Of all the things we learned about Dr. Emmet Cole this week, I think the most important is how bad he is at hiring crew members. First it was the party bro who thought it was okay to film locals' deaths on his Android and this week we learned that Emmet had also hired an extremely dangerous woman to operate his cameras. I'm talking, of course, about Katie Featherston, the main subject of of THREE documentaries that very explicitly prove she is haunted by and/or possessed by A DEMON. Seeing as The River is a found footage show that supposedly takes place in the real world, shouldn't Emmet Cole at least have had a passing familiarity with the Paranormal Activity franchise? I'm just sayin'... If I was trying to staff up an expedition into highly supernatural and treacherous territory, I will probably not hire the most famous demon-bait in America. It's just common sense. Then again, maybe Katie just had a great resumé?
This week's episode, "Doctor Emmet Cole," was basically The River's attempt at a flashback episode. Operating on a tip from Lena's ghost dad, Tess and the rest of the gang hiked out to a waterfall where they immediately found Emmet Cole's backpack. One guess as to what was inside of it? That's right, MORE footage! Fun fact: Did you know that you can store over a week's worth of nonstop camera footage (from two different cameras!) in one tiny ziplock bag? Anyway, before we knew it, the entire crew was huddled around the video monitors watching a (fully edited?) account of what happened to Emmet on his final expedition. Don't get me wrong, it was interesting stuff. But if your primary question is whether a man is still alive or not, maybe just skip to the last tape? I don't know. Instead everyone just stood there watching the tapes from beginning to end, and occasionally Tess would make everyone leave the room when she felt like Emmet might die on camera. Not the best viewing experience.
Emmet's footage began with Magus hidden-camera footage (which, why was this footage in the backpack? Be quiet, brain.) of a mystical dragonfly flying right into a meditating Emmet's open mouth and him awakening with an epiphany as to the whereabouts of The Source. A pretty typical day, in other words. After a brief on-deck fist fight with Lena's dad over the fact that Emmet had dragged them all on his crazy sorcery hunt, he packed up his dog and set off. Two crew members decided to go with him: Totally Gonna Die Guy and Katie (operating under the assumed name "Rabbit"). Almost immediately Emmet became super annoying by bragging about all his jungle knowledge, reciting from memory entire passages of Rudyard Kipling, and forcing everyone to eat bugs for dinner even though they'd brought food. And then when they were all trying to get some Z's, THIS happened:
After that, things just went from bad to worse. First of all, the dog got hungry. Secondly, there was some awkward tension between Emmet and "Rabbit" after she'd tried to put the moves on him around the campfire. Thirdly, the other dude was skinned alive and hung from a tree. Fairly typical jungle issues, but definitely enough to put a damper on everyone's hike excitement.
As Emmet had mentioned in one of his many know-it-all speeches, this particular section of the jungle was home to a race of superhuman natives who believed themselves to be angels. At the same time there was an evil entity that was definitely not a rip-off of the Smoke Monster from Lost. This one was made of leaves, not smoke. But yeah, a leaf monster kept attacking everybody and was responsible for flaying the other dude. Fortunately Emmet knew how to keep it at bay: By whistling the theme song from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Or was it the Mogwai lullaby? Either way, a whistle a day kept the monster away.
So then "Rabbit" stole the supplies and snuck off (she probably needed to get back to San Diego to deal with some demon stuff), Emmet Cole and his dog continued onward, still dutifully filming everything from multiple angles. It wasn't long before he was incredibly thirsty and starving and was staring longingly at the dog as though it had turned into a cheeseburger like in the cartoons. There was even this long, horrible moment where he got out his Swiss army knife and tried to muster the strength to do it but finally couldn't. I don't know about you, but that was the tensest moment this show's had yet! I also don't know about you, but if he'd actually done it I would have turned off the TV and never watched the show again. Life is too short, you know? So good choice, Emmet Cole!
Just when the gathered Magus crew decided Emmet was probably going to pass away on camera, they were shocked and delighted to see that he was then SAVED by the aforementioned angel-tribe and deposited at the fence of the Dharma Initiative! Just kidding, it was probably just some kind of deforestation operation (there were bulldozers and English-speakers, so I'm just assuming). Then I guess the natives stole all his junk and neatly placed everything in ziplock bags for Tess to find near the waterfall? I don't know. Hopefully they pawned the camera. Anyway, after a round of hugs and high-fives, the Magus posse were suddenly shuffling through the jungle looking for that deforestation base camp. After fortunately avoiding the leaf monster and accomplishing in 20 minutes what Emmet nearly died of starvation trying to do, they pretty quickly came upon the place where Emmet had been dropped off. That was the good news.
The bad news was that it was now clearly a haunted, abandoned hellscape like something out of a Silent Hill video game. Uh-oh! We knew Emmet was still alive seeing as he'd pulled the dragonfly trick in Episode 2 and literally spoke to Tess, but now there were other factors at play, including the fact that apparently Lena is destined (via birthmark) to be some kind of mystical being. (Oh, also we learned that Lena had personally set off Emmet's emergency beacon in order to trick everyone into coming, but that ended up being a big who-cares? revelation.) And also we learned that a big reason Emmet had gone on this journey was to have a reunion with his deceased 2-week-old infant daughter Alice. So yeah, things were definitely getting weirder.
All in all, most this episode amounted to watching footage of characters watching footage. Very low-stakes! Still though, the episode was pretty riveting and had a great ending. I'm looking forward to next week's episode more than any episode so far. Congratulations, The River, I finally care. Only two episodes left!
... How long does a camera battery last when you never stop filming? 5 days? 20 days?
... What's Lena's deal?
... Have you ever eaten your dog?