Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer DVR Dump: The River 1.06: "Doctor Emmet Cole"

“There's life, death. But out here, there's that third option. And what if that death was never meant to be final? What if it's more like a window? Except that that window is open out here?”

“Doctor Emmet Cole” was mostly a clip show of sorts. The Magus team finds a bag of Emmet’s old tapes and spends the episode watching them. Unsurprisingly, we learn quite a lot about Emmet’s motivations, the rest of his crew, and what happened leading up to his disappearance. I liked that the episode used the framing device of the present day characters watching the tapes, because we got to see their reactions to the events unfolding. It deepened several characters somewhat, especially Tess, Lincoln, and Lena. There wasn’t, however, a big treat that our present day characters had to face. Instead, Emmet and his crew faced multiple threats. The episode answered some questions and raised some new ones, which would be great if I didn’t know that there would only be two more episodes left after this one. We learn more about the Source and its guardians, and we think we learn a bit more about Emmet’s ultimate fate, but that kind of get turned on its head in the final minutes of the episode. Was it a twist too much? I guess I’ll judge once I’ve seen those final two episodes.

The episode begins in the aftermath of Russ’s re-death. The team is debating whether or not they should take Lena home or go to the waterfalls Russ said Emmet was looking for. Lincoln is in favor of taking Lena home, and Tess, of course, is in favor of continuing the search for Emmet, since they seem to be so close to finding him. Lena takes the high road and says they should investigate the falls first. She may have lost her father, but Lincoln might not have to lose his. The team follows the trail on foot, and soon enough, they start finding evidence of Emmet. Most significantly, they find a bag of tapes, presumably from his final days. The team rushes back to the Magus, and Clark and his cameramen throw that video into the editing bay like they’re ER doctors trying to save a critical patient. Its’ a touch overly dramatic, really. After just seeing a bit of the tape, they warn Tess that she won’t like it. The whole team gathers to watch anyway.

The first images on the tapes are from the Magus. The crew is expressing some doubts among themselves, and Emmet is just meditating. He swallows a dragonfly, and all of a sudden he has these revelations. He knows the location of the Source…roughly, at least. He’s also earing some strange music in his head. We see him instruct Lena to research the cord progression of the music, and that makes the current Magus crew a little suspicious of Lena and Emmet’s relationship. Turns out that a few months ago, Russ had the same line of thinking. The current day Magus crew watches on the tape as Russ and Emmet get into a full on knock-down-drag-out fight. Russ wants out of the whole venture, and he gets left behind on the Magus as Emmet and the rest of the crew continue on foot. Once they’re underway, the rest of the team starts questioning Emmet too. They want to know what he’s looking for. Emmet explains that he’s looking for the Source of all the supernatural stuff they’ve been seeing out in the Boyuna, and a tribe of people called the Zulus guard it.

We next see Emmet and his team camped out at night, when they start to hear a strange noise. They investigate, as all good horror characters do, and they find a rather disgusting skinned monkey. Well, they find the blood and pelt first, then Rabbit, a camerawoman, has the misfortune to look up. Emmet suspects that a spirit called Il Tunche is to blame. He tells his team that Il Tunche is just testing them. Back on the present-day Magus, however, Jahel warns that Il Tunche is a demon, not a spirit, and she doesn’t test, she kills. In another room, Lena and Jonas are having a heart-to-heart, and Lena admits that she set off Emmet’s emergency beacon (the event that set off this expedition in the first place). It was the only way she could think of to get anyone to look for her own father.

Back on the tapes, Emmet and his team are having a campfire moment, and Emmet talks about how Tess lost a baby before they had Lincoln. Apparently starting “The Undiscovered Country” gave him purpose in life again. The conversation is cut short, however, when Il Tunche strikes again. This time, it’s one of the camera operators who is skinned alive. Emmet manages to save himself and Rabbit by whistling the tune he was hearing in his head earlier in the episode. Rabbit turns out to be pretty ungrateful, though. Once she’s safe, she steals all the food and bails on Emmet. Things just go from bad to worse for Emmet. He finds his dog, but he gets a bad stomach virus. The most emotional moment of the episode happens when Emmet manages to place a sat phone call to Lincoln. Present-day Lincoln is upset that he kind of blew his dad off on that call to go give a lecture. Meanwhile, Lena is rather frantically trying to figure out why, on the tapes, Emmet told Russ that she was “marked.” She discovers what looks like a small tattoo on the back of her neck.

Things continue to go from bad to worse (or is it worse to worst by this point?) for Emmet. He breaks his ankle while climbing a tree to pick mangoes. So now he can’t walk to find food. He almost eats his dog, but he just can’t do it. Emmet seems to be very near death. He can’t even whistle to keep the demon at bay anymore. Tess and Lincoln throw everyone out of the edit bay to watch what they think will be Emmet’s last moments. Instead of dying, Emmet is taken by Zulu’s to a mysterious seemingly American, very top secret looking outpost. Tess and the team find the outpost pretty quickly, but it is now completely abandoned. Except for Emmet’s dog, of course. He’s still around.

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