Saturday, March 17, 2012

The River "The Experiment"

 Non Spoiler Review:
The Magus crew explores the seemingly abandoned base, stumbling upon some startling discoveries (including another laptop everyone sits around and watches). The flashbacks fill in the backstory leading up to the expedition, as well as illuminate some details of Kurt's past.

The River definitely stepped up the tension with an interesting direction, turning from supernatural aspects to mad science. I found it a lot more compelling that recent weeks, and the resolution achieved at the end, as well as the questions raised have got me more interested in where the series is going. It's all still very much cliché, but the strength is in the frenetic pacing that keeps the show moving even when the story elements aren't that original.

Spoilers Now!
As the group explores the abandoned base, Kurt phones someone named Hana and gets her voicemail. There's some music playing as they search inside the building. The source is a radio in an office, which also contains books on genetics. The room appears to be barricaded from the inside, with bloody footprints leading to Emmet's hat, and finally a room of bodies covered in bugs.

Lincoln volunteers to check it out but he can't find his father in there. Kurt tries his call again. There are about 20 bodies piled up and Clark urges Tess to leave but she's adamant they keep searching. Everyone realizes Kurt has disappeared, as he's following the sound of running water in a bathroom. Lincoln and Clark find what appears to be an operating room and white board full of genetic mapping that Lincoln handily identifies as pharmaceutical in nature. They finally find a dead tribesman suspended in fluid, bearing the same mark as Lena, plus claw marks on his back.

Kurt finds Rosetta (Rabbit) in the bathroom and she appears in shock. She tells them they're coming and they're hungry. They're intercepted by a man running towards them whom Kurt shoots several times. They make a break for the office as a bunch of zombies give chase, and barricade the door behind them. 

Seven months earlier, Lincoln learns of his father's disappearance while in class (and with an apparent girlfriend). Clark visited Tess to sell her on the idea of the TV show, but she's in a depression. He advises her that a signal has been detected in the Amazon. In Berlin, four months earlier, Kurt leaves Hana lying in bed for South America. He asks her to marry him before he goes. Two months prior, Lena is working at a fitness store, and has a seizure, claiming Emmet is still alive.

Rabbit is sorry for leaving Emmet, but she suggests they just open the door, because it will all be easier to die now. Emmet was there at the infirmary when she got there, and the doctors said he was going to be okay. But then they changed. Tess refuses to believe Emmet could be one of the zombies.

Lincoln recovers some doctors logs on video on a laptop. They recount their search for a specific gene sequence (from the body in the tank). The specimen was over 50 years old, but with the cardiovascular system of a teenager, so they created a retrovirus out of his genes to use as a cure. Someone breaks in and shoots all the doctors, telling them their research can't be made public. The virus is released in the infirmary and everyone changes. It must have gotten out and killed the rest on the outpost. The girl in the video is Hana.

Someone from inside the infirmary tries to signal them with a mirror. The zombies abruptly disappear, but Rabbit claims they only do so for a little while. But there are tunnels that connect the buildings, so they make an attempt to get to the infirmary. They realize they're walking among the zombies, who are, in fact, sleeping. Kurt finds Hana lying on the floor, and then he kills all of them.

They get to the infirmary, but realize the signal is just wind chimes. Tess has to face the fact Emmet's gone. But...they suddenly see a dragonfly that leads them to another room and a cocoon (!) —containing Emmet.

Cut to an Emmet video where he explains dragonflies retreat into a cocoon to regenerate. 

Tess slices into it and releases him with her knife. He's alive, and they make haste away from the base given it's nightfall and zombies start running after. Back at the Magus, the dog refuses to get on board, so they set sail and take some time to chill after their eventful day.

As Lincoln and Lena decompress, he lets her know that he has a girlfriend back in Chicago. The plan is to stop at the first village, and Tess advises Rabbit she can find her own way back home from there. She suggests Rabbit chooses her words carefully when the reporters come knocking on her door. Rabbit is left alone on deck and is grabbed by someone and killed (problem solved).

Kurt visits AJ in the video room and orders him to erase all the video he took that day. AJ wants to know what he's really doing there. Kurt whispers he's going to kill Emmet Cole. Then he spies the camera shot of the deck showing dead Rabbit. Kurt goes to the bridge and gets Jahel, sending her downstairs to Lincoln. It's Hana who's loose on the ship. Kurt won't shoot, and tries to get through to her, though ultimately has to put her down. There's still another aboard who attacks Tess, but Emmet appears in the nick of time and kills it. He asks how his funeral was.

The Verdict:
I liked, despite it being 28 Days Later on The River. Now that Emmet has been discovered I feel the show can really move forward for the finale and get into the mystery surrounding the source (and whatever it was at the base). Is Emmet crazy, though? Is that even Emmet? Jahel's warnings of demons come to mind, too, so who knows what is inhabiting his body.

As far as the zombie virus, it did provide some exciting (albeit derivative) tension. Has it been contained to the base, or is there a threat of contagion beyond it? The mix of science and the supernatural (always a delicate business) kind of works, with what looks like the attempt to seize the genetic strength of the jungle tribes and market it as a pharmaceutical for longevity.

Kurt gets some intriguing elements added to his backstory, suggesting he has knowledge on par with Emmet about what's going on. But did he bring back Hana himself or did she escape? How did he allow her to get away with everyone so close (and manage to handle a high maintenance zombie, of all things)? It's the little questions like these that one thinks about afterwards that are the more annoying aspects of the series. However, I'm a little more excited about checking out the finale, and hopeful for a possible renewal.

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