Gone but not forgotten. Ever since Luke Perry‘s tragic death at the age of 52 on March 4 — just days after he suffered a “massive stroke” — the world has been in mourning. The Beverly Hills, 90210 reboot, BH90210, honored their beloved costar in the premiere, so it only made sense that the show he was currently starring on at the time of his passing, Riverdale, do the same. That’s exactly what happened in the season 4 premiere on Wednesday, October 9.
The episode, aptly titled “In Memoriam,” is described by The CW as follows: “A FAREWELL TO FRED ANDREWS — As the residents of Riverdale prepare for its upcoming Independence Day parade, Archie (KJ Apa) receives a phone call that will change the rest of his life forever.” This makes sense given Luke’s character, Fred Andrews, is Archie’s dad.
While the rest of the cast — including Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Marisol Nichols, Madchen Amick, Mark Consuelos, Skeet Ulrich, Casey Cott, Charles Melton and Vanessa Morgan — also star, we also know about a special guest star: Shannen Doherty, who played the girlfriend of Luke’s character on Beverly Hills, 90210. Gabriel Correa directed the episode, which was written by showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Also in the episode will be Molly Ringwald as Mary Andrews, the often-absent wife of Luke’s patriarch figure.
Spoiler warning: If you haven’t watched the episode and don’t want to know specific plot points, don’t scroll down!
First of all, let’s see how they killed Luke’s character off. The episode begins and, as the description noted, Archie gets a call that something has happened to his dad. As the sheriff reveals to Archie and Molly, Fred was on the way home when he pulled over to help someone whose car had stalled on the side of the road. Another car came up on him fast and he was struck by it. Even worse, the person who hit Fred drove off, making it a hit-and-run. Despite the fact that they had to kill him off kind of abruptly, it was sweet that they made it so he died while helping someone — which definitely fits the character.
Now let’s get to how Shannen’s character fits into the story, shall we? As Archie and his friends went to pick up Fred’s truck, a stranger drove up with a bouquet of flowers in her hand. It was soon revealed that it was Shannen’s character: the unnamed woman Fred had stopped to help when he was killed. She spoke to Archie about what happened — saying Fred was talking about his son the whole time — and then dropped another emotional bomb. Turns out she froze as the car speeded toward them, Fred actually pushed her out of the way and was struck himself. “He saved my life and, if he hadn’t done what he did, there’s no way I’d be here right now,” Shannen’s character said. “I know that.” Then they all said a prayer together.
Finally, let’s see how this affects the story going forward. Clearly this is a big event in Archie’s life — and he goes through a range of emotions. There’s the devastation of finding out his dad is dead, there’s the realization that it is him when they visit the morgue, there’s meeting the woman Fred saved and condemning the selflessness he believed killed him and then there’s finding the man who is responsible for doing this — only to find out he confessed to protect his own son who was behind the wheel. By the end of the episode, we’ve been on quite the whirlwind with Archie and we see him finding a town full of people who will love and miss his dad. As for the funeral, each character gets to pay their respects, but it’s Archie’s eulogy that gets the waterworks going. “My dad was there for every high and every low,” he said. “He’s the greatest man 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.”
If you ask us, Riverdale did right by Luke. It was a lovely tribute — down to the last frame.