Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer DVR Dump: The River 1.03: "Los Ciegos"

“We're not here to drill for oil. We're not clear-cutting the forest. We're just trying to make a TV show, okay?”

“Los Ciegos” definitely felt creepier to me than the last installment of “The River,” probably because I hate bugs. Especially creepy crawly bugs with more legs than you can count. So in that sense, I feel this episode was more successful. I am beginning to question, however (and clearly this is a question ABC execs had too, since the show was cancelled) how you can sustain the “horror movie situation of the week” model the show seems to be trying to develop. I’m already starting to question why these people would still be on this expedition, and it’s only been three episodes. Sure, we know Lincoln loves his dad and feels like his dad was taken away from him, and we know that Tess and Clark feel guilty for betraying Emmet romantically, but seriously! After the third near-death (and sometimes actual death) encounter with the supernatural, I’d be out of there, no matter what other feelings were at play. If it’s that hard to believe they’d still be at it after three episodes, imagine how it would be after three seasons! Some supernatural encounters are obviously going to be more intense than others, but after this episodes, I really don’t know how they keep going for even one more episode let alone the five more that are actually left.

As per usual, the episode opens with a clip from “The Undiscovered Country.” This time, Emmet is talking about sharks, particularly about how they will turn on each other, even turn on their brother. This appears to be a not-so-thinly veiled reference to how Clark, Emmet’s close friend, had a romantic relationship with Tess, Emmet’s wife. Making this connection even clearer, we next see Clark in the present, watching footage of Tess on the Magus video monitor. Clark quickly changes the feed when Lincoln enters the room. Lincoln informs Clark that they have a new location to search for Emmet. There’s a cave that apparently shows up on a lot of the archival video Lena has been watching. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but it seems promising, so Clark agrees that their next move should be to check it out.

At the cave, the team sees a drawing of what looks like an eye. This freaks out Jahel, who as the guru on all things supernatural in the Amazon, informs the team that the eye is the mark of the Morcegos, some seriously nasty tribal spirits. The team decides to check out the cave anyway. Except for A.J., that is. A.J. was once seriously injured in a mining accident, so he can’t take enclosed underground spaces like caves, and I really don’t blame him. Inside the cave, the team finds a decomposed body that looks like its eyes were removed. Then they start hearing a high-pitched screeching. Not surprisingly, the sound comes from bats. The team runs out of the cave as quickly as they can, but they’re still quite covered in bat guano by the time they make it back to A.J. A.J. thinks that’s quite hilarious, and he’s probably even happier that he didn’t accompany the team into the cave. It’s time to make camp, and as they’re sitting around, Lena cuts Lincoln’s hair. It’s necessary to remove the bat guano, but it has the added bonus of making Lincoln look a lot less sketchy.

Everyone goes to sleep, but the next morning, A.J. sees that the eye mark has been drawn in front of every tent but his. He wakes everyone up because the marks all over the place are seriously creepy. Emilio, however, is missing. After a quick search, the team finds him sitting in the jungle. There’s just one complication- he has gone blind. Jahel believes that the Morcegos are responsible for Emilio’s condition. The team has invaded the Morcegos’ sacred tribal lands, and Jahel warns the team that they are being judged. Once they get this news, the team decides to stand around in the jungle as they ponder their next move. All of a sudden, they hear a rustling noise. Freaked out, Clark shoots, and it turns out that he shoots a boar. This doesn’t seem to count in the team’s favor if they are being judged, so they head back to the Magus as quickly as possible.

Tess goes blind almost as soon as the team returns to the Magus. Lena and Clark start researching their predicament, trying to see if Emmet mentioned anything about the blindness in his journals or on the archival footage. While he’s scanning footage for information, Clark goes blind as well. He and Tess meet up in the hallway, and Tess makes a comment about sight that seems to have romantic overtones. Clark interprets this as being about himself, so he tries to give Tess a hug. Tess was actually talking about Emmet, though, much to Clark’s chagrin. Lincoln sees this moment, and it’s hard to know what he thinks of it at first. While Tess and Clark are having their moment, Jahel is trying to call for mayday. While she’s working the radio, however, she goes blind, too. Lena finds some information about a potential cure in the journals, and Lincoln says that he and Kurt will go search for it. Kurt, however, is quite busy guarding the Magus, and he accidentally (we think) stabs Clark when he gets freaked out by a noise. The fact that a boar’s head is floating in the water doesn’t help matters.

