It is regrettable that Swamp Thing was not renewed by DC Universe before the second episode aired. More to the point, it is regrettable that the show was not renewed, period. The second episode of Swamp Thing is a strong expansion of the pilot. Of course, it presents a great deal to chew on.
The Story so Far
There are two major plot-threads to track during this episode.
Abby and Alec
Reeling from the apparent death of Alec Holland, Dr. Abby Arcane continues her CDC work in Marais. The illness from the swamp is still spreading. Local police have also tied up a solid source of information by turning Alec’s lab into a crime scene.
She finds comfort with Liz Tremane and meets Liz’s partner, Margeaux. Abby and Liz then seek out potential leads for Alec’s information. Abby visits Avery Sunderland (Will Patton) in an attempt to gain access to the lab he funded for Alec’s research. Avery ultimately refuses to grant the CDC access to the research as it is all proprietary. However, he and Abby find some form of reconnection regarding the death of Avery’s daughter, Shawna.
Abby and Liz later make their way to the room that Alec rented from Daniel Cassidy (Ian Zierling). Cassidy is a former actor and video-store owner. Abby finds some video logs from Alec and watches them for evidence. Ultimately, she finds herself missing him. During this time, she learns that Susie has fled the hospital into the swamps.
Susie has a mysterious connection to the Swamp Thing and seeks him out in the swamp. However, she accidentally witnesses a game officer being murdered by two men hired to retrieve the mutagen dispersal devices. Fleeing from the particularly malicious of the pair, she is rescued by the Swamp Thing in a particularly brutal sequence.
Abby tracks down Susie who is with the Swamp Thing. On a boat with Matt Cable, Susie reveals to Abby that the Swamp Thing is frightened and alone. She also says his name is Alec.
A Family of Secrets
Regarding the Sunderlands, Maria (Virginia Madsen) consults Madame Xanadu (Jeryl Prescott) about the pain of losing her daughter. Maria has been dealing with it for years. Trying to help, Xanadu uses her powers to bring comfort. Yet, the balance of good and evil has shifted in the swamp. Xanadu warns Maria to move on from her pain. She does not, however. At the end of the episode, she is seen with a manifestation of the long-dead Shawna, in her bedroom.
Avery, meanwhile, is using his power in town to clean up the mess that came with the mutagen research. Concerned the research is responsible for the illnesses, he summons two of his consultants. These two are Caroline and Jason Woodrue (Selina Anduze and Kevin Durand). He tasks them, the inventors of the accelerant, to determine if the accelerant is at fault for the local illnesses.
What Stood Out
Swamp Thing’s second episode is a strong follow-up to the pilot that continues what works about the show. The show is all in when it comes to the mutilation and mutation of bodies both to and around the Swamp Thing. One particularly grizzly sequence features a psychic connection between Susie and the Swamp Thing. In shock and pain, he tears away chunks of his form, which Susie feels. Each tear is visceral and has amazing Foley work.
Relationships between characters are also developing at a solid pace, even as new characters are introduced. The scene between Abby and Avery is excellent and provides a genuine bit of catharsis with some menace. This week features Abby working with officer Matt Cable who is still very much nursing a flame for her, even after she left Marais. Naturally, there is some tension there that does not manifest at the most appropriate time.
The key relationship that develops here is, oddly enough, Abby and Alec. Abby doesn’t quite know how she felt about the rogue scientist, but the scene where she watches his video logs is incredibly sweet. It makes for a good way to keep Andy Bean on the show, even as Derek Mears takes over as the Swamp Thing.
The death of the man who was chasing after Susie is also incredibly gross and satisfying. With any luck, the show will be able to keep up that intensity throughout the remainder of the series.
Final Verdict on Swamp Thing
“Worlds Apart” serves to wrap up the basic narrative of the pilot episode in a very satisfying way. It also establishes the new normal of the show with the Swamp Thing quickly being introduced into the action as a violent and mysterious force. The show is also not being weighted down by questionably written relationship drama and instead, these characters are proving to be quite compelling.
The show is still quite dark, visually, and that could be a problem in the long run. We’ll see.
(4 / 5)
Two particularly significant DC Comics connections appear this week in the form of Daniel Cassidy, also known as the Blue Devil. Jason Woodrue, also known as the Floronic Man, also makes his first appearance. How far the show is willing to go with their storylines remains to be seen, however. We are likely not going to see an empowered Daniel Cassidy, though wrapping up the season with the origins of the Floronic Man would make a lot of sense.
The show also presents a much different, more voodoo-oriented take on Madame Xanadu. They have also made her blind as well. Her scene with Maria Sunderland was a real treat, so this should be a great interpretation of the character, despite being outside of the comics wheelhouse.