Riverdale Isn't Quite Twin Peaks -- But With Sabrina, It Could Be

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Riverdale and Twin Peaks, which are both available for viewing on Netflix.

I love Riverdale, and I love Twin Peaks. But the Archie Comics reimagining doesn't come close to the phenomenon that was -- and is -- David Lynch and Mark Frost's offbeat drama.

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However, if recent comments from showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa prove true, the addition of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch to the cast could make Riverdale the proper Twin Peaks love letter it was intended to be.

It might not be fair to compare Riverdale to Twin Peaks, one of the most cherished serialized dramas of all time. But a send-up of Lynch's masterpiece is basically what fans were promised. The Archie Comics-inspired mystery was teased as a "subversive" take on the source material that would be inspired by the eeriness of Twin Peaks. While Riverdale also focused on a central murder mystery in its first season, The CW drama missed one crucial element that was oh so important to the core of Twin Peaks: the supernatural.

Yes, there were strange supernatural-like sequences, like Cheryl Blossom's hallucination of a zombified Jason in the season finale, but moments like that amounted to pure metaphor. Riverdale, if it really wants to, could delve into the occult and truly embrace its Twin Peaks influences -- if the show brings in Sabrina.

The supernatural was a key element of Twin Peaks, which returns tonight after nearly 26 years for an 18-episode revival on Showtime. Without it, the show wouldn't really exist. The series centered on the death of the seemingly perfect prom queen Laura Palmer, slowly peeling back the character's life upon her death, revealing an underlying darkness that was invisible to the people of Twin Peaks, Washington (population 51, 201). That's where the Riverdale parallels end.

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Midway through the second season of Twin Peaks, it was revealed that Laura's killer was her father, Leland Palmer, played by Ray Wise. Leland, however, was possessed by a demon referred to as Killer BOB, who appeared in various premonitions and seemingly hallucinogenic sequences over the course of the first season, hinting to the audience that there could be something supernatural involved in Laura's death. It wasn't until the halfway point in Season Two that it was confirmed BOB was indeed real, manifesting himself in Laura's father, and influencing him to engage in incest, and inevitably kill his own daughter.

The supernatural was real in Twin Peaks, and that made the series truly terrifying. But it also meant something more -- adding a metaphorical layer to the series -- as it represented the underlying darkness and duality of man. Under the influence of Killer BOB, a repressed demon buried within, Leland was capable of unspeakable evil.

The validation in Twin Peaks that the supernatural could exist made lifted the series above the typical soaps of the day. If Riverdale were to follow this path, it could become something greater, overcoming the simple teen-drama tropes, and embrace its weirdness.

Riverdale is a weird show, that's for sure. The dialogue is heightened, characters are strange; it would make a lot of sense if there were something supernatural going on. Tonally, it's goofy: It could sell the occult, and sell it well. Bringing in Sabrina could open the door to a magical element that fully embraces the hints of the occult sprinkled throughout the first season, and to the possible zombified resurrection of Jason Blossom.

Not only that, but the addition of the character could shift the dynamic among the core cast of characters.

In a recent run of the Jughead comic series by writer Ryan North and artist Derek Charm, Sabrina had a fleeting romance with Jughead Jones, which ... didn't really work out. However, it was a ton of fun to read. As North put it, "Jughead’s the most competent person in Riverdale ... Sabrina is, also." Surely, a romance with Sabrina could prove more interesting than Juggie's existing one with Betty Cooper -- or at least put a wrench in it.

Bringing in Sabrina opens the door for Afterlife with Archie, the beloved Archie Comics zombie story by writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla that arguably kicked off Archie Comics' most recent renaissance, and its foray into a decidedly more modern take on Archie and friends. How cool would it be to see the characters of Riverdale take on hoards of zombies? There are certainly enough dead characters at this point, which could make for some emotional showdowns.

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Adding a supernatural element also has a lot of potential for shaking up the visual aesthetic of the series, too. Although the pilot showed promise for an artsy cinematic style, that was abandoned rather quickly by the second episode, which favored, and established, a typical teen-drama vibe. Bringing in some literal magic could add a visual flare to the series that could be depicted in a rather eerie manner, much like the execution of Jason's death in the opening moments of the pilot.

Riverdale needs to up the ante in its second season. Its first year established a strange world -- yes, a subversive take on Archie and friends. But it's not quite Twin Peaks. The show needs to bring in the supernatural to truly elevate it beyond your typical teen drama. Using Sabrina, it could do this, and open the door for even greater potential, in oh so many ways.

Twin Peaks, which sees Kyle MacLachlan reprise his role as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, returns tonight at 9 ET/PT on Showtime. Riverdale returns for its second season Wednesdays this fall on The CW.

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