The River: Episode 5 “Peaches” (contains spoilers)
Creators: Oren Peli, Michael R. Perry
Director: Rob Bailey
Writer: Wendy Battles
Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The River continues to impress with yet another frantic and terrifically well presented episode. While not an awful lot goes on here to move the story forward, this is a very intense and at times frightening episode which cranks up the chill factor to full on horror come the final ten minutes. The main focus of this episode is Lena (Eloise Mumford) and how much she misses her Father, Emmett Cole’s cameraman Russ (Lee Tergesen). In the opening moments Clark interviews Lena about her Father, and it is clear from this point on that her Father will play a big part in this haunting and very effective episode. “Peaches”, the name of the episode, and the name given to Lena by her Father, is the first full on horror based tale to come from this superb series. While other episodes have hinted at the horrors which we may eventually see, here we have dead people walking around as regular people and not taking too kindly to sunlight. Further proof then, good or bad, that “there is magic out there”
The episode swiftly moves on from Lena’s interview to yet another moment of peril for the crew of the Magus. Thick fog has engulfed the boat at night, and all hands are called to deck to help Tess steer through while pretty much driving blind. While this goes on, Lincoln takes a dislike to Jonas and Lena having a joke, and it is clear there is a bit of jealousy here, and it would appear that Lincoln still has very strong feelings for Lena. Always the fly on the wall, Jahel picks up on this and offers words of comfort to Lincoln. A boat approaches the Magus, with its lights gleaming in the dark Tess sounds her horn to warn the boat they are approaching. Nothing works and the mysterious boat continues forward, forcing the Magus out of the way and into the banks of the Amazon river. The Magus runs aground, stranded, and with damage to the ships mechanisms, they have no hope of getting away anytime soon. The boat that caused the accident mysteriously disappears, and Tess spends a good two hours on the radio asking for help.
While stranded, Jonas sneakily looks through some of the video footage stored in the video room. After the last episode, it feels difficult to trust this man, and it is a great moment when he calls in Lena and reveals what he has been looking for. On screen is footage of Lena’s Father leaving her a personal message, and the first, but not last, real emotional scene of the episode takes place. With all the horror and strange events happening around them, it is important for the makers of this series to focus on the human side of this superb supernatural story, and Lena and her Fathers story is a great way to express this. You cannot help but be a little moved by the look on Lena’s face.
Help finally arrives in the form of an environmentalist boat called the ‘Exodus’. Its crew have the parts the Magus needs, and in a way of thanking them, Tess invites them all to stay for dinner, a bad idea. Security man Kurt is not convinced these people are who they say they are, and after witnessing a worrying conversation between the Exodus captain and one of his crew, Kurt brilliantly springs into action to save his team. He grabs the Exodus captain and after an altercation, shoots and kills him. Now the real horror begins as the captain suddenly wakes up, and Kurt finds himself onboard the Exodus, trapped. Curious, Lena and Jonas have also boarded the Exodus after seeing the figure of a person hidden below deck, and they too are now trapped. Lena’s Father is the person they saw…
In a thrilling twist, it turns out the crew of the Exodus are in fact dead and also trapped on their boat. In order to save themselves they must find replacements so they can leave at sunrise. This leads to a frantic finish to the episode as the prisoners from The Magus try to find a way out, or a way to contact the Magus and let them know what has happened. Problem is, half the crew of the Magus are drunk and passed out. Time is running out for the prisoners as sunrise is just around the corner.
This episode goes some way to showing just how good The River has become. ‘Peaches’ was an engrossing, highly charged, edge of your seat thrill ride, and you actually find yourself wondering just what will happen next. The sense of security in the knowledge that all characters are safe is completely taken away here, and it is a credit to the writer and director here to have delivered such a pleasure to watch. The acting seems to be improving with each episode, and the special effects used here are top notch. The scares are well timed, and some scenes here onboard the Exodus are very unsettling indeed. The use of lighting is brilliantly created to hideously disfigure the Exodus crew in their moments of terror, and these final moments would sit comfortably in any horror film. The one and only downfall here really is Tess, even though she is the central character, I am still struggling to really warm to her. In a scene where she boards the Exodus in the hope of finding a map, her look of excitement should have been heart warming. Instead, it just annoyed the Hell out of me.
While ‘Peaches’ doesn’t move The River forward much, we do learn that Emmett had an idea that all the magic in The Amazon was coming from one source, and even if it meant getting there by foot, he had to find it. With only three episodes left, we should start getting there soon. One final crowning glory to this episode was Lena’s incredibly emotional finish, it will break even the hardest of hearts. Great stuff once again!