The season 4 premiere of ‘Riverdale’ said goodbye to the character of Fred Andrews. The emotional Luke Perry tribute was a powerful and poignant episode of television.
Everything was starting to get back to normal in Riverdale after the events of last season. The biggest topic of conversation was the Fourth of July and bringing back the Independence Day parade. Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica were working hard on Veronica’s float for the parade. But suddenly, the world stops. Archie gets a call from his dad, but it’s not Fred. In the middle of lunch at Pop’s, Archie finds out that his father is dead.
FP is the one who reveals to Archie and Mary how exactly Fred died. Fred pulled over on the side of the road to help someone whose car was broken down. A speeding vehicle struck Fred and killed him. The person driving didn’t even stop to help Fred. Archie and Mary begin to make plans for the burial. They soon learn that moving Fred’s body from upstate is going to cost them a lot of money. Veronica steps in and tells them that money is no issue.
Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and Kevin come together to remember their fondest memories of Fred. Betty talks about how Fred stepped in for her dad during a father-daughter potato sack race. Jughead remembers when Fred would go and pick up FP at the bar and bring him home. Fred would always stay and talk with Jughead and make sure he had enough to eat. Fred built and donated all the sets for the musical. Fred was there for everyone, no matter what. That’s just the kind of man he was.
“He taught me everything,” Archie says. Fred was Archie’s hero and the kind of man Archie wants to be. Archie begins to tear up and has to leave. He’s exhausted — emotionally and physically. Later, Archie has a nightmare and insists that he has to go get his dad’s body and bring it back to Riverdale. He doesn’t want his dad to be alone any longer. Veronica, Betty, and Jughead join Archie on this journey to bring Fred home. When they arrive in Cherry Creek, the police still haven’t found the person responsible for Fred’s death.
At the funeral home, Archie wants to see Fred’s body. He still has a sliver of hope that maybe there was some mistake. Right as he’s about to go in to see Fred, Archie decides against it. He can’t see his father like that. Betty and Veronica go in to make sure that the body is actually Fred’s. Meanwhile, Archie asks Jughead to write Fred’s obituary.
Back in Riverdale, Cheryl and Toni go to see Mary. Cheryl knows how it feels to lose a family member. Cheryl and Toni offer their condolences and Cheryl opens up about Jason’s death. She admits she felt “supremely alone” when Jason died and she doesn’t want Archie or Mary to ever feel that way. Cheryl tells Mary that she wants to do something for the family.
Archie, Veronica, Jughead, and Betty go find Fred’s truck while they wait for his body to be prepared to go home. A woman, played by Shannen Doherty, arrives with flowers in her hand. She’s the one who Fred was helping when he was killed. Fred talked all about Archie when he was helping her. She explains that one of her tires blew and Fred was the only one who stopped for her. She explains that a car came out of nowhere and Fred pushed her out of the way. “He saved my life,” she says. They all say the Lord’s prayer together on the side of the road.
At a diner, Archie is still trying to come to terms with his father’s death. He can’t understand why Fred had to be a hero. “Why did he have to be one? Why this time?” Archie asks. He’s angry that he’s been robbed of his father. He’ll never get more time with him and that realization is just devastating.
FP calls Archie and tells him that the person who killed Fred has turned himself in. He’s made bail and has been released. Archie looks up the man and goes to see him. He pushes the man up against the wall and begins demanding answers. That’s when Archie finds out that the man took the blame for his son. The kid took the car out when he wasn’t supposed to. The devastated kid apologizes to Archie. Archie realizes that he can’t take this son away from his father. Archie could have easily been this kid and made the same mistake.
Archie heads home with his father’s body. When Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead arrive back in Riverdale, the entire town has come together to welcome Fred home, thanks to Cheryl and Toni. At the funeral, Josie sings a beautiful song and Archie makes a heartfelt speech. “My dad was there for every high and every low,” he says. “He’s the greatest man I’ve ever known. It hurts me I never got to say goodbye… that I won’t get to see him again or talk to him. But his spirit and his memory lives on in this town and in everyone he’s met. Fred Andrews will always be a part of Riverdale. I love you so much, dad.”
When Veronica goes to inquire about payment, she learns that her father has paid the bill in full. The entire Riverdale gang comes together at the end of the episode to light fireworks in Fred’s honor. Amid the fireworks, Archie gets up and goes to the garage. The garage was their place. As Archie remembers past moments with his dad, he breaks down in tears.
Fred Andrews may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. This episode of Riverdale was a touching tribute to Luke Perry, who was loved by so many. While it’s unfair that Luke was taken from us far too soon, his legacy lives on forever. Rest in peace, Luke.