Spoiler Alert: Let’s call this one a nice cool Blue Alert. I do talk about the end of the fourth episode but I really don’t ruin any huge secrets. Still, read at your own risk.
“There’s magic out there.” Clearly, I have an odd fascination with this show considering this second post about the River marks the first time I have created two posts on the same topic. In my first post about the River I talked mainly about the third episode and how truly great it was. I return to the keyboard with the topic of the River in mind as a reaction to the series’ fourth episode. The episode was still great but for the first time I found myself thinking that the magic the River found in the Amazon may disappear before the season is up.
The show follows the Cole family and their crew as they search the Amazon for missing father and husband Emmett Cole. As they travel through an area called the Boiuna, the crew encounters a number of different supernatural creatures of events. Each episode is centered around one of those supernatural events. If you need any more background on the show I give more detail in my other River post, River: Magic is Out There. The fourth episode focused the crew’s next supernatural adventure, the Hanged Man.
The show lulls the audience into a safe sense of security in the first five minutes, showing us a rare happy moment aboard the Magus. After catching a number of large river fish, the crew grills them up, pulls out a guitar and have a nice little sing-along picnic. The happy time is quickly destroyed when the crew finds Jonas Beckett, a cameraman from the original Magus crew, hanging by his neck in the forest. Near dead and stricken with malaria, the crew manages to get Beckett out of the trees and onto the Magus. From that point on, for some reason the Boiuna declares war on the crew. Dead birds drop from the sky, swarms of killer locust attack and the sky opens up in a brutal thunder and lightning storm. It turns out Jonas has done something to upset the Boiuna and it will kill the entire crew to get him back. The episode was, as they all have been, intensely suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. My problem with the episode was the end.
At the end of the episode, to get the Boiuna to stop attacking, Jonas simply has to walk out onto the deck, say he was sorry and accept his punishment. The Boiuna then forgives him and allows him to live. I don’t mind that none of the characters died, what bothered me was the anti-climactic end. The show built up the mystery of the Hanging Man but instead of having an ending that lives up to the suspense, Jonas just had to step outside and apologize. For the amount of suspense that was created, the answer ended up being something too simple. Thinking back, this let down at the end of the episode is turning into a very disturbing the pattern. In the first episode, the crew had to do the most obvious thing to save themselves and in the third episode the tribe of warriors randomly decided to judge the crew worthy of passing through their land. What I expect from this show is something more like the second episode. In the second episode, to survive the ghost of the drown girl attacking them, the crew has to decipher why the girl is attacking them and what it is that she wants. This gives the climax of the film a puzzle type fear, it was more complicated than simply say I’m sorry or being judged. The show needs to stop taking the easy way out when it comes to resolving a specific conflict. I still like the show a lot, I think it is very suspenseful and interesting but if the endings keep letting me down, I may have to stop believing that there is magic out there.