The Riverdale season 6 premiere, “Chapter Ninety-Six: Welcome to Rivervale,” dropped fans into the middle of a slow burning horror that steadily turned the heat up minute by minute until it’s surprising ending.
While we were busy trying to figure out just what turned the town with pep into the town you’ll never want to leave, the story was slipping further into the magical roots it’d begun planting in season 5 with Cheryl Blossom.
Spoilers ahead of Riverdale season 6, episode 1
In last season’s finale, she inadvertently cast a spell crafted by her ancestor Abigail. It was meant to haunt the people that burned her at the stake and their descendants. Archie, Betty, and Jughead are each descended from key members of the mob that executed Abigail.
With the spell targeting them, there was no telling how their lives would change but “Welcome to Rivervale” set us on a fatal path to finding out. Unfortunately, that meant by the end of the episode Archie was taken out by the business end of a knife.
Here’s what happened.
How did Archie die in Riverdale season 6, episode 1 “Welcome to Rivervale”?
In Rivervale, a town that seems to have replaced the Riverdale we’ve known for five seasons, everything about the world that we know is pretty much the same at first. The only thing off is that Riverdale is revealed to be a figment of Archie’s nightmares.
But the more he pushes Cheryl, whether it comes to Thorn Hill seceding from Rivervale or his infringing upon her maple syrup empire, the story twists further and further into a brewing horror story.
It starts with the sacrificial killing of a deer that Cheryl says she isn’t responsible for, but it’s clear by the time that she declares she and her girls will be returning to “the old ways” that things are about to take a turn. Especially when she tells Archie that it’ll be over his dead body that she returns Thorn Hill to Riverdale’s domain. It’s a chilling threat said so casually that it almost slips by without notice.
As “Welcome to Rivervale” progresses, Cheryl finds ways to remedy each character’s problems.
Jabitha’s new apartment is infested with spiders and they believe they’re cursed. Fangs and Toni are dealing with baby Anthony’s colic. Veronica is trying to prove to Reggie that she’s not settling for him in place of Archie. Frank and Alice are trying to find a way forward together without his past endangering her. And Betty wants to be the mother of Archie’s child.
Cheryl’s help, however, comes with a rather steep price that doesn’t get revealed until the end. She bakes a sin pie, meant to hold the town’s sins so they can be absolved, and manipulates her way into getting Archie to eat it.
Archie eating the sin pie is just the first step in Cheryl’s plan. It turns out that she intends to sacrifice him in order to appease the Maple Maiden, the goddess of Rivervale’s woods. It is through the ritualistic killing of Archie that Cheryl and the rest of the town believe that the Blossom maple groves will once again thrive and therefore so will the town.
In the closing moments of the episode, Cheryl carves out his heart and holds it up for her awaiting audience and Rivervale immediately becomes ‘The town with heart!’
So Archie is dead but the question is whether or not episode 2 of the “Rivervale” event will reverse what happened.
Did Archie really die in Riverdale season 6?
In an interview with Decider, Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had the following to say about Archie’s death:
"No, there’s no hard reset between episodes, which means that in episode two, Archie is dead, Betty is pregnant with Archie’s baby, and Cheryl and Nana Blossom are toasting the sacrifice Archie made, which allowed their maple trees to resume producing maple syrup. It’s completely serialized, and I’ll stress again, it’s serialized into the rest of season six."
So Riverdale is going to be without its redheaded jack-of-all trades and Mr. Fix-It at least until it’s 100th episode. Sorry, Archie fans but this death is sticking.
The Riverdale season 6 “Rivervale” event airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET. New episodes are available to stream next day on The CW app.