How ‘Riverdale’ Says Goodbye to Both Fred Andrews & Luke Perry in the Season 4 Premiere

Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam

Riverdale delivers a highly poignant and emotional premiere tonight as Luke Perry’s death is written into the first episode of Season 4. Viewers will learn both how Fred Andrews (Perry) has died and how his son, Archie (KJ Apa), begins to process the myriad of emotions that come with the sudden and tragic loss of his dad, his best friend, and the town’s moral compass.

Shannen Doherty, who played Brenda opposite Perry’s Dylan on Beverly Hills, 90210, guest stars as a key character who shares news of Fred’s passing with his son in the aptly-titled “Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam.”

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Riverdale’s executive producer/writer, recently joined a group of reporters to answer questions after a screening of the Season 4 premiere. Read on to get his thoughts on this must-see episode for fans of not only Riverdale, but for anyone who admired Perry and felt as if they knew him.

On writing the death of a character they never thought they’d lose

“When Luke passed [in March], we quickly made the decision that we weren’t going to address it in the current [third] season of Riverdale. We didn’t want to rush it or sandwich it in between other plotlines. We wanted to take our time and think about it. We thought about doing something at the end of the season [but] we decided to think about it over the hiatus and reflect. That was absolutely the right thing to do. It allowed us to absorb what had happened and decide what kind of story we wanted to tell.”

(Diyah Pera/The CW)

On Fred’s death as the focus of the premiere

“This episode isn’t going to launch any huge storylines for [the rest of] the season. It’s going to be focused on [Fred’s death] and the emotional effects of his passing for everyone. We talked about putting in some other storylines, but we decided to keep the focus on [Fred].”

On Shannen Doherty’s character bringing news of Fred’s fate

“Over the seasons, Luke and I had talked a lot about getting Shannen on the show [but] the timing never worked out. Either the part was never quite right or she was unavailable. Luke cared so deeply for Shannen. She really wanted to be a part of this.”

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On how the cast handled telling the story of Fred’s death

“We knew this would be brutal on the cast, especially KJ who was Luke’s main scene partner. Fred would give Archie advice — which he would or would not follow. That was a real touchstone for KJ. I think everyone was proud to tell this tribute to both Fred and Luke. When we gathered for the table read, it was cathartic. Shows are family. We knew it would be hard and it was.”

(Robert Falconer/The CW)

On the episode being a tribute to both Fred and Luke

“It’s interesting. I knew Luke as [Beverly Hills, 90210‘s] Dylan. You do associate characters that way. With the exception of [including] Shannen, we wrote it as a tribute to Fred knowing that a lot of our viewers have a real deep personal connection to Luke. It just exists. The truth is everyone knew Luke. Everyone loved him. That was baked into the episode. We didn’t write it one way or the other. We just told the story about this man and this town.”

On a flashback scene of Fred and Archie in the garage

“I remember vividly in the third episode of Season 1, Fred sound-proofed the garage. It’s a really simple story. Dad says to his son, ‘You’re making too much noise.’ Son says, ‘I want to play my music.’ Loving father soundproofs the garage. Luke called me and said, ‘I love that Fred’s doing this for Archie. It’s something I would have done for my son.’ There was such a truth and simplicity to that story. It’s like when Archie bought the jalopy so he could fix it up with his dad.”

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On using real-life photos of Perry in the episode

“One of our executive producers, Sarah Schechter, was very close to Luke and his family. They provided us with those great photos.”

On Perry mentoring the young ensemble cast

“He would say things like, ‘Twenty-two episodes? I was in a series that did 36 episodes [a season]!’ ‘Popular? Imagine 16 million people tuning in.’ He was a mentor and father figure to KJ, and, I think, to all the kids. The first Comic Con we went to, the show hadn’t aired yet. I remember Luke saying to KJ, ‘After the show comes out, it will never be like this again.’ Luke could see it coming.”

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On how the episode will help provide some closure for fans

“I do think it’s cathartic for people who’ve seen the show and who have emotional ties to Luke, as well. One thing we chose to do which was not included ‘Previously on…’ in the premiere. Those can be three minutes long. We actually had one [initially] and The CW very wisely said to not include it and that we should use the extra time for the episode. They said, ‘We want this episode to be about (Fred and Perry). Every minute is precious. Let it be special.’”

(Robert Falconer/The CW)

Riverdale, Season 4 Premiere, Wednesday, October 9, 8/7c