Welcome back to Haunted MTL’s extensive recap and review series for Swamp Thing on DC Universe. Sadly, this is where it ends. Swamp Thing was canceled early on in the year, shortly after the first episode aired.
The show was a pleasure to watch and recap, but unfortunately, the shortened episode order had a real effect on the final moments of the series. Let us take one last jaunt around the swampy-town of Marais.
Where the Stories End
Abby and the Swamp Thing
It is a real, real bummer that Abby became sidelined a bit during the latter half of the season. A lot of her work in the narrative was sort of that thankless stuff that dragged her away from the action and away from Swamp Thing. Though it was Abby who led the charge to rescue Swamp Thing, the Blue Devil showed up and stole the show a bit in an intense, creepy sequence in the last episode.
Sadly, Abby doesn’t do a whole lot in the finale. She is mostly relegated to reacting to events. The underlying tragedy of her falling for the not-even-a-human Swamp Thing is tragic, and Crystal Reed sells it, but there is just not much to do for Abby beyond reacting to what is going on around Marais. Her arc for the episode begins with her trying her best to connect with Swamp Thing, saying that he is still Alec. However, he must deal with his own pain and he heads into the swamp. So, she decides to work with Liz to find out more about The Conclave.
Swamp Thing, grappling with what he is, is visited by a hallucination of Alec Holland. Their conversation is haunting and effecting, and Swamp Thing comes to realize that Alec lives on in his own rudimentary plant-brain. What is most important is that Abby does not see him as a monster. Now Swamp Thing must decide who he will be.
The pair reunite in the lab of Alec Holland. She truly feels something for Swamp Thing, and that is enough for now. He warns her of the darkness that still lurks in the wild, but she refuses to give up on him. Together they will face the growing darkness that rises in the swamp.
Villainous Machinations Made Moot
Abby’s journey around Marais during the episode ties up some lingering plotlines. She goes to Maria to find some information, but the poor woman is too far gone. Madame Xanadu is there as well and offers Maria relieve in a delusion. Maria is gone now, consumed by a hallucination that her daughter lives and is there with her.
It is a tragic, sad ending for one of the stronger antagonists in the show.
Avery attempts to get involved with a group of paramilitary enforcers for The Conclave into the swamp to find the creature. This does not go well for him, as he is pushed aside outright by Ellery. Avery, rejected by The Conclave as a wildcard, turns to drink to deal with his woes.
The Conclave’s operation, meanwhile, is a resounding failure. The Swamp Thing uses his rapidly expanding control of plant-life to isolate and hunt down the team, led by guest star Jake Busey. It’s a brutal sequence that only leaves Ellery alive. Swamp Thing tells Ellery to let The Conclave know what has happened, and that they will not return to his swamp.
Avery, bottles deep by now, learns of Matt Cable’s accident and rushes to the hospital. Lucilia is there and he makes a desperate, grasping bid to reconnect to his would-be murderers. Lucilia tells Avery that will never happen. She’ll never forgive Avery for making Matt a murderer.
Lucilia leaves and sits in her cruiser. An angry Avery springs up from the seat behind her and stabs her. She blacks out. When she returns to consciousness, it is inside the trunk of the cruiser that Avery has sent into the swamp to finish her off. He watches the car submerge beneath the water.
The Loose Ends
Three principal characters also need to be covered in this finale.
Jason Woodrue’s story was a slow burn through most of the season, with little glimpses into the obsessive personality that lied beneath the arrogant exterior. The madness that is Woodrue really came forward during the penultimate episode “The Anatomy Lesson,” but goes full bore here. Kevin Durand plays Woodrue with a menace that reminds you of why he is a genre-darling. He menaces his wife, Carolyne, who is tied to a chair. Jason tries to feed her the cooked pieces of Swamp Thing’s harvest organs, believing they are the cure to her affliction.
