5 ‘Riverdale’ Season 5 Theories That Explain What Happens After The Time Jump

- Riverdale -
5 ‘Riverdale’ Season 5 Theories That Explain What Happens After The Time Jump

At the end of Season 4, Riverdale’s main characters were speeding toward a big life transition: high school graduation. There were plenty of obstacles getting in their way, of course — namely the tons of murders and mysteries that have plagued the Town with Pep since forever — but the Season 4 finale (which was unexpectedly prom-free, due to a COVID-19-related production wrench) found the teens triumphing over their anti-prom principal and readying themselves for post-high school plans, despite the murder playacting video mystery still hanging over their heads.

Since Season 4 ended earlier than planned, the first few episodes of Season 5 will focus on tying up loose ends and wrapping up the teens’ high school lives (basically, finishing Season 4). Prom and graduation, here we come.

But, after there’s a nice bow on all of that, what does Season 5 have in store for Archie, Betty, Veronica, and the whole crew?

Kailey Schwerman/The CW

The show will employ a favorite device of fellow-beloved teen dramas (looking at you Pretty Little Liars and One Tree Hill) and will feature a time jump. We’ll spring seven years forward and skip the group’s college years, which will give the actors a chance to play adults, rather than students, and will likely allow for a shake-up when it comes to plotlines, relationships, and more.

The official blurb for the season says that everyone will return to Riverdale “to escape their troubled pasts,” and it’s this homecoming catalyst that’s the latest and greatest Riverdale riddle.

Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Cheryl, Toni, Kevin, Reggie, and everyone else have already dealt with murder, love triangles, conversion therapy, an evil board game, a serial killer, the mob, rival gangs, abusive parents, juvie, a cult, a secret society that was also sort of a cult… the list goes on.

To that end, the writers may not want to retread any of that exact ground for the homecoming post-time jump, but there are still tons of plot directions that would make sense for an organic reunion in the town that started it all.

Such as...

A Reunion

This is the simplest, most realistic plot device that could bring the whole crew back to Riverdale, even if seven years is kind of an odd year to host a class reunion. (Who ever said Riverdale High School was normal, though?)

The show has dabbled in typical high school trappings and plots before —remember the brief moment everyone was concerned about the SATS? — but it usually leans more into the sensational and exciting.

Katie Yu/The CW

Therefore, it doesn’t seem likely that a plain ol’ high school reunion will be what brings Archie, Veronica, Betty, et al. back to their hometown. Though Justin Tyler, host of the popular Riverdale After Dark podcast, suggests that “a reunion with a murder” could be possible, in typical Riverdale “twisted version of small town Americana” form.

Or Maybe It's A "Death" That Brings Them Back

Let’s be honest — there has been a lot of death in Riverdale. So a death bringing everyone back to town to mourn does make a lot of sense.

Macy, who runs the hilarious @nocontextrvd Twitter account, agrees that “a tragedy will bring them all together again,” and Justin also proposes a “funeral with a mystery.”

But whose death will it be? Nana Rose is pretty old — but would everyone really come back to town to pay their respects to Cheryl’s grandma? One character who does mean something to everyone else in town, and who’s also one of the older folks in Riverdale, is the beloved Pop Tate.

Macy posits that Pop could be the one to die, as well, but is also quick to say that she “doesn’t want to speak that into existence!” Pop passing away is too terrible a thought to entertain.

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Luckily, there’s another possibility: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Riverdale’s creator, recently tweeted out the cover pages of the first four Season 5 episodes, and the fourth script features three people (who look like Jughead, Betty, and Veronica) standing around a grave, with an image of Archie in a military helmet floating in the sky above them.

As @riverdale.series wrote on Instagram, “Are you telling me that Archie dies?” Could it be? Here’s an idea, though: perhaps Archie — who is heading to the Naval Academy after high school — is deployed and M.I.A., and thus, presumed dead, as was the case in a recent issue of Archie 1941, from which the script cover-art borrows.

So, all of his friends and loved ones would return to Riverdale to “bury”/mourn him, and then perhaps realize that he’s not dead after all.

It seems unlikely that Riverdale would kill off its main character for good; this M.I.A. approach, however, would allow for the emotion and tension of a missing Archie, the catalyst to get everyone back to Riverdale, and a mystery surrounding where Archiekins really is.

Also, one tried-and-true soap opera trope that Riverdale has yet to tackle is amnesia — what if a wounded Archie has amnesia when he returns? Now that would be classic.

Or A Wedding?

Riverdale has given us glimpses of a wedding before; we had Veronica and Archie’s at the start of Season 2. Sure, that was just a fantasy, but it’s not totally implausible to think that seven years after high school, one or more of the gang could be tying the knot (especially in Riverdale, where pretty much anything goes).

Will a joyous occasion like a wedding be what brings everyone back together in Riverdale? If so, whose will it be?

Jack Rowand/The CW

Toni and Cheryl seem the most perennially steady of all the relationships on the show (and they already live and raise twin babies together, as 17-year-olds), so they’re the best bet — unless perhaps one of the main Riverdale characters will be marrying a brand new character...

No matter whose wedding it is, we know it won’t go smoothly. Justin suggests “a wedding with the groom under arrest” as one possibility — now that would be a Riverdale-like twist.

Could Be A Baby

Or perhaps the joyous occasion that brings everyone back to town could be a birth, not a wedding.

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Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz, is pregnant in real life. Will the writers work in a pregnancy to her (and maybe Cheryl’s) storyline? Cheryl and Toni (and Nana Rose) do already take care of Cheryl’s niece and nephew, Juniper and Dagwood, but if the two are still together seven years later, perhaps they’ll be adding a new baby to their lives.

Let's Be Honest, It's Probably A Mystery That Brings Them All Back

Again, this seems like a no-brainer, since Riverdale is all about mysteries. Macy of @nocontextrvd thinks that “a familiar mystery” could force all the characters to stay in Riverdale once they make their tragedy-induced returns that “bring them closer together again.”

The mystery of the voyeuristic VHS tapes is still unsolved as of the end of Season 4, and was picking up steam as the season came to its premature close, what with the anonymous video of the masked fake RHS-gang murdering Mr. Honey… could that pop up again, seven years later?

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Or will it be solved before the time jump occurs? (And who do you think is behind the tapes?!) Macy is also fond of her theory that Alice Smith, Betty’s mother, could be the mayor of Riverdale after the time jump, as “she would be a good source for Betty and the crew since she’s not trying to bring them down.”

It would be nice to see an end to the corrupt Lodge political reign, and then Alice could help the young adults solve whatever mystery is sure to come next.

There are tons of possibilities as to where Season 5 of Riverdale could take us when it returns in January 2021, but no matter what, as Justin says, there’s sure to be “some hurt feelings, occult overtones, and Barchie, Barchie, Barchie.”

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