TV Review: The River 1.5, "Peaches"

Despite all the potential of this series, this episode was nothing more than a perfect example of how to waste that potential.

rating: 1.5

I want to like The River; really, I do €“ intriguing premise, unique format, creepy supernatural elements. But episodes like €œPeaches€ will make that very difficult if it€™s any indication of how well the series can execute character profiles. When this show first aired it clearly was attempting to invoke, among other film and television works, ABC€™s last supernatural mega hit, Lost. Whereas that series€™ arguably strongest feature was the masterful depictions of its characters through single episode portraits that utilized flashbacks, €œPeaches€ insults Lost with the €“ although not horrible €“ totally textbook, phoned in attempt to do the same. While I admire the ambition, not only did the Lena and Russ plot fall flat for me, but the ghost ship angle (it only took us five episodes to get there) was uninspired and weak due to the flimsy foundation of its internal logic. Although the beginning of €œPeaches€ showed potential, ultimately the episode fell apart once the veil was removed as to the nature of the environmentalist antagonists. With its slow build up focusing on Lena€™s turmoil over Emmett€™s disappearance taking precedence over her father€™s, the passive aggressive butting of horns between Lincoln and Jonah for the affections of Lena, and Clark€™s interrogation of Kurt as to the possibility of him having ulterior motives, the episode had plenty of options for some much needed character and plot development, all of which was tossed overboard in favor of watching the ghost crew gradually claim members of The Magus€™ crew. After Kurt shot the captain of the Exodus (played by Don McManus whom I€™ve never seen not play a creepy monster) then got tossed like a ragdoll and magically transported to the hull of the Exodus, it was all downhill. From then on out the emotional ammunition that was loaded earlier turned out to be blanks over the lackluster ghost crew plot which was full of as many holes as redundancies. Basically, I had trouble feeling the threat the ghost crew represented as I didn€™t understand the parameters of their existence. Are they corporeal beings that exist in the physical realm? They ate food and drank liquor. But they€™re ghost-demons so they€™re magic and since they can apparently teleport people, like when Kurt all of a sudden showed up in the hull of the Exodus after being attacked by its captain, why do they need to lure people onto their ship? And although these are powerful and dangerous supernatural creatures impervious to bullets, apparently flares can do some significant damage for some undefined reason and they can be locked behind closed doors. And if Russ was part of their ghostly crew, then they were still one person short of fulfilling their spooky contract before Lincoln, AJ, and Clark showed up. I in no way felt like there was anything really at stake in the episode because the audience is merely watching a series of events unfold without any solid understanding of why these things matter to the overall story we€™re already familiar with. The series seems to keep repeating the same pattern of finding a new lead as to the whereabouts of Emmett before getting derailed by some evil magical force that has to be defeated before the end of the episode which it inevitably does without any real consequences. Rather than these meaningless stand-alone plots that go nowhere, the series needs to develop its mythology and create some real tension as to the ramifications of the crew€™s decisions which never stray from what€™s already been seen. Jahel is still the creepy native girl (although she was conveniently oblivious to the ghosts on her ship), Emilio is still her handy overprotective father, Clark is still a sleazy opportunist, Kurt is still the standoffish hired gun, Tess is still determined yet in denial, Lincoln is apparently just as dedicated despite all the time spent chronicling his ambivalence toward his father, etc. We still know Emmett was looking for the source of all magic or life or something and achieved some mystical abilities during his quest that got him lost but these facts keep getting relayed to us without any further development or clear definitions. Essentially The River seems much more concerned with showing it can perform the same exact plot over and over again instead of giving audiences a reason to keep watching. If you missed every episode since the pilot you haven€™t missed anything except for the addition of Jonah. Even when he and Lena found her father Russ only to realize he too is a ghost-demon thing there was no real loss conveyed because the parameters of this universe have yet to be firmly established, instead the series bets on the audience automatically being invested without earning it. Despite all the potential of this series, this episode was nothing more than a perfect example of how to waste that potential. Previously; TV Review: The River 1.5, €œPeaches€TV Review: The River 1.4, €œA Better Man€TV Review: The River 1.3, €œLos Ciegos€TV Review: The River, €˜Pilot€™
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Fed a steady diet of cartoons, comics, tv and movies as a child, Joe now survives on nothing but endless film and television series, animated or otherwise, as well as novels of the graphic and literary varieties. He can also be seen ingesting copious amounts of sarcasm and absurdity.