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The River recap: 'Dr. Emmet Cole'

At last, we find out what happened to Dr. Emmet Cole after he disappeared up the Amazon.

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The River
Mario Perez/ABC

The River

Current Status:
Mel Gibson, Sissy Spacek, Scott Glenn
Mark Rydell

One of the things that most intrigued me about The River when it premiered was that ABC had only committed to an eight episode run. That meant executive producer Oren Peli, the found-footage wunderkind behind Paranormal Activity, was allowed to craft a tight, streamlined narrative that could remain faithful to its premise, without having to dilute and compromise it over 22 episodes, and resolve its mysteries without a glut of red herrings. Unlike, say, that other Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi yarn over on Fox, Terra Nova, which found itself canceled on Monday. And just when I was really starting to invest in all that teen romance too!

So who else thought we were going to finally meet Dr. Emmet Cole in the present last night? I mean, the episode was actually titled “Dr. Emmet Cole,” for the Boiuna’s sake! In an interview with EW.com, exec producers Zack Estrin and Michael Green suggested that the solution to Cole’s disappearance wouldn’t be the biggest mystery on the show. But now that we’ve got only two episodes left…it kind of seems that it is. Not that I’m complaining! Actually, I thought “Dr. Emmet Cole” played like a found-footage version of Blow-Up, with The River’s characters basically just sitting around and scrutinizing video footage for most of it. And the acting challenge presented to Bruce Greenwood—monologue in front of a camera for most of an hour without seeming entirely like a crazy person—was pretty incredible.

“Dr. Emmet Cole” began with Lena dealing with her father’s death by staring out wistfully at the Boiuna and trying very hard not to rock and back forth, sobbing, while cradling herself in her arms. It’s just Daddy’s Little Girl and her accordion, now. Lincoln thought he would call in an evac to get her out of there. “Can you imagine what Lena’s going through?” Tess asked her son. Um, yes, since Lincoln had written off his father for dead six months ago. Lena interrupted and said she wanted to go with them to the falls first, where Russ had said Emmet was headed to find the Zulos, the magically healthy, possibly angelic Amazonian tribe that guards the Source. Well, it turns out there was nothing to be found at the falls other than some tasty bacon-flavored leaf-cutter ants and Russ’ camera bag with tapes inside. At last! We can justify having a flashback to what really happened to Emmet, since, thankfully, even when starving, feverish and nursing a broken ankle, he thought to videotape his every moment.

Flashback six months…camerawoman Rabbit Fischer is wondering how long she and fellow videographer Manny will have to wait until Emmet finds inspiration. Emmet was just sitting around in his cabin ruminating on the “magic” out there when one of those creepy dragonflies crawled into his mouth and showed him the way. Unless I was totally blind…I never saw that dragonfly crawl back out, so could everything that we saw Emmet do for the remainder of the episode have been him under the influence of some Amazonian insect-spirit? Mysteries! With the dragonfly controlling his consciousness, Emmet turned to the camera and said he knows where “They” are: the Sahte region! Near the falls! And it was by those falls that Emmet remembered he could hear a song emanating through the jungle, a particular chord progression that seemed to have special significance, like the five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind or the tune that’s really a secret code in The Lady Vanishes.

NEXT: Russ and Emmet have fisticuffs, and Rabbit wants some Amazonian lovin’.


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