The Magus crew finally find their first survivor: A lovely young cameraman named Jonas, caught in some vines with a big old case of what seems like malaria. But as Clark eventually unravels -- and Jahel, of course, immediately figures out, although nobody ever gives a shit what she thinks -- there's more to the story.
In fact, the kid -- played gamely by the always-delightful Cappie from Greek! -- is dead (or suspended in-between, like one of Lena's zombie babies) thanks to the jungle being mad at him for taping an elder's final moments of life. Yeah, that thing. The fresh and original thing about photos stealing your soul. His presence on the boat summons all kinds of plagues and disasters, and eventually Clark is calling for his execution... But not as harshly as Tess, who wants to make sure and wring every bit of useless information out of him first.
Throughout the episode, there have been low-level rumblings of struggle and power dynamics, so of course this interrupts into a hilariously simplistic fight between Lincoln and Everybody Else for the life of this kid... Even after he's discovered hiding a video tape of Dr. Cole's original decision to do the same thing, sacrificing him for cursing the boat in the first place.
Although the theme -- of finding a way to actually improve on Dr. Cole's ethics and memory rather than just praying to his ghost for guidance -- is a strong one, the stilted dialogue and odd pacing make this one a fairly laughable morality play in which Lincoln manages to hold the most self-righteous viewpoint possible at every turn, even when contradicting himself.
(Oh, also there is a party where Lincoln plays the guitar and Lena plays the accordion and they harmonize about how happy they are and it is so, so fucking gross that the fact the scene exists only for Clark and Kurt to roll their eyes cynically about it doesn't even come into play because everybody on this show is so fatuous and awful and hair-trigger obnoxious about everything.)
In the end, and unlike last week, it's not even Jonas's self-sacrifice that solves the problem: It's the fact that he breaks his camera phone while committing suicide in front of everybody, releasing the old man's magic ghost into the ether and returning Jonas to life. This all happens in about five seconds, and then Clark offers him a job as their newest, non-zombie camera guy.
This is a real TV show that is actually on TV.
In an odd little coda, Dr. Cole suddenly addresses the screen itself, apologizing to his family in that content-free, trippy way of his, but it's not really that interesting or important. Especially considering we're now expected to believe he was recording private messages to his family on the same tapes that he wanted destroyed so that his family would never find them.
That sort of thing -- not to mention the rotating list of who is able to speak Spanish and who isn't, which is completely up for random shuffle each and every week -- really accretes over time. But hey, on the upside we got a fairly literal zombie this week, and it looks like real actual ones next week, so at least that stupid shit is finally starting, halfway through the series.
Next week: Beyond the zombies? Who cares! But probably some more third-grade moral quandaries and plenty of new opportunities for Lena, Lincoln and Tess to be off-putting in varied ways.
Smoke Monsters! Monkeys with doll heads! Tribal ethicists! Variable abandonment and daddy issues! A strange prophecy! A very welcome haircut! A psychic girl! White people buried all along the Amazon, from a variety of decades and levels of privilege! Terrible things happening to Tess Cole at a furious rate! The ongoing, unspoken threat of zombies! There's magic out there!
5-7 MONTHS AGO
(That's literally what the chyron says, I wasn't just eyeballing it based on the color of the rocks or whatever thumb scabs. I'm no Lena.)
With a younger cameraman documenting, Cole fought off a lot of vines and whatever that seem to have taken hold of the Magus recently... The same rudder issues that Lincoln took care of that time they decided to get a bunch of jungle water in Lena's leg wounds? Well, he cleared them, and whined about it, and then the second you turn your back, there they were again. Just chilling there, off the port bow, up in the rudder, like plant life will do when it's feelin' tricky.
You know what's really scary? Vines.
Tess, with a come-and-go accent: "I am the cast member who speaks Spanish this week, so I'll be the one who haggles with the supply boat."
Clark: "Supplies are expensive! We should just starve. And why did you give them my reading lamp?"
Tess: "Barter system. Very native. Also, stop filming the locals! They're superstitious."
Kurt: "Let's have a power struggle about morale for no reason."
Tess: "Done. What I think would cheer everybody up is if this were the day. The day we find my husband, Dr. Emmet Cole."
Tess explores maps or whatever, she comes up with some new plan, and then yells at Kurt some more for no real reason I can't figure. Kurt advises Lincoln to steer the ship to the south, and Lincoln laughs nastily, because all these people are dicks and they are always bitching about something. Somebody (who?) asks Clark what he thinks about that.
Clark: "Too many Indians, not enough Chiefs. Or you know, something less racist. It's that we don't have a leader. Not like in the old days, when we did whatever the zombie wizard told us to do."
Okay, I don't know how we're going to solve this one -- although I'm guessing it's going to be Lincoln, because TV is tiresome a lot of the time and made for the most boring kinds of people who fall for that "Cat's In The Cradle" Field Of Dreams bullshit every time, no matter how thinly or gesturally it's spread -- but what I can tell you is that Tess should not be the leader.