‘Riverdale’ Season Premiere: Shannen Doherty & Luke Perry’s Legacy

Riverdale fans have known since last year that the show was going to address the sudden death of Luke Perry and address his character, Fred Andrews. Perry died of a stroke before concluding season 3. The show confirmed at Comic-Con. Perry’s Beverly Hills 90210 costar Shannen Doherty would be in the episode.

Shannen Doherty in the Riverdale Premiere
(L-R): Shannen Doherty, KJ Apa, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart on the Riverdale season premiere | Robert Falconer/The CW

The CW provided screeners of the Riverdale season premiere to press. Riverdale addresses the death of Fred andrews and serves as a loving tribute to Luke Perry. Riverdale returns Wednesday, October 9 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

The ‘Riverdale’ season premiere begins tragically

It’s still summer in Riverdale. Jughead (Cole Sprouse) catches the viewer up on how the town has moved on since season 3, but it’s still July. Riverdale is planning its first Independence Day parade in three years since Jason Blossom died, and you can bet Cherly (Madelaine Petsch) isn’t happy about that. 

(L-R): Lili Reinhart, Cole Sprouse, KJ Apa, Camila Mendes and Casey Cott in the Riverdale season premiere | Robert Falconer/The CW

Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead are in bed together and she’s supporting Jug’s writing. Archie (KJ Apa) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) are too. They already start building the parade floats when Cheryl comes by for a confrontation. Then Archie gets the news before the title Riverdale even flashes on screen.

We won’t say how it happened, but it’s interesting that Riverdale wrote a scenario that involves Fred choosing a course of action. In real life it was a totally random stroke. It gives Perry a bit of agency but more than anything it shows what a kind man Fred and the real Perry were.

‘Riverdale’ deals with death

There have been many deaths before on Riverdale but Fred’s may be the first one that’s treated with all the mundane details that accompany death in real life. Archie and the gang go to retrieve Fred’s body from Cherry Creek before the 4th of July holiday. 

KJ Apa and Molly Ringwald in Riverdale
KJ Apa and Molly Ringwald in Riverdale | Robert Falconer/The CW

Riverdale deals with the whole process: retrieving the body, identifying the body, writing a eulogy. Every member of the gang plays a role in taking one of the mundane responsibilities off Archie’s shoulders. It’s also a lovely way to show the young fans of the show what tasks have to be done before a funeral, and that you can get through it with help from friends and family.

The circumstances are also the sort of tragedy that can befall reveal viewers. It also shows how easily mundane activities can spiral out of control. Perhaps it can prevent real life tragedies from occurring. 

Shannen Doherty on ‘Riverdale’

We also won’t reveal who Shannon Doherty plays. She appears in the third act and she’s the most emotional as a character brand new to the show. It’s clear she brought her real emotions about Luke Perry to Riverdale. 

Fred Andrews’ funeral

Archie gives his father’s eulogy. The eulogy is a nice metaphor for how important Perry was to Riverdale and how his memory will live on the show as long as it runs. A haunting rendition of “Amazing Grace” provides comfort.

Riverdale season premiere
(L-R): Charles Melton, Lili Reinhart, Cole Sprouse, KJ Apa and Camila Mendes | Robert Falconer/The CW –

This is a town that’s dealt with death. Cheryl relates to losing a loved one but Riverdale never compares the real loss of Luke Perry to the fictional deaths on its show. It’s more about the shared life experience of everyone eventually loses someone.

Even before the funeral, every character reminiscing about Fred. There are tears that seem to come easy for actors . 

What’s Next?

The season premiere offers no hint at what season 4 is going to be about but that’s okay. This needs to be about Luke Perry and give the show and its fans chance to cope.