No, you haven’t gone madder than Nana Rose ranting about maple-soaked aliens in a barrel: Riverdale hasn’t finished airing Season 5, but Season 6 has already started production as of today. And according to a tease posted by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the previous five seasons have just been the beginning.
“Forces are gathering for the ultimate battle been Good and Evil as the cameras begin to roll on #Riverdale Season Six,” says the Instagram caption. “But who will stand on which side? And who will live, and who will die? Everything has been a prelude to this.”
To give a little bit of the backstory in case you are confused, Riverdale Season 5 premiered on a delayed schedule due to — what else — COVID. The fifth season began filming in 2020, but didn’t premiere until January, 2021. 10 episodes aired, and then the show took an extended, lengthy hiatus before returning for nine final episodes on August 11. At that point, production on the season had already wrapped in June, and CW head Mark Pedowitz noted on a call to press they were giving Riverdale a regular three month(ish) hiatus in order to prep the new season, with the goal of eventually getting things back on track for CW shows by Fall of 2022; with the caveat that safety due to COVID was still the primary goal.
In order to give Riverdale time to catch up, pre-production on Season 6 began at the beginning of August, and production (i.e., filming) began today. Though the production will reportedly run through the beginning of June of 2022, only five episodes will air in 2021, starting November 16. This “five episode event” will allow the show to get ahead on Season 6 enough — filming during COVID is much slower and more restricted than in the before times — that the rest of the season should presumably air in 2022, starting on a date TBA. Of note, no official full episode count for the season has yet been announced.
That all said, what can we gather from the production graphic shared by Aguirre-Sacasa? Season 5’s graphic turned out to be less metaphorical, and more factual, with a young blonde girl running away from an oncoming trucker. In Season 5, Polly Cooper (Tiera Skovbye) and other girls have been hunted down by a murderous trucker on The Lonely Highway, a dangerous stretch of road outside town. So will this Season 6 graphic be the same sort of thing? Will the show bring in weird halfsie trees???
More likely, this one isn’t exactly what’s going to happen in Season 6, but the graphic does bring to mind one character in particular: Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch). There is the current conflict brewing between Cheryl and Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) over possession of the Blossom maple grove, specifically because Hiram wants the palladium, an expensive metal, that’s buried underneath. But chances are that conflict will wrap up in Season 5; so what could the graphic be teasing?
It’s possible this might tie into something Aguirre-Sacasa told Decider is coming for Cheryl before Season 5 ends, in relation to the ministry she’s currently leading with her mother, Penelope (Nathalie Boltt), and Kevin Keller (Casey Cott).
“I’ll also tease that it is a big story for Cheryl and it leads to a very surprising redefinition of that character in a way we haven’t seen before,” Aguirre-Sacasa said.
So could this graphic be part of that redefinition of Cheryl? And if so, what does the dead tree on one side, and dark clouds gathering mean? And even more ominously, there’s the question “who will die” in that Instagram caption. Riverdale hasn’t seen a major death in a few seasons (other than Polly, who is currently either very dead, or very alive)… Is one of the show’s main characters on the chopping block?