How the 'Riverdale' season 4 premiere honored Luke Perry
Warning: Spoilers ahead for season four, episode one of "Riverdale," titled "Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam."
At the start of the episode, Archie learned that Fred, played by late actor Luke Perry, got killed in a hit-and-run while on his way back to Riverdale, shortly before Independence Day.
Fred stopped on the side of the road in Cherry Creek to help a stranger (played by "Beverly Hills, 90210" star Shannen Doherty) and pushed her out of the way as a car sped by and struck him. The vehicle was driven by a young boy who didn't have a license and borrowed his dad's car without permission.
Archie brought the body back to Riverdale, the town had a parade in Fred's honor, and Hiram Lodge unexpectedly paid all the expenses for the funeral.
Perry died in March 2019 at the age of 52 following a stroke that occurred days earlier.
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"Riverdale" honored late star Luke Perry on the emotional first episode of season four of The CW show, aptly titled "Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam."
The show returned on Wednesday night and brought closure following the death of Perry, who starred as Fred Andrews. The actor died in March 2019 at the age of 52 following a stroke that occurred days earlier, while in the middle of filming the third season. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa previously said that rather than provide a rushed ending on season three, the show wanted to properly honor Perry at the start of the fourth season.
Here's how the season four premiere paid tribute to Perry.
At the start of the episode, Archie Andrews got a phone call and learned that Fred died
Archie (played by KJ Apa), Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart), and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) gathered at their typical hangout spot, Pops, for breakfast and talked about going on a camping trip because it might be their last summer do to so since they'll be heading to college next summer. Their discussion was interrupted by Archie's phone ringing and the teen falling to the ground after being notified about Fred's death, which occurred shortly before Independence Day.
Back at the Andrews house, Sheriff FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich) told Archie and Mary Andrews (Molly Ringwald) that Fred was returning to Riverdale from Cherry Creek and pulled his car over to help a person whose car was stalled. Another vehicle sped by too fast and struck Fred.
"I don't think I've ever had that raw of an experience," Ulrich told Insider at New York Comic Con on Sunday. "Literally, almost impossible to utter lines."
He added: "It was incredibly raw, as was the whole experience of everything that happened with Luke and the ups and downs of those final few days."
After Archie realized that it was a hit-and-run, he immediately wanted to track down the person responsible for his dad's death.
"We have to find out who did it," he said. "We have to catch them."
Archie and his friends shared fond memories of Fred
In the Andrews' backyard, Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Kevin (Casey Cott), and Reggie (Charles Melton) sat in a circle and recalled moments they had with Fred, who was considered the moral compass of the show.
Reggie remembered Fred driving him to the hospital after he broke his arm (falling out of a treehouse that the patriarch built) and Kevin pointed out that Fred used to build and donate all the set pieces for the school's musical productions.
"Your dad was such a gentleman, Archie," Veronica added.
Fred was also always around to pick up FP from bars after getting drunk, make sure he got home safely, and ask Jughead how he was doing.
"He just wanted to know if I was hungry," Jughead said. "I always was."
Meanwhile, Betty recalled Fred being "my dad for the day" during a grade school picnic father-daughter potato sack race when her father, Hal Cooper, wasn't around.
Archie said that Fred taught him "everything" and listed things his dad did for him, from teaching him to play sports to soundproofing the garage after buying him a guitar.
Getting emotional, Archie stopped mid-sentence and asked if the group could "call it a day."
Read more: 'Riverdale' and 'Beverly Hills 90210' star Luke Perry's biggest and most memorable roles
Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica went to retrieve Fred's body from Cherry Creek
The plan was for a driver to deliver the body to Riverdale to get buried (an expense that Veronica offered to cover), but because his death happened shortly before the 4th of July, the person wouldn't be able to carry out the task until after the holiday. But Archie, who had a nightmare in which his last grandfather chided him for not getting Fred, set out to make the trip to Cherry Creek himself.
"I just didn't want my dad stuck in some weird town," Archie said. "And I can't wait for after July 4th for them to bring him back. He'd want to be home, I know that."
With that, Archie and his friends traveled out of Riverdale via a hearse that Reggie game him. The vehicle was left in the lot for two years and never got sold, Reggie explained.
Perry's 'Beverly Hills, 90210' costar Shannen Doherty guest-starred as the stranger Fred tried to help
Archie, intent on bringing his dad home not a day later, ran into a bump in his plan when he was informed that he was underage and not allowed to take the body. With a phone call from Mary, the issue was resolved and Archie was given clearance to continue.
The core four visited the site of the accident and were joined shortly after by a woman who went to pay her respects. Archie, immediately defensive, asked her how she knew about the accident.
"Your father told me. One of my tires blew and I was stranded out here," she said, revealing her identity as the person that Fred assisted.
"Cars, they kept whizzing by," she continued. "Nobody would stop, but your dad did. He talked about you the entire time. His son, how he couldn't believe that a man like him was blessed with such a thoughtful, kind boy."
She went on to say that while they were working on the tire, a car "came out of nowhere speeding." While she froze in her spot, Fred jumped into action and pushed her aside.
"He saved my life and if he hadn't done what he did, there's no way that I would be here right now," she said. "I know that. I'm so sorry. There's nothing I can do to ever repay him, but I would like to say a prayer for him. Maybe you'd like to join me."
