Four episodes in, and, I don’t know about you, but I might just let myself get swept away by The River. Last night’s episode, “A Better Man,” was another moody, character-driven ride. If last week’s installment was all about redemption via potential self-sacrifice, with über-producer Clark Quietly willing to give his life to the Morcegos in exchange for his crew’s safety, “A Better Man” was about what Quietly and his ilk would do if an outsider needed to be sacrificed to restore the Amazonian balance—and save their own hides.
We began in flashback, to a particularly drenched Magus five to seven months ago. Dr. Emmet Cole was hacking all the vines that had tangled around his ship. But just as soon as he had cleared everything away, they grew right back. Oh, there’s magic out there. You better believe it.
In the present, the new crew of the Magus finally found themselves stumped. They’d been on the Boiuna 16 days looking for Emmet and had encountered nothing but a discarded GPS locator, his abandoned ship, hostile ghosts, and even more hostile natives. But as Clark oh-so-delicately put it in his perpetual British sneer, that wasn’t their biggest problem: “I mean, the problem isn’t just that we don’t have a lead. It’s that we don’t have a leader. When Emmet was around, there was no question. He was captain. He gave an order and everyone followed. But this group? There’s just a lot of suggestions. There’s plenty of cooks…and not one chef.”
Clark went around the ship asking each in turn who they thought was in charge, and the answers said a lot about each character. Faithful mechanic Emilio said Doc is the captain, even when he’s not here. Tess said she’s the captain and pretty well deflected the idea that her son could lead with the (s)motherly “Lincoln? He’s my baby.” Kurt said that if he leads it’s because he does so by example. He who sticks his neck out gets it cut off, right? And Lena just believes that they can all work together! It was that hippie-ish, communal spirit that seemed to prevail when Lincoln pulled out his guitar for an impromptu Amazonian jam session, with Lena backing him up on accordion. A laid-back hootenanny is usually the fallback of people who have nothing better to do, after all. But just before Lincoln could kick his falsetto into gear, the Boiuna presented them a lead hanging from a vine like fruit. A living, breathing, surfer-dude lead, with Peabody pretensions. Oh, and he just happened to be hanging from a noose.
NEXT: Meet Jonas, the new waterfall diving, bruschetta making, tribal-rights disrespecting member of the Magus crew.