The plot thickens this week as we get even more plotlines and find out our nemesis isn’t as powerful as we initially thought. Let’s wade into the bayou as I review Swamp Thing episode 3: He Speaks.
But first some news on the Swamp Thing front since last week: Fans are still in shock with the news that the show was canceled after only a single episode aired and immediately took to social media pleading for other streaming outlets to pick up the show. I would guess that with all the money Warner Bros. has dumped into various DC related media in recent years and subsequently loss, they could use a win, but that being said, I don’t think anyone can afford the huge price tag WB would surely be demanding for the rights to continue production somewhere else. With Netflix dropping series’ it shared co-production rights with in lieu of keeping their one hundred percent owned Netflix originals and Amazon Prime just canceling its own original superhero show, The Tick, after only two seasons, who would be left to pick up Swamp Thing?
Sure, Shudder seems like a natural fit, but I feel like it would be uncharted territory for the still fledgling streaming network. That’s why I hate to say it, friends, but it looks like this cancellation is going to stick. An even bitterer pill to swallow after a source close to the production came out last week and stated that not only was Swamp Thing planned for a three season story arc, but it also could have led into an eventual Justice League Dark live action series. Alas, I will never get to see my dreams fulfilled of watching Matt Ryan’s Constantine quip snarkily on the same screen as Swamp Thing. Meanwhile, DC also came out this week and said they still couldn’t reveal why the show was canceled stating, “We appreciate there are questions as to 'why,' but unfortunately we are not in a position to answer at this time.” Well, thanks a lot, DC. Oh well, on to the review.
There were even more story-lines revealed this week and we finally got some good character development for our chief antagonist, Avery Sunderland. The episode opened with a dream sequence of human Alec Holland confronting the thug he tore apart last week and the thug threatening Alec that he would return for him. In the real world, once awakened, the creature leaves the scattered remains of our thug behind, and we see a swarm of various insects begin to reanimate the remains.
Back in town, Abby returns to the hospital only to find that the CDC has brought in another specialist to possibly usurp Abby’s control of the situation, and not only that, but she finally finds out Dr. Woodrue is in town analyzing the remains of the first victim from episode one and he’s being bank rolled by Sunderland. This brings us to our first two new plotlines introduced in this episode: Turns out one of the reasons why Woodrue is involved with Sunderland’s plans is because he himself is in search of a cure for his wife’s own debilitating mental condition (based on the brief interaction between the two, my guess is it’s going to be Alzheimer’s or some other dementia inducing affliction). However, we also find out that, despite appearances and the fancy house on the water, Avery Sunderland is broke. Like, he’s been syphoning money from his wife, Maria, who apparently comes from money, and he’s got a banker working for him who’s been transferring funds into personal loans to fund his continued swamp projects.
Speaking of Maria, we finally get an idea this week that all of the instances wherein we saw her dead daughter, Shawna, are actually all her own delusions, as evidenced by a pretty creepy reunion in a bathroom mirror wherein Shawna gets in Maria’s head about what a piece of shit Avery is. The question I have is: does Maria now have these visions as a result of Madame Xanadu’s interference from last week or were they there all along and Maria sought out Madam Xanadu for some clarity on the matter? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.
Back at the hospital, Abby’s CDC partner, Harlan, portrayed by Leonardo Nam (Westworld), comes down with what the show description on DCU is officially referring to now as the Green Flu. Of course, this then prompts Abby to head back out to Alec’s lab deep in the swamp with or without Sunderland’s permission to try and find some new answers to help combat the virus. Once there, we get our Swamp Thing “scene of the week” (yeah, I’m just going to start referring to it as that from now on). Remember that swarm of bugs from the start of the episode? Well they have fully reanimated our poor thug, Munson, now. He threateningly approaches Abby and asks her where “he” is, and of course she has no idea what that hell he’s talking about. Then Swamp Thing shows up to save Abby, dispatching with the transformed Munson rather quickly. However, upon recognizing the man beneath the bugs, Swamp Thing simply requests out loud, “Release him,” and the bugs leave his body and leave a pool of black goo behind where Munson’s corpse was.
