How The River's Shocking Comeback Changes EverythingS

If you haven't been watching The River, then you missed a hell of a startling episode last week. Something absolutely huge happened, that turns the show's entire setup on its side. It was the sort of event that most shows would have waited until their season finales to pull out — but The River has a whole episode left to its first season.

We were so surprised, we had to talk to stars Joe Anderson (Lincoln Cole) and Leslie Hope (Tess Cole), to find out how everything is going to be different in tomorrow night's season finale.

Spoilers ahead...

So yeah, in last week's episode, they found Emmett Cole. The guy they've been searching for all season. This is kind of a gutsy move, and a gratifying one, since so many other shows rely on endlessly deferred gratification. It's pretty exciting that we get to see how Lincoln and Tess deal with Emmett being back, and just how this affects everybody's relationships. Judging from our conversation with Anderson and Hope, their reactions aren't going to be what you're expecting.

Case in point — Lincoln Cole started out being pissed at his dad, and being the prototypical rebellious young man with daddy issues. But over the course of the season, Lincoln's been stepping up and becoming "his own man," says Anderson. And when you see Lincoln and his father together, the dynamic will be pretty surprising.

How The River's Shocking Comeback Changes EverythingS

Says Anderson:

The initial sort of "daddy issues" thing I guess was set up through the haze of the media and the invasion of the media, which was in the pilot a little... Emmett is built up to be this sort of Indiana Jones kind of [person] — this wonderful guy, really, this exciting guy, this almost kind of macho guy, that is in the jungle, out searching for these in. And finally, when we find him, this is a guy who is kind of remorseful to a certain degree. [He] is feeling guilty for leaving his family. He's deflated, [and] not necessarily this puffed-up guy that he used to be, that [Lincoln] remembered him to be. [So] with Lincoln becoming a man, and with his father not holding quite the same position over Lincoln as he did before... [there's a change in] how Lincoln sees him.

How The River's Shocking Comeback Changes EverythingS

Meanwhile, the return of Emmett Cole is going to force his wife, Tess, to deal with a lot of guilt over "what she did to get him back." Tess has been unrelenting and ruthless in her drive to rescue her husband, and she "she's going to be navigating her way through a lot of guilt and remorse" over putting everybody's lives in danger, says Hope. And she says she's been friends with Bruce Greenwood (Emmett) for a long time, "so it was a huge relief when we had him in an episode," and she could really play opposite him.

Meanwhile, Emmett also has some 'splaining to do, given that he abandoned his family and friends to go off and search for the Source in the middle of the jungle. "There is some guilt to go around there," says Hope.

And that's kind of the bottom line — Emmett made choices that put not just his own life, but his family's life and everyone else's life, at risk, says Anderson. It's not just like Emmett got stranded on the side of a mountain with a broken leg and everybody has to go rescue him — he chose to go off to the jungle, and then everybody had to risk their lives to rescue him.

How The River's Shocking Comeback Changes EverythingS

Anderson says there's also a lot that we haven't seen of Emmett and Lincoln's relationship between when Lincoln was eight and when Lincoln was in his early 20s, "and I hope in the second season, we'll touch on some of that stuff. Where did it go wrong, and what happened?"

Meanwhile, we might see Lincoln becoming a bit more like his father — now that he's found his father, and he's seen what's out there, he may "get the bug, pardon the pun — get a taste for it, and definitely want to pursue the search for the Source."

The River's season finale airs tomorrow night on ABC at 9 PM.