The River: Episode 8 “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” (contains spoilers)
Creators: Oren Peli, Michael R. Perry
Director: Gary Fleder
Writers: Aron Eli Coleite & Michael Green
Starring: Bruce Greenwood, Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
So, The River finally wraps up its eight episode season with a belter of a finale which delivers on the action, but fails to really explain much. Emmett Cole is unable to give a reason for his obsession, and declares how he should have died 100 times over, but at least he apologises for causing so much pain to his friends and family. The crew of The Magus all talk to the camera during the opening moments about how happy they are to have found Emmet and are now heading home, we learn that Lincoln used to sing “row, row, row your boat” to Lena, and in one of the most pointless and bizarre discoveries in any show this year, we learn that the still hostile AJ is gay! I don’t really understand why this bizarre revelation was added in, it was not needed, lasted for all of ten seconds, and created a very uncomfortable and wasted scene. Other things we learn is that Lena has a birthmark, which turned out to be a desperate attempt at the writers creating one final piece of mystery (it goes nowhere), and Emmett reveals that the signs he was following were not leading him to some magic, but instead was trying to lead him away from the Boiuna.
However, after all the revelations and celebrations, it back to business as Lincoln gets shot and killed. It is an unexpected scene as he is casually talking to his Dad, and it would seem the bullet was meant for Emmet. Having Lincoln die would have been a cool, yet cruel moment of bravery from the writers, but this is The River, no one seems allowed to actually die, and low and behold there is a way to bring him back to life. Tess and Jahel perform a séance to attract the spirit of the Boiuna who can bring Lincoln back from the dead, and in a fairly impressive scene, it works. However, there are consequences and Lincoln becomes possessed by the Boiuna spirit, and things take a nasty turn.
Seeing Lincoln possessed was very exciting, and Joe Anderson brings some superb intensity to the proceedings. He is menacing as he begins causing problems, claiming it was Kurt who shot him, and then killing Jonas in a terrific scene. Things escalate, and eventually an exorcism is performed in a loud, exciting and incredibly over the top blistering scene which actually works. Yes it is totally ludicrous, and Tess will test your patience, but the scene is fantastic and just what you’d expect from the show. It doesn’t quite all add up, and you do get a feeling of the writers running out of ideas and even becoming a bit lazy in a desperate attempt to wrap things up. Things do wrap up, but far too easily and sadly leaves this episode feeling a little empty.
However, a terrific finish leaves the show open for a second series, and should a second series be granted it could prove very interesting. See, The River was a pretty cool show, it wasn’t as scary or groundbreaking as I expected, but it did throw up some rather impressive ideas, and there were a number of standout episodes. The finale suffered from the writers trying to cram too much in, and while it was exciting, it did feel rushed and a little wasted. Each episode felt like it suffered a bit due to its running time, there were tons of ideas throughout, but with only eight episodes to play with, the entire series felt a little rushed. Don’t get me wrong, the ideas here were brilliant, but it felt like the writers were struggling to fit everything in to one episode at a time, so I feel a second season would be most welcome, and maybe it should be extended a bit, allowing the writers more time to explore their ideas. There was a lot going on here, and I feel there is a huge amount of potential to explore loads of new things in a new series. While I did enjoy The River, I feel like I have only scratched the surface, and the truly wonderful final scene opens the story up to something much bigger than we have already seen. Bring on series two I say, but let’s calm down the writing a bit, slow things down and get right to the heart of what the bloody hell is going on here.