The River: Accordion Party!

The River S01E04: "A Better Man"

Once you've endured four or five near-fatal nightmare scenarios over a three-day period, you'll find any opportunity to bust out your accordion for a Decemberists sing-along BBQ. That totally normal occurrence happened at the beginning of "A Better Man," The River's fourth and possibly worst episode yet. Now, by now you know that "worst" doesn't really mean anything anymore, this is The River we're talking about. See, in the Amazon, sometimes "worst" means "dumbest" or "most hilarious" or even "best." I don't know, that's a personal opinion you'll have to explore on your own. I do know that the central storyline involving a cursed, undead adventure douche did not exactly scare me or delight me very much. It was definitely no doll tree (but what is?).

The episode began with A LOT of boring on-camera testimonials about leadership, because OH YEAH this is supposed to be a reality show, and OH YEAH it's the worst reality show. Leadership? That's a suitable subject for a show about a nightmare boat cruise? Have these people SEEN reality TV lately? Anyway, later on the crew enjoyed a weenie roast, and only moments into the son and daughter's impromptu rendition of "Sons & Daughters," the Happy Funtime Express hit a major roadblock. Specifically the sight of THIS:

A dead body! Except whoops, not dead:

After Kurt the shady-seeming German SHOT the shaggy bro down, the crew rescued him and we learned more about him: His name was Jonas Beckett and he was a late-addition camera man for Emmet's ill-advised trip into the jungle. Oh yeah and he'd apparently been hanging up there for MONTHS? It happens. Anyway, now he was dying of malaria and so a big debate ensued about whether or not the crew should turn back and take him to a hospital or not. Lincoln was like "we gotsta" and his mom was like "Naw, son." And so they kept moving.

So that's when the plagues started:

Hundreds of blue birds started falling from the sky.

Then a locust invasion.

Poor this dude! He didn't deserve that! He was just a nice fruit deliveryman. Ugh, the jungle and it's terrible justice system.

Then it rained a lot. Anyway, here's what the deal was: While hanging out with Emmett, this adventurer bro dude had decided it would be a good idea to film a local's death using his cell phone (because that is the kind of footage the Peabody Awards panel is LOOKING FOR), but as we all know filming someone with a cell phone means you're stealing that person's soul but it's especially true in the Amazon where they are not normal human beings like you and me (what?). Anyway, because of that, the jungle decided it would turn the adventure bro into the legendary Hangman cautionary tale meant to warn people against stealing souls with cell phone cameras. And so there were some nifty "flashbacks" (scenes in which people look at video monitors) in which vines were literally trying to drag the bro off the Magus—and Emmet let them! Sorry adventure bro, that's just how things work in the Amazon.

So after all the truth was out, a new debate ensued in which the current Magus crew had to decide whether or not to throw Jonas back into the wild just as Emmet had. Lincoln was like, "Naw" and Tess was like, "Tell us all your knowledge and we'll consider keeping you," and so Jonas told her where he thought Emmet was (out looking for THE SOURCE OF MAGIC LOL) and then she was like, "Thanks, p.s. you got burnt, we are kickin' you off now." Tess was NOT messing around. So Jonas was super bummed, but then Lincoln stole Kurt's gun and started waving it around and Jonas was so touched that he ran outside to go hang himself but dropped his phone and a SOUL flew out of it.

Then all the plagues stopped. Then the British guy offered Jonas a job as a camera man. Because all the best horror stories GAIN characters rather than lose them.

Thus concludes a classic episode of Steven Spielberg's The River, surely one of the weirdest high-concept misfires in television history. Four down, four to go!

QUESTIONS:

... What did you think of "A Better Man"?

... Should Jahel just be in charge now?

... Did Lincoln choose the correct Decemberists song for the occasion?

Comments (53)
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This was an awesome episode full of beautiful cinematography!

The series is shaping up really well and I look forward to more!
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To the reviewer, if you think that something so new and original like The River is a misfire well than maybe you should try and watch something you would think is original. How about a show about cops, or lawyers, or cops & lawyers, or how about a show about doctors? Because there sure as hell aren't enough of those, and too damn many shows like The River.
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I would think, they get assigned (probably pick interesting shows to write up), it's not something he'd just drop because he's not enjoying the show as much.



