Riverdale has officially stopped giving a single fuck, and honestly I respect that
Don’t these kids have…school?
by Nian Hu
Season three Episode five "The Great Escape" proved once and for all that Riverdale does not give a single fuck about reality.
To be fair, this show was never really committed to depicting an accurate portrayal of high school — after all, have you EVER seen so many 16-year-old boys running around with six-pack abs? — but at least it used to try. Back in Season one, the writers of the show half-heartedly tried to get us interested in Betty's temper tantrums with her mother and Archie's existential crisis about whether he wanted to do football or music. Some may say that this was the show's golden era, but I strongly disagree. That shit was a fucking snoozefest.
If I wanted to listen to a bunch of teens complain about their best friend kissing their crush, I'd go on YouTube or Vine or whatever it is the kids are doing these days! Now that Riverdale has officially disengaged itself entirely from any semblance of real life, the show has gotten a THOUSAND times better. Instead of a bunch of high schoolers living with their parents and stressing out about homework, we now have a motley assortment of miscreants, gang members, and escaped convicts hiding out in a secret bunker in the woods while a large pile of sticks rumbles ominously outside.
And I am LIVING for it!!
Let's dive right into this episode's fuckery, shall we?
Archie is a fucking dumbass who can't do anything right
Archie reminds me a bit of a golden retriever or an ox. He's strong, he's loyal, and he has a heart of gold. Unfortunately, he's also a goddamn idiot. He devises a plan to break out of prison — an exciting moment for Archie, since he never really gets to plan anything. That's usually Betty or Veronica's job. However, there's a very good reason why nobody leaves the planning to Archie. His master escape plan — which seems to consist of running as fast as he can toward the gate in plain sight of the guards — fails approximately two seconds after it begins. Wow, who would've imagined that such an elaborate and well-thought-out plan could possibly fail??
What he lacks in intelligence, however, he makes up for in selflessness and loyalty. When Joaquin falls to the ground during the failed escape attempt, Archie actually stops and runs back to get him. And when the guards start shooting at them with rubber bullets, Archie pulls Joaquin to the ground and covers his body with his own. Damn, Archie, where can I find a friend like you?? Unfortunately for Archie, Joaquin decides to repay him for his kindness by stabbing him in the stomach. Alas, chivalry is dead!
Veronica's whole 'girl boss' act is starting to get tiresome
If you remember that utterly cringeworthy moment from Season 2 when Veronica blurted out, "I'm so over the toxic masculinity in this hallway right now!" then you'll absolutely LOVE it when she has a similar moment of forced-wokeness in this episode and snaps, "Thank you for mansplaining my business to me!" at the dude who promised to help her break Archie out of prison. Sigh. Girl, I support you and your noble goal of freeing your boyfriend from prison, but you seriously need to dial down on the aggressiveness! And please lose the blonde wig. My god. I'm honestly surprised that this "disguise" worked and got her past the prison guards.
What's even more surprising is that Veronica is somehow still BFFs with Betty, even though they haven't spoken to each other in what feels like months. Seriously, they've gone ENTIRE episodes without talking to each other — heck, without even being spotted in the same frame! — and yet, all Veronica has to do is say, "You all have to help me" and Betty will immediately agree to risk her life to break Archie out of prison. Well, at least the plotlines are finally coming back together! The head-spinning carousel from Veronica's speakeasy to Archie's prison to Betty's Gargoyle King investigation was seriously making me dizzy.
Jughead seriously needs to calm the FUCK down
Look, I'm sure he thinks he's doing the right thing by playing the game in order to get to the bottom of things. And for the record, I think his theory — that Gryphons & Gargoyles is actually a microcosm of the town of Riverdale — is absolutely right. But Juggy, do you seriously have to be such an obsessive maniacal weirdo about it?? I understand that being a weirdo is kind of your "thing" but I'm honestly shocked that Betty is still putting up with your bullshit. "How do you catch the game master?" he tells Betty excitedly with a manic glint in his eye. "You BECOME the game master!" Is that…really how that works?
This bizarre loser has become so disconnected from reality that when Betty asks him to help them break Archie out of prison, he gets excited…at the prospect of incorporating this into his next quest for Gryphons & Gargoyles. "It sounds perfect!" he exclaims to an utterly frustrated Betty. "Betty, this quest that I've been working on, I thought it was finished but it lacked heart, it lacked humanity…until you gave me the missing piece." God are you fucking KIDDING me, you delusional bastard? Your (supposed) best friend is about to be killed in an underground fight club, and instead of doing anything remotely helpful, you make him a fun part of your little cosplay board game. Dump his useless ass, Betty!
