'Riverdale': How "The Great Escape" Pays Homage to 'The Shawshank Redemption'

Tonight's episode of Riverdale was full of tension and action as the mysteries of Griffins and Gargoyles deepened and Archie's prison predicament worsened. While there were some major developments as part of "The Great Escape" for a number of The CW drama's characters, the episode also had some well-considered nods to another classic prison break -- Shawshank Redemption.

Spoilers for tonight's episode of Riverdale, "The Great Escape", below.

Tonight's episode saw Veronica (Camila Mendes) make a play to break Archie (K.J. Apa) out of the Leopold and Loeb correctional facility he's been in since Hiram Lodge (Mark Consuelos) had him framed for and ultimately convicted of murder. The plan centered around a drain on the floor of the swimming pool area where the jail was conducting an illegal prisoner fight club in which Archie had been forced to fight.

In the 1994 film Shawshank Redemption, it is also a drain -- or, more specifically, a sewer -- that provides the method of escape. If you aren't familiar, the film follows the story of Andy Dufresne, a man convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and then sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary. During his time there, he begins to make himself very useful by helping manage the financial matters of prison staff, guards, and even the warden. When Andy finds out that a prisoner in another prison admitted to being the real murderer, he tries to get the warden to listen, but he does not and instead makes life hell for Andy. Andy ultimately escapes the prison, having slowly and steadily over 19 years dug himself a tunnel and managed to escape through a sewer pipe. He also takes evidence of the warden's crimes with him.

While that's a very basic synopsis of the film, it gives just enough context for some of the similarities between it and tonight's episode. The most obvious one outside of the drain/sewer escape is the wrongdoing on the part of the warden and, when faced with being called out on it, his suicide. On Riverdale, Warden Norton, who looks very much like Warden Norton in Shawshank, kills himself by cyanide poisoning once Hermione Lodge (Marisol Nichols) arrives. In the movie, when the authorities arrive, the warden shoots himself in the head.


There are also some smaller similarities between Riverdale and the film as well. In Shawshank, a prisoner named Brooks is paroled after having served 50 years behind bars. However, Brooks is unable to adjust to the outside world and ends his own life. On Riverdale, Mad Dog (Eli Goree) somewhat fills that role. Mad Dog has been behind bars for a few years, to the point that his life outside of the prison is simply no more. He also opts to stay behind instead of escape when Archie offers him a way out. Mad Dog says he can't fit through the drain and while that may be true, it also could be inferred that he just couldn't go back to life outside after all of the horrors he had experienced in prison.

What did you think of tonight's episode of Riverdale? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.