‘Riverdale’ Season 4 Premiere: Review & Recap: A Heartbreaking Goodbye

The CW

Tonight is the Season 4 premiere of The CW’s hit show Riverdale. It will also be a heartbreaking tribute to Luke Perry, who played Fred Andrews. Below is a live recap and review of the episode, written as it aired.

This article will have spoilers for the Season 4 premiere below. 

Tonight’s episode is called “In Memoriam,” so I know it will be heartbreaking.

It begins with Jughead narrating, as most episodes do. He says the cares of the farm aren’t forgotten but have started to fade, and the Gargoyles are now considered a suburban legend.

There’s going to be a state parade for July 4, but no fireworks. The town can’t afford them without the Blossoms.

It looks like Betty and Jughead are still going strong, and he’s entering a story of some sort in a contest.

Veronica and Archie are happy and on track again too, which is nice considering most of last season was spent with the two separated.

But in a creepy move, it looks like Cheryl has her twin brother’s body in her home and she’s talking to him like he’s alive? It’s Riverdale, I should expect no less.

Cheryl is angry about the parade because her brother died on July 4. And there it is, Archie shirtless again in true Riverdale fashion. On the Reddit discussion thread one person wrote: “Two shirtless archie shots in less than 3 minutes, we’re back kids!”

The Main Four are having breakfast at Pop’s, and I’m jealous because I haven’t eaten dinner yet. :(

Archie gets a phone call from his dad… And the music changes. I’m not ready for this. :(

He drops the phone.

Nooooooooo.

The story is that Fred was driving home and he pulled over to help someone who’s car stalled. He was hit by a car and died. F.P. Jones is breaking the news, and it was a hit and run.

Goodbye Luke Perry. :(

In one of the next scenes, Archie is sitting with his friends remembering memories of his dad. This is so realistic, and Archie’s subdued-not-sure-how-to-react presence is so authentic.

I heard that Luke Perry was a father figure on set, so I’m imagining these stories have an authentic ring in real life as they’re telling them.

This is heartbreaking. :(

That night, Archie wakes up from a deep sleep and sees someone at the front door. It’s his grandfather. A group of people is waiting for him downstairs, including Jason dressed in white (everyone else is dressed in black.) It’s a nightmare, and Archie dreamed that he was supposed to get his dad. He wakes up and decided he must do just that.

On the Riverdale subreddit, some viewers have mixed feelings about this moment. One person wrote: “Lol why y’all gotta do this weird sh** on Luke Perry’s episode?” But others said they like the storyline so far. 

By the way, if you’ve lost a parent recently this will be a tough episode. I know, since I lost my dad a couple years ago. Be prepared for some tears when you’re watching. :(

After the commercial, Archie is setting off to bring his dad back to Riverdale, saying he wouldn’t want to be stuck in some weird town. Veronica, Betty, and Jughead are going with him.

At the town where his dad died, Archie wants to know if they have any idea who hit him. They don’t, so he asks for a map of where his dad was hit. Looks like Archie isn’t going to let this go. Honestly, he probably needs the distraction.

At the morgue in Cherry Creek, the man who runs the place is confused by Archie’s request because he thought they didn’t need the body until the 5th. He says it’s not possible without his mom’s OK since Archie is underage. But she gives the OK over the phone.

Ohhhh, Archie wants to see him in case they made a mistake. :( This is so authentic. It’s exactly how people feel in these situations. Archie pauses at the doorway and then goes inside. He can’t do it, so Veronica and Betty look instead.

Oh my gosh, this episode.

Archie doesn’t want to believe it’s really Fred. But Veronica and Betty assure him it is. Archie’s been in shock and denial. He doesn’t want to believe the worst possible news is actually true.

During another commercial break (and this one is about eliminating fat cells), I kind of wish this was a commercial-free episode, to be honest.

This is so well done. The direction choices are perfect.

