Whaaaaaat. Maybe it’s just the episode, but I feel like I’m on a metric ton of fizzle rocks right now. I got that jingle in my jangle, you know what I mean? Perhaps the easiest way to discuss this episode is start with like, the most normal thing that happened.
Tom and Sierra are getting married! Isn’t that wonderful? I’m so happy for this island of sanity in the middle of an episode I’m still having trouble describing. Every time I try to sit down and talk about it, I just end up getting up from my desktop and going off to like, stare into the distance. But I’m going to try real hard.
So, as I said a few weeks ago, we’ve got ourselves a prison break! Except that Archie organizes it, so it immediately collapses. I guess you shouldn’t try to escape from a correctional facility by just making a run for it in broad daylight? That gets him tied to his bunk and branded by Warden Norton, who later informs Archie that his time as the most favored inmate is coming to an end. Does Leopold & Loeb have like, any government oversight? Nevermind. I’m thinking about it, don’t think about it.
Having remembered, unlike me, that her boyfriend was in a detention facility, Veronica enlists her old suitor Elio to help her. Instead of getting her into L&L, though, he takes her–in disguise–to a closed recreation center. She doesn’t understand why she’s brought there, until a hooded Archie is brought out for Generic Fight Club. After having sex in one of the center’s locker rooms, they–okay, Veronica–starts hatching a new escape plan, which will require help from the other kids.
The escape sequence, which is interspersed with scenes from way-too-into-it Jughead’s Gryphons & Gargoyles game, is brilliant. I mean, it’s complete lunacy and it’s absolutely unbelievable that a bunch of teenagers pull it off, but it sure is fun to watch. At the end of it, as Archie gets away to the bunker because Betty and Kevin have pulled a switcharoo, the warden wants to know one thing: “Where is the Red Paladin?”
Because Archie is the Red Paladin, you see, and the warden is apparently playing G&G, too. He’d gotten a card directing him to “KILL THE RED PALADIN,” which he failed to do, so he drinks from a poisoned chalice. The revelation that he was doing all of these off-the-wall things because he was playing a frickin’ roleplaying game makes things a lot more interesting. What other adults with apparently unchecked power are also playing?
We don’t get an answer to that this week or to whether Alice’s recollections are the whole truth. When Betty prompts her classmates to ask their parents, Tom and Sierra are cagey about it, denying that they even hung out much in high school, much less were accidentally in love. (Guys, don’t ruin this for me.) Reggie gets a shiner for just asking about it and it’s completely skated over. I know there were a lot of other plates spinning and this is Riverdale, but still. Nobody even blinked.
Unlike Hermione, who had a full-on tantrum this week. Although she was mostly right in her tirade about how silly the shenanigans between Hiram and Veronica have gotten, she was wrong about one thing. Veronica is not obsessed with Archie. They have a pretty healthy relationship, all things considered. But Hiram, the grown adult? We found out earlier in the episode that he paid five figures to frame Archie, an Irish Setter disguised as a teenage boy. He needs to–and I say this with only love in my heart–GET A LIFE.
Or a hobby. But probably not G&G–that doesn’t seem to turn out well for people. As we end the episode this week, Jug turns a corner in Fox Forest and stumbles upon the Gargoyle King. Oh, dear.
7/10 – I could harp more on the realism of all this–don’t these kids ever have homework or hell, class?–but with Riverdale, I usually find it best just to relax and let it float you through its scenes, each one more ludicrous than the last. This was one of those weeks. I really appreciated that, like last week, it was a group effort and we got to spend time with cast members beyond the core four. Also, Hiram appeared mainly just to be chastised, flex his biceps, and get his foot stomped by his child. It was great!