As far as the rediculousness of first few episodes, THAT was the enjoyable part. Not the forced drama. Which is what this episode was all about. It was needed to get closer to Emmit, but hopefully we get back to exploring the jungle. Where we can get more scares and tension.
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well said!
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I guess we can't have demon tribes all the time.
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I'm still wondering why I'm watching this. I think I just realized it's so I can fully appreciate these reviews after the fact.



The concept of a suspense/thriller on primetime is glorious. This is not that glorious thing, though. This is a ridiculous, under-characterized lol fest. I still don't know all the characters' names. It's gotten past that whole "it's so bad, it's good" stage and just sunk into the bad. Like Tess when she was pulled into the river by a vengeful child spirit a couple episodes ago.
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I can't believe there is not ONE comment re; the acting on this series. I mean, (for television mind you) there are some very emotional, well acted scenes. Reading the majority of comments here, one can only suspect that people have very, very short attention spans. Maybe we can blame it on the fact there are 100 new tv shows every !!?#?%@! season nowadays...but this show DOES deliver on the details, the acting, the tension, the "did you just see that??!!" and most of all, believable acting! There is no such thing as 'reality' tv...that is just a fact. But, this show absolutely covers many of the details that so-called 'reality tv' shows fail on. With all the new competition out there right now, The River does what it is supposed to do...watching tv and being entertained!! Nothing more, nothing less. (Oh, and p.s., you need somewhat of an education to follow this show properly. Sorry 'Jersey Shore/ Housewives of who-gives-a-f**k fans!)
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Yes it seems alot of people's attention span has been reduced to unless a storyline in a tv show episode isn't begun and finished in 42 minutes they have no idea what is going on and therefore decide to put out bad reviews to serialized shows just because they can.
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I lol'd the whole episode... This show is like watching an action movie from the 80's, is predictable, cheesy and totally hillarious, but the funniest/saddest part is that the River takes it self so seroiusly, sight...

That being said, I gotta give props to the character that plays the show's producer for his comment when he says he doesn't care what's going on, "all I know is that when that girl (Jahel) gets scared, we must take it seriously". Just for that he jumped all the way from my list of characters I want to get killed, to be the sole member on my list of characters I want to survive, LOL.
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Sure this was probably my least favorite episode, but why such a negative write-up? You don't have to like the show to write about it, but at the least look at it with an open mind. It kind of alienates those of us who are fans of the show. Atleast pay enough attention to get the character names right, geez. (i.e. Adventurer bro dude, british guy).

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Why the negative comment? You don't have to like a piece, but at least look at it with an open mind. It kind of alienates those of us who are fans of snark. At least pay enough attention to appreciate the humor of disregarding character names when characters' don't have distinctive personalities. Geez.
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I fully appreciate disregarding character names. I'm so bad at getting to know the names, especially if there is no personality whatsoever. I just meditated on that Jahel name, it's the machine guy, right? Just kidding, it's the always scared looking girl who just speaks Portuguese for the thrill factor (or not)...
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I don't know what to think of this show. It's ridiculous, but I have fun watching it.

Now was this not actually the same story as last week. someone did something insensitive to the locals. That person got punished/cursed dragging everyone with them. Then an act of self scarifies lifts the curse and everything is fine. some one tries to make up and gets a F**k you as response.

It wouldn't surprise me if the crew is split in half between people who would sacrifice themselves and those giving them a hand.

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I congratulate Eli for stepping away from the pov camcorder once and awhile. Lets just face it-- character development sucks with an annoying camera guy in your face!
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I like it. It's my kind of stupid.
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I don't know. I still dig the show. It isn't like anything else there is on. Except itself, like ChrisODriscol pointed out below. However, that doesn't bother me. I enjoy some of a creep factors that keep coming, and can let some things go. Sure, they are filming a reality show, but the people there really just want to find their explorer, they aren't there for fame. It isn't like watching "behind the scenes of jersey shore" or something. I am really enjoying it, and if it is just a small season every year, I would tune in every time.
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Great episode. Somebody didn't respect the views of a local tribe. This in turn puts the entire crew in danger. Said person sacrifices himself to save everyone else, and the danger subsides. Just a great imaginitive story.



