ABC’s The River: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Demonic possession took center stage and familial wounds were too-quickly healed as The River wound to an unsatisfying conclusion.

The River Episode 8

With its chances of renewal seeming as unlikely as a Dancing with the Stars crossover special, last night The River offered up its first season finale by rolling out that old horror film chestnut: A good, old-fashioned exorcism. Ironically, this well-worn supernatural trope provided for one of the series’ least-spirited hours.

The stage was set for some father-son reconciliation early in the episode, as the newly-rescued Dr. Cole tried (with some success, seemingly) to connect with estranged son Lincoln onboard the Magus. Their moment of bonding was interrupted, however, when Lincoln stepped in front of a bullet intended for his father. Lincoln died, the shooter was unknown and the Magnus crew was left in disarray.

Ah, but this river is a place of magic, you see. Soon enough, Jahel (she of the Spanish exposition translated into English subtitles) set about performing some kind of blood-letting ritual and, at Tess’ request, prayed to the Boiuna spirit to restore Lincoln’s life.

(The Boiuna, it should be noted, is commonly known as “The God of All Demons,” “The Black Snake” and “The Boat Eater,” so there was never any doubt this resurrection thing would be smooth sailing.)

Within moments, Lincoln returned to the ranks of the living and was welcomed by the crew with surprisingly little suspicion or fanfare. He soon set about making sandwiches, screwing up camera feeds and murdering his shipmate, Jonas. It was Jonas, Lincoln noted, who had shot at Emmet and had inadvertently made Lincoln mostly dead. For this, the hapless camera dude paid with his life.

Once again demonstrating that this series would have been stronger if he had been given more screen time, Dr. Cole tricked the demon-infected Lincoln by using Lena as sexy bait and then poisoning his own son. This swift bit of craftiness temporarily allowed Dr. Cole and crew to gain the upper hand over the Boiuna, and Lincoln soon found himself strapped to a table and convulsing like Linda Blair.

Though hardly original, the episode’s exorcism sequence was its strongest segment, as the Boiuna used Lincoln’s fragile relationships with Emmet and Lena (as well as its own supernatural powers) to raise hell aboard the Magus. Finally proving his worth to this crew, Captain Kurt revealed the secret to defeating the Boiuna: appeal to the spirit of Lincoln, trapped behind the demon.

And so, with surprising ease, the forces of evil were dispelled by Dr. Cole apologizing to his son for missing his birthdays, his first steps and all of that other father-son stuff. Once Emmet got around to promising to be in attendance at Lincoln’s wedding, the Boiuna spirit fled. Apparently, even The God of All Demons has an aversion to warmed-over platitudes.

The good guys, having secured safety, happiness and familial tranquility, immediately set their course for the voyage home — a rescue helicopter, Tess said, waited for them just around the river bend. But as our heroes journeyed onward, they found that the course of the river continued to reshape itself, trapping the Magus and its passengers forever…

But at least the rest of us are free.

Photos courtesy of ABC