As I watched the ending of “Riverdale” Tuesday night (November 16, 2021), I thought I was seeing a revisit of an old favorite program of mine, “Once Upon a Time.” The setup with Archie, rang so true to the character of Henry that it was eerie. After all, “Once Upon a Time” ended with seven seasons and just celebrated the tenth anniversary of its premiere. But I digress there.
Now this wasn’t the first time that the creators of “Riverdale” has borrowed from old movies or television shows. Popular culture plays a big role in all television as seen in the prevalence of law and order shows on the tube now. I even liked this series salute to Rod Sterling. Cole Sprouse did a fabulous imitation. Let’s face it. While this has been done many times, Cole played the role in the same style as the original actor portrayed the role. Kudos to Cole.
The thing that worried me was Archie’s ending. Yes, I know that Cheryl prophesied his death. He was supposed to apologize to her for what his ancestor did to her ancestors for Riverdale to survive. To be honest, I’ve seen that theme before. The part that got me going was the use of Archie as the sacrifice because he was the “soul of Riverdale.”
Let’s jump back in time, shall we. The show shoots in Vancouver. Well, another popular show (and still is with it’s fans) was “Once Upon a Time” which also filmed in Vancouver. Why, they even shared a common actress in that the girl who played Polly also played the daughter of Zelena and Robin Hood (Tiera Shovbye). So, why didn’t they realize that they were borrowing a theme from “Once Upon a Time.”
Just like Archie, “Once Upon a Time” had a character who had the purest heart or as “Once” called it: the heart of the true believer. Instead of bring life back, Henry’s death prevented change. Henry’s job was to break the curses that surrounded the creation of Storybrooke (and later Hyperion Heights). The show’s first season centered around the “true believer,” Henry, convincing his biological mom, Emma, that she was the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. Granted Henry was the only one who believed/knew this (except for Regina, his adopted mom and curse caster), but in the season one finale, Henry ate the poison apple and it took Emma kiss to awaken him making Emma believe.
Want more proof? In Season 3, Episode One, entitled “The Heart of the True Believer,” the tone was set for the first half of the season. Peter Pan had kidnapped his great grandson, Henry, because he wanted to drain his heart so he can live forever. Mr. Gold (or Rumpelstiltskin) has gone to Neverland to help the rest of the family save his grandson but for another reason, a prophecy that Rumple felt detailed his death. (It didn’t. What the prophecy meant that Rumple had to kill his father (Peter Pan) and that’s too complicated to explain here.) So Rumple was torn about his grandson. While Pan is defeated while he tries to drain Henry’s heart, he only manages to be absorbed into Henry’s body. The new plan is for Pan (Henry) to cast the dark curse. The family, realizing what is happening, must make the ultimate decision of whether to kill Henry or not. As the fight continues, Pan leaves Henry’s body, appears as Pan, and Rumple God must destory him while dying in the process. Rumple, though, is the Dark One so his death didn’t take but Pan is gone and appears later in season’s five visit to Hades.
Okay – while that wasn’t enough, it got me to season seven of “Once” which involves curses and nature. In this season of “Once,” Goethel, much like, Cheryl, wants to recreate the forest (maple trees). To do this, there had to be a resurrection amulet and a curse which involved a sacrifice (seeing the angle here). Gothel’s intention is to destroy mankind/humankind and replace it with trees (nature) and her coven. Let’s just say that Gothel causes Regina to cast a curse spell that sends everyone to Hyperion Heights in Seattle and lose their memory. Here’s the trick. To cast the curse, Goethel used Henry (and his heart). Once he remembered, the curse would begin. He remembers after kissing his wife, runs and sees his mother Regina fighting to prevent the curse, and apparently dying at Goethel’s hand. In the end, the season one plays out again with Henry kissing Regina and saving her and this curse breaking. While it doesn’t destroy Goethel, it wakes the rest and Goethel’s daughter, Alice (yes, in Wonderland) stops the curse by fighting/destroying her mother. (And while it didn’t end the season, it did get rid of one of season seven’s annoying villain).
Oh, and one more similarity — the holding/yanking of the heart to “start” rebirth. Cheryl cuts Archie’s heart out as a sacrifice (apparently). On “Once Upon a Time,” Regina (and other witches) would simply yank the heart out to either turn it to dust (kill) or use the person as a servant. Cheryl wanted the heart and blood to nurture the ground so the saplings would grow, and the barren women would have children. This also is different as Regina couldn’t have children on “Once” and had to adopt Henry.
Thus, the two shows have similarities in the plot but it’s just the beginning. We have the curse of Jughead and Betty still around. Add to that the fact that Toni, Betty, Veronica, and Tabitha owe Cheryl “favors” for solving their problems. What will those favors entailed? Better yet, how will the curse work against Betty and Jughead. Roberto in an interview with “Entertainment Weekly,” said the deaths just began with Archie. What other destruction will he do? Will it be memorable as this one.