The River Review: Does Emmet Cole Play With Dolls?

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"Marbeley," the second episode of exciting new show The River, did not disappoint. In fact, the creepy factor was dramatically increased in an "oh my God I have to cover my eyes" sort of way.

Those “magical” blue dragonflies we encountered on the opening hour? It turns out they are more than just enchanting, and perhaps otherworldly. Jahel slept with her mouth open and one of those suckers just waltzed right in. Residing inside must be a spirit.

Given the video of Emmet’s bug bite, his infection and the ridiculous swatting of numerous blue bugs on the boat, it wasn’t a stretch to believe she was going to be possessed. When Jahel approached Tess as Emmet, Tess was more certain than ever he was alive. While Jahel remained possessed on the ship, the rest of the crew took to the jungle to find Emmet.

Into The River

When they encountered a “graveyard” consisting of hundreds of hanging dolls, including Lincoln’s childhood bear Marbeley, Capt. Kurt (am I the only one who has to stifle a giggle every time I say his name?) decided that was the best place to camp. The actual cemetery they had stomped through some yards back would have been better suited to bunk down for the night.

I have several friends who I'm hoping watched because their nightmares would have been fueled for years to come. For people with a freaky doll fetish, there is little you can do to match the horror that this episode evokes. As AJ urged a doll to open its eyes, and the doll behind him oblibed, I was squealing - and I have an entire house full of dolls (literally).

Why was Marbeley there is the first place? Why would Emmet have put it there? It didn’t seem to fit with the story of the tree and the drowned girl. When Lincoln returned it, why did it keep getting rejected? By that point, I felt sorry for Marbeley. Poor Lincoln just wanted his bear back, no matter what his age, and he selflessly gave it back to the tree only to have it rejected again and again.

It was a really great sign that the search for Emmet was plagued by this mini mystery. I hope that implies there will be many more along the way. There was nothing to indicate the second episode would be anything like what we encountered, but to sit in a dark room and just enjoy it for the enjoyment's sake was a really fun ride. The freaky dolls, the weepy voices, the grown man reconnecting with his childhood toy and losing his mother, only to have her crawl out of an open grave? That was good stuff.

A great lesson was learned during this episode: Pay attention to the old film footage of Emmet Cole. It is not just there as time filler! Of course I didn’t really believe it to be filler content, but I also didn’t pay close enough attention and completely missed the story Emmet told Lincoln about the necklace.

The story was about a child who who would wear the necklace that would be strong enough to stop the swinging of the pendulum between life and death. One day Emmet would meet that child. Naturally, he gave it to his son. At the end of the episode they showed video footage of Emmet filming Lincoln and Lena and she bore the mark of the necklace on the back of her neck.

Seeing that, I had to rewind and go back to the beginning and pay closer attention to what Emmet was saying to Lincoln when he gave him the necklace. I will not miss an opportunity like that again, and neither should you!

Emmet's reaction to the mark was very telling. All those years, when Emmet turned to Lena for help, it wasn’t because she was the only one there, it was because he knew she had a greater purpose. In the 20 years since the video was filmed, he may have even learned what it was. I’m dying to know. What about you?


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Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (117 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Anyone else bothered by the censoring? Did they really have to bleep the words AND blur the mouths of the character swearing? This killed the mood for me and went downhill from there. Just an awful, awful show. Anyone who enjoyed it must watch a lot of crap TV.


It was freaking AWESOME! I can't wait for next week. I too want to know why the bear was rejected. I thought maybe because once Lincoln took it back because it was in fact his that the little girl spirit was basically throwing a fit - if you have ever been around a kid, you take something of theirs, they get mad, so you try to give it back but they are mad so they throw it at you, or just drop it and refuse to take it. As for the mark - I was like HOLY COW! But where did she get it. I can't wait to see what they will come up with next week, and I will have to say, that whole doll thing was sooooo creepy - it was GREAT!


I watch the first 20 minutes, then got bored with the whole show. I do not like the main characters nor do I like the "real filming" of the show. I for one will not watch another time.


I was too squeamish to watch "The River," but I was hoping it would be well-accepted by others, because Bruce Greenwood (Emmet Cole) is a great, overlooked actor. He was the star of "Nowhere Man," which lasted 6 months, years ago, on a channel other than network that I don't remember, and I've admired him ever since. Hope he finally gets the recognition he deserves.


I also agree the camera work is distracting and detracts from
the story. I think this show needs some changes to the writing to make it better. Not too sure who the cast is. Maybe more known folks. How about the guy from Lost Sawyer(he lives in HI) as one of the new cast? I've see the mom and dad in several things and they are good actors.


I thought it was a pretty good show to listen to. I could not watch it with the jerky camera motion. I hope they break away from that otherwise I am going to be tuning out and picking up a good book which is something I should have done in the first place.


I enjoyed the show and will give it more time to develop the characters.


Dolls are not scary. They are pieces of plastic. Why not be afraid of shoes or paper plates? The cinematography and "film crew" conceit sucks. It was old years ago. It's geriatric now. Frankly this is paranormal Activity in the jungle. All the ghosts seem capable of is dragging people. They drag them up and down, left and right, forward and back... yawn. Halfway through episode one we stopped watching. We kept it on for BG noise as we hung out but no one is tuning in next week. This is 8 and out.


The beginning was interesting and well-paced. When it turned into a horror movie, they lost me. Forever.


I have to agree about the filming technique; it was very distracting and I hope that it changes. Stop trying to be cute with the camera and just film it straight; it’s not the Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity.
I can appreciate the moments that were intended to be scary, but I don’t think they reached the level of scariness to sustain the show. All though the mystique of the Amazon is pretty cool.
And what’s with these corny interview clips where a character says an expletive and it gets bleeped and distorted out. It’s like…’ooo look at us, we said a bad word and it got bleeped out, aren’t we cool? Aren’t we hip?’ Lost didn’t have to reach to those lows and it was a great show. I’ll probably give it one more view to see if it gets interesting or if the characters actually develop into some thing likable.

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The River Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

You should put the camera down and watch where you're walking Clark.


Clark: We need a new camera operator.
AJ: Well, the last one got his head taken off by a ghost, so good luck with that.