Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers for Riverdale Season 5, Episode 3, "Graduation." Only on a rare, beautiful occasion do you come across a TV friend group so tight, you can't help but stan them as a unit. Riverdale's Betty, Veronica, Archie, and Jughead were the dream team all through high school, which is why fans are so confused after the major shift post-graduation. After years of steadfast loyalty, why did the Core 4 break their Pop's pact? They seem to have drifted apart.
Heading into graduation, the group was still close, despite a bit of turbulence. Veronica and Archie agreed to call it quits after he admitted to kissing Betty, but the pair decided to remain friends (such good friends, in fact, they hooked up one final time after the last day of school). Romance aside, the Core 4 spent graduation night laughing and reminiscing on the bleachers together, which is what inspired Archie to think up his latest friendship pact.
After not getting accepted to the Naval Academy and learning he needed to repeat senior year, Archie decided to enlist in the Army, which required him to leave for basic training the very next day after graduation. Before telling his friends what his future entailed, he asked them to vow that "in one year, no matter what's going on in our lives, we'll meet back at Pop's ... and every year after that."
Everyone in the Core Four agreed to the annual reunion, and after Betty, Veronica, and Jughead tearfully sent Archie off to training the next day, it seemed like they'd all stick to that plan. However, the final scene of Episode 3 revealed three of the Core Four didn't keep their promise. The scene flashed forward to one year after graduation. Jughead was sitting alone in a booth, waiting for Archie, Betty, and Veronica to show up. Eventually he got up and left after realizing his friends weren't showing up. As he exited and the episode ended, his voiceover teased:
It would be six years before I saw my friends again. We'd be different people, each us of. Brought together by, of course, a new crisis. A mystery.
And that leaves fans at the seven-year time jump, which will take place in Episode 4. But why did the friends lose touch in the first place? While it's all just speculation at this point, there are a few clues hinting as to what might have happened.
After Archie left for the Army, his mom put their house up for sale, which indicates she left town. He'd probably go visit her on leave rather than hang out in Riverdale. After Veronica signed the Chock'lit Shoppe over to Pop and her mom, Hermione, left to join the Real Housewives in New York, she wouldn't have much reason to return to the town either. And Betty was clearly ready for a new chapter outside of Riverdale, since she chose to road trip with her mom over the summer instead of staying in town with Jughead.
The fact that they didn't see each other for years could merely be a strange twist of circumstance. Maybe they each went back home one year, but the others were tied up in situations that made them unable to attend. Or, maybe there's something more sinister brewing, like outside forces keeping them apart. This is Riverdale, after all — anything can happen. Either way, it'll be interesting to see what life looks like for the Core 4 after seven years of separation.
Riverdale airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.