We get some background on Avery Sunderland’s troubled childhood past as he also moves to give Maria what she craves in the form of a new addition to the family. Break out the mosquito repellent as we head back into the mire for a recap of Swamp Thing episode 4: Darkness on the Edge of Town.
The scares ran high this week, Horror Bound loyal, as we were treated to an epidemic that, when contracted, caused our townsfolk to hallucinate their worst fears. I mean, that’s a prime ingredient for all kinds of spooky and disturbing visuals that help to keep us invested in what I feel was more of a filler episode this week. Don’t get me wrong, there were some connections to plot-lines established over the past few weeks, but they were subtle, as the focus was more on stopping this new contagion that could pass from person to person with just a scratch.
It starts out innocently enough when some wood poachers (?) (I didn’t even know that was a thing) are out at night trying to find some cypress in the swamp when this corpse falls to the ground from above and reanimates itself long enough to bite one of our unsuspecting poachers. The next day, turns out our bitten poacher is a kitchen worker at Delroy’s Roadhouse, the bar from the first episode that best friend to Abby, Liz’s dad owns and operates. Well, he shows up for his shift and starts scratching at the bite he received the night before. Then he starts hallucinating a giant snake on his arm trying to constrict and bite him. He grabs a nearby kitchen knife and starts stabbing the shit out of his arm before finally stuffing it in the sink’s waste disposal and turning it on, resulting in his arm getting all mangled. Damn. Before passing on, he scratches Delroy on the arm.
Abby, being the only doctor Liz knows, shows up right when the authorities are bagging him and starts to ask questions, but not before Delroy starts freaking out and hallucinates a moment from his childhood wherein there were robbers who broke into the roadhouse and killed his mom right in front of him. He starts shooting up the place, thinking he’s shooting at the thugs when Sheriff Cable (Beals) finally tackles him, but not before Delroy scratches her across the neck. Uh oh.
So, this is when we find out, later at the hospital, that once transmitted to someone else, the previous victim is free of it. So Delroy’s okay, but what about the sheriff? She hasn’t been the most likable character, so I would have been totally okay with her dying, but being that she’s pretty prominent in the series, not to mention a pretty big name talent as well, I wasn’t holding my breath. But we’ll get there in a sec.
Abby got to flex her biggest muscle this week, her brain, when she is researching on two fronts this week. She retrieves a sample of Alec/Swamp Thing’s tissue so that she can try and figure out what’s going on inside him, all the while Alec/Swamp Thing pleading with her to share her findings with him since it turns out, he’s still got a pretty big brain of his own. There’s a moment, right before credits roll, when Abby is speaking to Alec/SwampThing and refers to the two of them as a doctor and biologist respectively, yet questions how come none of what’s been happening lately makes any sense. To which, he answers, “It doesn’t. Not in any way that we used to understand” (emphasis added). So it’s clear that he’s still in there and still has complete control over his mental faculties. I hope we get to see him use his brains a bit more in the future over his brawn because that would be kind of cool and it would also really humanize him as a character.
Abby’s other arc this week was of course getting down to the bottom of the other contagion affecting the local folk, but not without the help of bestie Liz and her investigative journalism. Using a clue left at the scene of the first attack with the poachers, Liz finds out that some eighty years ago there were reports of people flipping out and seeing their worst nightmares before slaughtering others. The last guy who was affected, disappeared into the swamp and was never seen again. Apparently, he went there to die so as not to infect anyone else… until poor old poachers came along and knocked his corpse loose to the ground, leading Abby to realize that ancient viruses have been known to lock themselves inside mummified remains until disturbed.
Realizing that sheriff Cable must be the latest carrier, they rush to the town crawfish boil being held by the Sunderland’s (of course) and where Cable is providing security. Once there, the sheriff is already hallucinating her son being stabbed by a partygoer and so she draws her weapon, aiming it into the crowd. Daniel (Ziering) tackles her to save the day, but not before Abby takes one for the team, and allows Cable to scratch her, thus passing the mysterious affliction on to Abby. But now knowing what this thing is, Abby rushes to the swamp where Alec/SwampThing awaits to relinquish it from her and put it back into the corpse from whence it came and submerse it into the ground.
Other notable developments this week: Looking to quash Maria’s continuing grief over Shawna, Avery comes up with the scheming plan to foster little Susie Coyle. Yeah, like he has no ulterior motives, right? Of course he does, he plans on using Susie’s tragic story to elicit grief and procure more funding for all his other diabolical little schemes. Avery, you callous bastard!
We also get a little more insight into Daniel’s “mission,” because let’s face it, it got somewhat eerie at the end of last week’s episode when he was all like, “Is Abby the one I’ve been waiting for?” and all that. Well, at least this week we find out that his mission is actually to “help” Abby or whoever this “one he’s been waiting for” turns out to be, so we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Thank goodness.
Lots of headway in the form of flashbacks this week also: Sure, we got that little nugget of Delroy’s, which let us in a little on some much needed Liz and Delroy development. But we also got a nice little peak in the opening of the episode at what Avery’s childhood was like and it had something to do with, in the very least, an emotionally abusive father. Lastly, when Abby’s infected and we see her nightmare realized and she recollects it to Swamp Thing later, we find out that she had this recurring nightmare as a child of some faceless monster trying to steal her away from her mother, but that when her mom died, the nightmares stopped. Hmmmmm, intriguing.
Listen, I liked this week’s episode of course, but I can’t help but feel it was filler, at least for now. At the start, I thought maybe this virus that we follow through the course of the episode was just another manifestation of this “Rot” from the comic that I referred to in last week’s write up, but I feel like it got explained away once Liz lets us in on these murders that happened in Marais some eighty years prior. But then ‘ol Swampy kept referring to the mysterious sickness as this “darkness” that belongs in the swamp. So, I don’t know, maybe there was a point to it all. Either way, we’ll keep watching to find out, right?
That’s it for this week, friends. Still no big news on the DCU front, or any other front for that matter, regarding the cancellation, this week at least, but please keep using the hash tag #SaveSwampThing on all your social media when referring to any DC Universe or Swamp Thing related materials and let’s get the word out on this fantastic show. Oh yeah, 3 out of 5 corpse fingers for this week’s entry. Sorry, still can’t help but get that filler feeling.
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