We knew this episode was coming. We knew it’d be emotional. And overall, I’d say it didn’t disappoint.
But before we kick off the Fred tribute hour — which of course also serves as a tribute to the late Luke Perry — let’s catch up on what’s happened in the few months we were away from Riverdale. As the “terrors of the Farm” started to fade, Jughead dedicated more time to his writing, Veronica and Archie seemingly never left the bedroom, and the town started to prepare for the Fourth of July! After three years of not celebrating the day — because it also serves as the day Jason Blossom was killed — the town is going to reinstate its epic parade! At least until Cheryl weighs in on the matter.
Speaking of Cheryl and Jason, they’ve been spending a lovely summer together as only a dead, decaying brother and a very much alive (and out of her mind) sister can. Meaning that she reads his corpse the newspaper every day? And when she reads about the parade, she shows up at Pop’s, where the core four are building a Pop’s float, and makes it clear that she intends to protest the event.
As for the core four, they’re planning a camping weekend and discussing Archie’s uncanny ability to survive bear attacks when his phone rings. As Archie collapses to the ground, it’s clear something’s gone terribly wrong.
Back at Archie’s house, FP explains that Fred was on his way back from Cherry Creek when he pulled over to help someone whose car had stalled on the side of the road. That’s when another car came around a curve way too fast and struck Fred, killing him. Archie, being Archie, first focuses on the fact that it was a hit and run and they HAVE to catch the person who did it. But FP assures him they will. For now, Archie and his mom, Mary, have some decisions to make.
The service is planned for after the 4th, because apparently they can’t get anyone to drive his body back to Riverdale until the 5th. So, with that set, Archie joins his friends out back where everyone shares fond memories of Fred. Well, everyone except Veronica, who didn’t grow up with the guy and can really only say he was a “gentleman.”
That night, Archie has a dream where his dead grandpa — and all his dead relatives? — ask him where his father is, which results in Archie waking up in the middle of the night and declaring he has to go get his dad and bring him home (and not at all addressing the fact that he can maybe talk to ghosts??). Without his mom so much as noticing them leaving, Archie and Veronica call up Betty and Jughead for a middle-of-the-night road trip. The kicker? Reggie lends them a hearse that he claims has just been sitting on the lot because no one wants to buy it. You’re telling me no one in RIVERDALE, the murder capital of the U.S., has needed a hearse?! I’m betting a hearse is the most popular ride in that town.
Regardless, the core four head to Cherry Creek, where, after a helpful call from mom, Archie is allowed to take Fred’s body. But first, he wants to make sure it’s his dad. Ultimately, Archie’s too emotional to see Fred himself, so he asks Betty and Veronica to go in, and they confirm it’s Fred before gathering his possessions, including the keys to his truck, which is apparently still by the side of the road where his father left it.
Seeing as how the funeral home needs a few hours to prepare the body, Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica head out to retrieve Fred’s truck. And it’s exactly where they said it’d be … but so is someone else. Just as Archie is having a moment looking through his dad’s stuff, a car pulls up and out steps Shannen Doherty holding a bouquet of flowers. It seems she’s the woman Fred saved in his final moments. She apologizes to Archie and explains that one of her tires blew and she was stranded before Fred showed up. And it was Fred who pushed her out of the way of that car. “He saved my life,” she tells Archi before asking if he’d like to join in prayer. The five of them hold hands as she recites the Lord’s Prayer.
Meanwhile, back in Riverdale, Cheryl has a very emotional reaction to the news and asks Mary for her permission to do something special for Archie when he returns. More on that later.
Back in Cherry Creek, the core four find a local diner to pass the time as Archie struggles with why his father had to be the hero. When he walks outside to get some air, FP calls him to let him know they found the guy responsible for the hit and run. Then, ever the irresponsible cop, FP tells Archie the guy’s name, that he confessed, and that he’s out on bail. So, of course, Archie says something about taking justice into his own hands and shows up on the guy’s doorstep. But when Arch has the guy pinned to a wall, he finds out the truth: It wasn’t this guy’s fault. He’s covering for his teenage son who doesn’t even have a license.
Betty, Veronica, and Jughead find Archie sitting on a rock outside the man’s home explaining that he took his dad’s car out before he was supposed to many a time. And the way that dad is protecting his son? It’s what Fred would’ve done. As Archie spirals about whether his dad would be proud of him, Veronica reminds him to finish what he started: It’s time to take Fred home.
And here’s where the episode will really get you. FP meets Archie at the town border and offers him a police escort, which leads to the special thing Cheryl planned. She turns the town’s Fourth of July parade into a parade for Fred as people hold up “Welcome home, Fred” signs.
We then get Fred’s service, which features Josie singing “Amazing Grace” and Archie giving a speech about how did dad — and Perry — helped build Riverdale. He then tells a story about one Fourth of July when his dad brought home fireworks and set them off in the backyard before saying, “He’s the greatest man I’ve ever known. It hurts me that I never got to say goodbye, that I won’t get to see him again or talk to him. But his spirit and his memory lives on, in this town, in everyone he’s never met. Fred Andrews will always be a part of Riverdale. I love you so much dad.”
As Jug starts writing Fred’s obituary, we get a glimpse at the other character’s reading it: FP, Hermione crying in jail, Hiram — who paid for the funeral service — reading the news, Alice, and even Pop.
The episode then ends with everyone gathering in Archie’s backyard for a fireworks show and Archie saying, “Imagine if everyone was even half as good as my dad was.” Archie then walks into the garage, where the show works in some old clips of Perry as Fred before Archie finally breaks down.
All in all, it was a beautiful tribute to a beloved character and an even more beloved man. Well done, Riverdale.
- Riverdale cast says Luke Perry tribute premiere was ‘most important thing that we had to do’
- Archie dons tights and everyone hooks up in Riverdale season 4 trailer
- Read a scene from the Luke Perry tribute episode of Riverdale