The group then held hands while Doherty's character said the Lord's Prayer.
Archie found out the identity of the person responsible for Fred's death
At a diner, Archie ruminated over Fred's decision to give up his life for a "total stranger."
While Veronica called him a "hero," Archie disagreed.
"Why did he have to be one? Why this time? Why did he have to stop? We couldn't he just keep driving like everyone else?" he said, adding that his kind nature "got him killed."
"He died on the side of the road, waiting for an ambulance without his family, without his friends," Archie continued. "I'm sorry but that's not heroic, that's … that's senseless."
After FP told Archie that a person named Geroge Augustine turned himself in and was released on bail, he looked up the address and went over to the house to "get justice."
Archie went on to push George against a wall, calling him a "coward" for ditching the site of the accident. He was ready to kill the man, but a young boy interrupted. He said that it was entirely his fault, and his father merely took the blame.
"I took the car when I wasn't supposed to," he said. "I don't even have my license."
Archie let the man go and told his friends about the "stupid, terrified kid" who made a mistake.
"It's something that I would have done, taking the car out without permission," he said. "Hell, I did it a hundred times and his dad was protecting him, the same way mine would have."
He went on to say that he felt like a "terrible son" for almost injuring an innocent person, fighting with his dad, and lying to him "constantly."
"He would be ashamed of me," Archie said. "I'm ashamed of me."
Veronica assured him that Fred "loved you more than anyone and anything else. Whenever he looked at you, was pride in his eyes."
Fred was brought back to Riverdale and an emotional funeral followed
As Archie drove back to Riverdale, he was surprised to see crowds of people lining the sidewalks with signs honoring Fred. The parade was organized by Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch). Earlier on the episode, Cheryl visited Mary with Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan) and said that she "felt supremely alone" after the death of her brother Jason around Independence Day three years ago. Because of that, she didn't want others to feel the way she did.
FP also offered to give the hearse a police escort.
At the funeral, Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray), who left Riverdale during season three to pursue a music career, returned to perform "Amazing Grace."
Archie then gave a moving speech, recalling the impact Fred had on the town.
"Earlier I was thinking on the drive over here, how much of Riverdale my dad built or just fixed up," he said. "Houses, office buildings, a bit of everything. He helped build this town and one day, if I'm lucky enough to have a son or daughter of my own, I'll be able to point to a building or even a brick in a building, and say, 'Your grandpa made that with his hands.'"
He also shared a memory of Fred buying fireworks for Archie years ago when the annual show was canceled due to bad weather.
"It was the best night," Archie said. "My dad was there for every high and every low. He's the greatest man that I've ever known. It hurts me that I never got to say goodbye, that I won't get to see him again or talk to him. But his spirit and his memory lives on in this town and in everyone he's met. Fred Andrews will always be a part of Riverdale. I love you so much, dad."
At "Riverdale's" NYCC panel, Ringwald explained that filming the episode was "cathartic" for her.
"I think that we all sort of dealt with it in different ways," the actress said. "I didn't get to go to Luke's memorial in Los Angeles. So it was really like my goodbye to him and it was kind of what I needed. That was my guy. All my scenes were with Luke or KJ, so it felt really felt like a really nice tribute."
Jughead wrote a touching obituary for the hometown hero
In an unexpected move, Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) paid the funeral bill "in full." Another scene showed Betty looking at a defaced tombstone for her father, Hal Cooper (Lochlyn Munro), who was killed last season by Penelope Blossom. Spray painted on the tombstone was the phrase: "The Black Hood burns in hell."
Jughead, tearfully typing at his laptop, went on to sum up Fred's life and accomplishments, from leading the high school baseball team to back-to-back wins to taking over the family business as a teenager.
"When our town saw a pariah and closed its doors, Fred saw a lost soul and opened his," Jughead wrote. "There was always room at his table, in his home for others. Whenever our town was under attack, Fred was on the front line fighting for it, defending it. He was our good samaritan, our George Bailey, our knight in flannel armor. And by the way, he was a hell of a good tipper."
Viewers also caught glimpses of Riverdale's adults reading the obituary. Hiram and Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols) were seen in prison, FP was at his work desk, and Alice Cooper (Madchen Amick) was at an unknown location.
At NYCC, Nichols said that it was "hard" being on set at the time.
"You expect to see [Luke] at Pops or turning the corner, or there was his trailer," she said. "You feel him around. His spirit is still there and still with us."
Mary, Archie, and his friends then sat in the Andrews backyard and admired fireworks set off my Cheryl. Archie also vowed to honor Fred's memory "every day." In the show's final moments, Archie went to the shed sound-proofed by Fred and broke down crying and shots of Fred from earlier episodes were displayed on-screen.
The lights dimmed and the camera focused on a photo in the shed, which showed Fred and Archie sitting together at Pop's.
Watch the trailer for season four of "Riverdale," which was released at New York Comic Con, in the video below.
10 'Riverdale' plot holes and inconsistencies that bother fans
Lili Reinhart almost quit acting to become a makeup artist. Now, she's starring on 'Riverdale' and in 'Hustlers.'
Leonardo DiCaprio said he had an 'overwhelming feeling of being starstruck' meeting Luke Perry on the set of 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood'
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