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Riverdale Season 4, Episode 1 Recap: Honoring Luke Perry

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We’re back, baby! Well, kind of. This is my first Riverdale recap for the whisp, and I’m introducing myself to you lovely readers through a cascading waterfall of tears. Tonight’s Riverdale season four premiere, “In Memorium,” pays tribute to Luke Perry, who tragically died in March 2019. Prepare yourselves for about ten minutes of quirky Riverdale fun and another half hour of crying during the show’s final farewell to Luke and to his character Fred Andrews, the only good parent on this godforsaken TV show (and possibly the only good father in America).

An Episode Synopsis: What Just Happened?!

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Jughead still thinks he’s Walt Whitman — “the stuff of suburban legend,” seriously? — as he updates us on Riverdale’s post-Farm reality. ICYMI, Riverdale briefly housed an organ farming front called The Farm (they were hiding really, really well) where Chad Michael Murray dated his daughter because that’s just how things are now.

It’s the Fourth of July, and our favorite OTPs Bughead and Varchie are both chilling in bed like one of these couples don’t high-key share a half-sibling. Cheryl has been busy doing her best Norman Bates impression, so it’s no surprise she hasn’t recovered from her big brother’s death enough to condone a massive Independence Day parade on the anniversary of his death. It is a surprise, however, that she can share a cup of tea with his corpse without using something to cover up the smell. Last I heard, “Mummified Corpse” wasn’t the latest Viktor&Rolf Eau de Parfum.

Riverdale lulls us into a false sense of security with a stack of truly fantastic looking pancakes — fluffy, golden brown, just the right amount of butter and a cascading waterfall of syrup — and a jab at Archie’s bear-fighting problem before walloping us with the actual purpose of this episode. It’s been seven months, and Luke Perry’s death still feels like a bad dream. Finally, it’s his on-screen family’s turn to mourn.

Sheriff FP tells Archie and Molly Ringwald that Fred Andrews was struck in a hit-and-run accident on his way home from upstate while trying to help another car broken down on the side of the road — a hero until the end, just like the actor who portrayed him. The Andrews and Veronica make funeral arrangements, and the astronomically high $9,000 price tag isn’t just another Riverdale gag. Funerals are neither cheap nor optional, and it’s something you don’t realize is a massive financial burden for families until you have the misfortune to lose a loved one. Veronica offers to pay, and for once, Archie doesn’t argue.

Meanwhile, Jughead, Kevin, and the rest of the gang (minus Cheryl) reminisce about Fred’s good deeds: building treehouses, stepping in for father-daughter picnic games and helping FP out of his alcoholic stupours during his dark times. Each character got an opportunity to say goodbye, and we’ve seen them fake cry enough throughout Riverdale’s three seasons to know that these tears were real. Is it just me, or is this computer screen a little blurry? Oh, it’s my tears? Awesome.

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Suddenly, in a characteristically Lynchian move, Archie can’t sleep and finds everyone he’s ever met having a creepy get-together in the kitchen. It’s all a dream, but Archie realizes he has to be the one to bring his father’s body back to Riverdale. Reggie lends Archie a hearse because of course he does, and the Core Four set off for the world’s most morbid road trip. The funeral home won’t let Archie just show up and take a corpse because he’s underage (even if it is his father’s), but Molly Ringwald saves the day. The funeral home director tells Archie he can come back in three hours at noon to pick up Fred’s remains, which means these teens have already made it all the way upstate, ominously chatted with a police officer, and confronted their mortality all before 9 AM. Betty and Veronica ID Fred’s body, probably to silence any online theorists who still think that any TV death without a body is just a plot twist set-up. Now’s seriously not the time, guys.

The Core Four retrieve Fred’s truck, and Shannen Doherty shows up with flowers. It’s sweet that Luke’s 90210 co-star cameoed to pay her respects portraying the woman who Fred helped in his final moments. Together, they pray. Over lunch, Archie gets a call from FP informing him that his father’s killer was found but is out on bail. In true Archie fashion, he decides to take justice into his own hands because not one character on this show has ever learned a single lesson. Not one. Case in point: FP gave Archie the full name of his father’s killer without even pausing to think, “Hm, maybe Archie will go do that thing he always does and try to murder the perpetrator before he can go to trial.”

