Despite rumors of a troubled production, Swamp Thing reached its premiere. The DC Universe streaming series is the first new Swamp Thing adaptation since the USA Network series of the 1990s. Also, it is the third major live-action series for the streaming service.

So, is Swamp Thing rife with opportunity for growth, or is this series destined to wither on the shore?

The Story So Far

Swamp Thing begins with three men in a swamp who are depositing strange cases into the water when the swamp seemingly goes on the attack. Two men die violently, but the third manages to escape.

Following this introduction, Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed), a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Agent, as she returns to her former home of Marais, Louisiana from Africa. She arrives to investigate a mysterious illness that is spreading among the swamp community. She finds a young girl, Susie Coyle, who is ill and begins to investigate the events leading to her illness.

On the move, she encounters a disgraced scientist named Alec Holland (Andy Bean) who is also researching events in the area. Abby and local cop Matthew Cable (Henderson Wade) finds Alec collecting samples at the Coyle residence. They also discover the growth-covered body of Eddie Coyle. Alec has been tracking a mutagen in the swamp while working for local businessman Avery Sunderland. The investigation leads to an autopsy of Eddie’s remains and the usage of a mutagen that Alex has found. The autopsy goes seriously south as the plants in the corpse grown violently.

Abby and Alec find themselves at a local bar to talk to a reporter, Liz Tremane. While there, Abby is confronted about her dark past by Maria Sunderland. The encounter does not go well leading to Alec and Abby to later bond on their sins.

After finding a water-based distribution system of the mutagen in the swamp, Abby and Alec discover the locations of other deposits. Abby prepares Alec’s notes to return to the hospital, but Alec sets off alone to retrieve the deposits. While retrieving one such deposit, Alec is shot and his boat is blown up by a mysterious figure. Alec sinks into the swamp as the vines begin to wrap around his body. Abby arrives, searching for Alec, but only finds a beast that rises from the swamp.

Abby (left) and Alec (right) share a postmortem of recent events

What Stood Out

Len Wiseman’s direction of the episode is solid and the story moves along at a fair clip. There is a great deal of movement from location to location introducing the locals of Marais. The episode is functional in that it works to establish several plot threads, but it is not revolutionary.

Visually speaking, the show is not wildly inventive with shots outside of moments where the swamp seems to stalk people. Additionally, some elements of the CGI are more readily apparent than others. A great deal of the swamp action also occurs at night which can sometimes obscure what is going on.

What stands out about the show, is the production’s commitment to body horror. Two key sequences, one at the Coyle residence, and the morgue are standout moments in the episode. The way a certain body gets ripped apart by growing vines will make you side-eye your potted plants.

Not the grossest thing you’ll see in the pilot

Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

“Pilot” was a very good introduction for casual viewers. It had introductions to key characters for fans to keep them interested in where things are going. The show’s combination of a CDC mystery with graphic body horror is promising, as are the introductory character threads.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Deep Roots

The show has already established some key figures in the Swamp Thing mythos in the pilot. However, it also introduced some key characters in the larger DC Comics universe as well. The first episode introduces Swamp Thing characters Liz Tremane and Avery Sunderland who are very important. However, Matthew Cable and Madame Xanadu also become known, to various degrees. Matthew Cable is particularly key to Abby Arcane’s future in the comics. Madame Xanadu is a key figure in the supernatural circles of DC Comics.

So, did you enjoy Swamp Thing? Please let us know what you think, and continue to stick with Haunted MTL for recaps and reviews.

About the Author

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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