‘Riverdale’ Season 5 Finale: Family Ties Threaten New Beginnings, Showrunner Talks [SPOILER]’s Explosive Exit

SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details about the Riverdale Season 5 finale, “Riverdale: RIP.”

Riverdale came into a chapter of hope and reincorporation, but not without a quite literal bang.

Following the high emotions of last week’s “Next To Normal,” Betty (Lili Reinhart) and the rest of the gang look forward to new beginnings. Betty takes up a new position as FBI Agent Betty Cooper at the town’s newly reopened headquarters, a now-single Veronica (Camila Mendes) plans a return to the Big Apple; Jughead (Cole Sprouse), now somewhat official with Tabitha (Erinn Westbrook), becomes the new advisor for the Blue and Gold school paper, and Archie’s (K.J. Apa) is reopening Andrews Construction. But before getting too settled into their new chapters, the Riverdale crew find themselves back in danger as a Ghoulie sets Pop’s ablaze – ordered by none other but Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos). Fortunately, Archie and his fellow firefighters come to the rescue before the beloved eatery goes completely to ashes.

Upon investigation, the four learn about Hiram’s plans to use Sodale to up his control in the town, which would thwart the crew’s efforts to resurrect Riverdale and get it back on the map. Reggie (Charles Melton) also presents some evidence they can use to incriminate Hiram. Upon doing some more digging, Betty receives a creepy call from a masked figure. The group arrests Hiram and holds him for his ultimate punishment…but more on that later.

In the palladium mines, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) and Britta (Kyra Leroux) stumble upon something disturbing – the bones of numerous humans. They report to Nana Rose Blossom (Barbara Wallace) who spills the beans on yet another dark family legacy that reveals that bad blood runs centuries deep for Riverdale. Per Nana Blossom, Cheryl’s ancestor Abigail Blossom was accused of witchcraft and burned alive by Archie, Jughead and Betty’s predecessors sometime in the 1800s.

Disturbed by this deep history, Cheryl confronts the three Riverdale natives, joined by Veronica, and demands an apology at an upcoming town hall where they will discuss Riverdale’s future. For now, they all put aside their differences to gather on the outskirts of town where they exile Hiram so he doesn’t return to cause more chaos, or so they think.

At the town hall, Archie appoints Tabitha, Toni (Vanessa Morgan), Alice (Madchen Amick) and Frank (Ryan Robbins) as Riverdale’s governing council. Just when the tide seems to be turning for Riverdale, as the council discusses measures to address the most-pressing of problems (not including Reggie and Veronica’s family-friendly casino) something wicked seeks its revenge.

After her cameo at the town hall, Cheryl returns to Nana Blossom to present her with Abigail’s final words – a curse on the titular town. Cheryl recites the chilling words and unleashes an ominous energy throughout Riverdale, taking the shine and warmth away from its fresh start.

Also getting a new start is Archie and Betty’s relationship, as the latter says she’s ready to continue “not as friends with benefits but for real — all in.” Just when they’re about to get it on, a mysterious ticking interrupts their moment. Archie and Betty search for the source, which turns out to be a bomb under their bed. As the timer counts down to zero, the series pans over to Hiram driving away from Riverdale with a remote detonator in his possession. Archie is sure to get out of this one….right?

Providing his insight about tonight’s finale is Riverdale creator, executive producer and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa who addresses the finale’s major twists — including Cosuelos’ exit as a series regular after four seasons — in a brief Q&A below, which has been edited for clarity.

DEADLINE: How did you settle on the idea of exiling Hiram for his punishment? What were the other ideas about his exit?

AGUIRRE-SACASA: The other thing we considered was killing Hiram off. And we had fun imagining the ways that might happen. The two versions of Hiram’s death we were seriously entertaining late into the breaking of the episode were that Archie would take Hiram into the woods…and only Archie would come back, like something out of “The Sopranos.” And the strong implication (never confirmed) would be that Archie had murdered Hiram and buried his body somewhere in Swedlow Swamp. The other thing we talked about is that Veronica and Archie would take Hiram to one of his construction sites and entomb him in wet cement in the building’s foundation. In the end, though, our love of Mark Consuelos and our hope that he’ll always be a part of “Riverdale” won out…by a very narrow margin.

DEADLINE: Why do you feel that was the most fitting end for his arc this season?

AGUIRRE-SACASA: After everything Hiram’s done—to basically every single character on the show, over the seasons—it felt like Hiram’s story needed to end in a grand, Shakespearean way. So we thought, “What are the punishments in Shakespeare’s plays?” The two that kept coming up where execution and exile. Since this series is the epic story of a town, the idea that the entire town would come together in unison to collectively exile the villain who’s been tormenting them for years felt right and satisfying. Like St. Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland. It’s also so disempowering to see someone forced to walk away from everything they have, everything they own, with literally only the clothes on his back. And all those weapons pointed at him. Mark loved his exit, by the way. He texted me how happy he was.

DEADLINE: Even though he’s left Riverdale, Hiram’s still causing harm and chaos. How will his control and presence be felt in the next season?

AGUIRRE-SACASA: If you’re talking about the bomb Hiram planted under Archie’s bed, yeah, that will have a huge, immediate, and lasting impact on our characters and storylines moving into Season Six. As we were writing the season finale, it felt like we needed one last parting shot from Hiram, and we joked that earlier this season Hiram blew up his jail, then he blew up the Blossom mines…and don’t these things usually come in threes? What if, after all these years, Hiram was finally like, “Screw this, I’m just gonna bomb Archie’s house,” and then he does exactly. Of course, it happens just as Archie and Betty are finally getting together…

DEADLINE: What kind of threat does Abigail’s curse pose to this new chapter of Riverdale?

AGUIRRE-SACASA: It feels a lot like a supernatural threat, doesn’t it? Almost biblical, in fact. Discovering that Riverdale has been a cursed town all these years certainly helps explain why so many awful things have happened there over the years. And the fact that Cheryl invokes the curse after learning the truth about her ancestor definitely suggests that even worse things are coming, like an epic, Stephen King-ish conflict between Good and Evil playing out on the streets of the town…

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