"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.
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?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.