Lincoln stitches up Clark, but the injury isn’t minor. Lincoln is going to be needed on the Magus to tend to Clark, so the new cure search party is going to be Lena, Kurt, and A.J. As this plan is worked up, we see a creepy zombie-like creature peek into the boat. One of the Morcegos, no doubt, and he’s on the hunt. After the expedition party leaves, Clark’s condition worsens. He coughs too much and rips his stitches. Jahel has to go get some more fishing line, and Tess and Emilio go searching for her when she doesn’t come back right way. Lincoln rather stupidly chooses that moment to ask Clark about his relationship with Tess. Clark doesn’t really say much, since he’s in a lot of pain. He does say that the relationship didn’t start until after Tess and Emmet were separated. Meanwhile, Jahel finds the fishing line, but she senses that the Morcegos have found the boat. She yells for everyone to close all the doors so the Morcegos can’t get inside.

In the jungle, A.J. and Kurt get into a bit of a fight over A.J.’s dedication to the cause. Before they can really get into it, though, Lena senses the Morcegos coming, and she tells everyone to run. They run alright, and they fall into a ditch with some centipedes. It’s rather horrifying, but they can’t scream because the Morcegos are right nearby looking for them. This was probably the part of the episode that creeped me out the most. Once the immediate Morcegos threat has passed, A.J. realizes that Kurt has gone blind and forces Kurt to admit it. Lena also is forced to admit that her vision is starting to go. A.J. leaves them, saying that when he finds a nice eco hotel, he’ll send a helicopter. I’m not quite sure why the writers are going so out of their way to make A.J. unlikeable here. I think I could have found his arc in this episode interesting without them going quite so far to set it up.

Anyway, back on the Magus, Lincoln is looking for suture line since Jahel still isn’t back (she’s barricaded in a different room because of the Morcegos). Lincoln can’t find any line, so he tells Clark that he’s going to have to cauterize the wound instead. There’s just one small problem. Lincoln has gone blind now too. Lincoln somehow manages to cauterize successfully without any vision, but the Morcegos are still moving in on the Magus, and it’s not going to be pretty if they aren’t stopped soon. Meanwhile, A.J. is tromping through the jungle imagining the plush hotel he is going to find when he finds the santito tree under which the journal said the cure could be found (the cure is a bulb of some sort). A.J. is understandably pissed to find out that “under the santito tree” is literal. There’s a tiny cave under the tree that he’s going to need to enter to get to the bulbs. Despite his phobia, A.J.’s conscience takes over, and he enters the cave. Right after he gathers some bulbs, a cave-in starts. Pretty much A.J.’s worst nightmare.

Back on the Magus, the Morcegos are still closing in, and Clark decides to take matters into his own hands. He stumbles out into the hallway and starts yelling about how the invasion of the sacred tribal lands is his fault, and everybody else just went along with it because they wanted to find their family member. He begs the Morcegos to take him and spare everyone else. I guess the Morcegos are impressed by Clark’s willingness to self-sacrifice, because they back off. They also pull A.J. out of the cave-in. A.J. returns to Kurt and Lena just as Kurt is telling his handlers that the crew should be dead in a few days without finding the Source, and he needs an extraction. He’s speaking in Russian, though, so nobody knows this is what Kurt is saying. And Kurt does a pretty good job of not looking disappointed when A.J. shows up with the cure. They return to the Magus, where everyone gets the treatment and can see again. At the end of the episode, Clark watches dejectedly as Lincoln tells Tess that it’s okay if she moves on from Emmet when all of this is over, but Tess replies that she just wants her family back. Kurt interrupts Clark’s funk by apologizing to Clark for stabbing him. Clark doesn’t accept the apology. Presumably he’s going to be surly until Tess changes her mind.

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