Luke Perry, who played Archie's father Fred Andrews, died in March after suffering a massive stroke

By Aurelie Corinthios
September 03, 2019 12:00 PM

The bittersweet return of Riverdale is about a month away.

Ahead of the Oct. 9 season 4 premiere, PEOPLE can exclusively reveal the first photos from the episode. Titled “Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam,” the episode will pay tribute to late star Luke Perry, who was an original cast member of The CW hit, appearing in almost every episode as Archie’s (KJ Apa) dad Fred Andrews since the series premiere in 2017. The actor died in March at age 52 after suffering a massive stroke.

The photos tease Archie, Veronica (Camila Mendes), Betty (Lili Reinhart), and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) coming together as they head into their senior year, as well as an emotional moment between Archie and his mom Mary Andrews (Molly Ringwald), presumably as they deal with the aftermath of Fred’s death.

Robert Falconer/The CW
Robert Falconer/The CW
Robert Falconer/The CW

In addition to Ringwald, Perry’s former Beverly Hills, 90210 costar Shannen Doherty appears in the episode, which will follow the residents of Riverdale preparing for the upcoming Independence Day parade — as well as Archie receiving a phone call that will change his life forever.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight in July, creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa said the premiere is “a really emotional episode, a tear-jerker.”

“We had the table read for it about [two weeks] ago and I’m not going to lie, we were all crying,” he said. “But we think it … honors the memory of Luke [and] it honors the memory of Fred. They were both such amazing human beings that we wanted to really, really craft an emotional and deep tribute to him, which is what I hope this episode is.”

While Perry’s last appearance on Riverdale aired in April, nearly two months after his death, Fred’s absence has yet to be addressed on-screen. Aguirre-Sacasa previously told The Hollywood Reporter he held off on wrapping up Fred’s story out of respect.

“It was just devastating,” he said of Perry’s sudden death. “And we wanted to honor Luke, and figure out the best way to handle the character of Fred Andrews in the show, so we sort of said, you know what? Let’s not squeeze, let’s not rush to squeeze something into the finale, or into the last couple of episodes, let’s really think about it, and let’s tell that story at the beginning of season 4.”

Riverdale season 4 premieres Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.