A time jump in a television show can revive a stale premise with new characters, new motivations, and new settings. It’s a way for new viewers to pick up the plot. And it’s a way to skip over the boring parts of a story, and get to the exciting, narrative-turning action.
In the case of the CW’s Riverdale, the latter was the main reason for its Season 5 time jump–seven years after the characters’ high school graduation.
“We did decide very quickly because all of the kids were seemingly going to different colleges and we didn’t want them to all go to, like, Riverdale University,” said showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa in an . “And in terms of drama, for me, college is a less appealing version of high school stories… This time jump allows us to start with a clean slate, drop in the middle of stories, and then have people catch up.”
On the February 10 and February 17 episodes of Riverdale, we caught up with most of the main characters’ lives post-time jump. Here’s what we know so far. Riverdale airs every Wednesday on the CW, at 8 a.m. EST.
Archie completed his armed forces basic training and rose to the rank of Sergeant. He fought in war and was injured while trying to protect his men, one of whom lost both his legs. He returns to Riverdale with orders to revive Riverdale High School’s ROTC program, but quickly discovers that his beloved town has fallen on hard times.
He calls and reunites Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Toni, and himself in a last-ditch bid to save Riverdale. The four of them agree to become teachers at the understaffed Riverdale High School until permanent replacements are hired. Betty and Archie are now seeing each other, and have agreed not to tell Veronica and Jughead. However, it seems inevitable that they’ll find out, and soon.
We only hear about Mary’s whereabouts second-hand; Archie says that she’s not living at the family home, because she’s renting it out. We later learn that is not the case; the Ghoulies have been using the Andrews home as a base. It’s unclear whether Mary knows this or has been deliberately misleading Archie.
Veronica became a Wall Street broker, with aspirations to be the “She-Wolf of Wall Street.” She has been married to Chadwick Gekko, another Wall Street broker, for a year. Chadwick wants kids and wants Veronica to settle down, but Veronica wants to be back on the Wall Street trading floor with him. She deals with her frustration by working at Lacy’s, a shady jewelry boutique, behind Chadwick’s back.
Veronica originally left Wall Street to deal with her stress due to “The Accident,” which we later learn was a helicopter crash that nearly killed her. She now regrets the decision to leave. We get confirmation that Chadwick is a controlling, duplicitous man, much like Veronica’s father Hiram Lodge. Veronica will be a temporary teacher at Riverdale High School instead of heading back to New York, which has the positive effect of pissing off Chad and Hiram, simultaneously.
Hiram is responsible for turning Riverdale into a dilapidated shell of its former self, by choking it of resources to increase the value of Sodale, the nearby residential community that he is developing. He is currently trying and failing to purchase the Blossom family’s maple tree properties, but Cheryl refuses to sell. He’s a board member of Stonewall Prep, which tormented Jughead in Season 4. And he successfully coordinates a vote to un-incorporate Riverdale, making it a town in name only. The school is about the last public-serving institution tha Hiram has not destroyed.
Hermione Lodge is now a successful reality star and features in a “Real Housewives” type of show. She is happy for Veronica’s marriage to Chadwick and doesn’t understand why her daughter is discontent.
Betty is an FBI trainee who tracks and profiles serial killers–appropriate, given that her brother Charles was also a serial killer. However, she’s had an extreme setback to what ought to be a promising career. She successfully tracked the “Trash Bag Killer” to his home, but because she did not call for backup, she became his prisoner for two weeks, and then he escaped. Now, she’s stuck filing papers instead of being in the field, and she sees a therapist, whom she blatantly lies to. She’s also dating Glen, an FBI Agent and her superior. When she arrives back in Riverdale, her family resents her for having left. As one of Riverdale’s newest teachers, she’ll be taking a leave from the FBI to help out Riverdale and continue hooking up with Archie.
Alice is still active in the town’s local politics. But her biggest job is helping Polly raise her twins. Alice is resentful of Betty, who she feels abandoned them in order to attend Yale and join the FBI.
Polly is living with her mother and raising her twin girls. She tells Betty and Alice that’s she’s working as a waitress to make ends meet. We discover, however, that she’s actually with the Ghoulies, and in Betty’s words, might be dealing, or tricking, or both. The last we see of her, she’s being chased down by a man in a truck–which may be the last time we see her.
Reggie is currently working as one of Hiram’s goons. We see him briefly at the Blossom estate when Cheryl turns down Hiram’s latest maple proposal, again. He also declines to help his friends, both when Archie needs help getting rid of the Ghoulies in his home, and when Veronica needs help escaping the watchful eyes of Hiram and Chad.
Jughead is now a published writer with a successful novel, which marked him as one of the most promising voices of his generation; the novel was based on his time with the Serpents and his relationship with Betty. But since then, he’s fallen on hard times. He currently has writer’s block. His potential gig at the New Yorker fell through. He’s getting evicted from his home. His girlfriend, Jess, is leaving him. And debt collectors are trying to track him down. He recently hooked up with what he thought was a fan of his first book, but it was actually an aspiring author who blackmailed him into reading her book and trying to get it published. He has a large chest tattoo, which definitely has a backstory.
Kevin graduated from Carnegie Mellon and is now the drama teacher at Riverdale High School. He’s in a relationship with Fangs Fogerty.
The sheriff of Riverdale is the only remaining law enforcement.The understaffing has caused huge parts of the town to descend into lawlessness and violence.
Cheryl continues to be a recluse, as she has been since graduating high school. She taken up painting. Toni alludes that over the past seven years, Cheryl has taken practical steps to rectify her family’s negative reputation and undo some of the damage it wrought. But Cheryl still fears the Blossom family curse, and thus refuses to get close to anyone again, especially Toni, in an attempt to protect them. The last we see Cheryl, she’s using her wealth to protect Riverdale High School from Hiram Lodge by budgeting and privatizing it.
The elder matriarch of the Blossom family may emerge as something of a villain this season; she’s training Cheryl to be a master art forger. It’s an out-there plot point that requires more explanation.
Toni is the new Snake Queen of the Serpents and the guidance counselor at Riverdale High School. She and the other Serpents bought the speakeasy beneath Pops as their new homebase. Toni is a main character this season and joins Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Archie at their booth in Pop’s. She’s gotten her family to soften on ex-girlfriend Cheryl Blossom, but the two of them are still not together (though she did convince Cheryl to fund Riverdale High. Toni is also pregnant, and she isn’t revealing who the father is.
Sweet Pea held down the Serpents while its leaders were in college, and now drives trucks for the Serpents as one of their legitimate businesses.
Fangs also graduated from college, and he also drives trucks for the Serpents. He’s in a relationship with Kevin Keller.
Pop Tate has retired. His granddaughter, Tabitha Tate, is taking over the Chock’lit Shoppe.