An aside here. Two things. First, what follows in this scene is a brief exchange between Abby and the creature (hence the title of this week’s episode) where I can’t help but once again draw comparisons between my favorite book of all time, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and our big green guy here. When Swamp Thing reaches out and touches Abby’s face and recollects her name, it literally gave me goose bumps, then asks her, “What am I?” I immediately make connections to the fear, despair, and longing that Dr. Frankenstein’s monster was filled with as well. The similarities are simply undeniable. The second thing is what I am loving about this show so far, as a confessed comic book fan, is that I find myself afterwards delving into the interwebs to do research on comparisons to the Swamp Thing comic. Because remember, I’ve been a fan of all things Swamp Thing for the past 30 years, except the comic book. This week’s research has revealed to me that not only does Dr. Woodrue eventually become a Swamp Thing super villain, but this thing that takes over Munson’s remains is something known as “The Rot” in the comic. I’m not going to bog you down (get it? “bog”?) with all the nerdy details behind both these comic book nemeses, you can go and do that on your own time, but still, kind of cool that the show would have probably, eventually, introduced so many more cool little nerdy comic book elements.
Anyways, in act three this week, a few huge things happen. Namely, armed with Swamp Thing’s advice that the green flu is not fighting the humans, but rather “fighting back”, Abby rushes back to the hospital and discontinues antibiotic treatment on all the patients since it is that medication in particular that is causing the flu to become more vigorous in it’s natural battle for survival. The patients are saved.
Sunderland, after receiving the troubling news that his wife, Maria, is cutting him off from any further funding from her family’s fortunes, breaks into that banker’s house, remember the one he has under his thumb, to threaten his continued cooperation in their loan schemes. The banker, who refuses and instead says he’s out and will be going to the press to inform them of Sunderland’s involvement with something called “the conclave” to insure his own protection, forces Sunderland to crack open the banker’s skull with a golf club. He even does it in the bathtub, claiming it’s, “easier to clean up the mess.” Avery! You evil bastard, you! (Again, for more info on this, just Google “conclave DC,” yes, it’s also a thing)
And what about our Madame Xanadu this week? This week’s conclusion finds her skulking around in that 80’s-tastic video store from last week awaiting Daniel’s (Ian Ziering) arrival. When he gets there, he asks for another reading from her cards since he hasn’t had one in months. Apparently, he can’t go home and he’s been in Marais for eight years now waiting to complete some mission. Yet, when his cards are revealed to him, they’re still the same with the exception of one card, that although the same card, it now rests in a reversed position, meaning something has changed in his fate. The only thing that Daniel can think of is the arrival of Abby Arcane and wonders if this is the person he’s “supposed to be waiting for?” Mysterious enough, but it only raises more questions for we, the viewers. I can’t help but wonder if we may actually get some kind of actual Blue Devil appearance. That would be crazy, folks!
Once again, another pretty solid episode this week and I can’t currently find any reason not to continue tuning in week to week. I even got my wife watching now and she’s on-board with me, and the rest of us out there, that still can’t seem to find a reason as to why this show would be cancelled. North Carolina has since denied the accusations of tax credits that weren’t honored and DC Universe reps have claimed that there is still a bright future for the streaming service as a whole. That only leaves “creative differences” between the multiple producers and creators as a viable reason for the cancellation now. Hopefully, we’ll get some answers soon.
In the meantime, I’ll still be watching and bringing you recaps and reviews of each episode every week until the wheels fall off. This week, I’m severing one corpse finger for my review and giving this one a solid four out of five corpse fingers. The only reason being that I feel we’re getting introduced to more story-lines that I know will not be resolved by the end of the season due to the shortened episode order of ten, down from thirteen and the abrupt cancellation. But here’s hoping!
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