‘Riverdale’ Boss Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Explains That Time-Warping Time Jump

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Late last week, Riverdale fans’ heads exploded. Well, more than usual, at least, when a clip from the upcoming episode “Chapter Eighty: Purgatorio” showed actress Camila Mendes, as Veronica Lodge, telling her new husband, “It’s 2021, Chad, haven’t you heard?”

Seems normal enough, until you consider this: one episode ago, the teens graduated high school in 2020. In this week’s upcoming episode, it’s seven years later. In 2021.

“So this is one of the problems about not having a natural season break,” Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told Decider about the time warp, laughing. “It’s 5×03, and then our premiere seven years later in 5×04.”

To take a step back, Season 4 of Riverdale was supposed to be 22 episodes long, ending in a wicked, surprise twist: after graduating high school in the season finale, the show would shockingly jump forward seven years. Only one, big problem: COVID hit, and production of the show was shut down in March, 2020. Instead of ending as planned with “Chapter Seventy-Nine: Graduation,” the season wrapped up with the only fully completely episode, the season’s nineteenth, “Killing Mr. Honey.

Though a good portion of the next episode, which focused on Senior Prom, was filmed, enough was left to make it unfeasible to broadcast, and it — along with the other two remaining episodes of Season 4 — were shunted over to the beginning of Season 5. That included the planned season finale, now scheduled to air this week (February 10) as the third episode of Season 5.

“We kind of thought we were going to be squishy about the details and just get into the new season, and then hopefully people [wouldn’t] try to reconcile the timelines,” Aguirre-Sacasa continued. “Unfortunately, because of everything that happened this year, we don’t have that luxury.”

In case you’re still confused, it’s pretty explicit even for Riverdale that “Graduation” happens in 2020. Events earlier in the season were noted as taking place on dates in 2020 (specifically the seeming “death” of Cole Sprouse’s Jughead Jones). And in “Graduation” Riverdale High digs up a time capsule from the first graduating class, from 1945, 75 years later. You can do the math there.

“It is weird that in Episode 3, the graduation episode, we’re seemingly in the present,” Aguirre-Sacasa noted. “But then in Episode 4, we’re seven years later… But also seemingly in the present. Only in Riverdale can that time paradox exist. That’s one of the reasons we always played the show as a bit timeless… But yes, you’re pointing out sadly, a discrepancy that I don’t have a great answer for.”

So there you go! The answer for why Riverdale‘s seven-year time jump only takes one year is that… There’s no real answer. Or as Veronica said back in the classic “The Red Dahlia”:

“Forget it, Jughead. It’s Riverdale.”

Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Head back to Decider after this week’s episode airs for our full, spoiler-filled interview with Aguirre-Sacasa.

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