no more. (At least not in any kind of permanent way.) Instead, it seems Jellybean and Gladys will be the ones making the road trip. "I wouldn't be surprised if they came to Riverdale," confirmed Aguirre-Sacasa, "bringing bad tidings for Jughead and Betty and FP and Alice." Though casting details haven't been announced, Skeet's campaigning pretty hard for his old Scream castmate Neve Campbell to play Jughead's mom. (To which we say: Cosign!)

Chic Cooper will be back

Diehards of the Cooper son (Hart Denton) needn't worry about his fate. At an event earlier this summer, Mädchen Amick, who plays Chic's onscreen mom, teased his return: "I'm sure you all are very aware of [Hart's] creepy portrayal of the Cooper son, and I can't wait to see what he's gonna be up to in Season 3," she said, followed by, "Spoiler alert!" Then everyone in the audience yelled, "OH MY GOD!" as Hart internally groaned, "Thanks, Mom."

OK, but are there any NEW characters?

Yes. The Coopers can't catch a break. Father and son drama aside, a new family moving next door to Betty will spell trouble. According to a very intriguing -- and also, we should note, very unconfirmed -- report from That Hashtag Show, Riverdale is on the hunt for its Evelyn Evernever. The character comes from the Little Archie comics, which portrayed her as a "bou'tiful" gal with an inferiority complex and, later, obsessive eyes for Archie. According to Riverdale's casting breakdown, obtained by That Hasthag Show's unnamed source, the TV version of Evelyn will be "otherworldly, seemingly omnipresent, and a bit odd. She's eager to befriend Betty, and is surprisingly insightful for her age, but may be hiding dark secrets about herself." It's also noted that "a possible direction for the [major recurring guest role] is a girl who is physically reminiscent of Betty." Evelyn's dad is Edgar, "a new-age health 'guru' who has helped Alice get her life together after the events of Season 2." Yikes.

So… what's actually going to happen in Season 3?

Well, if there are another 20-plus episodes to fill… A LOT. The most immediate hurdle for the good forces of Riverdale to overcome (and undo) will be Archie's arrest. Right as our hero was being sworn in as his high school's student body president, Hiram and his goons cuffed him for the murder of Shadow Lake resident Cassidy Bullick. No doubt retaliation. Not long before the gasp-inducing cliffhanger, the redheaded renaissance kid was threatening to expose the Lodge patriarch's machinations: "I'm just gonna come for you," he spat. "And I won't hesitate like I did with the Black Hood. I'm gonna make my bones once and for all!" 

Unfortunately, the arrest stalls those plans. "[Archie] made a big threat to Hiram," Aguirre-Sacasa explained to Deadline, "and it felt like, short of killing Archie, the next best thing Hiram could do is get him out of Riverdale -- away from Veronica, away from his friends -- and send him to a place where a really bad accident might happen to Archie, some place like jail." If we zoom out to a broader vantage point, this all means the war for Riverdale is finally beginning in earnest. Hiram has built an army (Claudius at the prison, Malachai and the Ghoulies on the streets, Madam Blossom at a brothel, and his right-hand man Minetta in the sheriff's office) to establish a foothold in the town's underground, from which he can sow chaos and spread his influence. It will be up to Archie and his friends to take back the town and ensure that the balance of power doesn't tip too favorably in the wrong direction -- before every inch of Riverdale is commanded by someone with ties to Hiram.

"Archie was sort of intoxicated by Hiram -- his power and the way he moves through the world and his ruthless ideals," Aguirre-Sacasa toldThe Hollywood Reporter recently. "Archie kind of came back to the good guys' side by the end of the season, but there are consequences for what he's done this season. He and Hiram are squaring off, so I think that will be one of the main conflicts of Season 3, for sure." Key to winning this conflict will be picking off Hiram's allies, likely in the manner Veronica has already embraced (i.e., reclaiming Pop's and other key locations). "I think now they've set up a really great like superheroes versus villains story," Camila Mendes (Veronica) has said. "Now we really know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, so I think Season 3 might have a nice comic book feel to it." Fitting!

There will be courtroom and prison elements

There's been lots of talk about what to expect genre-wise from Season 3, as the prior two chapters toyed with different storytelling styles. Season 1 went the murder mystery route, Season 2 often resembled a stretched-out horror flick, and, as has become tradition, Season 3 should have another "high genre element like that," according to Aguirre-Sacasa, who's said the show isn't just about the Archie characters, but also what they do when thrust into a specific genre.

That said, the season premiere is set to take place "over Labor Day Weekend." With Archie in custody -- and if the illustration Aguirre-Sacasa tweeted (above) is any indication -- courtroom drama is inevitable. "There might also be sort of a prison noir element to it," Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine. "We always kind of have crime and noir elements. The prospect of Archie on trial is pretty delicious. And the prospect of Archie in a juvenile detention center is pretty delicious."

