Inside Riverdale’s Luke Perry Tribute Episode

We talked to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and KJ Apa about the Riverdale Season 4 premiere, which will be a standalone tribute to Luke Perry.

Luke Perry and KJ Apa in Riverdale

When Luke Perry unexpectedly passed away last spring, rather than having a rushed writing out of his character on the show, Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa chose not to address Fred Andrews’ absence in the final episodes of the season at all, saving the topic for Season 4 when it could be more properly addressed.

The first episode of the upcoming season, which premieres on October 9th, will address Fred’s absence, acting as a tribute to the character of Fred Andrews, but, more importantly, as a tribute to Luke Perry.

Titled “Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam,” the episode will standalone from the rest of the season, Aguirre-Sacasa told Den of Geek and other reporters at San Diego Comic Con this year, adding that the story will be set on the fourth of July. The Comic-Con panel further announced that Shannen Doherty, Perry’s friend and 90210 co-star, will guest star in the episode.

read more: Will Riverdale Go to College?

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“They were such good friends,” Aguirre-Sacasa said at the panel, “and, when we were putting together this tribute episode, we wanted to make it as special as possible, and so we asked Shannen to do a pivotal, super-emotional role. She read the script and immediately said ‘yes.’ It’s very impactful.”

The loss of Perry obviously continues to affect the Riverdale cast and crew, who lost their co-worker and loved one unexpectedly. Aguirre-Sacasa said the table read for the Season 4 premiere was the first time the entire cast was properly together following the death.

We shut down production the days after Luke passed, and then the day we resumed production, we had two stages going, and Cami and KJ were on one stage and Lili was shooting all that stuff when the Black Hood was chasing her in the high school. So, we were all kind of a little bit scattered. I think everyone was there, but we weren’t together as a big group, and we all came together [for the table read].

read more: Riverdale Season 3 Finale Unanswered Questions

As you might imagine, emotions were high at the table read.

“I’ve been working in television probably 12 or 13 years,” said Aguirre-Sacasa. “I’d never experienced a table read like that. It was the first time all of us were in one room, sitting around a table like this, kind of talking about it … A lot of us started crying. It was really emotional. And I wasn’t up in Vancouver for all of the shooting, but I know that it was hard. I’ve seen the footage and it’s wonderful. I think… I hope it will be a real tribute and honor to Luke. That’s the goal.”

The loss of Perry will affect the world of Riverdale, as well. Speaking about Fred’s death, KJ Apa gave insight into how Archie will process the loss of his dad in the beginning of Season 4. Answering a question about Veronica and Archie’s relationship specifically, Apa said…

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“I think with the first episode… obviously Archie dealing with the loss of his dad, she plays pretty much a really solid rock for him going through that. All of the core four are really tight during that whole process, as expected. So, yeah, from what I know now, very strong. Varchie’s going really strong.”

read more: Everything We Know About Riverdale Spinoff Katy Keene

It sounds like the death of Fred will lead to Archie and Mary Andrews (Molly Ringwald), aka Archie’s mom, spending more time together: “Yes, [I have] a lot of scenes with Molly [this season],” said Apa. “I think we’re finally gonna be able to dive deeper into Archie’s relationship with Mary, which we never really got to see.”

Before the story of Riverdale tries to move on, however, we will get “In Memoriam,” an episode that, it sounds like, will give all of the characters a chance to say goodbye to Fred, and celebrate who he was as a friend, father, and neighbor.

“The loss of Fred, I think, brings a lot out of everyone,” said Apa. “A lot of memories that they had with Fred. I think it also explains why Archie is such a selfless person, as well, because there’s so many stories being told about Fred and we realize, ‘Wow, Archie gets these personality traits from his dad.’ Like, Archie’s always helping people. He’s always putting [others] first. He’s always looking out for his friends. And I think Fred, growing up, was the exact same way. It’s a really beautifully-written script, and I think it’s our strongest episode so far.”

Riverdale Season premieres on October 9th. Find out more about the season here.

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Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.

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