The ‘Rivervale’ Event Ends — Cole Sprouse on What’s Next With the Return to ‘Riverdale’

Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones in Riverdale
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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Riverdale Season 6 Episode 5 “The Jughead Paradox.”]

Riverdale says farewell to the shadow town of Rivervale in its 100th episode — but not before answering the big question of what exactly is going on there.

As Jughead (Cole Sprouse) discovers after finding comics depicting the events of Riverdale (for 95 issues, before switching, just like the CW drama with its episodes), the two towns are in parallel universes. And like Riverdale, Rivervale has a serial killer, but this one is none other than Archie (KJ Apa), who has discovered that the dead don’t stay dead and hopes his father Fred (the late Luke Perry) will be among the returned. So when he learns Jughead plans to sacrifice Rivervale so Riverdale can exist (the two universes are expanding into one another), he tries to kill him. Betty (Lili Reinhart), in her wedding dress, shoots her groom and saves Jughead.

But in the end, narrator Jughead (whose body had been found earlier) reveals another solution: The other Jughead serves as the writer, a living battery for Rivervale, sequestered in the bunker. That creativity would power that universe.

And then in the final moments of the episode, we return to Riverdale, picking up where the Season 5 finale left off. Only this time, Betty receives a call warning her of the bomb under Archie’s bed.

So what’s next when the series returns in March? TV Insider turned to Sprouse for scoop.

Now we’re back in Riverdale, and it appears that Betty and Archie escaped the bomb this time thanks to that call, but Jughead was still in the garage. What can you say about the aftermath of the explosion and any injuries? Because we saw Jughead’s ears were ringing.

Cole Sprouse: It turns out the explosion and the three of us who were immediately affected by the explosion go through various arcane circumstances. I can’t speak too much more about it, but we definitely explore sort of physical ramifications of what happens to Jughead in a sensory way.

Erinn Westbrook as Tabitha Tate, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones in Riverdale

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So at this point, Jughead and Tabitha [Erinn Westbrook] haven’t moved in together yet, right? Is that still the plan?

Yeah, I’m not too sure how the writers have sort of planned that out. But in Rivervale, they are actively moving in together. In Riverdale, it seems like as a consequence of the PTSD from that explosion, Tabitha elects to take care of Jughead for the time being.

How’s their relationship going forward??

They both take care of each other. It’s very strong in a domestic sense. Jughead and Tabitha are very actively within each other’s lives for the episodes that we’ve shot of Riverdale thus far. We of course get up to our wacky hijinks, but yes, Jughead and Tabitha are still very much together even where we are now in Season 6.

But it does seem like Jughead and Betty have some unfinished business. So first, where’s Jughead’s head and heart when it comes to both Tabitha and Betty?

I haven’t really talked too much to the writers, and as I’m sure you know, the actors don’t get too much of a heads upon the narrative arc of the season, but it does seem like perhaps Jughead has some unresolved business. That being said, I don’t know how much of that we can take as an indication of Riverdale Jughead, but in Rivervale, there’s definitely that moment at the end of this episode where there’s passion and it seems like the two of them are trying to reignite something. Who knows if we’ll end up exploring that in Riverdale. But I know that the audience loves that relationship still very much. And I guess it’s left to be said.

Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones in Riverdale

The CW

The episodes have sort of discussed that Jughead is still kind of hurt from what happens between the time jump, not just from him and Betty’s perspective, but from him and his relationship to Archie and Veronica and everyone. He was the only person that showed up to Pop’s for the reunion, and there was some pain there. I think Jughead has found within Tabitha someone who really cares for him and his wellbeing, but I think there’s still some unresolved trauma from what Betty and Archie had done. I think if that is left undiscussed, he’ll probably still always hold a bit of a grudge.

What’s coming up for Jughead and Betty? Anything about their personal relationship? Any more investigating together?

As of now in terms of Riverdale and the episodes we’ve shot — I think we’re on Episode 9 right now — they still haven’t had too much interactions, so I think it can be easy to look at the events of Rivervale and try and find some connective tissue to what happens in Riverdale. But as of now, we’ve pretty much picked up from the same spot that we left off of at the end of Season 5 and continued with that storyline in a linear way.

So that’s three Jugheads you play in the episode, right? Riverdale’s, Rivervale’s narrator who makes the brief trip to the sweet hereafter and explains everything to Betty and the other Jughead, and Rivervale’s writer. Which was your favorite to play?

Actually the three that I was thinking were Rivervale’s narrator, Rivervale Jughead, and then the Jughead that appears in Pop’s during that sweet hereafter sequence. I always love the flashback sequences and the Pop’s sequences are always my favorite. We get to lean into the wardrobe and, and the hair and makeup and get into that.

Alvin Sanders as Pop Tate, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones in Riverdale

Kailey Schwerman/The CW

I really enjoyed the narrator. I thought it was fun. I thought it was also sort of a tongue-in-cheek way to poke fun at the campiness of it while simultaneously being able to laugh about it. The way that I had asked to play the narrator was a much more detached, almost jovial version of the moody teen drama version of Jughead that we’ve seen over the last six seasons. And I’m interested to see how the editors and the creative staff elected to show that version we shot.

But in the initial stages of Rivervale, I was giving around three different performances for every single scene that we were doing as the narrator, because it was unsure at the time what kind of tone we going to be using for Rivervale and who the narrator really was — if the narrator was someone that was actually understood within the world, if he was the sort of illusory third party character that just came in. In the beginning, it was a little unknown to us as a production, at least up in Vancouver, how we were going to play it. But I think Episode 605, our 100th episode, does a really good job of hopefully showing the distinction between the Jughead that lives within Rivervale and the narrator itself.

Talk about filming that Jughead-Archie fight, and having Archie be the Rivervale big bad because that was a nice twist.

I think it’s fun. [Laughs] To be honest, over the seasons, KJ and I, we work so well together. But we’re always making each other laugh. It’s probably one of our biggest issues when we work together. We have wasted a lot of the production’s time by cracking up and becoming incapable of continuing to film. So I always love working with KJ. I think any chance that I get to actually have scenes with him — and especially if there’s like stunts and whatnot involved — is always really, really enjoyable.

The Cast of Riverdale for 100 Episodes

Michael Simon/The CW

I like the twist. I really loved Episode 100. I think it’s a wonderful little love letter to the fans and a wonderful little love letter to Riverdale. And I think it does a good job of sort of making us question who the characters are within this sort of alternate universe and why this world exists and why the narration exists and the actual structure of the world just in general. So I’ll do anything that I can to work with KJ.

What else is coming up for Jughead? How’s his writing going?

It’s always up and down. He’s suffering writer’s block every once in a while. But it seems to be going pretty well. The first couple episodes are very much about creativity and what happens when a life that you’re used to sort of gets flipped on its head almost immediately and how that creativity continues or discontinues. We explore that for [Episodes] 6, 7, and 8, then around 8 and 9, which we’re filming now, the second half of this season’s real narrative is introduced. So we get to really see what’s happening in a long-term sense for Season 6.

I’m looking forward to it, considering what a crazy ride it’s been so far.

It’s so much fun. This is one of those shows that I think from a sort of passive viewing experience is really, really enjoyable. And it has its sort of cult legacy now, which I think is fun. I think like a lot of these shows, in about like five years — I don’t know, I hope at least in about five years — people are gonna revisit Riverdale and go, wow, what a wild ride this was. And hopefully it has some sort of second life.

Riverdale, Season 6 Return, Sunday, March 6, 8/7c, The CW