Okay, remember all that stuff about the spirit traps and the ghost of the producer and how there are 104 tapes that will lead the team to Dr. Cole? Forget all about that. What's important this week is that there is a Very Scary Tree in the Amazon that is covered in Horrible Spooky Dirty Dolls, and it is pissed the hell off.
It's a week into the journey when one of Cole's dragonflies climbs into Jahel's mouth and sends her around the Magus to act all creepy and Paranormal Activity before she finally finds Tess. There is some Whoopi Goldberg girl-on-lady, and they finally figure out that it's Emmet possessing the handy psychic girl. Not that he's got much to say, so much as reiterate what she's constantly saying, which is that they need to get the fuck out of there.
Do they get the fuck out of there? No they do not. What they do do is, head out into the jungle where monkeys are wearing baby faces and scaring the shit out of you, and thence to a tree -- yes, by all means let's set up camp right in this very spot -- that has a million dolls hanging from it. Are they alive? They are kind of alive. Are they angry? Not yet.
First Lincoln has to steal one of them -- his eponymous childhood teddybear, named for Jacob Marley -- while we flashback to a complex conversation he had with his father as a boy about the pendulum of life and death and how somebody might stop it from swinging, or something. Emmet believes that Lincoln is the child "strong enough" to do ... something ... and gives him a magic necklace, but later on we see him realize that, thanks to a birthmark, it seems Lena is the one that the prophecy is about.
After Momma Tess gets pulled into a stream by ghosts a few times, finally disappearing altogether, Lena remembers some Amazon myth about a little British Colonial girl who drowned and who is probably the ghost the doll-tree is meant to propitiate. There follows a riveting ten minutes in which the entire cast stands around watching a toy fall off a tree no matter how tightly it is tied. Finally, in a gloriously gonzo turn, Lincoln and his dizzying array of accents decides to dig up the little girl's mom's corpse and throw her in the river, causing the grave to spit Tess back at them. (Yes, the Poltergeist references are quickly accumulating.) Jahel barfs up her dragonfly, and everybody gets back to acting somewhat normal. Just another day on the Amazon, right?
Now that we are one-fourth of the way through the season I think we can safely say that the show demonstrates a bit more capacity for humor than perhaps it realizes, but all in all this was a pretty great, intentionally funny, lighter-yet-also-way-creepier, not-prohibitively-campy installment. While some budget decisions do seem to have been made, if you know what I mean, the actors -- especially, once again, Joe Anderson's Lincoln Cole -- do a fine job selling the ropier bits. Which is a damned sporting, considering the annoying way Lincoln and Jahel both keep flipping back and forth in their opinions as the plot requires, or the even more annoying way Tess keeps hauling herself into the Shit for no reason.
Weeks To Come: Lincoln gets a cute haircut, the pendulum clearly stops in just the wrong place, tons of snakes, more of Jahel being inconveniently convenient, I'm guessing Emmet shows up sooner rather than later, people continue to take their cuts and mosquito bites for a dip in brackish water whenever they feel like it, and the German guy is most likely not as sketch as he seems.
Cole: "Lincoln, play guitar with me for Xmas! So everybody on TV can see us being father and son!"
Cole: "Lincoln, put down that eponymous teddy bear!"
Cole: "Lincoln, stop being a child and do the things I want you to do! I have designated right now to be parenting time! We must have fun in my way!"
Lincoln: "I wish I had a The River I could skate away on."
Cole: "Lena, you get a hat. You're secretly my favorite."
Clark: "This is gay. Christmas is stupid."
Tess: "But can't you see what a great father he is being?"
They still haven't broken the whirlybird camera; the Valenzuelas are still joyful in their labor of keeping this boat going.
Clark: Breaks the whirlybird camera.
AJ: "And you know, our previous second cameraman got his head taken off by a ghost."
AJ: "Hi, Jahel!"
AJ: "You're pulling a Jin, huh? Never going to learn English until some random point for shock?"
Jahel: "[Or I'm just doing this to annoy you. Or because it's symbolic.]"
Crew: "So we have to find those guys that went missing, but we don't know where to look, because it turns out those archival tapes aren't in any kind of order."
Lena: "Luckily, Cole had a bug bite on his thumb that got more and more infected, until presumably he became a zombie..."
Everybody: "Gross. And boring."
Lena: "...Until presumably he became a zombie, so we can go through all the tapes looking for his infection as it developed, and that will tell us a rough order of tapes we can go by. And whether or not there are zombies on this show."
One thousand hours of this guy's thumb getting more and more infected. One begins to understand the Herculean Task of the Maysles Brothers, long ago in East Hampton, simply by watching this part.
Lincoln: "The audience may wonder why we're not getting the fuck out of this horrible, haunted, filthy, infecting location."
Clark: "Well, some of us have a reason to be looking for him. Like he's our dad or our girlfriend's husband."
Lincoln: "Okay, but like what about the people that don't have those reasons? Like the scary German, or the Valenzuelas?"
Clark: "Listen, Audience. I am about tired of you, so I'm only going to explain this once, in a scene designed strictly for this purpose. Kurt leaves, we will be murdered. Emilio and Jahel leave, the boat will instantly stop moving and we will be murdered. Any more stupid questions, Audience?"
Audience: Goes and fucks themselves.
Clark: "That's what I thought."