He, of course, tests it himself, but he collapses. Jason regains consciousness, becoming even more of a terror and he tries to fight off Abby who does her best to help Carolyne. Unfortunately for him, Abby’s 911 call went through. We see Jason being led out from the house in handcuffs, screaming, almost feral.
In a post-credit tag, we see some time has passed in Marais where a previously comatose Matt has regained consciousness. He returns to the police department and finds it overgrown. He then stumbles upon a plant-man… Jason Woodrue, now the Floronic Man.
Our last visit with Daniel, The Blue Devil, finds him hurriedly packing up to finally leave town. He leaves the shop to Liz and, still wracked by the voice of the devil, speeds away from the town to an uncertain future. A future we’ll never get to see. At least his mission from The Phantom Stranger has been fulfilled.
What Stood Out?
Swamp Thing’s rapidly-growing power being unleashed on the mercenaries was a great way to show how much more powerful he has become. It also does a lot to establish him as a real danger if left unchecked. One could imagine in the future, had the show been given further seasons, Swamp Thing potentially succumbing to more feral, dangerous characteristics in his attempt to save the Green.
The Final, Final Verdict on Swamp Thing
As a series finale “Loose Ends” really just doesn’t feel satisfactory. It can work for a season finale, as many of the elements presented were meant to. Yet, the whole series sort of rests on the arrival point of “Loose Ends” and it just crumbles away. “Loose Ends” is a solid episode, but the weight put upon it just sinks the whole affair. It bounces around between a lot of stories and tries to tie them up. Some of these are better handled than others.
As a whole, the show just worked. It was respectful to the lore, adapted many key elements, and as a whole delivered something for Swamp Thing fans and casual viewers. At its best, the show was a Southern Gothic drama with a badass swamp monster and magic, and I will miss that.
Swamp Thing deserved better than to be canceled the way it was.
(3.5 / 5)
We’re never gonna see Swampy go toe-to-toe with the Floronic Man, and that hurts.
Rest in peace, Swamp Thing. You were beautiful while you lasted.
Wheel of Time, What Might Be
Episode three of Wheel of Time was easily my favorite so far. It’s dramatic, dark, and speaks to the growing concerns about evil invading the world.
Let’s begin with Nynaeve. After showing little to no progress, Liandrin thinks she’s ready to go through the Trial of The Arches. This is an initiation that all Aes Sedai have to go through to become a sister. It’s dangerous, not totally understood, and doesn’t have a great survival rate.
One would think some cooler heads would prevail and not let the very new person do this so early. Especially since Nynaeve seems to have some issues with impulse control.
But she goes into the trial, seeing first a scene from her childhood where her parents are attacked.
The point is to walk back through the arches, leaving her family behind. This she does, but doesn’t look very happy about it. Her second trial involves finding herself back in Two Rivers, where a horrible plague has ripped through the people. Again, she has to walk away from the people that she cares about and come back to reality.
The third test is a little more tricky. It appears that Nynaeve comes back covered in blood, with no memories of what happened.
Terrified, she runs from the castle only to find Lan waiting for her.
In the real world, where Liandrin and the others are waiting for her, she simply never returns.
This shakes Liandrin. She decides she’s done holding Mat against his will, and lets him leave. Excited, but also smelling a trap, he takes Min with him.
Still not sure why she had him to start with, but I guess it’s cool that she let him go.
Meanwhile, Rand is working with a familiar face at his hospital. It’s Logain, who we might remember as the false dragon from season one.
Rand would love some advice about channeling as a man. But it appears that Logain might really have lost his mind.
My favorite scene in the episode was the one involving Perrin and Lady Suroth. This scene was perfect.
First off, the character design for Lady Suroth was just perfect. Without moving more than a hand and the crook of her mouth, she manages to be terrifying.
The massively scary nails help, as does the headdress that is both beautiful and reminiscent of an insect. The sort of insect that seems likely to bite and lay eggs under the skin of a victim.
Her absolute authority was terrifying. Uno certainly learned that.
