The tragic and untimely death of Luke Perry will reverberate into Riverdale‘s fourth season.
TVLine notes a Twitter post from show creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa featuring the script cover of episode #401, the fourth season premiere. “Probably the most important episode of Riverdale we’ll do this year, if not ever,” he wrote in the accompanying comment. “A tribute to our fallen friend. Thankful for this opportunity to honor Luke & Fred.”
The actor passed away on March 4th after suffering what was reported to be a massive stroke a few days earlier. As production was roughly four weeks ahead, Perry appeared as Archie Andrew’s (KJ Apa) father Fred in a few more scenes until the April 24th episode. After that, some of Fred’s duties on the series were transferred to Molly Ringwald, who appears occasionally as Archie’s mother Mary, with Fred said to be away on business. With the season nearing its end and getting ready to reveal the identity of the Gargoyle King, there was not enough time to give Perry a proper send off or even decide the character’s fate.
Probably the most important episode of #Riverdale we’ll do this year, if not ever. A tribute to our fallen friend. Thankful for this opportunity to honor Luke & Fred. ❤️🏆💎👨🏻💻 pic.twitter.com/MH7xOjNyDu
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) June 19, 2019
Episode 401, written by Aguirre-Sacasa, is titled “In Memoriam,” That title, and Aguirre-Sacasa’s comment, suggests Fred’s fate has been decided, with Archie and the rest of the gang reeling from that. It makes narrative sense to let Fred pass away and give the characters a chance to grieve that loss as they begin their senior year of high school. It also makes Perry’s contribution to the show matter more than, say, keeping him away on business or recasting the role. It also gives the show an opportunity to try something different as it hits on emotions everyone in the production no doubt feels.
Riverdale returns October 9th on The CW.