Row Row, Row Your Boat is the final ep in The River’s short but frenetic 8 episode first (and hopefully not only) season. And although, like the previous eps of the show there is not shortage of freakiness (including a couple deaths, a resurrection and an exorcism) to keep the episode hopping it feels more like a coda than a finale. We finally get to see the rescued Emmett Cole interact with his family and the others on The Magus, but there does feel like there’s something missing. or perhaps it’s simply that Cole is no longer missing and the energy that sustained the series has moved to a different more complex level.
On the plus side we get some answers (although not many) and are offered a host of new questions (which may or may not be ever answered.) And despite my relatively ambivalent feelings about this perticular episode, I want to see more!
So, how did the finally really go?
The episode more or less hinges on the disfunctional relationship between Emmett and son Lincoln. The trouble with building it around this is that over the course of the series we’ve come to understand that it is quite complex and that is a tough thing to build sharp drama around. Coupled with Emmett’s complete burnout and sincere reversal of his gung-ho attitude also dilutes the dynamic. Now, the script tries very hard (perhaps to hard) to counter that with Lincoln being shot and killed, then resurrected and possessed by the evil and capricious Boiuna, then ultimately freed by the power of love (although it doesn’t quite reach the odious and sickly sweet level of Steven Moffat’s solution for just about every dramtic climax in his take on Doctor Who).
And the excorcism is rather run of the mill. Lincoln’s body gets all twisty, he speaks with a funny voice and offers some dirty secrets to try to sow discord and dispair. Posessed Lincoln is a lot cooler when he beats down ally Kurt, cuts the throat of the traitorous cameraman Jonas and hits on the girl with supernatural potential Lena, later magically pins her to the roof of a cabin and starts telekinetically popping off the buttons of her shirt.
We also learn more about the currently supernatural girl Jahel. In classic formula she proves vulnerable to the power of the Boiuna, and helps the newly again grief crazed Tess to bring Lincoln back. Apparently her mother is not dead (from what Emelio tells her, I expect she’s in a lunatic asylum somehwere.) Both Paulina and Joe were especially strong in portraying their altered personalities to add to Bruce’s run of emotions.
What do we learn: Well, despite it’s failure this episode the ‘god of demons’ isn’t intending on letting the crew of The Magus get away so easily. AJ is the gay member of the crew. Clarke did indeed sleep with Tess (so at least his frustrated love for her wasn’t completely unrequited), The Boiuna has definite plans for magically branded Lena and there is ever more to Kurt than meets the eye (what now, Priest? Satanist? Suppposed protector of The Boat Eater and it’s secret (power) source?). There is no member of the cast that doesn’t put their all into making their characters compellingly complex and just about completely believable (the exception was Scott Michael Foster, but his Jonas is dead – at least for now)
But again, this show manages to reveal multiple secrets and new aspects of it’s characters just about every episode and still makes me want to know them more. No other genre series this year has even come close to it’s level of character writing. I truly hope that ABC sees what a gem it has (an absolutely worthy successor and a refiner of Lost if there ever was one) and puts it on a night where it can thrive. I want to keep seeing it’s brilliant character writing and it’s dynamic acting and it’s frenetic action. Seriously, found footage format aside, I truly wish there were more show like it on TV.
ABC – RENEW THE RIVER!!!
Rating: 4 out of 5