Riverdale’s 90210 Connection Grows Deeper

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Shannen Doherty is heading back to the zip code that made her famous (sort of) and producers enlisted her to help out another city titled teen drama. Riverdale needed a special actress for a special episode and they found one in Doherty. Producers announced this at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

For the upcoming season premiere, producers wanted to honor the late Luke Perry. As they broke the episode, they realized the best way to do that was to build a character for close friend Doherty.

Real Life Changes Art

Luke Perry suffered a stroke in February and passed away in March. At the time of his death, he was a series regular on The CW’s Riverdale. Producers of the show scrambled to figure out how to deal with the actor dying and how it would play out on screen. Ultimately, they kept the planned arc in place and decided to hold the tribute for next season.

Over the years, Perry had asked producers to find a way to write something for Doherty. They had always said they would try, but nothing came from it until now. As usual, everyone is tight-lipped about the character that Doherty will play. Though speculation, given the nature of the show, is that she will be harboring a major secret and kick off a season-long arc.

Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam

Yes, the name of the season premiere will be “Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam.” Riverdale creator Robert Aguirre-Sacasa says the episode is a love note to Perry. Aguirre-Sacasa told the audience,  “This year our Riverdale family, and we are family, and we suffered a huge huge loss.” After which, they showed the tribute to Perry, which the cast saw after wrapping the season three finale. It ended with a photo of the actor with the words “We love you, Luke.”

There wasn’t a dry eye in Hall H. Madeline Petsch told the crowd that Perry was a “beautiful” person and there is a void on the set he used to fill. In terms of story, Molly Ringwald’s Mary will fill the absence of Perry’s Fred.

Secrets Of Shannen’s Stint

“Luke had talked to me on and off over the years about trying to find something for Shannen on the show,” Aguirre-Sacasa told the Hall H crowd. Then he talked about how the episode began coming together. “And when we were putting together this special episode, we kind of wanted to include special people from Luke’s life.” Many people didn’t realize that Doherty and Perry had reconciled a few years back, during her breast cancer battle.

“There was a very emotional, important role and we sent the script to Shannen and she read it and loved it and said, ‘I want to do it,’ so it’s about honoring their friendship a little bit,” Aguirre-Sacasa revealed how the casting process worked for this particular role. “I know she was really moved when she read the script and immediately said yes.” Series star Cole Sprouse said that having Doherty on set was “cathartic.”

Doherty for her part said she enjoyed being able to honor her friend.

What Comes Next?

Along with Ringwald’s expanded presence on the show, Riverdale may see another teen drama star return. Aguirre-Sacasa doesn’t rule out Doherty coming back to play with the character they created for her. He gave an enthusiastic “absolutely” when asked if Doherty could reprise the role sometime. After the applause subsided, he went a step further: “I always say, ‘Never say never,’ There’s always a chance that that character could come back, the door is always open.”

He also teased what we can expect from the character: “She helps Archie process what happened to his father. That’s what I’d say about that character,” but of course, there’s a secret. It is Riverdale after all.