I am, of course, talking about last weeks episode that was the exact same storyline.



They killed off one nameless cameraman in the first episode, and no one since even with all the new dangers they face every week. This show is getting stale already.
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They can't kill off someone every week, I think they want us invested in the characters. That being said, I am ready to lose one, or two.
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Quite a can of worms here! We cant be invested in the characters if they keep dying off!
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I can't be invested in the characters when I'm not given enough to actually remember said characters' names. Seriously. What's the gun-happy, satellite phone-toting German guy's name? Looking it up is cheating.
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Then kill one big unexpected character off to keep you on your toes. My vote is for Lincoln.
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I was a bit disappointed because, let's face it, the only good thing in this show is how scary the "legends" are. This week it was not so scary or at least, the storytelling did not use the scary factor of the vines dragging people. Instead of showing us how Emmet got trapped in those vines, they should have make them do the same thing on Tess' Magnus. But just when they got here, everybody was safe inside and the dude eventually threw himself in it. I would have loved to see half of the crew hanging while Tess is screaming on the guy : "look what you're doing ! It's all your fault ! Man up, you jerk !". Maybe next week :(
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it was good
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I guess I'm one of the few people that enjoys the fact that this show is a crazy, nonsensical ride.



It wasn't as scary as previous episodes, but I don't think every episode needs to be. I liked the whole "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" dilemma, and seeing how all of the characters responded to it.



Great show so far, and I'm in for the long haul (if you can call 8 eps that)!
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Here here, the Scares aren't the only thing keeping people watching.
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My thoughts exactly! I really like this show, especially because it's so clearly not a reality tv show even if it's supposed to be (NO ONE puts that many cameras on a boat). I think the ridiculousness makes it so much fun to watch, but at the same time there are some pretty scary scenes.



I also liked the whole "who's the boss" thing in the beginning, especially when Tess was so silly and stubborn to admit that maybe someone else might be a better leader than her. Maybe this episode wasn't so full of action as the previous two, but an endless parade of jungle scares would get very boring pretty soon. This show is so much fun!
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Thank you! I agree please read my response comment that I wrote to JustinJohnson9 below, I think you will like it
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Im with you good sir!
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Sorry, Price, but I really enjoyed the episode, no matter how far-fetched these scenarios seem to be. I guess I'm WAY more into science fiction than you are. I found the episode to be full of tension and craziness as usual; but you're right, this was a much more serious episode than the previous ones, which I actually prefer a little more. While their search for one man on a silly reality show may seem like nothing to you, I just can't see it that way. I'm not surprised by the many near-death experiences or craziness these people go through each episode because for the most part, given their situation, I have no problem with it.
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Thank you I agree with you one hundred percent! As you said this is a SCI FI/ HORROR show that's supposed to be a DOCUMENTARY, they even say it in the show. Nobody is competing for a date, or a singing career, and sure as hell nobody is dancing with any friggin stars! And yet alot of people especially here seem to think it's an actual reality show "Nobody does that on reality shows, that's not realistic at all!" It's SCI for F's sake. I also see that people say that the supernatural elemenst are "Not realistic, it should be more like Lost" So let's start with Lost: An island with electro magnetism, a giant smoke monster, Avatars for good and evil, ghosts, whispers from nowhere, numbers bad luck, and destiny. Now The River: which has shown real myths and legends from the area of the Amazon like: The angry spirit on the river and what that thing that contains it I can't remember what it's called REAL MYTH, The doll tree, which is a REAL myth that the dolls are put there to keep evil spirits away. The strange unknown roots that have medicinal properties, and Tarot cards both real. So an island that is pure fiction from the wonderful imagination of the writers, and people running into actual real myths and legends of the Amazon, but yeah the River is unrealistic. It seems people are just looking for excuses to nitpick and bitch, and that's just the supernatural part don't get me started on the "Camera work sucks you can't follow anything" The camerawork on The River is SO SO much easier to follow than Blair Witch, Cloverfield and ALL films like it.
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I agree, and i like the show so far to. I don't know why people are bashing on this show. Atleast this show is fun, some nice sci-fi elements (like we have enough sci-fi today)



