Just when you thought Riverdale couldn’t get any weirder... here comes Rivervale. Yep, you read that right: The dark teen series has begun teasing an enigmatic name change as it heads into Season 6. So just what is Rivervale? Riverdale fans think they’ve figured out Season 6’s wild twist already, and it sounds like a massive change for the show.
Spoiler alert: This post contains details from the Riverdale Season 5 finale. After a truly explosive ending to Season 5, the teaser trailer for Season 6 came as a big surprise to fans. The clip opens with a modified version of the “Welcome to Riverdale” sign, which says “Rivervale” instead. In case fans didn’t pick up on that, Toni is also heard on the phone saying, “Something bad is happening in Rivervale.” And finally, when the Riverdale logo flashes at the end of the promo, the screen flickers and then the “D” becomes a “V.” The name change appears to be tied to the five-episode special event kicking off Season 6, so it’s most likely only a temporary change, but it looks like this Rivervale event is going to be a huge shift in tone and genre from what fans are used to.
The teaser seems to suggest the character who will be at the center of this five-episode special. Cheryl Blossom is prominently featured, having seemingly established her school for wayward girls and leading them in arcane rituals. Add those scenes to the recently announced confirmation that Sabrina Spellman will be showing up in Episode 4 of the special event, and it becomes pretty clear how this Rivervale special will likely function: as a magical standalone event allowing Riverdale to finally go all in on the supernatural.
Riverdale has flirted with supernatural elements for several seasons, but has always made a point to explain away any monsters or mysteries thought to be otherworldly... up until the Season 5 finale, that is. In the climactic episode, Cheryl discovered she descended from witches, and appeared to cast a powerful curse on her friends. It definitely looks like the Rivervale event will center on Cheryl’s newfound powers, and the town’s name change likely indicates either an effect of Cheryl’s curse or possibly a Riverdale alternate universe. If this is an alternate universe, it would explain why Sabrina’s still alive after her untimely Chilling Adventures of Sabrina finale fate.
Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa first teased Rivervale back in a Sept. 15 interview with TVLine, revealing the five-episode event is “firmly in the horror genre” and that is “definitely has its own arc.” That makes it sound like the Rivervale special event will be its own standalone thing, so fans can probably expect Riverdale to return to business as usual in some form or another in Season 6, Episode 6.
Riverdale Season 6 will kick off its Rivervale special when it premieres on The CW on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021.