What was more scary, of course, was who was standing next to her. Does she think she’s the one in charge? Or is she perfectly clear on where stands?
What didn’t work
One thing that I don’t love about this season is, unfortunately, not likely to change. It’s true in the books, and it’s true in the show.
The ensemble cast structure doesn’t work for me.
It fractures the story in too many directions. It’s too busy, there’s too much going on. At the same time, there isn’t enough going on with individual characters for me to establish an interest in all of them.
I care what’s happening with Egwene and Nynaeve. I care what’s happening with Perrin.
I don’t care as much about Rand right now. And she wasn’t as involved in this episode, but I don’t care about what Moiraine is going through either.
That could be because the world is coming to an end and they’re refusing to be team players. But maybe that’s just me.
Overall, this was a fun episode. It feels like pieces are being put into place. The characters are getting ready for something big. Something that we can only see the beginnings of.
Something that they clearly don’t think they’re ready for.(3.5 / 5)
American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain
American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.
Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.
Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.
But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.
Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.
You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby.
AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.
Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.
This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us.
I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.
This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.
What didn’t work
Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!
Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here.
I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.
I feel like they’ve been railroaded.
All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring. (4 / 5)
Wheel of Time, Strangers and Friends
Episode two of Wheel of Time, widened the divide between the show and the books. Things are happening out of order, people are acting out of character. Whether this is to the detriment of the show, however, has yet to be determined.
One character missing from episode one was Rand. You know, our main character. But we finally catch up with him now.
He’s living in a city with a woman named Selene. They don’t have what I’d call a super healthy relationship. She spends a bit too much time talking about her ex.
Yes, for those of you who didn’t read the books, this is going to be important.
Rand is also working at an insane asylum. He’s kind and patent with his charges, but not all of his fellow caregivers are.
Meanwhile, Lan and Moiraine are recovering form their Fade attack from last episode. Rather than taking the time to actually heal, Moiraine decides to head out to find Rand. Her team comes with her, which seems to really bother her.
While that little hissy fit is taking place, Nynaeve is causing issues. Not by anything she’s doing, but by what she’s not doing. As none of the regular novice teacher have been able to get her to use the One Power, Liandrin offers to try. No one, including me, is thrilled with this. But, the Aes Sedai are desperate. They know that The Dark One is around, and they need Nynaeve to be ready. So, they let the person who’s driven other students to their deaths and actively committed multiple hate crimes take over.
What could go wrong?
The special effects in this episode were really well done. I especially liked the dead fade nailed to the wall.
I was also pleased with the introduction of Elayne. Ceara Coveney is playing her, and doing a fine job. She’s warm, kind and sweet. I am thrilled that she’s around.
One of the greatest things about Wheel of Time is the friendships between the characters. Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve and Egwene legitimately care about each other. Elayne seems to care for Egwene right away. I really love that.
What didn’t work
One thing that bothered me in this episode, and frankly the last episode, was Liandrin keeping Mat in prison. I feel like this wasn’t adequately explained. Why does she have him? How did she trap him? What in the hell is she trying to get from him? Perhaps I simply missed something, and please let me know in the comments if this is the case. But it feels like some poor writing to me.
I also don’t love how Moiraine is portrayed in this episode. Really, in this season so far.
I get that she’s never exactly been a warm person. She’s not personable, open, or kind. Some (most) fans of the book would likely agree that she’s kind of a bitch.
But she’s not a bitch for no reason. She certainly isn’t the sort to lash out at the people who love her because she’s in pain. And that’s what she’s doing through this episode. She’s taking her pain out on Lan. And that’s just out of character for her.
It feels very much like a lot is being skipped over from the Wheel of Time books. But, so far at least, I don’t feel like anything vital has been missed. It feels more like the story is being streamlined.
Yes, I understand how this might go horribly wrong. I think we’ve all seen that. But as of right now, the changes make sense for the switch in mediums.
Now, let’s see if it stays that way.
(3 / 5)