Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: The River "Los Ciegos"

Non Spoiler Review:
A more secular episode of The River, coming off the heavily supernatural premiere. A malady afflicts the group as they explore some new leads, bringing them into contact with a tribe who seems to want to test them as being worthy of survival in their jungle.

Los Ciegos is another tensely written episode that really worked. In addition to the threat, we got lots of character development. Many preconceptions about the crew are thrown out the window as they respond to this latest crisis.

Spoilers Now!
The gang search a cave mentioned in Emmet's journal, and find some bodies with the eyes cut out, though they're neither Emmet nor Lena's father. That night speedy time lapse cam captures a native approaching the tents. By morning there are odd white markings scrawled around camp and piles of stones and little animal skulls (creepily Blair Witch). Everyone gets up.

Jahel (the walking paranormal encyclopedia) explains they are the Morcegos, given the expedition has crossed onto their land, and they're watching to see if they are worthy to pass through the jungle. Then they realize Emilio is missing and find him outside of camp. He can't see.

Lincoln suggests he was exposed to a neurotoxin. AJ starts balking at being the one carrying all the camera gear. When they hear screeching in the woods, Clark panics and fires his gun, shooting what turns out to be a boar instead. Jahel warns the Morcegos won't be happy about taking a life. Then Tess begins to go blind.

The group returns to the Magus. Kurt is worried about a contagion and wants Clark to cancel the expedition, so the producer confronts him that he knows Kurt has his own radio that he regular talks through and wants him to get help if their lives are on the line. Meanwhile, Jahel uses the ship's radio to try to call for help, but begins to go blind herself. Kurt moves the ship to the middle of the river. 

Clark reviews Emmet's tapes for a clue, but he suffers the same symptoms. He stumbles into Tess, and the two blindly talk about what they're going to do. Clark let's spill how much he cares for her, and Tess warns him of the tapes recording what they say and wants them erased. They don't know that Lincoln is watching them.

Lena has learned from the journals of a neurotoxin used in blow darts and there's a special plant whose sap can neutralize it. It grows at elevations of 750 metres. Lincoln and Kurt prepare to go, but blind Clark accidently startles Kurt and he stabs him. 

Jahel goes off to find fishing line to stitch him up and Tess follows after. Lincoln uses the privacy to ask Clark how long he was having an affair with his mother. Meanwhile, one of the Morcegos has boarded the boat. Jahel screams, prompting everyone to lock themselves in where they are. Lincoln's trapped with Clark, while Jahel's with Tess and Emilio, and they communicate on the shortwave. Lincoln has to cauterize Clark's wound (blind!).

Lena, Kurt and AJ get to shore and are immediately chased by Morcegos. They hide in the brush and Lena is covered in centipedes. When they're safe, Kurt and Lena are both blind, leaving just AJ to lead the way. AJ decides it's a better idea to abandon them all and find civilization himself. He promises he'll send a helicopter when he gets back. 

Clark thinks he's going to die so wants Lincoln to know the truth. Tess never did anything wrong. Emmet left her and needed to do one last trip. She was done with all the exploring and begged him to stay, but he chose to go over remaining with her. She never cheated on him given they were separated already and she was trying to move on.

The Morcegos are trying to find a way into the cabins. Clark decides to be a hero so knocks out Lincoln and yells out that if they want to judge someone then they can kill him and spare everyone else. The rest hear him on the shortwave, but it works. The Morcegos back away and even leave Clark alone.

AJ unwittingly stumbles upon the tree from the journal illustration and gets to the miracle bulb underneath the roots. The tunnel collapses on him, but he's saved by the Morcegos who drag him out and he makes his way back to Lena and Kurt. Meanwhile, Kurt is whispering on his radio that the crew will never find Emmet or the Source, and will be dead shortly. AJ arrives and the crew get back together for Lincoln to administer the antidote.

Tess and Lincoln have a chat after everything gets back to (relative) normalcy. He lets her know it's okay for her to move on after they find Emmet. But Tess wants her family back and says she should never have let it come apart. Meanwhile sad Clark watches from the control room. Kurt arrives to apologize for stabbing him. Clark isn't as forgiving of him.

The Verdict:
The story really worked as a tense piece of drama and kept me interested the whole way through. The behaviour of all the characters this week made for a great episode—particular Clark transitioning from the cliched TV producer to a more well-rounded individual who cares about the people around him. Even AJ and Kurt had some interesting growth, and we find out that, despite the particular motivations driving the crew, it's not all black and white.

Kurt doesn't seem to be outrightly hostile to the group (unless they appear to get close to finding Emmet), and his communication seems to imply that he's only there to ensure they don't find the source (rather than looking for it himself). Who's he working for?

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