If you're an emotional crier, Riverdale Season 4 Episode 1 is going to be a tough hour to get through. The tears will be strong and they will flow freely.
The sudden death of Luke Perry was a devastating loss for everyone. No one expected to lose him abruptly; the world is less bright without him in it.
"Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam" is a great tribute hour recognizing his impact as Fred Andrews and the kind-hearted man/father he brought to our lives.
One of the big questions discussed when Riverdale Season 4 went into production was how the show would approach his passing in the new season.
Would they write out the character or not discuss it at all? If the former, how would they do it?
The decision for Fred to leave Riverdale as a hero is a fitting end for both the character and Luke's honor.
Fred Andrews was genuinely a nice guy.
He cared so much about his family and he wanted to do good for the town he loved, whether it was campaigning to be the mayor or just doing the right thing. Every character (except Hiram) had a good thing to say about him.
Of course, Fred would be the type of person who would stop at the side of the road to help a stranger in need.
His peak "TV Dad" quality shined through! But, it's his decision to care about another person first and protect them is something we'll always remember: he saved someone's life without a second thought.
Fred is leaving Riverdale as the noble and kind man that he was.
This acknowledgment stood out best during two key moments: (1) when the stranded driver (played by Beverly Hills, 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty) paid her respects, and (2) the police procession through Downtown Riverdale.
Shannen's guest-starring appearance wasn't a surprise, but the identity of her role had been kept a secret. The decision to include Shannen at a key moment to honor Luke/Fred will forever be a memorable Riverdale scene!
You could feel the heartbreak from her character recounting the experience when Fred saved her life.
Archie: You were with him when he…?
The Driver: We were working on a tire and a car … it just came out of nowhere, speeding. [Tears up] Sorry, I just … I froze and it sped and your Dad … he pushed me out of the way. He saved my life and if he hadn’t done what he did, I wouldn’t be here right now, I know that. I am 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 driver conducts a prayer holding hands with Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and Betty.]
Even in their few moments together, she knew Fred was a great man. The motorist had only good things to say about him, and she gave Archie a tender reminder that his father loved him. And then to end it with the prayer and flowers ... the moment was perfection.
Shannen Doherty captured the pure emotion of the character. She stood out as a great addition to the tribute.
When it came to the second instance, the police procession came across a little cheesy.
Riverdale tried to create an awe-inspiring moment to symbolize a hero's send-off, but it took away from the genuine emotion of his arrival back to town.
There were citizens holding signs celebrating Fred, Toni carrying a random baby, and people looking on proudly with an uplifting soundtrack backing them.
Did the town pre-plan ahead of time to bring signs? Did everyone there know Fred?
Riverdale isn't the most realistic or grounded TV show; the debate can be made whether it hit hardest during The Black Hood storyline or the Gryphons and Gargoyles plot. But, this scene took away from the realism.
I'm going to miss Josie's singing, especially now that she's heading over to Katy Keene.
Her acoustic rendition of "Amazing Grace" was a captivatingly beautiful performance that perfectly suited the emotion and tone of the funeral.
Pairing the characters paying their respects and saying goodbye to Fred with Josie's song heightened the emotional impact.
(If you didn't cry before, you were definitely going to cry now.)
Cheryl's tears broke me the most; her sorrow when she paid her respects to Fred's coffin cut deep.
Madelaine Petsch is one of the most expressive cast members on Riverdale, and that facial acting hit the emotion home.
From the moment Archie got the phone call about Fred's passing, the tone of "Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam" shifted sharply and didn't return until the procession.
The best way to describe it is the feeling of being void: a sense of hollow and nothingness.
Jughead's recap had the light-hearted and soapy vibe we'd come to expect, like Cheryl and the dead body or making fun of Archie getting attacked by a bear. (Seriously, let's all remember this: a bear!)
Jughead: And if anyone is scared of bears, well don’t be because Archie’s been attacked by, like what, multiple times and still survived? [Laughs]
Archie: Hey. I wear my scars proudly.
