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The River – The Experiment

At this late stage in the show, they’ve finally started filling out some of the characters. Here’s what we learned:

Kurt had a hot fiancé named Hana. She worked at the research facility. Also she has a magical sat phone: though it goes to voicemail after a couple of rings the first time he calls, the second time he calls, it rings for a while. Not that I’m pointing out plot holes.

Tess completely shut down when Dr. Cole went missing. Curled up on the couch with crazy hair. It’s not what I would have expected from her after what we’ve seen in the jungle—the never-give-up attitude.

Lincoln wasn’t always so morose—in fact, he had a girlfriend. The show opens with cell phone camera video of Lincoln finding out his dad is missing. I wish they’d have used more of this kind of thing—it seems more real than the glossy television-ready camera quality we’ve seen all season.

Lena was working at a sporting goods store before the expedition. That’s where she was when she fainted and had some kind of vision that Cole and his team were still alive.

Back to the Outpost. It’s been vacant for months, according to Cpt. Kurt. Inside the abandoned and ransacked buildings of the Outpost, there’s music playing. It’s sort of Klezmer-esque, and it’s played up to really disturbing effect. Actually, it might be the scariest thing on The River since those creepy dolls.

Once inside, the team decides to follow some bloody footprints, which lead them to Dr. Cole’s hat and a roomful of corpses … and flies. Ugh. Lincoln volunteers to go in there and make sure none of the bodies belong to Cole. (They don’t.)

As they continue their search of the Outpost, they find the body of a tribesman who is tattooed with the symbol from Lincoln’s necklace and Lena’s neck, and he’s floating in some kind of pickling liquid with some weird bone structures growing out of his back.

Just as they discover the body, Kurt shows up with Rabbit, the flirty cameraman who left Cole alone in the jungle. Today, Rabbit will be playing the part of XXX. She immediately tells they team that “they” are coming. And they’re hungry.

That’s when things go insane.

Some fast-moving science experiments want to make the team dinner. So the barricade themselves in a room where two things happen: first, Tess interrogates Rabbit. Not about what happened to the horrible monstrosities chasing them but about Cole. Totally reasonable when some half-dead thing is trying to make you supper.

Second: Lena and Lincoln recover some video off an old laptop. They also flirt a little, which seems to make Jonas feel something. Sad, maybe?

Between the video and Lincoln’s sudden knowledge about what’s going on here, we learn that the researchers at the Outpost were studying cellular mutation, trying to find a cure for cancer within the DNA of the local tribesman. They thought they’d found it when Hana (Kurt’s girlfriend) shows up and kills them all.

That’s when this episode truly loses me because, as they die, the doctors and Hana seem to transform into flesh-eating yukkies before our eyes. But how is that even possible? I thought they were trying to cure cancer, not make zombies. Why was the virus in an operating room?

As I try to puzzle this out, I’m suddenly really tired of this show and its obsession with Dr. Emmett Cole. We have some really grade-A scary zombie-types here, and all these people can think about is finding a dude who I’ve come to think of as something of a serious jerk.
From episode to episode, the supernatural elements have doing nothing but take up time. They’re not the center of the show. They’re not even very well thought out or developed. Why bother to tell us how they became zombies if it doesn’t make any sense? And why bother to tell us how they became zombies if you spend all of your zombie-fleeing time talking about Dr. Cole?

Case in point: the zombies miraculously retreat—for no reason—long enough for the team to get over to the infirmary, where someone is signaling them … or a mirrored wind-chime is dancing in the breeze. On their way over, Kurt kills all of the zombies, dispatching them in about 45 second while they nap. Why introduce zombies in scene one if you’re not even going to let them eat someone?

Even Lincoln seems to know this is going nowhere fast when he utters the dumbest phrase ever uttered on television: “Every time we’ve seen a dragonfly, it feels like we’ve been closer to finding dad.” But of course he’s right. Following the dragonfly, we find Cole, who’s in some sort of inexplicably dragonfly pupa state.

But he is alive. Tess is overwhelmed. Clark looks gutted. And apparently, they missed one of the zombies earlier because soon they’re running through the Outpost, dragging Cole with them. They run straight back to the Magus … but didn’t it take them hours and hours to walk out there??

No matter because there are zombies on board. And they ate Rabbit. (You can’t blame them … who doesn’t love rabbit?) One of the shambling dead is Hana, and Kurt is forced to kill her to save the team. Cole, suddenly recovered, takes out the second one before it can take a bite out of Tess.

And we sail off into the sunset with just one more episode to go.

Dead Crew Members: 1 — Rabbit
Cumulative Dead Crew Members: 4

Editor’s Note:
A big thanks to Melissa for recapping this show for all of us. Due to bad ratings it looks like this will be the only season of The River, Melissa took the bullet and watched so we don’t have to. We appreciate it.