WARNING: This article contains spoilers for last week’s episode of Riverdale, “Tales from the Darkside.”
The CW’s Riverdale is a series that has played pretty fast and loose with the mythology of Archie Comics. The show carves its own dark vibe, presenting viewers with a town filled with secrets, drama and violence – a place that grows increasingly haunted around every corner. And with Riverdale‘s latest episode, “Tales From The Darkside,” the series has potentially added the supernatural to the list of topics it will explore.
The episode picked up on the stories currently unfolding in the series: Betty is still looking for the identity of the Black Hood Killer, Jughead is trying to prove himself a dependable member of the South Side Serpents and Archie is looking to support his best friend. Right from the start, the episode had a creepy, almost ethereal vibe, indicating that something different was afoot. Something more magical, perhaps.
At one point, Jughead is tasked by fellow Serpent Penny Peabody to deliver a mysterious crate to an address in the neighboring town of Greendale. Archie Comics fans and readers know that Greendale is the town where Sabrina, the Teenage Witch lives. Greendale has been mentioned in previous episodes, but none that held such obvious horror overtones as this one. But the real surprise comes when, just for a second, we see what is written on the side of this crate. “Miskatonic University, via H.P. Lovecraft. Polar Expedition Jan. 13, 1923.”
The Miskatonic University is a fictional establishment set in the universe created by H.P. Lovecraft. It first appeared in Lovecraft’s 1922 story “Herbert West-Reanimator” and made further notable appearances as part of the writer’s Cthluhu mythology. If Archie and Jughead’s crate was shipped from this University, sent by the writer himself, this would mean that the towns of Riverdale and Greendale actually exist in the same universe as Lovecraft’s works – or at least a version of it.
The mention of the “Polar Expedition” could be a reference to another Lovecraft story, “At The Mountains of Madness,” which detailed the events of an expedition in the Antarctic in September 1930. This potential tie-in to Lovecraftian mythology is also notable because, in the comic book series Afterlife With Archie (written by Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla), Cthulhu made an appearance as part of Sabrina’s side of the story. This twist tied Afterlife into Lovecraftian mythology, and it seems like Aguirre-Sacasa might be looking to do the same thing with his live-action version of Riverdale.
Interestingly, Lovecraft’s story “Herbert West-Reanimator” was also notable for featuring zombies. These undead monsters are at the center of the horror in the Afterlife With Archie comic, and it could be a further tease that The CW series might go full monster movie at some point. Perhaps the glimpse of Cheryl Blossom’s twin brother Jason as a zombie, back in the first season, was as much a premonition as it was a dream.
It’s also possible we’re looking at the first seeds planted for Sabrina’s own series, currently being developed for Netflix. Whether the character will debut on Riverdale before being spun off into her own show remains to be seen, and plans might have changed now that the spinoff will be housed on a separate network, but this new Lovecraft development seems to point that Sabrina might be coming to Riverdale much sooner than expected.
Airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, Riverdale stars K.J. Apa as Archie Andrews, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom, Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy and Casey Cott as Kevin Keller.