Cheryl is talking to Mrs. Andrews about how she felt when her brother died, saying there was only darkness or despair. “I don’t want you or Archie to ever feel anything remotely like that,” she says, her voice breaking. She wants to do something for their family. But what?

Next we’re at the scene where Fred was hit and where his car was left. Archie’s going to take the truck home.

He sees his dad’s belongings in the truck. Annnnd now I’m going to cry too. :( Honestly, it feels like the writers, actors, and directors really just poured their own grief into this episode. Everything is so raw and so real.

Oh wow, Shannen Doherty is here. I knew she’d be in the episode, but I didn’t know how. She’s playing the character that Fred was helping. You know that Doherty’s tears are real in this scene. :(

She leads them in a prayer.

Even people who’ve never watched this show are crying and tuning in tonight.

At Pop’s, everyone is back and silent. Archie’s food is untouched.

He wants to know why his dad had to be a hero this time. Why this time? “He died on the side of the road, waiting for an ambulance without his friends… That’s not heroic, that’s senseless.”

Archie’s feelings are everyone’s when they go through something like this.

This is such a fitting episode for Luke Perry.

F.P calls Archie and tells him that George Augustine turned himself in and is broken up over what happened. He made bail, and Archie is determined to make him pay.

Annnd Archie’s in the anger phase of grief.

Archie drives all the way back to the town where his dad was killed and confronts George at his house. Archie pushes him against the wall. “You left him,” Archie says, devastated that he left his dad alone on the road and didn’t stop.

That’s when George’s son, Jeffrey, steps in. George lied and told the police to protect his son. Jeffrey says he took the car when he wasn’t supposed to. “I’m sorry,” he says, breaking down in tears.

Archie sees the father and son hug and that has GOT to hurt.

So Archie leaves and goes back home. His friends find him.

This episode is as perfect as a tribute could be. They’re truly honoring Luke Perry, and capturing grief and people’s heartbreak, denial, anger, and even irrational reactions as they try to make sense out of the worst tragedies. But sometimes you can’t make sense of it, and you have to somehow deal with that.

Now Archie’s blaming himself and talking about what a terrible son he is. Veronica tells him that his father would understand. But Archie says all they ever did was fight. Veronica tells him that his dad loved him and would be proud of him, not ashamed. “He was proud of you.”

Archie is blessed to have these kinds of friends. That is one bright spot in this horrific tragedy. I love how they’re showing that too. All sides of grief, including how we can help others through it.

After the commercial break, F.P. finds Archie on the road, bringing back his dad’s body, and offers a police escort. His dad then becomes part of a parade, essentially, with people lined up on the road with signs saying how much they love Fred.

This is THE perfect tribute to Luke Perry. And to his character, Fred Andrews.

And now they’re at the burial and funeral. Amazing Grace is played as we see Luke Perry’s photo. This reaction from a fan is pretty accurate:

This episode is so perfect, I’m glad they didn’t rush to put it out last season.

Archie says a few words about his father, talking about how his dad brought home a lot of fireworks one Fourth of July. He says his dad’s spirit will live on.

Later, Veronica learns that her dad paid the bill for the funeral.

And in a very different scene, Betty visits her dad’s headstone. It’s been defaced with graffiti. She knows what it’s like to lose a father, but she lost hers long before he actually died.

The episode ends with Jughead writing about Fred Andrews as his eyes fill with tears. We see all the different characters on the show reading Jughead’s words about Fred.

Then we see Archie’s mom going through photos of Fred. He brings his mom outside, where they’re having a small memorial just with close friends in the backyard. They’re going to light fireworks in Fred’s memory. It’s really very sweet.

And the episode comes to a close, as Archie vows to honor his dad’s memory every day.

But it’s not over yet. We see an unexpected scene with Fred (Luke Perry) that I didn’t know we’d see, as Archie looks at the car they finished together and starts to cry.

This was a beautiful episode.

As Archie said, “Fred Andrews will always be a part of Riverdale.”

And so will Luke Perry.

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