The River : Ep4 “A Better Man”

When we catch up with the crew we see them sharing lighter moments. They are having a barbecue, grill meat & fish and buying food & vegetables from a local guy who sells his wares off his boat. The sun is shining, they are drinking beer and the food is being cooked. Post lunch Lincoln picks up his guitar and starts playing a tune and singing. Lena soon joins him playing her accordion. The makers of the series did a good job of making this all calm & serene – heck this might be a group of friends going on a lazy cruise. But yes there is also a discussion about having a leader for the expedition. Suddenly Jahel (why is she always the harbinger of doom) starts screaming and points to something in the jungle. The crew looks at where she points and sees the corp of  white man hanging from a vine off a tree. As they approach the young man springs to life, struggling against the creepers and Kurt shoots the vine and it breaks and releases him. The young man turns out to be Jonas Beckett, Dr. Emmett Cole’s former camera man and who was hired by Lena to go along with Emmett’s crew.

He is sick with symptoms of malaria and the crew take him to the boat and treat him. Turns out that the ambitious Jonas followed a native elder into the jungle against Emmett’s explicit orders to try to capture on film his sacred funeral ritual only to be cursed for doing so, damned to perpetually hang from a vine-noose in eternal pain and agonizing regret. The myth of the hanging man is discussed among the crew mainly filled in by Jahel. She also tells them that unless Jonas leaves the boat the rest of the crew will also die. Soon they have to take shelter as a large storm is heading their way. They are bombarded first by birds that hit against the boat in a supposed suicidal run, killing themselves by hitting the glass or other parts of the boats at high speeds and later by a hail storm of bugs that crawl all over the boat and they have to lock themselves inside. Back in Emmet’s voyage, the spirits covered the ship in vines, which Emmet solved by letting Jonas hang. In earlier footage we find Emmett cutting off large chunks of vines only for it to reappear a moment later and almost forcefully take a female crew member away by dragging her.

Soon it is apparent that in order for the crew to survive they might have to sacrifice Jonas back to the jungle just like Emmett & his crew did. Lincoln, who is a medical graduate is appalled and refuses to allow that to happen. However Jonas in a bout with remorse on seeing Lincoln’s attempts to keep him alive, decides to sacrifice himself in order to save the rest of the crew. The spirit is appeased and we see a form being released from his phone – on which Jonas had recorded the funeral.

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