Six seasons in, Riverdale finally makes sense

Riverdale -- “Chapter One Hundred and One: Unbelievable” -- Image Number: RVD606b_0557r -- Pictured (L-R): Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper and KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW -- © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Riverdale -- “Chapter One Hundred and One: Unbelievable” -- Image Number: RVD606b_0557r -- Pictured (L-R): Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper and KJ Apa as Archie Andrews -- Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW -- © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

After six seasons of incest, murder, and entirely too much maple syrup, Riverdale has finally found its true sweet spot. The inclusion of true supernatural elements in the wake of their six-episode Rivervale event last year has finally allowed the show’s more ridiculous elements to make more sense, and the ditching of nearly series-long villain Hiram Lodge has allowed the series to step out of the repetitive cycle it was once in.

Riverdale has always been a little ridiculous. From Dark Betty to the Gargoyle King, the show has always teased supernatural elements that ended up being explainable, but not without jumping through hoops or forcing audiences to suspend their disbelief more than any “reality-based,” show should ever ask.

In season 5, for example, Riverdale civilians were being hunted and killed along the Lonely Highway, and Jughead was forced to consider that it might actually be a group of aliens called the Mothmen responsible. In the end, the actual culprit was a group of bastard Blossoms, banished to the woods and unknown to every citizen in Riverdale except Cheryl’s Nana Rose.

Would it have been an easier pill to swallow had it been aliens? Maybe not, but the “grounded in reality,” explanation almost made less sense than an otherworldly threat.

Season 6 began with the Rivervale event, which followed all the Riverdale characters we know and love as they navigated an alternate universe. The alternate universe was caused by the bomb Hiram planted under Archie and Betty’s bed.

Instead of killing them, the Riverdale universe split at that point, thrusting Archie and his friends into a perverted version of Riverdale, one that saw Archie get murdered by Cheryl in the first episode along with many other unfortunate outcomes for the Core Four.

In the end, Rivervale Jughead was able to restore the Riverdale universe by resigning himself to writing the story of Riverdale until the end of time, always populating the Archie-verse with stories to keep the universe turning.

When Riverdale returned from hiatus, though, it was clear that things never really went back to normal post-Rivervale.

Archie, Betty, and Jughead all developed supernatural abilities from the explosion, and Cheryl became possessed by her ancestor Abigail. Even with Abigail out of her body in current episodes, Cheryl was just revealed to be pyrotechnic; a person who can set anything on fire with their mind.

Even Riverdale’s new villain, Percival Pickens, is supernatural. He can manipulate and influence people’s minds, with Alice Cooper and Frank Andrews currently under his control. His unnatural influence makes him an incredible villain; he’s frustrating and difficult to beat, leaving Archie and friends struggling to rip Riverdale out of his clutches.

This frustrating and genuinely perplexing new villain is a far cry from Hiram Lodge, who has been the primary villain of the series since his introduction in season 2. Hiram’s repetitive attacks on Archie and his continuous plan to destroy Riverdale made him a hate-able villain, but not for the reasons he should’ve been hated.

Hiram was a despicable character, with the fatherly instinct of a shotgun and plans nefarious enough to rival even the cheesiest of Batman villains. Though, the show’s refusal to move on from his threats on Riverdale made him seem repetitive, bogging the series down in storylines that felt stale and never lived up to the hype.

With Percival, Archie and friends are now forced to figure out how to stop this seemingly unstoppable supernatural force threatening their town, finally turning up the heat on a villain worth despising.

In the newest Tabitha-centric episode, Riverdale establishes that Percival definitely isn’t human, and even provides Tabitha Tate with a superpower of her own. Her ability to travel through time, visiting Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe’s historic past, allowed the show to reach new heights, being dubbed one of their most impressive episodes in recent memory.

It may seem like Riverdale has gone off the rails, but its embrace of the supernatural finally allows the show to be as wacky as it once was but in an explainable way.

When a show premieres, audiences can get accustomed to the world and know what to expect. That’s why when a show like The Flight Attendant throws the main character Cassie Bowden into her mind-palace to converse with her past self, the audience expects it from the rules established in the first season.

On Riverdale, the show has always been weird, but it has pushed the confines of its insistent realism for far too long, which has led to every single viral “WTF Riverdale,” moment over the past six years. Now that Riverdale has finally fully stepped into the supernatural, the audience can now more easily roll with whatever the show throws at them since it doesn’t have to be explained through any sensical or realistic approach.

It’s been confirmed that Sabrina Spellman will return to Riverdale once again later this season, and her reappearance outside of Rivervale confirms the series is finally embracing its magical roots. After all, fans have been dying to know exactly how Chilling Adventures of Sabrina connects to Riverdale since its inception in 2018, and now they will hopefully get their answer.

Though it’s uncertain whether or not Riverdale will roll back its embrace of the supernatural for yet another realistic explanation, I hope that doesn’t happen. Riverdale jumped the shark ages ago, but now it’s all starting to almost make sense, finally.

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Riverdale airs new episodes Sundays at 8/7c on The CW, streaming the next day on The CW App.