But i guess the mayority here are CSI people who want a show with some people running around solve the case, hey even throw in some of Dick Wolff lawyers, and then they can all dance like the stars!
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hey..cut some slack..

just last review, you were saying this series has a unique substance..

we don't have to be so critical, passing judgement on every occasion..

i'm not saying this episode was god-level but it aint caesar's wife either, doesn't need to be perfect all along.
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What in the hell? I have no idea what this show is and I'm so confused after reading this...
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The why did you read it?
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lol love this bleeping show, maybe just bias being a Paranormal fan and Spielberg. I don't know how ratings say CBS beat Fox And ABC all night. Who the heck are they polling, nursing homes? Yes, CBS shows are good but beating the other age demographics-doubt it.
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love that Decemberists song but it was stuck in my head all dang night.
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Does anyone else think the sound of this show is absolutely horrible?

The music is too freaking loud! It's at least twice as loud as the vocals. I can barely hear and understand anything anyone says in this show because they play LOUD music over the vocals, even when nothing is going on loud music is played over people talking. The only person I can understand is the non English speaking girl because they actually tell you what she says...

You shouldn't have to keep rewinding and muting to find out what is being said.
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Yeah, that episode had its moments (via that impromptu American Idol audition). I really did enjoy the 1st & 2nd episodes, but between last week and this... I can't see myself watching it anymore. I will however continue to read your reviews (I'm loyal like that).
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at least there aren't the usual comments bitching about the cameras... !
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I'd agree that this was the worst episode so far. The reason is that it wasn't as ridiculous as previous episodes, and it was actually more dramatic and serious. It still had its stupid moments -- the whole show is kind of stupid -- but there wasn't that one "this is so bad it's hilarious" moment. It actually feels stupid to say, but I basically felt this episode was worse because it was better.



The only time I laughed -- not hilariously, but briefly -- was when the crew, after seeing Jonas hanging from the tree, saw him move around. The funny part was Tess' reaction... Leslie Hope's shocked "Oh!" face was so badly acted it made me chuckle.
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Beginning the show with the expectation bar at "sucks," I didn't mind the episode much. The "it's okay to lie" theme said over and over would've earned Jonas an elbow in the mouth, but I'm not always a team player.



More A.J., thanks. Tess won't be dying anytime soon, but she earns a separate death with every episode. Jahel would be great in charge. All they have to do is thump Tess with a shovel and drop her overboard.
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She'd probably just come back.
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lol I'm trying to tell myself to stop watching this show. It's bad! SO bad!! But alas, I can't... :(
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Was it an iPhone? Those things are the work of the devil....
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not sure about the work of the devil... but the conditions under which they are produced in china are devilish to say the least
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This proves my point, I guess. :P
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I am not even sure why I am watching this show. I don't like any of the characters and it annoys me that they have foreign dialogue in spanish rather than portugese. I guess it is because it is so bad it is addictive. Please cancel it because I don't have the willpower to stop myself from this insane nightmare!
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You need to get out more.
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this dialogue issue has been discussed over and over again dude.. amazon covers more area than just brazil (peru, colombia, venezuela etc) plus most of the tribes that live in the brazilian area do not speak portuguese... they speak their own dialects. and if you dont have the willpower to stop yourself watching tv, you got a serious problem.
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Exactly!!
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i think ABC was thinking of " Lost " when they put this crap on air ,

but they did not know it would be " Loser " instead
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This episode was straight up ridiculous. I seriously laughed several times at how ludicrous it got. Jahel's magic jungle tarot cards were a real highlight. But really, when there are more near-death experiences on Glee than the River, you know you're in bizzaro world.
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You actually watch Glee?? Really??!!??
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