Everyone’s favorite treasure hunter, podcaster, and Ferrari-crasher is back! That’s right, episode four of National Treasure: Edge of History brings back Justin Bartha’s Riley Poole for its best installment yet.
Before we get into Riley’s reappearance and teases for National Treasure 3, let’s get the episode’s low points out of the way. They’re relatively the same ones the series has had from the beginning – the dialogue is CW at best, and characters still make assumptions and jump to conclusions for no reason. It also doesn’t seem like the writers understand today’s 20-somethings as well as they think they do. For example, I don’t know of anyone who lets their friends take their phones and look at their texts, let alone respond to one for them!
But it does appear that the show is strengthening some of its weak points as well. At the episode’s beginning, we see Jess surrounded by books, scouring for information that could lead to the location of the next clue, and the Daughters of the Plumed Serpent. She’s finally doing research instead of making a guess and happening to be right. Her knowledge is also on display when she ends up in a perilous situation with Riley, and her puzzle-solving skills save the day. At one point, Riley says that she reminds him of Ben Gates, and after this episode, I’m finally starting to see it.
This brings us to the best part of the episode – Riley. Audiences haven’t seen this character in 15 years, and the writers know that many people are only tuning in to get hints for National Treasure 3, and boy does this episode deliver. When the crew meet Riley at Peter Sadusky’s wake, they ask him what he’s been up to, and he says that he and Ben have been working on something for “three or four, or maybe 15 years.” When prompted as to what this is, he says there’s “47 reasons to be interested”. This most likely refers to page 47 in the president’s book, which we saw at the end of Book of Secrets, giving this fan hope that this will be the plot of the third movie.
It’s telling that the best part of this episode and the series so far came not from one of its core cast, but a special guest star specifically included for fan service and to tease the next installment in the franchise. But Riley’s inclusion in this episode gave a glimpse of what the show could be like if it actually continuously put thought into itself rather than relying on the easiest way out. Bringing Riley into the fold didn’t magically make the show better, but it gave it a reason to be better.
Edge of History is almost halfway through its freshman run, and for the first time, I’m excited to see where next week’s episode takes the crew, and eager to peel back the next layer of this mystery.
Episode Four of National Treasure: Edge of History will be available to stream on Disney+ starting Wednesday, December 28th.