The River “A Better Man” Review

The River continues on ABC this week with “A Better Man”. While the scares were less during the fourth episode of this new series, the story was really moved forward, which I appreciate.

The River starts with the crew of the Magus floundering around wondering which way to go next on their quest for Dr. Emmet Cole. Tess (Leslie Hope) has the brilliant idea to just float down the Amazon in the vague direction that she believes her husband took, even though there really isn’t a lot of evidence to support her claim – and there is no map to help her and her crew along the way. That’s right – they need to plot out the map as they go.

Tensions are high on the Magus as there really isn’t a “captain” on the boat. It’s just a free for all which doesn’t leave much room for the egos on the boat. Tess, however, is stepping into the role of leader nicely, even though I disagree with a lot of her choices. Regardless of my thoughts (since I’m not on the boat), Tess and her crew set down the river and during a rare moment where everyone is actually happy (and apparently playing an accordion?) Jahel sees the body of a man hanging from a tree just off shore.

Surprisingly this doesn’t seem to shock everyone as much as I would think it should. After realizing the guy has been there for a while, Tess realizes that he is none other than Jonas, one of Emmet’s camera guys. THEN the shock sets in when Jonas actually starts twitching in his noose. I know I jumped out of my seat, and Lincoln (the wonderful Joe Anderson who actually keeps The River going) runs to grab Jonas and bring him aboard the Magus.

We see through footage that Emmet actually left Jonas behind because the camera man pissed off the natives by filming a ritual that he was specifically told not to film. But Jonas, “who will do anything to get the shot” goes against Emmet’s orders and ends up catching something on film that he shouldn’t. What we’ve all learned from The River is to not make the native people angry, am I right? Instead of blindness, the crew is now plagued with swarms of cockroaches (which nearly set me over the edge), and they need to make a decision about what to do with Jonas.

Jahel (who is apparently the keeper of all things mythological on the Magus) uses a deck of tarot cards to find information on the newest crew member… and the only card she keeps pulling is the hanged man. Apparently this means that the guy is meant to suffer trapped between life and death, and would make sense as to why he was hanging in the jungle and not totally dead after several weeks.

The hanged man is apparently selfish and whatnot (see a theme happening here? JUST BE NICE AND THE SUPERNATURAL WILL NOT HURT YOU), hence the hanging for all eternity. There are a few tense moments, especially when we see Emmet leaving Jonas behind and how the footage effects Lincoln and Tess. Then it’s up to the crew to decide if they will leave the cursed Jonas as well… which we KNEW wasn’t going to happen because Lincoln is awesome and won’t leave a man behind.

Overall, I’m really enjoying The River. It was a little slow to start, and I was getting sick of the Paranormal Activity methods to build suspense, but “A Better Man” moved the story forward and made me want to see more of Emmet and his back story. Next week looks INTENSE, so stay tuned for our recap!

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