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TV Review: Riverdale (Season 3, Episode 5)

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After finally hitting its stride with last week's "The Midnight Club", this week's offering "The Great Escape" took things up a gear with the most exciting episode that Riverdale has delivered in a while.

Credit: Netflix

It's no secret that Archie Andrews is not my favourite character on Riverdale, so I never thought that an episode centring on his escape from prison would be my favourite of the series thus far.

However, coming off the stellar Breakfast Club-themed episode, the Riverdale writers took things one step further this week, with an episode that FINALLY gave all our characters something decent to work with (I'm looking specifically at Josie and Kevin here, whom Riverdale have long neglected), and had an exciting, cohesive narrative running throughout.

I have to admit, the beginning of the episode was a little shaky - the jumps between Jughead in the bunker and Archie in juvie weren't the best, and Archie's daylight attempted jailbreak, whilst important to the later plot, was a little eye-roll inducing. In what world, Archie, are you going to manage to escape from juvie in broad daylight? I mean I know this is Riverdale and logic applies differently here, but still. 

Luckily, the episode settled into its stride quite quickly after that, and we pick up where we left off: Betty and Jughead in the bunker, with Jughead fully immersed in Griffins and Gargoyles. I have to admit, I'm not entirely sure if Jughead really has been brainwashed by the game, or if he's playing at it in order to get answers, but whichever it is, Cole Sprouse plays it very well.

Whilst Jughead is off in G&G land, Betty works on furthering their investigation into the Shifty Parents of Riverdale by recruiting Josie, Kevin and Reggie to question their parents. I am SO HAPPY that Josie and Kevin finally got a proper storyline this week and although their questioning of Tom and Sierra led to their parents outright lying to them before announcing their engagement, it was nice to see them actively involved in the story again. 

Reggie's investigations, meanwhile, gain him a black eye, and apparently we're just going to shift over the fact that that's child abuse. I mean okay, we do have a lot to get through, but please say Riverdale is not going to completely brush over this and we that will come back to it at a later date?

Veronica has decided that enough is enough and takes the matter of breaking Archie out of Juvie into her own hands. Enlisting the help of her mob friend, she infiltrates the Fight Club (seriously is no one going to mention how ridiculously obvious V's disguise is? Blond hair and sunglasses do not completely hide who you are V!) and utters the single funniest and most self-referential line Riverdale has ever had when she sees Archie: "I'd recognise those abs anywhere!".

After a quickie in the locker room, Veronica & Archie plot an escape plan to get Archie out via a drain in the rec center. Veronica quickly recruits Betty, Josie, and Kevin to help (Jughead in his G&G haze picks a fake quest over their real one) and the episode really clicks into high gear.

The prison break sequence is without a doubt one of the best things Riverdale has ever done. Cleverly, the escape is juxtaposed with Jughead's game of G&G in the bunker and we watch the corresponding action play out as Jughead narrates the game. This whole setup really amps up the intensity of the escape, and I have to admit I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entire thing. Fair play Riverdale, fair play, you actually got me excited about a plot involving Archie Andrews. I did not see that one coming. With some help from his opponent, who turns out to be Mad Dog, some well-timed smoke bombs from Josie and Kevin and Veronica stabbing Hiram with her stiletto, Archie manages to make it through the drain and to the other side, where Betty waits for him.

But the fun isn't over yet. As the pair race away on a motorbike, they are chased and ambushed by the prison guards. It is then revealed that "Archie" is a decoy, it is Kevin who was actually on the back of the bike with Betty. I have to admit, I was not expecting that from our Riverdale teens - it seems that Veronica, Betty, Josie and Kevin are much better at planning escapes than Archie.

Archie, meanwhile, is taken in the back of the car to Jughead's bunker, where both the G&G game and the great prison break come to an exciting finish as Archie stumbles into the bunker. 

It turns out the excitement isn't over quite yet though, as whilst treating a stab wound Archie received in jail from Joaquin, the gang discover a brand on his hip, given as punishment from his earlier prison break by the Warden. This adds yet another layer to the mystery, as it now seems as if the Juvie is somehow involved in this whole G&G mess. 

Riverdale has definitely upped the ante this season, and I'm almost sad that the Thanksgiving break is next week - I cannot wait to see what it has to offer next!

Riverdale Season 3 is streaming on Netflix, with the next new episode available on 29th November.

 

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