Things don’t turn out well for our big green buddy this week, two characters arc… somewhat, Abby returns back to HQ to a mixed reception, and a new character is introduced in homage to the 1982 classic film by Wes Craven. Let’s get right into Swamp Thing episode 8: Long Walk Home.
What’s up, my Horror Bound peeps? As I am writing this, that big ‘ol convention in San Diego is going on and there are plenty of DC related panels that are expected to go down, so here’s hoping for some big surprising news on the Swamp Thing front. Other than that, we are now down to just two more episodes (after this one obviously) before the dramatic conclusion of this awesome series, and although we got another forty-something minute episode this week (that’s three in a row now, people), there was some great character development on multiple fronts. So let’s jump in!
Hey, speaking of characters, we got a new one this week and although I would usually complain about introducing a new character so late in the season, this was a very welcome addition for multiple reasons. Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog, Creepshow, Escape From New York) made her debut this week as the new Assistant-Director at CDC HQ, Dr. Palomar. This was quite a treat for me because I had a huge crush on her as a kid and she appeared in the 1982 Wes Craven directed Swamp Thing feature film as Alice Cable, love interest to the creature and to which the 2019 series’ Lucilia Cable (the sheriff) probably gets her name from. As such, I have to imagine that Barbeau’s brief appearance was strictly paying fan service to those who, like myself, hold a special place in our hearts to the original film. But more on her appearance in a bit.
We opened the show this week with the recovering Avery lost somewhere in the swamp trying to nurse his wounds from last week. Not quite sure if it was do to his condition or the Rot, but Avery starts having all kinds of disturbing “visions,” as he refers to them. First, Sheriff Cable returning to finish the job and end Avery via shotgun, then somewhat of a reliving the day his dad was killed, which quite frankly was nice to finally get an answer to. It seems when Avery was just a boy, about twelve or so is my guess, he and his dad were out in the swamp poaching timber (I was curious after the opening of episode three and so did the research, this is actually a thing) when Avery came upon a very strange looking and ancient tree that he informs his dad people claim has special powers. Admonishing his concerns, Avery’s dad begins to hack at the tree with an axe and it starts to ooze some kind of weirdness. Suddenly, a vine from someplace else grabs the elder Sunderland and drags him into a nearby campfire, to which he burns to death in. Now, I had always suspected that Avery was responsible in some way for the coming of “the darkness” that overcame the swamp, but now methinks it may have started as far back as with his dad. Anyway, Avery starts to sob at the conclusion of the visual memory when out of the swamp comes a very angry looking Swamp Thing.
Back in Atlanta, Abby finds herself trying to justify her extended stay in Marais to the newly appointed assistant director of the CDC, Dr. Palomar (Barbeu). Someone’s ratted her out and informed Palomar that Abby was spending a lot of time in the swamp. When trying to confide in her partner, Harlan, he too wonders what she was doing out there all this time. Later on, back at her place, Harlan returns bearing gifts, a veggie pizza and liquor, and Abby decides to bring him into the loop on Alec Holland and his transformation. A mistake that will come back to bite her in the ass later when Harlan is picked up in a black van by strange men after leaving Abby’s apartment and Abby is informed the following morning he’s been reassigned to Bangladesh to help with a dengue fever outbreak.
Now to Marais, where last week’s newly introduced Nathan Ellery of the mysterious Conclave group meets with Dr. Woodrue and promises him a brand new mobile lab with all the state of the art equipment he needs to further continue his research. He also gives him access to all the manpower he may need to capture the creature as well. All of this seems to get Woodrue all jazzed up to start hunting down the Swamp Thing.
But deep in the swamp, Avery is starting to have a change of heart after Swamp Thing has saved his life with all manner of healing herbs and mosses. The creature begins to explain to Avery how the balance in the swamp has been upset due to the meddling of man and this is what has unleashed the darkness upon the swamp. I’m guessing at this point it’s safe to say that the darkness and the Rot are probably one in the same, so I’ll probably just use the terms interchangeably. The swamp happens to hate Avery and is out to kill him, but Swamp Thing couldn’t let him die. There’s a few interesting things here to make mention of. First, Swamp Thing is pissed to be sure, after all, he knows it was Avery that caused his transformation, but he’s willing to forgive him and Avery seems to come around as well, assuring the creature that he will do all in his power to help find him a cure.
