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?


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

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+.


This show sucked from the first minute. I don't care about the cast. I was SO sick of the son wanting to first, not go looking for his father and then wanting to leave and go back home once they were there. I actually said to my boyfriend, "What does this guy not give a shit about his dad" He was ready to leave even after they found that door on the boat had been welded shut! Their so-called scary sounds from the boat didn't scare ANYONE and when the blonde girl was thrown into the other room by whatever that was? I actually felt like I was watching a spoof horror movie. It was all poorly done. I left the room after the first hour. I know a good show when I see one. LOST was a fantastic example. Always messing with your mind & connecting things that happened on one season to something from another. LOST had REAL depth and characters that were all flawed but that you actually cared to find out more about. I would give The River 0 stars if I could. Nice try but I will not be watching.


Liked the story and the actors but the photography was distracting (many home movies are not as jerky). Please just use normal photography. Otherwise I'll have to stock up in Dramamine or quit watching.


Show was great, don't listen to the uptight criticism people so arrogantly spew. This is an abc show, the freedom networks like hbo and starz have isn't there but the writers do a great job of doing everything they can get away with. Stop comparing it to lost because it is in fact a different show with different motives. Instead of looking for the next best show, enjoy another good jungle horror series. Remember people, everything has already been done before so you're never going to get anything "original" again, despite what your two year art degree tells you...


I was very disappointed with this show...I gave up after the first hour...It was hokey. I wasn't scared I was bored. I didn't care about any of the cast either. I can't believe anyone has compared it to Lost which was totally captivating from the very beginning.


I agree the camera work was very annoying. I couldn't get into the show, turned it off half way through.


The people that make movies for theatres have to be smiling more and more since tv keeps coming up with reasons not to watch tv. This show is a prime example. I was so hoping it would be a believable adventure show. Instead we get another Lost wannabe which this is not. Even Lost did itself in with stupid stunts and dragging out storyline. Thanks but no thanks.

Lindsey kempton

While not technically a "found" footage show, The River is shot in that style, and not being a huge fan of found footage horror films (I think that, in general, they rely too much on jumps and screams than plot, and they just don't scare me), I was skeptical. But after watching the first two episodes, I'm definitely interested. If The River can keep up this pattern of Monster of The Week episodes nestled inside the larger story arc of the search for Emmet, I think it could actually work. I'm also not in love with the shaky cam, but it feels so different than anything else on TV that I can overlook it. Looking forward to next week's review!


Turned off after first hour, too confusing & jerky.


I turned it off after one hour. Boring. Maybe I should have watched it to the end, but it was tedious. Did not hold my interest.


Maybe I am showing my age, but the camera work, ruined the show for me. I much prefer, an old fashioned TV show. I just don't get the appeal.

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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.