Pop Talk: Riverdale Episode 305, "The Great Escape"

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For all it's suspense, this episode of RIVERDALE isn't without some problems.

Betty (LILI REINHART), having learned the dark secret behind the game Griffons and Gargoyles and it's connection to the last generation, finds Jughead (COLE SPROUSE) steeped in the lore of the game as he continues to progress in it, in his attempt to get into the mind of the person behind it -- and the murders that follow it. The game is so addictive that even the aloof Cheryl Blossom (MADELAINE PETSCH) has gone full-on cosplay geek in the roleplay involved. And Jug is already finding secrets that confirms Griffons and Gargoyles is tied specifically to Riverdale itself: the mythical land, Eldevair, is an anagram for their town.

Meanwhile, Archie (KJ APA), gets branded by the warden when he attempts an escape from the sadistic juvenile detention facility where he is serving a sentence for a murder he did not commit. He's been forced into an underground teen fight club, and Veronica (CAMILA MENDES) has only just discovered this -- and her father's connection to it! Finding a way to Archie after the fight, she vows to get him out of there, and enlists the teens of Riverdale to aid her in her plan to pull of an escape.

When Betty goes to Jughead with this, he finds it the perfect inspiration for his next G&G quest! And while he makes it sound as if he is ready to take his game players into the real world, he instead has them huddled over a table rolling dice, playing a game that eerily parallels all the events occuring with Archie's rescue. Both Jughead and the warden refer to Archie as the "Red Paladin," and when Archie learns he's having a last meal -- meaning it's time for him to lose, permanently -- the warden leaves him with some cryptic comments, which would probably make sense to Archie if he knew anything about the events going on at home.

When Archie finally does make it past the gaurds and is safely hidden away at Dilton's underground bunker, Betty and Jughead see the brand left on him by the warden, and recognize it as one of the runes from the game. It's possible that the warden himself might have been the mysterious Gargoyle King -- but events at the end of the episode make it fairly clear he is not. But that doesn't stop the Gargoyle King from making a fateful appearance to one of the Riverdale gang at the close of this episode.

The problem I have with this episode is two-fold. First, I really never see Cheryl as someone who would throw herself so fully into the type of activity that should have been beneath her.Secondly, while it was interesting -- and mysterious -- that Jughead's game so closely paralleled the events, his game was based on random rolls of the dice, and could have varied from real events at any time. Perhaps we're to believe the game has some sort of supernatural connection to things; perhaps a bad roll in the game would have influenced the luck of the escape events. But until we get more confirmation on that, I have to just think that Jughead stayed home to LARP when he could have been helping his friends save Archie.

4.0 / 5.0