Warning: Contains Spoilers
The fourth season of Riverdale premiered this week, and with it came an emotional tribute to the late Luke Perry.
Perry, who played Fred Andrews on the show, sadly died earlier this year after suffering a stroke. And with the first episode of the new season, Riverdale gave Perry a heroic but heartfelt sendoff.
The episode, titled In Memoriam, opened with Fred’s son Archie, played by KJ Apa, receiving a phone call from the police before he drops the phone and falls to his knees.
You can watch the opening scene here:
Warning, there are a few spoilers for the episode ahead…
The episode goes on to explain how Perry’s character Fred died when he stopped on a road back to Riverdale to help a motorist whose car had broken down. As Fred helped move the car off the road, he was tragically hit by another passing car.
At first Archie is determined to track down his dad’s killer, but he is talked out of it by FP. Instead, the characters gather together to reminisce about Fred and his influence on them all. As Archie visits the spot where his dad died, he meets the woman who Fred helped save, who is played by Perry’s former Beverly Hills 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty. She explains how Fred saved her life.
Then, as Fred’s body is brought back to the town, a Fourth of July parade is transformed into a welcome home parade for Fred before his funeral takes place.
Speaking about how Riverdale was going to handle the sudden death of Luke Perry, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told E! News:
Very early on, we landed on the idea that Fred should have a heroic death, and that that would be impactful for Archie. And it felt like that’s a way that Fred could have gone. After that we really said that this episode really isn’t going to launch any huge stories for the season; it was really going to be kind of focused on that, and the kind of emotional effects of that passing for everyone.
As we were working on the episode, [we] talked about putting in some other storylines, but as we were working on it, we just kind of kept focusing it on our characters, and focusing it truly on Archie. There have been, sadly, a lot of tribute episodes on television, and one of my favorites is the Friday Night Lights episode where the football player’s father dies. It’s called “The Son”. And we kind of wanted to just tell a very grounded, truthful story.
Roberto added that ‘Fred casts a long shadow’ and has always been the ‘moral center’ of Riverdale. As a result, the fourth season will see his son Archie be forced to grow up ‘a little more quickly than he would have’, giving the season a ‘melancholy feel’.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8 pm (ET) on The CW.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.