When Riverdale returns for its fourth season this fall, something — or someone, rather — will be missing. After actor Luke Perry died unexpectedly in March of this year, audiences knew the Riverdale producers would need to address his character Fred Andrews' place on the show. Now, they've revealed the first peek at the special standalone episode they'll use to do so. The first episode of Season 4 will revolve around Fred, and some newly released photos show just how emotional it'll be. These photos of Riverdale's Luke Perry episode will bring on the tears for fans everywhere.
The Oct. 9 season premiere of Riverdale will be "very much a standalone episode," according to executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who spoke to TVLine about how the series will pay tribute to Perry. Instead of picking up with the plot details that were left hanging at the end of Season 3, the Season 4 premiere will apparently only focus on the aftermath of Archie (KJ Apa) losing his father Fred. Specific details about that aftermath haven't been revealed yet, but a new photo shows one emotional moment.In the photo, Archie's mother Mary (Molly Ringwald) comforts her son with a big hug.
Ringwald has only appeared on Riverdale sporadically over the last three seasons because Mary doesn't live in the town of Riverdale. However, it looks like she'll be back to check in on Archie more now that he's lost his dad, so audiences can expect to see more of Ringwald in upcoming episodes.
Perry's last Riverdale episode aired in April of this year, because Perry's death occurred so abruptly, the writers didn't have time to provide Fred with a final goodbye scene. Instead, his last scene was a simple one, consisting of him providing fatherly advice to Archie. The new tribute episode will offer both the characters and the audience some closure over this loss.
Along with the hugging photo, two more images of the episode were released, showing the rest of the cast of characters, including Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) enjoying some outdoor time. It seems like Archie's friends are comforting him during his time of need, but fans will have to wait until the episode airs to see how these scenes play out.
The tribute episode will include one more detail that honors Perry and his career. In the 1990s, he famously starred on the teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210, and now his co-star from the series, Shannen Doherty, will make a guest appearance in the Riverdale episode. Her character is still being kept a secret, but Aguirre-Sacasa said her scene offers "a powerful moment of catharsis.” He also explained that Doherty's real-life friendship with Perry makes her role in the series all the more important. Aguirre-Sacasa said:
Shannen is wonderful in the episode. The role would not nearly have the resonance it does if not for Shannen. She’s just great in it, because I think it’s very real for her.
Season 4 of Riverdale will premiere on Oct. 9 on the CW.