Last season, Riverdale's all-American everyboy Archie Andrews became a bit of a punch line. Torn between his rock-star dreams and high-school football career, Archie's problems were never quite on par with Jughead's self-inflicted loneliness, Dark Betty, and Veronica's serious mommy and daddy issues. And his woefully misguided and highly illegal fling with his music teacher Ms. Grundy was thankfully short-lived.
TL;DR: Archie was adorably oblivious to the darkness around him. Not to mention, he didn't even know who Bob Dylan was. (I will never let that go.)
But if the crazy Season 2 premiere of Riverdale ("A Kiss Before Dying") proved anything (spoilers ahead), it's that after the trauma of nearly losing his dad to a masked madman in Pop's, Archie Andrews has been reborn — and he's out for vengeance. There's a reason showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been calling this season Archie Andrews's origin story; if you're well-versed in comic book lore, then you know this is how Bruce Wayne eventually became the Caped Crusader of Gotham. Does this make Archie the Batman of Riverdale? According to series star KJ Apa, yes!
"After his dad is shot, Archie is blinded by his revenge for whoever it was that shot him," Apa told MTV News. "That's the only thing that he can think about. That's the only thing that he can focus on. It kind of starts to eat away at his relationships."
Yes, including his freshly minted and very passionate relationship with Veronica. There's been an undeniable physical attraction between the teen lovebirds since Veronica and her fabulous cape first stepped foot into Pop's, but as viewers saw in the Season 2 premiere, there's more going on between them than sex. They deeply care for one another, and Archie's personal crusade for justice will cause some serious friction.
"They're both dealing with that kind of strife for the first time," Apa said. "So they're both learning how to cope, and it forces them to explore different parts of their relationship."
His dad's shooting isn't the only thing weighing on his mind, either. In the final moments of "A Kiss Before Dying" the hooded criminal from Pop's — a man we're going to call Black Hood — kills Ms. Grundy in her Greendale home. To further twist the knife in Archie's heart, she's strangled by the bow Archie gave to her in Season 1. It's a shocking scene, and it's obviously going to have major repercussions throughout the season as Archie's thirst for justice intensifies.
"Archie loved Ms. Grundy, or he thought he loved Ms. Grundy, and he's really hurt by her death," the actor said. "It further increases his mission to find revenge."
With a killer on the loose seemingly targeting people close to Archie, it makes sense that he'd take it personally. As Betty once said, "Riverdale is Archie Andrews." And in the spirit of Betty's Season 1 speech, Archie takes it upon himself to "do better" and protect the town of Riverdale. His town.
"He's trying to save the town," Apa said. "He's trying to stop whatever's happening, to make Riverdale good again. Everything he does that may seem like a bad decision, he's always trying to do it for the benefit of someone else, which is a great quality about Archie. He's always trying to help people. The downfall of that is he doesn't understand that you can't make everyone happy."
"While trying to help one person," he added, "he usually ends up screwing over someone else."
In many ways, Archie is at war with himself — stuck between his desire to fix the town he loves and his commitment to the people closest to him, like his best friend and newly enrolled Southside High student, Jughead Jones. This season will not only test Archie's loyalties but also his psyche.
So in other words, it's not all milkshakes, guitar strings, and girl troubles for Riverdale's resident heartbreaker anymore.