TV Recap: 'The River' Episode 104 - 'A Better Man'


The River Episode 104

"A Better Man"

Written By: Aron Eli Coleite

Directed By: Dean White

Original Airdate: 21 February 2012

In This Episode...

Approximately five to seven months ago, Jonas joined Emmet's expedition as a camera operator. Lena was the one who hired him. On one leg of their journey, the crew comes across a local funeral ritual. Emmet refuses to let Jonas film this sacred ceremony and takes his camera away. Jonas, young, brash, and looking for glory, records the ceremony on his cell phone. When the jungle itself starts to attack the Magus, Emmet believes that Jonas has brought a curse aboard, and leaves him in the jungle.

Cut to our current expedition, and Jahel spots Jonas just off the riverbank, hanged in the vines. More shock follows when Jonas starts to twitch and spasm off the vine. Lincoln cuts him down and brings him aboard in the hopes that they can keep him alive long enough to get him to a hospital. Kurt administers a makeshift malaria treatment made from tree bark, and by the evening, Jonas is well enough that he can get up and walk around. His first visit is to the edit bay, where he pockets the footage from the day that he recorded the funeral ritual and his subsequent banishment from the boat.

With Jonas aboard, weird shit starts up. Hundreds of dead birds drop from the sky. A nasty storm is moving in, and it brings with it swarms of thousands of bugs that overtake a local who was supplying food to the Magus. The local is dead, and the expedition locks themselves inside the boat. Within the tight quarters, Jonas cannot keep up his amnesia act for very long - especially when Tess finds the funeral footage on Jonas's phone and he ponies up the other smuggled footage after Clark attacks him. The general consensus is that the group needs to leave Jonas in the jungle where they found him. Lincoln is the only dissenting opinion. He believes that they can find a "cure" for Jonas's curse and don't have to resort to what would end up being murder. Tess gives Jonas the benefit of the doubt, and he reveals that Emmet was looking for The Source - the point at which all magic derives from. The best he could offer as far as location was in an uncharted area of the river. Satisfied that Jonas has nothing else to offer, Tess insists he be kicked off the boat.

Terror grips Jonas, and in order to try to cleanse him of the curse he brought upon the boat, he smashes his cell phone to pieces, releasing the soul that he caught during the funeral. A noose made of vines loops itself around Jonas's neck and strings him up, but once the soul is released back into the jungle, the gods are pleased and Jonas is released from his noose. Jonas begrudgingly accepts a camera operator job from Clark.

Dig It or Bury It?

Well, the formula has set in. Something weird happens, Jahel says it is related to a local superstition, no one believes her, shit hits the fan, they do whatever Jahel says to put themselves out of harm's way, and they go back to the usual jungle trouble until next week's episode. I totally get a formula. The River has a monster-of-the-week formula. I like that formula. What I don't like is having to follow, virtually scene-for-scene the plot footsteps from week to week. Maybe one week Jahel doesn't have to know what is going on. No one likes a know-it-all.

There's Magic Out There

Tonight's tale is about El Colgado, or the Hanging Man. According to Jahel's story, this was a cautionary tale to prevent children from stealing. Kurt had heard a similar tale from his Grandmother, but his is the Condemned Man. Either way, the results are the same: a curse is placed on someone who steals, where they feel all the pain and fear associated with death, but never get the freedom that death brings. Jonas had been hanging in that jungle for months, unable to die. When he broke his phone, it released the "soul" he stole and the curse was broken.

Spirited Scares

This episode wasn't particularly scary, though I find images of people hanging to be haunting.

Wisdom of the Wild

"Saving Emmet is more important than dying for Jonas." - Tess


Next week's monster is fire. The ship runs aground and there is fire burning all over.