You'll see more musical elements

You might not have seen as much of Josie and the Pussycats as you would have liked this run, but Season 3 should change that. Near the end of the Season 2 finale, Veronica announced she would be reopening the Chock'lit Shoppe's old speakeasy, with plans to turn the basement there into a "cabaret space for world-class entertainment and the most decadent cocktails, a place for North and Southsiders alike," potentially managed by FP. This move, of course, was no coincidence: "We moved away from Josie and the Pussycats in Season 2, and one of the hopes with Season 3 is having this cabaret space, where we’ll be able to see more of Josie and the Pussycats, and tell some of those showbiz stories," Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine, "as always, with a Riverdale twist."

Think of Riverdale as a new Sin City

In his interview with Deadline, Aguirre-Sacasa name-dropped the popular Frank Miller comic book as a potential point of inspiration. It makes sense! With Hiram's seedy ventures taking shape and corrupt officials enforcing his rule, the town is poised to start resembling something like a decadent wasteland filled with alllllll sorts of vice. Rest assured, the show probably won't lean too heavily into Sin City's grimdark tone; rather, it sounds like Riverdale will remain Riverdale-dark while emulating Sin City's tactic of using several smaller stories to tell a richer, larger one. "One idea is that we might shift the focus around on different characters, some of our supporting players as well to kind of tell a tapestry of what life is like when Riverdale is on the verge of becoming Sin City," he explained. "So keep an eye out on the supporting players like Cheryl and Tony and Kevin and Josie. They’re going to carry more story than they have in Season 1 and Season 2."

Get ready for more Serpents

Big changes are happening within the Southside's old street gang: Jughead took over as king, Cheryl joined, Betty might be in too -- as queen? New recruits aside, how much will the crew change with its new leader? Will it become more of a vigilante watch force, like the original Red Circle? Lots of questions, but apparently, these are all things the show won't waste time addressing head-on. "We define [what's happening with Betty] in the season premiere coming back," Aguirre-Sacasa has said. "But it does feel like it’s not just, 'Join the Serpents.' It does feel like there’s a romantic component to it, doesn't it?"

Expect to see more focus on friendship and romance

Season 2 tested the bonds of Archie's friend group, with no dearth of family drama distracting the kids, and, in some instances, pitting them against each other. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Reinhart, who plays Betty, said she wants the group to return to more stable ground, to find the sense of unity that was more present in Season 1 and near the end of Season 2. "It's something I'm very much pushing for," she told the magazine, "that you do see the kids interact more as a group." Aguirre-Sacasa seems on board, as he told Deadline in his interview that he was going to try to keep the group together as much as possible. "In Season 3, we are going to have the gonzo, crazy, heightened story and plot twists and turns that people appreciate about Riverdale, sure," he said. "But I’ll tell you we’re also really going to keep our eye on the prize, which is the friendships and the romances."

But no more Black Hood(s)?

Given all the mayhem the Black Hood(s) caused in Season 2, it would be exhausting to see the writers subject the town to the same brand of terror at the top of Season 3. Instead, as noted above, Archie and Hiram's war for Riverdale should occupy more of the narrative focus. At least for a bit. "I will say what I always say about characters on Riverdale: Never say never. No one is ever completely dead," Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine. "But I think if the Black Hood returns, it’s probably going to be a while before he or she comes back."

Betty's darkness will continue to haunt her

In the season finale, Betty visited her father to shut him out of her life and, more importantly, to swear off her own darkness. The former sounded dramatic, but the latter should prove to be a loftier goal; it felt like the kind of abstract pronouncement one makes to feel better rather than to take steps toward accomplishing something concrete. (Which makes sense, as, in that regard, she's mostly her own worst enemy.) "I will always be with you," Hal warns at the end of their visit. Not physically, necessarily, but surely within the traces of her own darkness -- that idea, which the show has already toyed with, about inheriting the demons of your parents.

"I think that will always be a part of her character," Aguirre-Sacasa toldTHR, when asked about the topic. "With the darkness, either Betty was denying it, or it was controlling her. There was a struggle to understand it. I think that will continue. Again, rather than do another season of Betty struggling with her darkness, she's dealing with it another way or turning away from it or controlling it. Lili is such a wonderful actress that you, of course, want to give dark, dramatic material to. But I was so happy to see her in the finale smiling in the hotel room and walk away from the darkness that I don't want to deny that part of her as well."

That weird "farm" is still looming in the background

What the hell is going on with Polly? She keeps talking about this cult-y-sounding farm, which, according to Aguirre-Sacasa, might not be as squeaky-clean as we've been led to believe. "We’ve been seeding the idea of the farm, and that the farm may not be as altruistic and as benevolent a place as Polly suggests," he told EW. "We might see a little bit of what the farm is and what it’s been like for Polly. What is this place, and what does it mean for Polly? What does it mean for Alice, who is sort of emotionally bereft or hollowed out at the end of Season 2?"

Some, like those at Seventeen.com, have taken this clue and ran toward the Evernevers. Rightfully so, as Edgar is supposed to be some sort of new-age guru. Could he be the mysterious farm figure to whom Polly was referring at the end of Season 2? A brainwash-y neighbor who swoops in to upend the Cooper household once more? We like this theory a lot. But also: SOS.