Now, honestly, I was skeptical of Avery here, truly, I was thinking for sure he was trying to lure Swampy out of the swamp to capture him so that he can continue the research, but when he returns to Marais and visits Woodrue to inform him that he’s found the source of the cells that Woodrue has been searching for, Avery asks the doctor if he thinks Holland could be saved, changed back to the man he once was. Dr. Woodrue has no intention of curing what he sees as the key to unlocking what could possibly be the answer to curing a multitude of afflictions. But Avery insists that Holland saved his life and that he couldn’t betray him like that. It’s interesting the dichotomy we see in this one moment between these two characters. It’s as if their roles have become somewhat reversed. Avery, who was once driven solely by the acclaim and riches that exploiting the swamp’s resources would bring with it, now seems to be the one wanting to truly help Holland’s condition and Dr. Woodrue seems to be the obsessed madman moving forward only to the promise of exploiting the wealth of possibilities that the Swamp Thing may hold inside his body. Unfortunately, Woodrue appeals to Avery’s vanity and does convince him to join in the hunt for the creature.
Back in Atlanta, the enigmatic Nathan Ellery corners Abby in a CDC conference room and tries to enlist her in the capture efforts, informing her that her partner and good buddy, Harlan, sold her out and told them everything. Of course we know better. It was probably more like a kidnapping, followed by very persuasive interrogation techniques, right? She refuses of course and bolts out of the door to head back to Marais.
But it’s too late as we now find Avery and Woodrue skulking about the swamp, calling out for Swamp Thing. What’s even more messed up is that Woodrue gains Holland’s confidence by reminding him of the work he’s done, which Alec has actually read back in his human life, and that he may be able to use his previous research to help cure him. That don’t fool the Green for too long as it then warns the creature of the incoming mercenaries due at his position momentarily. Now, listen, if you remember the last time someone tried this (FYI, back in episode 6), it was not met with a ton of success, in fact, we discovered Swamp Thing’s “splinter shooting action” power in that memorable scene. So I wasn’t really expecting a hugely different effect here as these idiots, including Avery, started shooting guns at the creature. ‘Ol Swampy even unleashed a whole new powerful weapon that looked like some kind of plant drill. My money was on him once I saw that thing. But what was this? Those sneaky bastards had some new tech this time around in the form of some kinda giant ice guns and they finally got the jump on our hero. Now an aside here: as it seems all the live action DC Universe shows are linked together, Titans and Doom Patrol have taught us that much, this would have been a most opportune time to drop a Mr. Freeze reference. Just sayin’, someone could have quipped, “The latest from Doctor Fries, out of his Gotham lab,” or something much cooler and less cheesy. Anyway, we’re next treated to a very late arriving Abby as she runs into the swamp yelling Alec’s name before finally reaching a clearing were the scuffle occurred. She picks up a shotgun shell from the ground and then fade to black.
Absent again for the second week in a row this episode: the dynamic duo of Xanadu and Daniel Cassidy. I’m hoping this only means that we can expect a dashing rescue of Swamp Thing from these two next week. After a pretty huge episode last week for Maria Sunderland, she was conspicuously absent this week as well. I mean, Woodrue mentions her in brief when he’s bringing Avery up to speed on the meeting with the Conclave and although he tells Avery she practically hijacked the deal out from under his nose, Avery responded fairly tamely, almost proudly. We got like five minutes of brief character development for Deputy Sheriff Matt Cable, who is now doubting his whole upbringing and certainly not trusting his mom anymore. After this week, I’m still feeling confident we can resolve everything this season in the next two episodes: one episode to free Swamp Thing and another for everybody to resolve their differences with everyone else, vengeful or otherwise. That being said, we’re gonna need a little bit more than the forty plus minute episodes we’ve been getting for three weeks now. That alone subtracts one point from my review.
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