This post contains spoilers for Riverdale.
Check out the previous review here.
There’s something refreshing about an episode that throws every single one of your theories out the window (at least this early in the season). The story deepens the lore of Gryffins and Gargoyles, and presents us with a thousand more questions as the plot thickens. Jughead’s found himself deep in the game, and only focuses harder when he starts to see the patterns between it and reality. Like other episodes of Riverdale, “The Great Escape” is narrated by Jug, but this time something’s different.
As the King and his Serpents play their game, something oddly similar is going on at Leopold and Loeb Juvenile Detention Center. We’ve seen the show play with two separate narratives and showcase their similarities alongside each other before, but this week’s episode ponders whether or not there might be a reason for that. Each time he plays the game, Jughead starts to see more patterns come to light. By the time Betty finally finds him and the rest of the gang in the bunker, he’s already deep into his conspiracy theory. Understandably, Betty’s terrified that he’ll end up like Dilton and Ben, but even she can’t deny the connections by the episode’s close. And that’s without playing the game once.
Having enough of her father’s nonsense, Veronica devises a plan to get Archie out of the detention center. He and the boys try to escape at the beginning of the chapter, but nothing comes of it outside of Archie shielding Joaquin from rubber bullets. This results in Ronnie reaching out to Elio for an in. That in gets her through the door, but Elio’s inclusion in the episode serves little purpose other than to establish that Veronica owes him a favor down the road. As has become custom in Riverdale, the Archie Andrews addition to the story is a snooze, but that snooze serves as a sort of glue that holds “The Great Escape” together.
Before his escape, Archie has one final dinner with the Warden. He knows that it’s meant to be his last meal, so he takes a risk and asks just what it took for Hiram to frame him for murder. Thirty grand seems like chump change to someone like Hiram Lodge, but it’s doubtful Archie finds any comfort in that. He heads to his last fight with vindication and a plan, but there’s a couple curveballs left for the Red Paladin.
Jughead believes that G&G has been around a lot longer than they’d initially thought. In addition to that, he thinks that the game their parents were playing not only never ended, but wasn’t started by them to begin with. It all sounds like crazy talk in the beginning, but then Joaquin kisses and stabs Archie, insisting that it’s the only way that he can ascend. Then Mad Dog’s back, helping Archie escape the match through the tunnel under the ring. As he flees, the Warden calls him the “Red Paladin”, same as Jug’s NPC. Wrap that in with the Warden’s insistence than only “He and Him in the kingdom” can judge him, and we’ve got some major questions.
The Red Paladin does escape his captors, as do the valiant party members who fight to ensure his safety, but the war is far from won. After his first escape attempt, Archie is branded by the Warden. Said brand looks an awful lot like the cult symbols that were found with Dilton and Ben in the woods. Whatever hell he has to face will have to wait though, because we need to talk about mad Hermione Lodge.
Last week we learned that Hermione gave up a lot to be with Hiram. Though it appears that she does love him, and we know for certain she loves Veronica, the Mayor of Riverdale saw flames tonight. She was so mad that it was enough to get her to stand up to the husband that she clearly fears, and I’m here for every second of that rage. It’s almost as good as Veronica trying to break her father’s foot with her stiletto to rescue her boyfriend. The Lodge family has some drama going on, and all of it is delicious.
With all of the questions “The Great Escape” brings to the table, at the top of the list has to be the identity of the Gargoyle King (who Jug sees again before the episode’s close). If this all isn’t some big Scooby-Doo situation, then who’s the Game Master? Who’s pulling the strings in Riverdale in 2018, and is it the same person who was pulling them back in the ‘80s? Why is all of the Midnight Club lying to and even hitting their children in response to their questions about their past with the game?
Shout out below with your theories! Next week we find out more about that fun new brand on Archie’s hip.