Archie interrogates the man that killed his father in front of his teenage son, who confesses that his father was lying to protect him. The son, an unlicensed driver, stole his father’s car for the evening and killed Fred Andrews in the process. Thankfully, Archie doesn’t turn his blind rage on the tween. He just thinks about how he’s taken the car without permission dozens of times, and Fred would have lied to protect him just like this father did for his son. For once on Riverdale, there are no evil villains. Just people.

When the gang arrives back in Riverdale, Cheryl has turned the Fourth of July parade into a “Welcome Home” procession for Fred, once again proving that she is the greatest character on this show. Josie McCoy sings “Amazing Grace” at Fred’s funeral, and Archie eulogizes his father. Archie is crying. Cheryl is crying. Pop Tate is crying. I’m crying. We’re all crying.

In the final moments of the episode, we learn that Fred’s funeral has been secretly paid for by Hiram from prison, so even the Lodges could show their on-screen respects, and Betty visits her father’s vandalized grave. Jughead returns to what he thinks he does best and writes Fred’s life story for the Riverdale newspaper. We leave our heroes commemorating Fred by recreating Archie’s favorite childhood memory with his father, setting off fireworks in the backyard. Archie vows to honor Fred’s memory and returns to the garage where they fixed up old cars together. Shots of Luke-as-Fred are interspersed with Archie’s last looks, settling on a photo of the father and son together. Fred Andrews will always be a part of Riverdale, and we love him so much.

The Most CW Moment Of Riverdale Season 4, Episode 1

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Cheryl Blossom unironically saying that the Riverdale Fourth of July parade will happen “over her dead body”… while hanging out with her brother’s corpse.

How We Feel

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Sad. We feel sad. This episode was a bit of a doozy for my first day as a Riverdale recapper, let alone the first Riverdale season four recap. I swear I’m very funny outside of IRL life or death situations, now just wasn’t the time. If anything, this episode proved that Riverdale‘s writing team *can* create a consistent and well-planned storyline, they just usually choose not to, probably so that snarky buttholes like me can have a job making fun of them. I thought nothing in the episode could match the unadulterated pain from the first shot of the Scooby Gang reminiscing about Fred, but that funeral was something else. In case you were still on the fence as to whether the actors’ tears were real, I could see real-life snot through my HD television screen. Naturally, the final scenes when Luke Perry was finally shown on-screen were the most devastating, but you have to give Riverdale props for having Cheryl light Fred’s memorial fireworks. After talking about how the fireworks from the Fourth of July parade were so traumatizing for her following her brother’s death, this was a beautiful moment of Cheryl reclaiming her joy even in the midst of deep pain to honor Fred’s memory. At first, I was cracking jokes about how Riverdale chose the *very timely* Fourth of July setting for their October 9 premiere, but it looks like this was just a rare instance of the Riverdale writers setting something up then purposefully following through.

Aside from the first ten minutes of the episode, where Riverdale crammed 40 minutes worth of shirtless Archie into two scenes (this is still Riverdale, after all), the only moment of levity was when KJ Apa‘s movie trailer played during commercials. Run, don’t walk to see I Still Believe. Not because it will be particularly good, but because it’s a Jesus movie starring KJ Apa as a Christian rock star. Tell me that doesn’t sound like peak entertainment. When the Core Four and Shannon prayed together I really, really wanted to make a joke about how deep the promo for I Still Believe was going, but I didn’t because it’s just not that vibe tonight, folks. Instead, let’s think of Luke Perry: beloved husband, father and costar, and an all-around good person. Be kind to each other, today and every day, in his memory.

Fan Reactions

Because this isn’t just about me (a rare occurrence), we thought we’d let some fans do the talking about season four, episode one of Riverdale. “In Memorium,” will go down in history as one of the most heartwrenching TV episodes of all time and that’s all due to Luke Perry’s IRL and on-screen presence as one of the best men around.

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