Riverdale Season Premiere Review | Comic Years
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Riverdale Season Premiere Review: A Fitting Tribute to Luke Perry

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BY February 22, 2021

Premiere episodes, whether for seasons or series, usually follow a pattern. For a series premiere, episodes are mostly tablesetting. They have to establish the premise of the series. They also have to set the table for the plotlines we’ll follow during the first season. Season premieres are similar. Having already established the series premise, they can move on to presenting the intrigue for that season. The Riverdale season premiere was a little different this year, though, for obvious reasons.

“In Memoriam”: Remembering Luke Perry

As we previously reported in our post on Riverdale season 4, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had planned the season t0 premiere as a tribute. It would function both as a memorial to Luke Perry and to his character, Fred Andrews. At the time, we had no further details on the episode, besides one. We knew that Shannen Doherty, Perry’s longtime co-star, would appear.

Now that the episode has aired, we can talk about her appearance, as well as what Fred’s death means for the show. But of course, it’s not just Fred who’s left us. Knowing that, that it wasn’t just a character who was killed off, made the episode especially moving. This is a fancy way of saying that I almost drowned in my tears.

The Details Of The Riverdale Season Premiere

Riverdale season premiere Image via Robert Falconer and The CW Network

Having had time to plan a proper ending for Fred Andrews, the show sent him off in an incredibly believable way. That Fred Andrews would die in the middle of helping someone is true to his character. That he was helping a stranger, Doherty’s character, that no one else would is equally so. The detail that he was talking about his son the whole time feels true, as well. It also feels as if it were engineered to break your heart.

But that’s how the whole episode felt. From the moment Archie and his mom hear about the accident, every single plot development is another reason for tears. This includes: the Core Four going to retrieve his body, their return to town where the streets are lined with Riverdale residents welcoming Fred home, the emotional funeral, and the fireworks show that Cheryl provides in Fred’s honor.

Saying Goodbye To Luke Perry And Fred Andrews

In the quiet of the last scene, Archie Andrews enters his garage alone. He remembers his father alone. Earlier in the episode, characters talked about what Fred meant to them. These are teenagers, his son’s peers, so mostly, they remember him as a father substitute. When your dad couldn’t or wouldn’t be there, Fred was.

But in that garage, it’s just Archie and his memories, and real footage of Luke Perry. It’s almost too hard to take. Because while Fred Andrews was the perfect vision of a decent man, he wasn’t real. But Luke Perry was and he’ll be missed.

The Future Of Riverdale After The Season Premiere

And so will Fred Andrews. Beyond giving us a kind of status update–the Lodges are still in prison, for example–the show didn’t really dole any details about future episodes. We know what we heard at Comic Con, though, so we can speculate. The kids will focus on school, while everyone learns to live without Fred. It will be hardest for Archie and Mary, of course. On that note, as we’ve already told you, Mary will become a bigger part of the show, now that Fred has left us.

Meanwhile, while Josie appeared in this week’s episode, she’ll probably be departing soon for Katy Keene. Kerr Smith, on the hand, will be joining the show next week as Riverdale High principal Mr. Honey.

And as we previously told y’all, Riverdale will celebrate Halloween this year. We don’t know yet what horrors are in store, but Aguirre-Sacasa has teased this for the follow-up episode, titled “Hereditary”:

Riverdale season premiere Image from Instagram/Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Sure. He’s also posted a photo of Cheryl with the definition of the word “chimera,” which is possibly a reference to her growing-more-unsettling-by-the-day relationship with her twin brother’s corpse. We don’t know what it means, though–we just know it’ll be bonkers.

Riverdale airs on The CW on Wednesday nights at 7C/8E. You can also watch episodes on demand or on the free CW app. Are you excited about this season? Did you too cry a river of tears? Let us know in the comments or come cry with us on social media.

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at [email protected]


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