Pep Talk: Riverdale Episode 401, "In Memoriam"

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Riverdale 401 In Memoriam

It's the episode we've been dreading, but which we've steeling ourselves for since last March when we received the news of actor LUKE PERRY's untimely passing.

Rather than hand the role of Fred Andrews to another actor, the RIVERDALE writing crew chose to write Fred out of the series, in one of the most down-to-earth, heart-touching episodes of the series.

The Riverdale gang -- Archie (KJ APA), Jughead (COLE SPROUSE), Betty (LILI REINHART), and Veronica (CAMILA MENDES) -- are just starting to get over the horrific events of last season, planning a camping getaway while the town prepares for the first Fourth of July parade since the death of Jason Blossom. That's when Archie gets a life-changing phone call: his father has been killed in a hit-and-run accident.

The body won't be brought back to Riverdale until the day after the holiday, but when Archie has a dream where his grandfather gives him instructions to bring his dad home. Archie awakens with a start, and just like that sets himself to getting Fred back to Riverdale on his own.

 He also plans to get a little revenge while he's gone. The hit-and-run driver has turned himself in, and is currently out on bail.For Archie -- who has been a mob capo and a wilderness survivalist in his brief span on this planet -- that isn't justice, and he's going to see to it that justice is done.

This episode has some excellent touchpoints in it that go beyond the tender memorial it delivers for Luke Perry. There's no deep, dark mystery involved here -- no sinister big-bad plotting death for the town that begins with Fred Andrews, just a senseless tragic moment that sobers Archie up when he learns the facts behind the accident that killed his father -- and makes clearer the kind of man Fred Andrews was when he gets further details from the woman he stopped on the road to help (played by 90210 alum SHANNEN DOHERTY).

That's not to say there isn't the usual bit of creep factor going on. Cheryl Blossom (MADELAINE PETSCH), incensed that the town is going to hold the parade, continues to have in-person chats with Jason, her dead twin brother. These aren't hallucinations -- she has the disinterred body in her room, sat up and dressed and decomposing. I don't know where that particular "Flowers in the Attic" storyline is going, but it can't be anywhere wholesome.

Perhaps the best episode of the series, this reviewer is certain there wasn't a dry eye among the audience watching the events of "In Memoriam" play out, especially the scene of Fred's homecoming. A great start to a season.

 

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0