Usually at this point, it should be clear whether a new show is worth sticking around for the long run. But “The River” is tricky. The episodes are certainly entertaining, with this week’s “A Better Man” being the most exciting thus far. The show is fully capable of delivering the scares, and is finally going deeper to formulate a complex, intrinsic plot that has the potential to keep viewers hooked. But whether this will be actually be successfully executed still remains to be seen.
It is good to see the show finally reveal more about the mysterious Emmet through the discovery of his old videotapes (how convenient!). The show makes further use of its documentary format by visually displaying the past, as the show delves into the background of Jonas (Scott Michael Foster), Emmet’s old camera man who emerges in the jungle. Found hanging and near death, and with no memory of the past few months, Jonas sends the characters into an emotional frenzy.
The introduction of Jonas brings an exciting air of mystery to the show, and is proof that “The River” is working on developing three dimensional characters who are both intriguing and likable.
Jonas’ background is especially interesting, as the show unravels the terrible truth about his past–he did something to upset the spirits of the Amazon, and now he is plagued by a terrible curse. He brings doom not just to himself but to the Magus, where horrifying events plague everyone on board.
This “cursed” storyline is executed surprisingly well for what is basically a formulaic plot device. In one particularly striking scene, birds start dropping dead from the sky. Even worse is the swarm of locusts that traumatize the characters. Note to self: It might not be a good idea to eat dinner while watching “The River.” It might just ruin the meal.
“A Better Man” is a solid episode, but the show remains unstable. “The River” must delve deeper, and cannot rely on mere shocks each week–and it seems as the show might finally be headed in that direction.
Ana Luisa Crivorot is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.