Toni Topaz Dies, But She’ll Be Back

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Thought Riverdale was done killing main characters after they offed Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) in the Season 6 premiere? You were wrong. Spoilers for Riverdale Season 6, Episode 2 “Ghost Stories” past this point, but in the show’s second episode, Riverdale killed Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan). Well, sorta.

First and foremost, it’s important to establish that we’re in the alternate universe of RiverVALE over the course of Season 6’s kick-off, five episode event. What that means is… Unclear at the moment, other than there’s a good chance most, if not all of the deaths that happen until the series’ hundredth episode will be undone once the season continues in March. Certainly, we’ve seen Apa filming for episode 100 in behind the scenes photos, and the same holds true for Morgan. And in fact, we’ve even seen her on set in the past week, back in her office at RiverDALE High (the show is currently filming somewhere around the season’s seventh or eighth episode). Toni Topaz is still here.

However, Toni is now a Rivervale member of the unliving. This is a different way from Archie who had his heart ripped out of his chest during the premiere.

The hour is about three ghostly hauntings. And since this is Rivervale, and not Riverdale, this isn’t a secret plan by Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos), or some local teens dressing up as ghosts. This is 100% supernatural specters coming from beyond the grave.

Reggie (Charles Melton) is dealing with a car haunted by the spirit of the teacher he once relied on, who also molested a bunch of children — and the less said on that, probably the better. Tabitha (Erin Westbrook) and Jughead (Cole Sprouse), have their own ghost infestation. It is a result of the murder/suicide that took place in their apartment years before. This drives their relationship to the edge before they can pause and tell each other that they love one another.

But the biggest storyline of the episode is Toni’s, which finds her coming face to face with La Llorona, a spirit from Latin American folklore with a decidedly Riverdale twist. After accidentally killing Darla Dickinson’s (Azura Skye) son during a fight between the town’s resident gangs, the Serpents and the Ghoulies, Darla sicks La Llorona on the town. The ghost immediately starts going after children, including Juniper (Alix West Lefler), who gets saved by Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch), and Betty Cooper, who is pregnant with Archie’s child. The latter has a particularly sad end as La Llorona places her hand on Betty’s midsection and erases the fetus from existence.

After a showdown at Rivervale High that finds Toni hitting back at La Llorona with a fire alarm blaring and an axe in hand (Toni wins this round, by the way), Betty teams up with Toni to hold a seance at Cheryl’s house and find out what, exactly, La Llorona wants. That leads to Cheryl’s Nana Rose (Barbara Wallace) getting possessed by the ghost, barfing a lot of water, and revealing that in life she was a nurse who was drowned as a witch when the town’s children started dying. Nana is able to tell Darla that all this is happening. Toni gives Anthony to the Serpents to protect her baby and confronts Darla.

Things do not go Toni’s way. Darla explains there’s no stopping La Llorona once she’s been summoned, and too late, Betty and Toni find the extremely wet Serpents have been unable to stop the ghost from taking Baby Anthony. They track her to the Sweetwater River moments before she’s about to take the baby to a watery death, and Toni makes a deal: give all the pain and grief La Llorona has been carrying around to her, and let Anthony live.

That’s exactly what happens… La Llorona transfers her power to Toni, who is now dressed in a black funeral shroud and sporting some creepy, milky eyeballs. Toni, who is about to enter the Sweetwater, gives Baby Anthony to Betty for her to raise as a karmic retribution for her loss to the previous La Llorona. Toni then heads into the river and the underworld.

…Except, of course, beyond even the reset that’s coming in episode six, there are clearly plenty of ways of bringing Toni back. Roberto Aguirre Sacasa, the showrunner, confirmed that episode 4 of this season was titled “The Witching Hour(s)”, will make Choni fans, aka the coupling Cheryl-Toni. “very happy,”It would be difficult to do this if Toni were dead. Vanessa Morgan is listed as “also stars” in the episode’s synopsis). Sabrina Spellman, a character who is very knowledgeable about the underworld and how to escape from supernatural pacts (Kiernan Shippingka), appears in that episode. It stands to reason that Sabrina might help Cheryl to get Toni back. And beyond that, since we’ve already seen the OG La Llorona transfer her power to Toni, Toni could do the same to some other grieving mother (Darla, perhaps?).

Until then, though, Toni’s sacrifice is a perfect encapsulation of everything that makes the character special: selfless, giving, always willing to take the pain and suffering of everyone else on to herself to make their own emotional burdens lighter. Rest in peace, Toni Topaz — until we see you in a few episodes, of course.

Riverdale airs Tuesdays at 9/8c (The CW).

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