Recap of The CW’s Riverdale SDCC 2017 Panel

(by Gene Yraola)

A year ago if you were to tell SDCC regulars that the hottest CW panel of San Diego Comic Con would be based on a comic book, no one would have flinched. With CW’s hotbed of DC-inspired shows ranging from The Flash to spin-offs such as Legends of Tomorrow, it’s no secret that the identity of the CW has relied heavily on the superhero lore that first started nearly two decades ago with the advent of Smallville. But to say that the CW’s hottest panel of SDCC 2017 would be based on the reinvention of the goodie two-shoe Archie comics…well no one could have predicted that. What shouldn’t have been a surprise was how hot Riverdale came out of the gate in only its short 13-episode run of 2017. The show follows the original formula of what made the CW (or at the time The WB Network) stand out against its fellow network television newcomer UPN – overtly sexualized, teen dramas in the vein of Dawson’s Creek and Popular. What differentiated Riverdale aside from its completely revamped source material, is its incredibly cinematic, dark tones that paint the show more as a crime thriller than teenage drama.

Riverdale finds itself as an outlier to the current CW lineup and thus not branded entirely as part of their Fall panel package at SDCC, having a separated earlier timeslot than that of The Flash and Arrow. But make no mistake, on this busy Saturday morning, Riverdale could have easily have been a Hall H attraction with much of its attendees having slept out hours before doors.

Ballroom 20 was packed on an early Saturday morning for Riverdake

On its first real “fan” panel since the show’s explosion, the jitters from the show’s cast was clearly evident – trying their best not to reveal secrets from up and coming season 2, while also trying their best to explain the in-depth details explaining a lot of the ambiguous narrative from season 1.

Much of the focus was drawn on Lili Reinhart’s take on the seldom seen “dark Betty” from Season 1, its background and what lies in store for the character’s possible turn in season 2 now that the story arc no longer revolves around Cheryl Blossom’s twin brother’s death (an arc that at times may have dragged on an episode or two too long). Reinhart, for as much as she can reveal, let it out of the bag that indeed there will be glimpses of her sinister side.

From the revealed trailer, it was clearly revealed Archie’s father (played by former teen heartthrob Luke Perry) will indeed survive Season 1 finale’s cliffhanger and will not be the main story arc of Season 2. What remains ambiguous will be what is Jughead Jones’ connection to the group now that his character remains firmly separated from at another location. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa did bring up that a female “jughead” is set to appear in Riverdale as an intro for Jughead into the world of the Serpents, Riverdale‘s equivalent of a biker gang. Leading into pushing the boundaries of the comic’s re-imagining, Aguirre-Sacasa also revealed that a bisexual character will come into play – but in today’s boundary-pushing network dramas, that may be as tame as it gets.

As for Veronica, actress Camilla Mendes did reveal a character from her past in NY is set to step into the Riverdale fold and possibly upset the Veronica-Archie dynamic.

Kja Apa added a musical touch to The CW Riverdale Panel

Reluctantly, no focus was placed on the real-life romance between costars Cole Sprouse and Reinhart, what many fans would have expected coming into the panel. As a stalwart into knowing as much about what lies ahead of Riverdale, this could not have been a bigger sigh of relief.

Riverdale, the surprise hit of 2017 looks to keep its momentum going and avoid the sophomore slumps that have befallen many of its CW predecessors (Gossip Girl, Popular, Felicity come to mind). Judging from most of what was revealed at their SDCC panel, the strong confidence from show runner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and the fans’ enthusiam, season 2 for Riverdale is on track to once again be CW’s breadwinner this coming Fall.

This possibly could be the final time we get such an in-depth look into the show world of Riverdale before it clearly expands beyond its already rabbid fanbase. Supernatural has well been a Hall H staple and it would not be a surprise to find Riverdale amongst the schedule in 2018.

Oh and one more thing for those who wanted a spoiler from the panel – Betty will finally lose her ponytail and resemble the character from the beloved comics.

(all photos / footage taken by Gene Yraola)

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