It’s Day 22 on the Magus, but sometimes it feels like we’re no closer to finding Emmet Cole than we were before we found out he was missing. The things we do know more about are the things that happen in the Bouina, and every day we get a little closer to understanding how to find the truth in the legends. There can be no secrets or lies on the river if they want to survive, and I have a feeling the simmering tensions are about to come to a boil.
In the episode that tipped the halfway point, we hit a fairly large miletone – we found Lena’s dad, Russ Landry. While Lincoln is still fighting with himself over his feelings for Lena (and trying to break up the resumed Lena/Jonas flirtation), the Magus hits another obstacle. Literally. Minutes in, the Magus runs aground while trying to avoid a ship about to hit them head on. The boat is damaged beyond repair and needs spare parts, and after sending out some Mayday calls, a small boat powers up, the crew saying that they’re willing to trade some spare parts in exchange for a donation to their cause, trying to stop pirates on the river. They agree, and bring them aboard for the evening to exchange friendship and stories.
All seems to be well until Lena and Jonas see someone aboard the other boat when all of the crew is meant to be with them, and they decide to go explore. In short order, Lena, Jonas, Kurt, Tess and Lena’s father are being held captive by some people who have been turned by the Bouina. However, Lena quickly finds her father, Russ, being held captive and handcuffed in the hold of the Exodus. After a few quiet minutes back on the Magus, however, Lincoln realizes something was wrong and that the others were kidnapped unwittingly. He quickly wakes AJ and Clark, and they fire up the Zodiac to pursue them, leaving Jahel and Emilio on board to guard the Magus.
In the hold on the Exodus, Russ explains that six months earlier, Emmet became obsessed with the idea that all of the magic of the Amazon came from one source, and that they would wake up and find themselves anchored in the middle of the river and he would just be gone. He says he hasn’t seen Emmet in a long time, and doesn’t know what happened to him. Lena and Jonas manage to set up a video feed to the Magus, but Lincoln and Co. miss their call before leaving to find the kidnapped crew. Jahel sees the feed and figures out where they are, calling Lincoln to say that they have to get to them by sunrise or it’ll be too late. Lincoln, Clark and AJ find the Exodus a few minutes before dawn, but the captives have managed to break free and learned that those who hold them are already dead, able to literally go up in flames like paper.
All seems well until Lena tries to get Russ to go with them, and he has to tell her that he’s already dead, he’s already one of them. With her bawling and clinging to the ship, her crewmates have to drag her into the Zodiac before the Exodus goes up in the fire they set on it. As they sail back to the Magus, Russ waves goodbye and disappears into the flames. The episode closes with a sweet flashback scene to when Lena was a little girl on the Magus, playing cards with Russ, who calls her Peaches.
With only four episodes left, I wonder if we’re going to leave this season feeling fulfilled by the resolution. It feels like we’ve come so far and learned so much about the Bouina, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like we’re any closer to finding Emmet Cole than we once were. Neither Jonas nor Russ seems to have any idea what happened to them, since they were both basically lost in the Amazon by the time we got to them. I’m worried that if we find Emmet still alive (which seems about 50/50, given the dragonflies), it’s going to be a quick reveal that he’s alive, cut to some worried faces and expletives, and then it’ll be a wrap for the season. Yes, I’m excited to see what happened to Emmet, but what if the show doesn’t get renewed? I won’t call that a conclusive ending to the show by any means, and I’ll be very disappointed. I understand wanting to leave enough to be a cliffhanger for the next season, but my unfounded concern is that we won’t be left with enough to wrap up this season in a satisfactory way.
We’re at the point where I’m concerned that this show is more about scare tactics and rifts between characters than solving the original plot. While I have faith that most things will be wrapped up in mini-series style, since the show hasn’t yet been renewed, I still feel like my grasps at substantial plot points aren’t quite enough. Obviously I’m still interested in the show and will keep following it, but, well, I wish we were closer to the end than we are. Then again, we’re just over halfway through and we’ve already found two of Emmet’s small crew. I suppose I’d have been dissatisfied if we’d found them sooner.
I’m just not sure that The River has found its focus yet, which is always a concern in a first season. I’d much rather a show know exactly where it’s going than try out a few different focal points before deciding on one, especially when it has only nine episodes. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Cole-centric or an ensemble cast. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be more interested in the Bouina mysteries or the Emmet Cole mystery. I can’t tell if I’m going to be under- or overwhelmed by Kurt’s eventual big reveal. We’ll have to wait and see over the next few weeks, I guess.
I guess I just wish there was a little less emphasis on the things that go bump in the night and a little more emphasis on solving the immediate problems in the plot. All I know for sure is that, with a show like this, if you thought these episodes put you on the edge of your seat, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.