'Riverdale' Season 4 Episode 1 review: 'In Memoriam' pays emotional tribute to the late Luke Perry's Fred Andrews
Shannon Doherty gets a few minutes of screentime and in her own way, pays tribute to her friend in the episode. If this was an episode meant to touch a raw nerve, it did.
This review contains spoilers for 'Riverdale' season 4 episode 1: 'In Memoriam'
Jughead's (Cole Sprouse) moving obituary for Fred Andrews concludes a rich and moving tribute episode to the late Luke Perry. "How do you sum up the life of a man called Fred Andrews?" he writes.
"You can start with the facts. That he was born at Riverdale General Hospital, his parents were Arthur and Virginia Andrews. That he led the Riverdale High Baseball team to two consecutive State Championships. Took over the family business at 18, got married, had a son, settled down, and while others were rushing to get out of Riverdale, Fred was setting down roots".
"When our town saw a pariah and closed its doors, Fred saw a lost soul and opened his. There was always room at his table, his home for others. Whenever our town was under attack, Fred was on the frontline fighting for it, defending it. He was our good samaritan, our George Bailey, our knight in flannel armor and by the way, he was a hell of a good tipper. Fred left Riverdale better than he found it. That's his legacy."
Perhaps this was an episode that was much-needed. 'In Memoriam' established Fred/Perry as a fatherly figure of the town. This was a man who had faith. Faith in a town that was turning murkier by day, faith in his son whose heart may have been in the right place, but was erratic. Faith, that one day the town could be the old Riverdale of his time.
The episode wastes no time in setting up Fred's storyline. Post the bloody season 3 finale, things seem to have quietened down - the heroes Arch, Jug, Ronnie and Betty are happy and content, gearing up for the Fourth of July. Until Archie gets a call about his dad's death. Fred was killed in a road accident, a hit-and-run case while he was on his way back from Cherry Creek. He had stopped his truck by the side to help a stranger (Shannon Doherty) fix her tire, and given the busy highway, he was an unfortunate victim. Thankfully, the episode didn't set up a mystery behind his death. It was a seamless fit to the plot and crafted rather well.
Doherty gets a few minutes of screentime and in her own way, pays tribute to her friend in the episode. The rest of Riverdale gives Fred a hero's welcome when Archie brings his father home. The season opener is a quiet start to what has been perceived as the darkest season yet. Perhaps, this episode fits the cliched "calm before the storm'.
'In Memoriam' united Riverdale for the first time in three seasons. The town has seen murders, crime, drugs, and riots, and thanks to the binding force that Fred was, the entire town joins hands and gives the man the tribute he deserves. Even a criminal like Hiram Lodge pays his respects by taking on complete responsibility of the funeral expenditure. Friendships take precedence, Archie bonds with his mother, something that will be a crucial storyline going ahead.
There wasn't much that 'In Memoriam' dished out with the focus firmly on giving Perry an emotional farewell. Some may call it over the top, some may say otherwise, but this was an episode that sidelined everything else. There was a bit of gothic tomfoolery that Cheryl is up to and Archie's vision of his dead dad, but they don't add much to the plot.
If this was an episode meant to touch a raw nerve, it did.
'Riverdale' airs Wednesdays 8 pm on The CW.