Veronica is no longer a daddy's girl

When Ronnie bought the Wyrm and relinquished her place on the family's board, she forever changed her relationship with Hiram. "She still loves her father, but she’s done being a daddy’s girl. That doesn’t mean she’s done being in stories with Hiram," Aguirre-Sacasa toldEW. "What it means is there’s going to be more conflict between the two, and their relationship won’t simply be parent and child. It will be more complex than that. We will keep playing the consequences of the decision she made in the finale, which is to reject Hiram's money and all that that entails."

That decision in the finale was the kind of satisfying character change many fans were hoping for, but it means Archie's love is now without some of her strongest assets (literal $$$) -- a development that could prove a major handicap in the war against Hiram.

Hermione won't be Hiram's puppet either

As we last saw at the Wyrm, Hiram had amassed his formidable cadre of partners, perhaps giving him the confidence and ammo he needs to command Riverdale from the underground. So, congrats to Hermione on becoming the mayor of the town, but… is she really going to be, uh, running it? That's one of the big questions that will undoubtedly steer her character's arc next season, as she wrestles with the responsibility of her newfound power and her loyalty to her Machiavellian husband.

"We are going to see Hermione in a very tricky position. She’s in the mayor’s office, on very shifting ground with Hiram. I think we played them in lockstep a lot in Season 2. By the end of the season, Hermione was seeing Hiram’s true colors," Aguirre-Sacasa's teased to TVLine. "So I think they will be engaged in a very careful power struggle -- not to go to the nuclear place, but I think Hermione definitely has questions about Hiram and his agenda. Doing his agenda is one thing, but being his puppet is something else." Fingers crossed for another Hermione-Veronica mic drop.

You'll probably see more of Kevin and Moose

Mevin? Koose? Moovin? Anyway, Season 2 was a roller coaster for everyone, but especially for Moose, whose girlfriend, Midge, was slain by the Black Hood. Despite the dark cloud hovering over the football player, Midge's death seems to have inadvertently reconnected him with Kevin. Moovin shippers (sure, let's go with Moovin) will remember the bathroom scene in the Season 2 finale, which saw consoling punctuated with a passionate kiss. "I’ve been rooting for Kevin and Moose, honestly, since the pilot, when they found Jason Blossom’s dead body together," Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine. "I don’t think it’s going to be easy. They have to sort of untangle what all this means. But I’m rooting for them. [That kiss] was a standalone scene, and usually, those are the first to [get cut] when the episode comes in long. But we really wanted to give that moment to Kevin and Moose, in the hopes of exploring it more in Season 3."

Any other good clues out there?

Not much else, but Aguirre-Sacasa has pointed to the beginning of Season 2, telling THR, "I would look back at Episode 7 of this season," for more clues that could resurface in Season 3. Fans will recall that Episode 7 paired Archie with Jughead, Betty with Veronica, and Josie with Cheryl for the Black Hoods' "48 hours of no sinning" challenge. They failed. It was also a big Penny-Jughead episode. Hmm.

There will be a flashback episode

During a Television Critics Association Panel featuring the (very attractive) Riverdale parents, Aguirre-Sacasa explained that the fourth installment of the third season will be a flashback. And, naturally, because this is Riverdale, it will center around "a really, really dark secret" that the parents have been hiding. The episode is called "The Midnight Club," a play on The Breakfast Club, except, Aguirre-Sacasa noted, it's "obviously the Riverdale, much darker version of that." Also, to be darker: mean KJ Apa's hair. He'll be dying his (dyed) red hair brown to play his TV dad. In fact, all the young cast members will play their older counterparts. 

A wedding is in the works

The town has played host to a lot of shenanigans in the first two seasons, but as Aguirre-Sacasa mentioned at TCA, so far no weddings. Well, that's about to change. "One might be in the offing that involves a certain ex mayor and a certain ex sheriff," he said. So Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller -- who were revealed to be in the midst of an affair -- are (probably) making things official.

P.S.: Is that Sabrina the Teenage Witch crossover still on the table?

Back in September 2017, the trades reported that a Riverdale companion series, centering on and rebooting Sabrina the Teenage Witch, was in the works at The CW. In the months that followed, fans and reporters couldn't help speculating about the potential for a crossover episode (or several). It makes sense, since Sabrina and Archie exist in the same comic universe; and Aguirre-Sacasa, the showrunner behind Riverdale, is also spearheading the Sabrina show.

Sadly, it looks like the two will be companions no longer. First, there was the news that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, starring Kiernan Shipka in the title role, was moving to Netflix -- a change that many saw as the death knell for the crossover. Then, added confirmation seemed to come from Riverdale's Betty: "I think Betty's solely in the Riverdale world, and it doesn’t make sense for a crossover," she told Vulture, when asked if Betty could show up in Sabrina's world. "That’s why the decision was ultimately made to move to Netflix -- to make these Riverdale and Sabrina shows completely separate universes. I don’t really know what Roberto’s plan is for Sabrina or what aspect of the supernatural or magic will be used. I know that doesn’t exist in Riverdale. At least right now." Sorry to anyone desperate for a crossover, but, you know, never say never when it comes to Riverdale

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Sean Fitz-Gerald is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. Find him on Twitter: @srkfitzgerald.