It’s safe to say that the Season 6 premiere of Riverdale is the weirdest, most unexpected, and most shocking episode that the series has ever aired... and trust me, that’s saying something. The teen drama went full horror to kick of its five-episode “Rivervale” event, and it’s honestly hard to imagine how they’re going to get more surprising than the final moments of the first episode. Spoiler alert: Don’t read ahead if you haven’t seen Riverdale Season 6, Episode 1, “Welcome to Rivervale.” The premiere ended in the death of someone fans never thought the show would kill off, leaving viewers to ponder the seemingly unreal question, “Is Archie really dead?” And if he is, is this just a Rivervale thing, or will it extend to the real Riverdale as well? These answers still unclear, but the episode dropped some clues about his actual fate.
Worrying about Archie potentially dying is nothing new for Riverdale fans. He’s had quite a few death scares in the past, but it just never truly felt feasible that the show would ever kill off its main character. But it finally did just that in the Season 6 premiere, and in gruesome detail. The new episode revolved around Cheryl Blossom’s scheme to restore her maple groves to their former bounty by making a sacrifice to the Maple Maiden. Ya know, basic farming stuff. Unbeknownst to Archie, the whole town worked together to make him the perfect sacrifice, and in the end, Cheryl ceremonially removed his heart, leaving him lifeless on a pyre.
There’s no question Archie is dead after having his heart ripped out, but this likely isn’t the last we’ve seen of Riverdale’s redheaded golden boy. As Jughead made very clear in his introductory narration, the events of the “Rivervale” episodes are set in an alternate universe, meaning the version of Archie fans have watched for five seasons is potentially still alive and well in the Riverdale universe, which the show plans to return to in Season 6, Episode 6.
Then again, Archie’s fate in the actual core universe doesn’t look so great either. Season 5 ended with a bomb exploding right beneath Archie and Betty. There’s a chance that Archie’s death in “Rivervale” could mirror his death in Riverdale. A strange comment Jughead made at the end of the episode seems to add some fuel to this grim theory. During his closing narration, Jughead noted that Archie was born in Riverdale but died in Rivervale. This seems strange, because you’d assume the “Rivervale” version of Archie would’ve lived in Rivervale his whole like, just like how the main version of Archie has lived in Riverdale his whole life.
Was the actual Archie somehow transported to Rivervale and killed in Cheryl’s sacrifice? Is it all an indication that bomb in Riverdale really did kill Archie? Was this whole event just a set-up to make Archie say “I’m not a virgin, Cheryl?” So many questions... Hopefully the remaining four episodes of the Rivervale arc will provide a bit more clarity, although I kind of doubt it.
New episodes of Riverdale Season 6 air Tuesday nights on The CW.