Riverdale returns for season 4 with an emotional premiere honoring the memory of Luke Perry and Fred Andrews, and it was full of heartwarming moments.
In the season 3 finale of Riverdale, we were left with a number of lingering questions about The Farm and that oh-so ominous I Know What You Did Last Summer-esque flash forward. But the season 4 premiere pressed pause on the regularly scheduled programming for something much more important: honoring Fred Andrews and the beloved Luke Perry.
Riverdale opens the season on a somber note, paying tribute to a character that tethered the otherwise wild series to reality and an actor who stole the hearts of millions. Of course, the episode features raw emotion and heartbreaking performances from the cast, but “In Memoriam” commemorated the show’s moral center with a cathartic, moving celebration.
Here are five of the most heartwarming moments from Riverdale’s tribute to Luke Perry and Fred Andrews.
1. Archie learns a lesson
As he always does, Archie learns multiple life lessons in the wake of his father’s untimely passing. Beyond grappling with death, Archie’s faced with guilt, anger and worries that Fred wasn’t proud of him.
But being Archie, he also jumps into justice mode by tracking down the man responsible for the hit-and-run that killed his dad. When he bursts into the man’s home ready to throw punches, Archie discovers he was covering for his son, and that’s something Fred would have done.
2. The kids’ stories about Fred
After receiving the phone call that changes Archie’s life, his friends gather around him for support. The whole group sits in a circle in Archie’s backyard and shares stories about how Fred has touched and shaped their life.
For Betty and Jughead, Fred stepped in as a father figure when they needed him. For Archie, it was little things like going to Sears with his dad. Lili Reinhart tweeted that while filming the episode, the cast and crew shared their own memories of Luke.
3. Shannen Doherty’s guest appearance
When the gang arrives at the scene of the accident, Archie meets the woman whose life Fred saved. Perry’s friend and Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty assumes this role, making the character and moment hold much more weight. No one else could have perfectly honored Perry like the Brenda to his Dylan. In the scene, the group holds hands and says a prayer for Fred.
4. Fred’s police escort
When Archie and the gang return to Riverdale with Fred and his truck, FP meets them at the border to give his friend the police escort he deserves. Archie rides into town and watches as crowds of people have made signs of support for his father, proving just how much Fred’s presence as the moral center of the town (and series) was felt far and wide. Again, we have to believe that scene and those signs were a direct love letter to Luke.
5. The fireworks in Fred’s honor
Even though the episode featured plenty heavy, heartbreaking moments, “In Memoriam” ended on a celebratory note. The perennially canceled 4th of July parade may have been sidelined again for the town to process another tragedy, but the gang gathers in Archie’s backyard once more to shoot off fireworks for Fred. Archie sneaks off into the garage where he remembers integral father-son moments as bursts of colors celebrate Fred and Luke’s memory.
What did you think of the season premiere? Share your favorite part in the comments!
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.