The River continues to lose momentum with a dud of an episode this week. After only four episodes, the show is losing its novelty and my interest is dropping as quickly as the ratings are.
Let’s break it down after the jump:
It was a pretty forgettable episode this week. It’s clear The River is opting to go for standalone episodes versus employing a (potentially much more interesting) serial format. This means we can pretty much bet that we aren’t going to find Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) until the end of the eight episode-run (if that) and we’re sure to have a different angry-spirit-of-the-week leading up to it.
We’re halfway through, and this is usually the moment where many viewers consider it make or break time. It’s also, arguably the best time to throw out a wildcard to keep the interest of wavering viewers. The River does change its format slightly this week, but I don’t think it was very successful endeavour.
“A Better Man” may have the guise of more “character development,” but really what it translates to is boredom. Much of the episode takes place during the day, which was nice for me because it meant less hand-held camera footage while running away from danger in the dark. No need to take the motion-sickness pills this week. Unfortunately that also means the suspenseful atmosphere is lost and The River turns into another run-of-the-mill show.
Strangely enough this episode we also gain a new member of the search team, Jonas (Scott Michael Foster), instead of getting a juicy causality. There’s wasted potential here: Jonas is one of the camera men that was on Emmet’s missing crew. We stumble on him hanging from a vine in the desert half dead. Apparently he’s been hanging there for months (Side note: How the hell did he survive that long without eating or drinking anything? I mean we’re talking MONTHS he’s been hanging there) and he doesn’t remember anything about Emmet (Read: He’s useless). There’s the chance of getting some information off of his phone, but since he was a douche and angered the spirits by filming them on it, the phone gets destroyed by episode’s end (a.k.a We need a reset before we meet next week’s pissed off ghosts).
I also don’t really buy that we got any kind of character development. We learn that the crew doesn’t have a standout leader (If television has taught us anything- if you’re in a jungle of any kind, you need a leader. And some alliances). Tess (Leslie Hope) tries to claim the role, but I don’t buy it. Lincoln (Joe Anderson) is more likely to be the leader, but that’s because he advocates a more traditional morality and is prone to yelling at everyone else to get his points across. In the pivotal scene of the episode, it’s discovered that Jonas doesn’t know anything, the group goes all Lord of the Flies meets Lifeboat on him, wanting to throw him overboard to let the spirits take care of him. Apparently this is what Emmet did in the first place. Of course, Lincoln objects but surprisingly, Tess serves as the instigator. The group squabbles back and forth, with some yelling amidst a pretty heavy rainstorm, but ultimately, Jonas is the one to make the decision to smash the phone and release the elder spirit trapped in there.
Yeah, so…still no clear leader. Am I supposed to be impressed by Jonas’ self-sacrifice? No – because I don’t even know this guy (looks like I’ll have a chance to get to know him as the Elders spare him despite his mistake). And so Jonas joins the team as camera man number two. Yawn. Killing off main characters in a show such as this will likely help to keep viewers – adding new ones is probably not the best move since I already don’t particularly care for the characters that we already have.
Let’s see if this episode satisfies my ‘tired conventions checklist’:
- Does this introduction work? “The search for Emmet Cole continues as our search team goes deeper into the Amazon Jungle.” Check.
- Jahel (Paulina Gaitan) know about the danger and didn’t say anything until it was too late to get away? Check.
- Angry Spirit? The Elders. Check
- Angry because a stupid Westerner did something disrespectful? Check.
- Someone say “What the hell was that?” Check.
- Immediate cut away from something that looks scary? Yup. Hanging man. Not even that scary. Check.
- Lincoln and Lena (Eloise Mumford) share an innocent yet flirty moment? Check.
- Main character(s) go power hungry? Tess and arguably Clark (Paul Blackthorne). Check.
- Kumbaya moment at the end of the episode? Yup, Tess and Lincoln conveniently find a tape left by Emmet who regrets throwing Jonas overboard. They hug. Check.
So River watchers, what did you think of this week’s episode? Did you appreciate the slight change in format? Are you enticed enough to keep watching? Any cool theories about where Emmet Cole is? Let us know in the comments section!