"Riverdale" Luke Perry
photo: CW

There's so much drama ready to unfold in season four of Riverdale, but the first episode of the new chapter included a much-needed pause in honor of the late Luke Perry.

When Luke Perry died in March 2019 after suffering a stroke, the actor's massive fanbase and network of industry friends and family were stunned. The CW series was put on hold, but they finished out the third season without addressing his or his character's death. The series' creators wanted to honor him in a more thoughtful way, and they definitely succeeded.

The former star of Beverly Hills, 90210 had always wanted one of his castmates, Shannen Doherty, to guest-star on Riverdale, and the writers finally made it happen. 

Archie received the heartbreaking call at the beginning of the episode. 

"Riverdale" Luke Perry episode
photo: CW

Perry's character Fred Andrews, Archie's dad, died in an accidental way — which, in a show like Riverdale, is unheard of. Andrews stopped to help someone on the side of the road and was struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident. Archie received the call while with his core group of friends at Pop's Diner, the spot where Fred nearly lost his life in season one. 

Fans could feel the real emotion in the cast's voices.

As the cast did press tours through various Comic Cons, they all talked about how emotional it was filming the dedication episode. It was clear that the tears they had in their eyes throughout the entire episode were real. 

Their emotion was palpable to fans; one person wrote on Twitter, "I’m really speechless, I didn’t stop crying though the whole episode. You felt the love that the crew and cast had for Luke in this episode. it was beautiful well done and hit me right in the heart! Beautiful tribute! Rest easy, and fly Luke Perry! Always in our hearts #Riverdale."

Speeches felt like they were coming from the heart, because they meant more than just the fictional story. 

Every speech and memory that a character shared had double meaning for fans who have watched the show from the beginning. At Fred's funeral, Archie (KJ Apa) said a few words about how his father built the town of Riverdale. Perry played an instrumental part in creating buzz for the show when it premiered, and giving it its heart, with a father-son relationship at its core. So that speech was just as much about Luke Perry as it was about Fred Andrews.

Of course, we got to see a montage sequence of moments with the Andrews boys. 

At the end of the episode, Archie thinks back to moments his dad imparted words of wisdom to him. The tribute was exactly what the show needed, and fans were impressed. "This episode was beautifully done. Rest in paradise Luke Perry #Riverdale," another person tweeted. The final moment of the episode was a light shining on the father and son. Cue the tears. 

One of the best references was Shannen Doherty's cameo in the episode. 

Doherty played the woman who Fred Andrews stopped to help on the side of the road, and was seen laying flowers and saying a prayer at the site. The legacy of Luke Perry's character lives on in the way he died — by helping someone. While her appearance was short-lived, it meant a lot to those who knew Perry's background. Series showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revealed that Doherty would make a cameo at some point because it was something Perry had always wanted.