‘Riverdale’ kicked off season 4 on Wednesday night by spending an entire episode paying tribute to Luke Perry, who died earlier this year…
When Luke Perry tragically passed away earlier this year after suffering a massive stroke, ‘Riverdale’ was already nearing the end of the third season airing on the CW.
Perry — who played Archie Andrews’ father Fred Andrews on the CW series — was a beloved member of the cast for all three seasons and his death was like a gut punch to the cast and crew who grew close to him while filming the show in Vancouver. His passing reverberated throughout the entire production but rather than attempt to alter the ongoing storylines that were already happening to close out season 3, ‘Riverdale’ showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa opted to wait until the start of season 4 to pen a tribute episode to his fallen friend.
“We didn’t want to rush it, we didn’t want to sandwich it in in between all the other plot lines,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “And we just wanted to take our time and think about it. We briefly thought that maybe something would happen at the end of the season that would signal it, and that felt a little cheap. So we thought, let’s just hold it.”
On Wednesday night, ‘Riverdale’ returned with an episode titled ‘In Memoriam’ that detailed Fred Andrews’ fictional death after he stopped to help somebody stuck on the side of the road with a broken down car. As the story goes, Fred was the victim of a hit and run accident after another vehicle went speeding down the street and ran into him while he was attempting to fix the car on the road.
It was an emotionally charged episode that also included Perry’s friend and former “Beverly Hills 90210” co-star Shannen Doherty, who played the part of the driver who Fred Andrews saved when he stopped to repair her car and then pushed her out of the way when the speeding driver was tearing down the road towards both of them.
“Over the seasons, Luke, and I had talked a lot about trying to get Shannon on the show, but the timing never worked out or the part was never quite right,” Aguirre-Sacasa said.
“We thought it would be nice if it was someone he really he cared for in real life, and he cared so deeply about Shannen. That’s how we got to that.”
The ‘Riverdale’ creator and showrunner also explained why they decided to give Fred a heroic death after he died saving a motorist stuck on the side of the road while he was traveling out of town.
“Very early on, we landed on the idea that Fred should have a heroic death that would be impactful for Archie,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “We really said that this episode really isn’t going to launch any huge stories for the season. It was really going to be focused on that.”
The ‘Riverdale’ debut opted not to introduce any of the stories that will take up the bulk of the season but instead everything stayed focused on Perry’s character and saying goodbye to him in a touching tribute over the course of the entire episode. The action will pick up again next week as the story jumps two months ahead following Fred Andrews’ death as Archie and his friends return to school for their senior year.
“We’ve used season one a little bit as a template,” Aguirre-Sacasa said about season 4 “We definitely still have crazy stories. But instead of, let’s say, four crazy stories per episode, we have two crazy stories per episode and two that are a little more emotional, or psychological, or real. … The truth is you can never go back. But there were things that I know the fans missed and that we missed, and are trying to write to.”
‘Riverdale’ airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on the CW.