Riverdale Recap: Welcome back, Bulldogs, for Riverdale Season Four

Image via The CW
Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

Warning, this recap contains spoilers.

This is incredibly exciting both for legitimate fans of the show, and self-proclaimed haters who are secretly really, really enjoying ourselves.

The season premiere hit Netflix yesterday, but it’s worth noting that the episode was essentially a stand-alone. Plot and drama were put on hold for the unpleasant but poignant task of seeing off Fred Andrews.

Character deaths are never a party, but the tragedy is only doubled when you know you’re saying goodbye to an actor as well as their on-screen persona. (I’m having flashbacks to Glee’s ‘The Quarterback’ episode and I’m not okay).

So, with tissues at the ready, what’s up so far?

Weathering another overdramatic Jughead voice-over, we catch up with the gang in the wake of last season’s insanity.

Jughead is entering a writing competition. Archie and Veronica are lying in bed, presumably post-coital because they’re Archie and Veronica and they just never seem to stop. Kevin is trying to get over being in a cult. And Cheryl is reading the morning paper to Jason’s corpse. Which she apparently kept.

If you were wondering where Alice and Polly are, or where Penelope Blossom ran off to, keep wondering. Jughead fails to address any of the cliffhangers from Season Three, but he does reassure us that Riverdale will be holding a Fourth of July parade this year.

There won’t be any fireworks, however, because the remaining (living) Blossoms won’t pay for them.

So, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and Shirtless Archie are building a float outside Pop’s when Cheryl shows up in a cute outfit (sidenote: the previously abhorrent styling on this show is slowly creeping its way into my good graces) to tell them that holding a big celebration on the anniversary of her brother’s death is kind of messed up.

Reminding us all that they’re the most insensitive people in Riverdale, the frisky foursome share some smug looks before Betty tells Cheryl that they didn’t hold a parade for years because of her brother’s inconvenient and town-altering murder. Then they go eat breakfast.

But then Archie gets a call from his dad’s phone and it’s clear we’ve hit the heartbreaking portion of the program.

FP is still Sheriff, and it still makes no sense, but he has to break the news to Archie and Molly Ringwald (whose character’s name I will likely never remember) that Fred was killed by a hit-and-run driver while helping a stranger on the side of the road. The theme of the episode is Fred Andrews Being the Nicest Man in Riverdale, and it hurts.

A large chunk of the episode follows Archie – in the wake of an underwhelmingly spooky nightmare – deciding to go upstate to Cherry Something and bring his dad’s body back himself.

Reggie shows up conveniently with a hearse, and the core gang set off on a roadtrip, only to be told upon arrival that the funeral director can’t give a corpse to an underage boy – because of course he can’t, you beautiful dummy.

He gets the body anyway, because it’s Riverdale, and he also collects his dad’s truck. While that’s happening, Luke Perry’s 90210 co-star Shannen Doherty shows up, and we find out that Fred not only stopped to help her change her tyre but literally pushed her out of the way of the speeding car. This really hurts.


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Tribute to Luke @thecwriverdale tonight. Miss him.

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Then, world’s worst ex-con, gang ringleader-cum-sherriff FP Jones calls and gives Archie the name of the man who killed his dad.

So, because he grew up in a town where revenge is the lifeblood of all citizens, Archikins goes to said dad-killer’s house to beat him up. Turns out, however, that the guy’s son actually did the dad-killing, and the dad was protecting him, and then Archie has a really upsetting little breakdown because his dad is dead.

Meanwhile, after a heart wrenching scene where Cheryl tells Molly Ringwald that she never wants her or Archie to feel as alone or hopeless as she did when Jason died, Riverdale’s premier redhead organises a guard of honour for Fred and Archie’s return. They re-enter Riverdale to the sight of the entire town holding up signs saying “Welcome home Fred” and “We’ll never forget you”. I’m not exaggerating when I say I started bawling the second I realised what was happening.

Don’t dry your tears yet, though, because we’re jumping right into an equally heartbreaking funeral. The gist of Archie’s speech is that Fred built so much of Riverdale that he can point to basically any building and know his dad had a hand in it. You guessed it, that pain cuts real deep. Even Cheryl’s nonstop sobbing throughout this episode hurts.

The episode closes on Archie and Veronica, Betty and Jughead, Cheryl and Toni, fresh step-siblings Kevin and Josie, and a lonely but seemingly okay-with-it-all Reggie cuddling and lighting fireworks in Archie’s backyard. It’s a lovely moment, but I can’t wait for the infighting and infidelity to start up again and tear it to absolute shreds.


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Time to lean on each other. Stream the season premiere free now on The CW App: Link in bio. #Riverdale

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Because this is Riverdale, and this kind of genuinely heartfelt, tear-inducing content feels so very wrong. I am, however, very glad this episode will stand as a well-deserved homage to Luke Perry’s legacy.

With sombre farewells gut-wrenchingly and heart-achingly over, it’s time to turn our attention to the plot-ends left hanging earlier in the year.

Bring on the rest of the season, I’m ready for nonsense.

I want to know where the rest of the Coopers are, who Penelope Blossom’s been poisoning lately, and the whole deal with Apparently Real Charles. I want – by some unlikely miracle – for Jughead to actually be dead, meaning I never have to hear one of those voice-overs again. I want to see the Serpents. I want Reggie to be happy.

In other words, I’m so goddamn excited for next week.

Tune in for Riverdale recaps every Friday as we analyse the sublime to the ridiculous in this seemingly never-ending Netflix saga.

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