Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer DVR Dump: The River 1.02: "Marbeley"

“He knew what he was doing out here. That he'd be inviting in darkness. He wouldn't ever risk exposing you or Tess to that. But me? He could risk me.”

I didn’t find “Marbeley” to be as effective an episode of “The River” as the series pilot was. We did learn more about the character, but the episode wasn’t very scary. Yeah, old dolls can be creepy, but if that’s all you’ve got, I’m not really scared. I guess I didn’t really believe in the threat posed by the spooky thing of the week (the spirit of a little girl). Maybe if we had actually seen the little girl’s ghost it would have been more effective. Little kids captured the right way on film can be freaking creepy. I’m hoping that this episode isn’t a sign that the show is going to be super-procedural in nature with a team travels farther into the jungle, team encounters scary thing, team defeats scary thing, team forgets how scared they were and keeps exploring formula to every episode. I’m happy to stick with the show, however, because all shows need a little time to find their way, and hey, it’s over after eight episodes anyway! It’s not like watching “The River” is a big commitment. And Scott Michael Foster (Cappie from “Greek”) shows up in episode four, apparently. So there’s that.

Like the pilot, the show opens with old footage from Emmet’s television show, “The Undiscovered Country.” This footage is from Chirstmas 1988, and after we see the usual, Norman Rockwell-style (but in the jungle) Christmas stuff, we get a very telling scene between Clark and Tess. They talk about why Emmet wanted to stage an elaborate Christmas, and then they kiss. I guess we know the identity of Tess’ partner in the affair now. Could Clark be embarking on this expedition because of guilt just like Tess? Later in the episode we get more “The Undiscovered Country” footage from early 1989. Emmet gives Lincoln a rather strange necklace. He tells Lincoln that he was instructed to give the necklace to a very special child and that the necklace has power over life and death. Young Lincoln thinks this is pretty cool, but I think it’s kind of creepy.

In the present, the team is trying to figure out their next move in the search for Emmet. They know tey should be using the show footage backup tapes to try to figure out where Emmet spent his last days, but Lena says she’s having trouble putting the tapes in order. She has an idea for fixing the problem, though. She remembers Emmet asking her to research treatments for an infected insect bite, and she figures that she can put the tapes in the right sequence by examining the bug bite in each. If the bug bite looks nasty, it’s a newer tape. So Lena puts the tapes in something resembling an order, and the team comes up with eight possible locations for Emmet’s last transmission. Meanwhile, while Jahel is sleeping, a blue dragonfly that had been puttering around the Magus and annoying several characters flies right into her mouth. It clearly isn’t an ordinary dragonfly, because she wakes up instantly, possessed by Emmet. Jahel/Emmet immediately goes to wake up Tess. She tells Tess that they need to leave the Amazon and that “they have me.” Then Jahel starts seizing.

This incident leads to a big argument amongst the rest of the team about whether or not they should heed Jahel/Emmet’s warning. They decide to ignore it and continue with the search. Lena once again provides the breakthrough, interpreting “they have me” has being related to footage she saw of Emmet with some soldier-types. Some of the team members are going to go into the jungle on foot to check out the location. Walking through the jungle, Emmet rightfully confronts Lena about being kind of chummy with his dad. He does have a valid point. Lena does seem to always be talking about something Emmet told her. I don’t think it’s supposed to mean there was something more between them, but it certainly comes off that way sometimes. The conversation ends when the team finds a cemetery. British rubber barons had harvested in the area centuries ago. The team hears what sounds like a child crying, but it turns out to be a monkey holding a doll’s head. Hundreds of doll heads are hanging in the trees above. It’s fairly creepy. Lena, again the font of information, says that there are probably “spirit trees” to which the locals bring gifts. Lincoln sees that one of the “gifts” hanging from a tree is his childhood Teddy bear, Marbeley. This means that Emmet must have been there at one point. Conveniently, it’s starting to get dark, so the team is going to have to make camp and spend the night in the creepy cemetery.

Night falls and the camp is set up. Tess turns the camera on Clark for a moment to make him confirm his good intentions in leading the expedition. I enjoyed seeing him squirm a little. Meanwhile, Lincoln and Lena talk about the fight they had earlier about her contact with Emmet. After trading some barbs, Lena becomes more contemplative and says that she thinks Emmet confided in her instead of Lincoln or Tess because he felt he could put Lena at risk for the darkness he was experiencing, but he didn’t want to put his family at risk. Later, after everyone’s been asleep for a little while, there is suddenly chaos in the camp. Lincoln has been kind of thrown across the campsite. He’s freaked out, and he tells the team that they’re leaving immediately, even if it is dangerous to trek through the jungle in the dark. As they cross a small, muddy creek, a hand reaches up out of the mud and grabs on to Tess, pulling her under. The rest of the team grabs her just in time. This makes Lena (of course) remember the legend of the Abandoned One, a little girl who was abandoned by her family in the jungle. The locals would deliver toys (the dolls we saw in the trees) to placate her spirit. It turns out that idiot Lincoln took Marbeley with him, and the spirit is apparently not happy that someone took one of her toys.

The team thinks that the spirit will be placated if Lincoln gives the bear back. They go back to the trees, and Lincoln keeps trying to tie Marbeley back up. Every time he starts to leave, though, it falls back down. Then all the dolls start falling. It’s pretty darn creepy. The crew starts frantically trying to get back to the Magus, but somehow they end up back at the doll trees instead. And Tess is gone. Presumably she’s been pulled under the mud by the Abandoned One. Then the team realizes that what the spirit probably actually wants is her mother. They go over to the cemetery and dig up the body at the grave most likely to be the mother’s, and Lincoln dumps the body in the river, begging the spirit to return his mother. It doesn’t happen right away, so Lincoln starts sobbing to Tess that his mom’s gone. Then Tess suddenly reappears out of the mud and all is well.

Back on the Magus, Lincoln goes to Jahel, who is still only semi-conscious, and he begs Emmet’s spirit inside of her to tell him where he is. Jahel tries to say something, but she cant. Instead, the dragonfly pops out of her mouth, and she’s conscious again. She apologizes to Lincoln for not being able to give him the answer, and she says she tried to hold on to Emmet’s spirit for as long as possible. Lincoln finds the life and death necklace in one of the cabins on the ship, and he puts it on. He goes to talk to Lena on the deck, and they start laughing like old times. The episode ends with old footage of Lena and Lincoln similarly laughing on the deck of the Magus as kids. We see Lena’s dad, the cameraman, suddenly notice a very strange mark (a symbol of some sort) on Lena’s neck.

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