The River recap: Just Around the Riverbend

Father-daughter bonding time for Lena and her long-missing dad, Russ, is short and miserable. Worst 'Take Your Daughter to Work Day' ever.
Ep. 05 | Aired Feb 28, 2012

FIRE IN THE HOLD! That would be gun-fire.

We know that all the best heroes of Lost knockoffs have daddy issues. But so do all the best heroines!

That was the message of last night’s episode of The River, “Peaches,” the first real installment of ABC’s nascent mystery-adventure franchise to have a deep emotional pull. I don’t know about you but I’ve been increasingly impressed with The River over the past few weeks. What started out as a by-the-numbers inventory of Paranormal Activity-derivative found-footage scares somehow turned into a character-driven yarn with “Los Ciegos,” last week’s Jonas-the-Hanging-Man ep, “Undiscovered Countries,” and now last night’s pretty damn devastating What-happened-to-Lena’s-dad? family tableaux. Actually, this may the first time that I’ve been genuinely moved by any of Steven Spielberg’s recent forays into television. The ending of “Peaches” almost reminded me of Empire of the Sun, if Empire of the Sun had ended with Christian Bale’s parents setting themselves on fire in front of their son’s undoubtedly forever-scarred eyes.

It was day 22 of the expedition to find Emmet Cole: April 6. My birthday! Oh, that meant we were in for some freaky stuff ahead, mah friends. Jonas was finally pulling his weight on the crew, rather than auditioning to be the new “Dude, You’re Totally Getting a Dell!” kid. The mission of the Magus crew was to make their way to a waterfall deep inland—four weeks away on foot, to be precise--where the good doctor might still be. Apparently, Emmet had been looking for people who could “show him the way.” Which could literally mean anything. Good for Jonas to be this willing to help out the mission when the guy they’re hoping to rescue was more than willing to let him hang from a tree.

Lena didn’t have a rapt audience of Animal Planet fans waiting for news of her father’s reemergence from the jungle, though. And it was starting to hurt. Looking at all that footage of Emmet, she could sense her camera-operator dad just off screen but could never really see him. To deal with her anxiety and psychically bond with her dad, Lena played her accordion. Apparently, like Joan on Mad Men, Lena’s father wanted her to learn the instrument because no guys would hit on a girl who plays accordion. True!

NEXT: Watch out for these eco-warriors! They may or may not be undead.

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