Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: The River "Doctor Emmet Cole"

Non Spoiler Review:
As the Magus crew reaches the climax of their search, Emmet's lost tapes are discovered, which reveal his journey to the find the Bioúna. The crew watches Emmet's final days before his disappearance, while attempting to track his whereabouts.

This one started out promising, with lots of mystery given it was told from Emmet's point of view. But it kind of dragged throughout the middle, and served more as set up for the season finale. It had a very Blair Witch feel to it. 

Doctor Emmet Cole was certainly better than last week, but the series has lost some of the edgier scares it showcased in the first few episodes and is leaning more towards sudden jumps versus the more disturbing elements (doll trees!) we saw at the beginning. I'm hoping it goes out on a high note (given a renewal looks pretty sketchy at right now).

Spoilers Now!
Day 28. Lena wants to go home now that her father is gone, so Lincoln is trying to think of ways to get her out of the Amazon. She tells him to go to the falls first to search for Emmet and admits she can wait. When they arrive at the waterfall they find Russ' camera bag, with tapes that Clark takes to the Magus to piece together. The gang sits down to watch.

On the Magus 5 - 10 months before, Russ and the crew are waiting for Emmet, who appears to be meditating in his cabin. A dragonfly goes into his mouth and he wakes. He informs Lena (via the camera) that they're nearing the falls, and he's heard a song on his journey that he tries to decipher. Russ balks at going to the falls, but Emmet explains the Bioúna are testing them to see if they're strong enough, and reveals he's been talking to Lena (and also mentions how she's kind of the chosen one given her birthmark). They get into a big fight. Russ stays behind on the Magus while Emmet and two others (plus a dog) go on ahead.

Four days later they're in the jungle, and Emmet comes clean about the tribe they're searching for—rumoured to be extremely healthy. They believe they're angels guarding a secret—one source of the magic.

As the present-day crew watch, Tess is happy to hear Emmet admit he still loves her, that he doesn't feel separated. They hear the word Il Tunchi—Jahel warns that's not a spirit, but a demon, that will come to kill them, and urges them not to watch. Meanwhile, Lena reveals to Jonas that she set the whole satellite link up to find her father. 

As night falls, Emmet finds crew member Manny skinned in the tree. They're hounded by a shrieking in the jungle, but Emmet whistles the song back—the spirit is a riddle and they've solved it, passing the test. His camera girl doesn't want to go any further and disappears in the morning, taking some of his gear.

But the dog finally catches up with him to provide some company. Emmet demonstrates an ability—conjuring a fire in his hands. He drinks some tainted water and gets sick. He manages to call Lincoln on the satellite phone, but his son is busy and has to go, so Emmet says his good-bye.

In the present, Lincoln feels the guilt of dismissing the call. And for some odd reason, Lena only now notices the weird mark on the back of her neck. Clark and Tess sit down to watch the next batch of footage.

Emmet breaks his ankle, so opts to make his way to the river. He realizes he can't make it. The whistling starts again, but he's too weak to reply. Emmet closes his eyes and some natives take him away (with the camera, fortunately), where he's cared for and wakes up. Then he's taken to what appears to be an army base and left there. 

The Magus crew take off in hot pursuit and find the dog. The outpost is in ruins and appears abandoned.

The Verdict:
Emmet's point of view was a welcome perspective, and it gave him a chance to make piece with his family via the camera. I was expecting a lot more chills and scares, though, and was left disappointed with the odd ending of him reaching some kind of civilization (though it's apparently been ransacked by the end).

I had to chuckle when Emmet was being carried through the jungle and one of the natives was considerate enough to bring along the camera and film them. The Magus crew also got through the jungle pretty damn quick to catch up to his location too. The writers obviously wanted to keep things moving briskly, so I can't fault them for that.

I'm not confident in The River's future after this season so I'm hoping for an edgier final two episodes that will bring some sort of closure to the series if necessary. It's been a decent venture that surpasses some of the other attempts at genre story telling lately. I wouldn't mind seeing it get the chance to grow.

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