And so we come to it at last. The final episode of The River’s first, but hopefully not only, season. How this show has matured and deepened beyond its initial, gimmicky premise has been a beautiful, delicate thing to behold. Where other series with initially promising concepts like FlashForward, V, or Invasion, started strong, then quickly fell apart, The River has gone in the other direction. It started weak, but every episode since the pilot has shown marked improvement. And so I’ve titled this final recap after Carly Simon’s Oscar-winning song as a message to ABC to put a little faith in this series, even if it’s only averaging a weak four million viewers per episode.
Last week ended with what could have been the season-capping image: a revived Emmet Cole blasting a zombie with a rifle. But since this is a show first and foremost about character, last night’s finale, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” gave us the satisfaction of seeing how the crew of the Magus, especially Lincoln and Tess, dealt with their long-awaited reunion. Not to mention the price of bringing Emmet back, which so far has included Cam, Russ, Sammy, Manny, and Rabbit—and, finally, Lincoln.
It’s Day 35 of the mission up the Boiuna, and everyone figured that their journey had come to an end. Clark decided that The Final Voyage of the Magus would make for a terrific title of his series. He figured he had enough for about eight episodes—funny, just like The River!—and this would give the viewing public the happy ending it had waited for, with certain bits left out of course relating to his operating table confessions and unrequited love for Tess. Lincoln figured that nothing much would change with his father’s return; they didn’t have a relationship before, so why would they have one now? Jonas announced that he forgave Emmet for hanging him up to dry (sure, Jonas) and realized that if Emmet hadn’t left him behind they’d both be dead. He really seemed like a good sport about the whole affair—being left to hang from the neck on a jungle vine, it’s all good, right? Now he just wanted to have sex. “Not even picky,” he said. “Just sex.” Ah, but Jonas definitely had more on his mind than a return to Phuket…
Clark asked AJ who was the “David” he apologized to in the cave when he thought he was going to die. Turns out, AJ plays for the other team, and he wasn’t about to explain himself to a producer he hoped to never see again. Clark could “sod off” for all he cared. Honestly, I have no idea what “sod off” means. I only know it’s what British dudes say to one another when they’re pissed.
Having Emmet back brought out the nostalgic side of Lena. She reflected on how she used to have Lincoln sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to her. The episode even opened with a three-year-old Lincoln’s impromptu shipboard recital. It was the summer of 1988, so they were really anticipating that “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” would become a huge hit the year later in that great existential epic, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. To her, the song meant that life back home was real, while life on the boat was the dream. “But the time on the boat, on the stream, on the river, that was real life,” she said. “Then I grew up.” Somewhere, if Cormac McCarthy watches The River, he’s smiling right now.
NEXT: Emmet has answers. Oh my, he has answers. But that doesn’t mean he’s gonna tell.