Thank GOD for Betty, the only intelligent one left
While everyone else is making idiotic decisions and playing board games in an underground bunker, Betty is busy getting shit done. Literally the only reason why Archie manages to escape from prison is because Betty is a fucking genius. Veronica's plan was to distract the guards with homemade smoke bombs disguised as soda cans so Archie could shimmy down the drain, climb through the pipe, and escape on the back of Betty's (well, Jughead's) motorcycle. A good plan, sure, but not foolproof because Archie would've been instantly apprehended at the place where the pipe leads out.
Fortunately, Betty had the idea to not only disable the warden's car (therefore buying them a few more minutes), but also set up a goddamn DECOY. She speeds away on her motorcycle with a man sitting behind her, and the warden obviously suspects that she's whisking Archie away so he sends the guards after them. There's an exhilarating motorcycle chase, narrated by Jughead as he cowardly sits in the safety of the bunker, but Betty is ultimately stopped by the warden — only to reveal that the dude sitting behind her is KEVIN KELLER. What a reveal!! NOBODY saw this coming! The real Archie Andrews, meanwhile, is being driven back to the bunker, where he officially goes into hiding as an escaped murder convict. Well Betty, you might suck ass at investigating but you're pretty damn good at breaking people out of prison. I think you've finally found your calling!
Warden Norton was playing a game of G&G with Joaquin, and Joaquin went to join another gang that's hiding out in the mine by Shadow Lake and they are ALSO playing G&G.
What makes me come up with such an elaborate theory? Let's check the facts. So Warden Norton was clearly playing Gryphons & Gargoyles, since he brands Archie with a rune from the game, calls him the "Red Paladin," and ultimately ends his own life by downing a chalice full of cyanide-laced blue Fresh Aid, à la Dilton Doily and Principal Featherhead. That much is obvious. But I think that Joaquin was ALSO playing the game — and what's more, he was playing it with the warden. Right before Joaquin stabs Archie, he says, "I'm sorry Archie, but the warden said if I did this, I'd finally ascend." Here we go again with the word "ascend," the word spoken by Benjamin Button right before he offed himself! I don't know if I'm reading too much into it, but it sure seems like the warden was the game master of a G&G game that Joaquin was also playing.
The warden ends up dead at the end of the episode, and Joaquin is nowhere to be found. But I have a funny feeling we know where we can find him. When Kevin runs into Joaquin during the breakout attempt, Joaquin reveals that he's joined a different gang. And during Archie's final dinner with the warden, Archie asks him how Hiram Lodge was able to frame him for the murder of Cassidy Bullock. Warden Norton reveals that Hiram paid three of Cassidy's friends to lie under oath. Furious, Archie asks about the whereabouts of these people. The warden says that they're in hiding somewhere, and utters this cryptic message: "Me? I'd hide in the mines by Shadow Lake. No chance of being found there." Seems…oddly specific. What are the chances that Joaquin went to join Cassidy's friends in the mines by Shadow Lake? Pretty high, in my opinion!
But wait, THERE'S MORE! I don't think Joaquin and Cassidy's friends are just hiding out by Shadow Lake. I think they are ALSO playing a game of G&G. This is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. Earlier in the episode, Cheryl and Toni get pissed at Fangs and Sweet Pea for shooting arrows. "We're practicing our aim for the next quest," the boys explain to Jughead. "We wanna go off board, take G&G to the real world! We heard other groups are doing it."
Whoa whoa whoa OTHER GROUPS? Exactly how many people are playing this game?? We know that Jughead is leading a G&G game with his Serpents. We can also guess that Warden Norton was leading a G&G game, possibly with Joaquin and some other prison inmates. And Josie, Reggie, and Kevin also recently decided to start a G&G game of their own (ugh, that's not going to end well). So what if…what if the kids hiding out by Shadow Lake are ALSO playing the game? And they've already taken it off board? Like I said, it's a stretch, but it's definitely a possibility!
There's only one thing I know for sure. The Gargoyle King just isn't scary!! It just isn't! I'm getting frustrated now. We're five episodes deep into this season, and so far the only thing it's done is stand, swivel around, raise its arms, and emit a low rumbling noise. FUCKING DO SOMETHING ALREADY!