But once the call happened, the jokes and music minimized, the pace slowed, and the air felt heavier. Riverdale captured the feeling of loss.
The editors did a great job helping us connect to the pain these characters felt during this time.
None of Archie's decisions during the season premiere were reckless and confusing. (And that's saying a lot about his track record.)
Archie served as our protagonist, so as he felt, we felt.
He took the biggest emotional roller coaster dealing with the loss of Fred, even more so than Mary, because this was his dad and they had a close relationship.
Many of his actions felt like someone dealing with loss.
He needed some control, so he panicked that his dad would be in a different town waiting for days and he needed to bring him back. And yet, he couldn't see the body because it would be too real.
Archie: I have to go get my dad.
Veronica: What? What do you mean?
Archie: I have to bring him home.
Archie was both emotionally-heated and detached at the same time. Even his response to finding out the truth about the hit-and-run suited how his character would react.
Archie tends to get heated and make brash decisions; he needs to fight and blame someone.
Throughout the hour, he blamed himself, he blamed Fred, and he blamed the hit-and-run driver.
What's shocking, on the other hand, was that he kept a level-head and held back from being further destructive.
Could this be growth?
The twist of the driver being a young kid was an interesting development because it provides a connection back to Archie and Fred.
How many times had we seen Fred stick up for Archie and protect his son?
George Augustine did the same thing, albeit in a vastly different way.
At that moment, Archie saw the comparison to his own life. He will never forgive and forget what happened, but witnessing the father/son bond quelled the fire burning inside of him.
We could've witnessed destructive Archie, but instead, a more mature and somber character emerged. Hopefully, this moment sparks the beginning of a new phase in the character's progression.
It's a hope that's been asked for for a long time, but it could happen eventually.
Speaking of parental bonds, how could "Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam" barely touch upon Betty's loss?
Out of the core four, she's the only other character who had lost a father.
Sure, he was a serial killer, but he still died. A simple scene of Betty giving support and relating her experience to Archie could've rounded out the connection.
The one inclusion of Betty visiting her father's graffitied grave marked a grim fact that Betty will never get the same goodbye for her father. Hal died in disgrace and the scourge of the town. Betty has to grieve in silence.
It's a strange point-of-reference to slide in as another character is getting a grand send-off.
Last Thoughts From Sweetwater River:
Did Riverdale not celebrate Independence Day at all these last three years? The first year and anniversary made sense, but at some point, the town would choose to bring this back slowly.
- Can no one else buy fireworks for the celebration? Did the Blossoms really have that much control over them?!
Cheryl: Well, well, well. Stop the presses! The Riverdale rag finally reported a story accurately. Not only is there going to some hideous janky parade snaking its way through town, you four are the architects of this outrage.
Veronica: What’s your problem, Cheryl?
Cheryl: My problem, Veronica, is that the Fourth of July is a day of tragedy for Riverdale. Not celebration. Or have you forgotten what happened to my poor brother Jason?
Betty: Cheryl, Riverdale hasn’t held a parade out of respect for what happened to your brother in like years. It’s time.
Jughead: I mean, you don’t have to come.
Cheryl: Oh, I’ll be there, Insufferable Smurf. Front and center. With a sign of protest in one hand and a horn of compressed air to silence any revelry in the other.
Let's consider Hiram's decision to pay for funeral arrangements as a kind gesture. There's no way he would take petty this far.
Writer Jughead, we've missed you so much.
Hermione is in jail. Hopefully, she gets freed soon!
- Fred's montage in the garage made me tear up. Be it the Fred memories, the last shot of the photo, and/or Archie breaking down in tears, the ending got me.
Now, over to you, Riverdale fans!
What did you think of "Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam"?
Why do you think Hiram paid for Fred's funeral arrangements?
Will anyone find out Cheryl's secret? What moment did you cry during the tribute episode?
If you missed the latest episode of Riverdale, you can watch Riverdale online via TV Fanatic.
Come back here and share your thoughts in the comments.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.