Riverdale Season 4 Episode 1 – TV Review
Yes. I did cry.
It wasn’t a “Camille’s death on The Originals” kind of cry. But it was still pretty solid and embarrassing.
And being solid and embarrassing is what Riverdale should be aspiring to after the slew of sewer sludge we had to put up with last season.
TL;DR Riverdale respectfully writes Fred out of the show; as such, the episode is largely dedicated to the somber acknowledgement of this, with Riverdale’s regular bullshit kept to a minimum; Shannen Doherty’s here.
Hey, it’s a step up from Heathers.
So we’re following on from Season 3’s terribleness, but some early narration from Jughead declares that evil board games and cults are winding down around town. The episode appears to be about to kick into capering gear when Cheryl (still sipping tea with Jason’s exhumed corpse, mind you) flies into a rage about the upcoming 4th of July parade, but gears switch pretty quickly when news of Fred’s death comes in. Everyone is appropriately broken up, and Archie decides to take himself and the Core Four interstate to retrieve Fred’s body, as he died in a hit and run after stopping to help a motorist on the highway or something. Shannen Doherty cameos as that motorist, tearfully apologising to Archie because if Fred hadn’t stopped to help her, he wouldn’t have died. Then Archie finds out from a reckless Skeet the hit and run driver’s identity, and goes to pay him a fist-filled visit. But tragic psych: the guy is just covering for his teen son, who was the actual driver, and is immensely distraught by what he did. Archie realises the man is just trying to protect his son, like Fred always did for him, and resolves to face his grief. Things take a turn for the operatic, but sincere, when Archie and co return to town with the body and find Cheryl has hijacked the parade (but for good, instead of evil) to instead be a tribute to Fred, and the episode closes out with a series of character cameos showing most of our main cast either at the parade, or reading the obituary, mourning Fred. And Archie having a good sob alone in the garage, with the focus fading out to a photo of him and his dad together.
In all truth, I just teared up again while writing this.
So that’s how Riverdale has come out of the gate for Season 4: with heartfelt emotion, genuine character moments, and Cheryl having tea with Jason’s rotting body. But hey, not an evil board game or hallucinogenic lolly in sight.
It’s a massive improvement.
Why I hate this episode:
Cheryl is in this annoying space between having tea with her dead brother while believing he’s really there, to then going on the warpath about the parade because the town is being insensitive to her brother’s murder several years ago (which is why the parade had not happened again until now). So is Cheryl living in an insane Blossom mindfuck dreamscape or not, show?
Also, I was kind of here for whatever nonsense she had otherwise been planning to sabotage the parade before she was instead forced to use her powers of meddling for good, instead of evil.
It was nice that they brought Josie back, but then all they had her do was sing Amazing Grace (did she even get a line of actual dialogue?). Sweetie, this show doesn’t appreciate you. Also, where are the other Pussycats? They couldn’t drag them in for a cameo?
Despite the abolition of Gryphons & Gargoyles, and of Fizzle Rocks, The Farm sadly can’t be dealt with as swiftly, due to Alice. We thankfully get a shot of her crying over the obituary in some kind of Farm facility. But, like, could she fucking not be?
Oh, and why is Lochlyn Munro still in the opening credits?
But it’s not all bad:
Near the end of the episode, Betty finds Hal’s grave defiled when they’re at the cemetery. Nice.
But let’s get serious: this episode is a lovely send-off for Fred Andrews. Knowing how devastated a lot of the Riverdale cast was in real life when Luke Perry passed away, it was powerful watching their characters emote in this episode. I choose to believe a lot of it was real.
Particularly for Shannen Doherty. Yes, it was a tiny little scene with nothing much for her to do, but I hope it was cathartic for her. It worked for me, at least.
The real tearjerker of the episode, of course, is the parade. It starts out with Skeet meeting up with the Core Four to give them a police escort, and as soon as this happened, I pieced together what Cheryl mentioned earlier to Molly Ringwald about doing something for her and Archie, and the waterworks started flowing. I know it’s cheesy and emotionally manipulative, but they got me, baby. And I never even watched Beverly Hills 90210! I just really liked Fred Andrews as a dad. And by all accounts, Luke Perry was a good man to his colleagues.
Some of the best character reactions come later when Hermione, in prison, cries alone at the news. As does Alice, from her Farm hole.
Hiram also reads the obituary, but that’s not all he gets to do this episode: he pays for the funeral behind everyone’s backs (shocking, and impressing, Veronica). Admirable move, bro.
Archie punching and denting a wall when confronting the supposed hit and run driver gave me flashbacks to Archie hulking out to punch through the ice in the Season 1 finale. Please, let this be a sign of things to come.
Oh, and the untimely death of a cast member doesn’t put any brakes on Archie getting out the abs. That shirt is OFF, honey.