The River: Accordion Party!

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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!


... 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?

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