'The River' recap: Daddies, Doggies & Dharma

the-river-cast-abc.jpgTurns out what the show was missing actually was Dr. Emmet Cole after all. In what I would call the show's first truly successful outing, by turns suspenseful, scary, beautiful and touching, the crew spends the episode watching a mysterious tape they found at Cole's last location (per Lena's dad) which plays out what seem to be the final days of old Emmet.

Seems that fight with Russ last week had a little more to it -- like multiple mentions, once again, of Lena's complicity in the oncoming zombie mess -- than we saw originally, but the end result was the same: Cole took the last two Redshirts and the dog mascot with him deeper still into the Boiuna, leaving Russ to his eventual Dutchman fate. The Away Team died and/or disappeared at regular intervals, at which point he broke his ankle, gave himself dengue fever or something, and eventually succumbed to the whistling embrace of a (truly beautifully designed) weather demon.

(...Or did he? No, of course he didn't. He got saved at the last minute and dropped off at some kind of German-United Nations-CDC zombie-creating Dharma facility hidden deep in the jungle and revealed in a pretty shocking, cool way... At which point the -- perfectly edited, multi-angle, multi-camera, boom-miked -- tape made its way back to the original location, thanks to some very helpful native savages.)

But what's great is the 45 minutes we get to spend with Dr. Cole finally, coming to grips with the charisma and genius that has made everybody so obsessed with him the whole time -- and he freakin' delivers. One's left wishing Undiscovered Country was a real show, is how empathetic, brilliant, appealing and wonderful Dr. Cole turns out to have been in his prime. Eating grubs, whistling at demons, rattling off Kipling stanzas, conjuring fire in his hands, invoking dragonfly spirits, walking that line between spiritual ecstasy and schizophrenic break we've been catching glimpses of, it's a tour de force not only for Greenwood, but really too as a quantum leap in what this show is/was actually capable of.