‘Riverdale’: Kiernan Shipka and Madelaine Petsch on Crossover’s Choni Twist and Sabrina’s Future in Actual Riverdale

Plus: What to expect on next week’s “Riverdale” finale

Sabrina Riverdale
The CW

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Tuesday’s “Riverdale.”)

The CW’s “Riverdale” gave fans four stories in one with Tuesday’s episode: the tales of Cheryl, Poppy and Abigail Blossom (all played by Madelaine Petsch), as well the introduction of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” character Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) into the world of Rivervale.

These plots really were all interconnected, as Cheryl, Poppy and Abigail ended up actually being the same cursed, ageless witch, Abigail, whom Sabrina came to town to help transfer into the dying Nana Blossom’s body so that Abigail could finally move into the afterlife and reunite with her true love Thomasina (played by Vanessa Morgan).

Once Nana Blossom is put into Cheryl’s/Poppy’s/Abigail’s body, which was cursed by the warlock Fenn Fogarty (Drew Ray Tanner) when she tried to kill him and be with Thomasina, Sabrina explains to Britta (Kyra Leroux) there really is no death for a witch. That gave “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” fans who had been wondering what was up with the teen witch since we last saw her hanging with her boyfriend Nick Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) after she died and he committed suicide at the end of the Netflix series.

TheWrap spoke with both Shipka and Petsch about the “Riverdale”-“Sabrina” crossover episode and what it means for their respective characters — and the future of “Riverdale,” once we come back the alternate-universe plot in Rivervale.

The CW

TheWrap: We only get about 10 minutes of Sabrina in this episode and she spends them with Cheryl, not interacting with other “Riverdale” characters. Will we see more of her in the future?

Kiernan Shipka: I think this was always sort of meant to be a bit of a teaser. There’s hope and room — probably a lot of hope, for Sabrina to come back again. So this, I think, was our jumping off point, in many ways, and was meant to be sort of small and tasteful. And hopefully there’s more to come… And it was the best shooting with Madelaine. I could do a spinoff with her and be happy. I could hang out with her 24/7. I love her so much. I think she’s iconic, absolutely iconic.

What was your take on Sabrina’s explanation about how there is no “death” for witches, only “transformation” and how it expands on the end of “Sabrina”?

KS: I have my own sort of theories as to what happened, and I think that leaving it sort of open to interpretation, for now, was the way to go. But if you know the world of “CAOS” and you know the world of “Riverdale,” you know that anything is possible. And I think it’s pretty justifiable that Sabrina came back. I don’t think she would’ve stayed dead for long. I really don’t. It’s unlike her.

In this five-episode “Riverdale” event, we’re in the alternate universe Rivervale, so these versions of the “Riverdale” characters and the plot aren’t the ones that we see regularly. Because there are multiple Sabrinas on “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” are we supposed to take this as yet another Sabrina?

KS: It I think I wanted Sabrina to feel so familiar and so like herself, and I’m so excited to be back as her, that I wanted it to feel like it was her. And I’d like to think that because she is a witch, maybe there’s room for her to always just be Sabrina. And I think that’s sort of where I stand, is that there’s not– I mean, we can’t have three Sabrinas!

In terms of returning, what do you see as potential storylines, like Sabrina’s cousin Ambrose crossing over as well, or Nick Scratch?

KS: I think that it’s very justifiable that Ambrose could make his way into that world in a way that feels like fun and makes sense and is sneaky. I think Ambrose could be anywhere. I’m convinced he’s everywhere at all times, so that to me makes a ton of sense. But I mean, obviously, I’m as curious as everyone else is as to what happened to Nick Scratch. So, just as a fan, I’m always like, ‘What’s happening with Sabrina and Nick? Where are they?’

TheWrap: Fans of Cheryl Blossom and Toni Topaz who have been waiting for that split couple to reunite for a long time got to see it through two alternate universe characters on tonight’s episode: Abigail and Thomasina. Can we expect that we’ll get to see the romance between actual Cheryl and Toni blossom again when we go back to actual “Riverdale”?

Madelaine Petsch: Choni fans were given crumbs, but they got something in this episode. Moving forward, obviously, as you know, some of the things in Rivervale will stay in Riverdale, and some of the things will not carry over. So I can tease that you will see a lot of Madelaine and Vanessa scenes in ‘Riverdale’ — some of which are connected to the events in Rivervale, and some of which are not. But there is a new character sort of in the mix there as well, that adds a different and interesting, and kind of funny, layer to the whole thing. If it plays the way I think it will, I think it will be quite funny.

What did you think of this being the intro of Sabrina into “Riverdale” and Cheryl being the one to finally make this long-awaited crossover happen?

MP: It was so fun. It was the best time. And we’ve always wanted to crossover and it didn’t really make sense until we started exploring Cheryl’s witchy side. And so now it’s like inevitable, of course Sabrina should be there. And I would love to see more of her.

How would you describe the differences between Abigail, Poppy and Cheryl and what you wanted to convey with the changes in that character through the decades?

MP: With Abigail, I really saw a young, innocent and naive woman in a world of men, not necessarily not knowing which way is up, but doing her best to be the best she can be, but not really knowing her direction. And I wanted that to come off as a little bit more naive. She’s still firm and confident, but she’s a little bit less worldly at that time and I think Thomasina introduces her to a whole new part of the world that she didn’t know existed. And then you meet Poppy, and she’s taken on Thomasina’s work, in a different way, and is now trying to save women and help them through their issues, whatever the world is giving them at that moment, and she’s got a little bit more of a chip on her shoulder, a little bit more of an edge, she doesn’t trust people as much. Also, she’s still vulnerable and open and wants to help — but she has a bit more of a guard up. And then you get to Cheryl, and it’s an interesting mixture of both of those people and has been since the beginning of time.

Can you break down shooting that final reunion scene in the graveyard between Abigail and Thomasina?

MP: I think it might have been the last scene of the entire episode that we shot. I believe it was a Saturday night and they built that graveyard in our studio lot… We did not nail it on the first take, it was very muddy and we had slippery shoes on and you can use your imagination as to what that meant for us, running through the graveyard. We definitely had some slips, definitely had some dirty dresses. But I always have a good time working with V and it was really fun.

What can you tease about next week’s finale of the “Rivervale” event series?

I think that they ended it perfectly. I think that they found a way to make the two worlds collide in a way that totally made sense. And I think the way they wrapped up “Rivervale” actually explains a lot of stuff that happened previously in “Riverdale.” So I’m really happy with it. I’m really happy of the 100th episode. I’m happy to have gotten to that episode. Cole absolutely crushed that episode. And we all had a really good time. It was cool, too, because it was somewhat of an homage to the beginning of our show. And we had some people come back that we hadn’t seen in a long time. So I really enjoyed it and I thought it was great.

The finale of “Riverdale” Season 6’s five-episode “Rivervale” event airs next Tuesday at 9/8c on The CW.