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This episode of Swamp Thing is our first real opportunity to see an average episode. Last week’s outing was good. However, it had to address the fallout of the pilot episode. It needed to resolve some of those immediate threads. That out of the way, this week was another solid outing for Swamp Thing.

The Story So Far

There is a lot to track this week; way beyond the main narrative threads of Abby, Alec, and the Sunderlands.

Abby, Alec, and Swamp Thing

Abby, having been involved with the rescue of Susie the night before is too concerned to celebrate. Susie’s implication that the creature in the swamp is Alec is alarming, unsettling, and surprisingly accepted by Abby. Her friend Liz is also surprisingly accepting of this potential fate of Alec Holland. There is little time for the pair to dwell, however. The illness that has ravaged the town is getting worse.

Abby arrives at the hospital to learn that the CDC has sent in a superior from Atlanta. She also learns that Harlan, her investigative partner, has also contracted the Marais sickness. Desperate for answers to the issue of the disease and the fate of Alec, Abby sets out for Alec’s lab. Liz asks Margeaux to keep an eye out at Skeeter Cove for any evidence of the fate of Alec Holland.

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The episode opened with a scene where Alec found himself wandering a swamp. He encounters the man that Swamp Thing murdered recently in protecting Susie. The man warns him that he will be coming back for Alec. In the real world, Swamp Thing wanders away from his remains. As he leaves, swarms of insects converge and the remains and reanimate it.

Alec is directly confronted by his sin

Conflict at the Lab

At the lab of Alec Holland, Abby searches for notes but is interrupted by invading insects. This culminates with the insect-reanimated corpse of the man who Swamp Thing killed arriving. Swamp Thing soon arrives, warning the zombie to leave Abby alone, before settling the matter in a destructive fight. Swamp Thing, however, sees the zombie is suffering and manages to release him. She realizes that Swamp Thing is Alec, but has no way to help him.

She returns to the hospital, armed with knowledge from Swamp Thing that the illness is fighting back. This is because of the increased antibiotics. She manages to save the currently ill from a hasty death by reducing the treatment.

At the bar, later, she shares a dance with Matt Cable as Swamp Thing watches from a distance.

Sunderland Developments

The tenuous alliance between Avery and Maria Sunderland fractures further this week as financial pressures and a haunting exacerbate the current problems.

Avery finds himself trying to right the ship of his swamp research investments. He is confronted by his loan source, however. It turns out that Avery is underwater on a series of off-the-books loans from the bank. His partner in crime, Gordon Haas, is getting cold feet from Liz Tremaine’s investigation. After a tense confrontation at the Sunderland residence at dinner, Haas departs and Avery begins to spiral. During questioning by Sheriff Lucilia Cable he tries to rekindle a romance with her while Maria is in the house. Later, under the guise of wanting to help Maria deal with her pain, he tries to press her for a loan of her family’s money. She ends up cutting him off.

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Cornered and angry, Avery waits for Gordon at the man’s house. The confrontation becomes violent and Avery murders Gordon in a bathtub with a golf club. During the dispassionate clean-up of the crime-scene, Liz arrives at Gordon’s house to talk to him. Avery does not answer the door, but he does notice Liz.

A desperate Avery

Maria, meanwhile, continues her downward spiral as the spirit of Shawna continues to haunt her and discusses Avery’s infidelities. Is Shawna truly a ghost? Or is this a manifestation of guilt and a sign of Maria’s awareness of Avery’s indiscretions?

Strange Voodoo and Slipping Memories

Margeaux, out at Skeeter Cove, discovers the first major clue to the fate of Alec Holland; she finds part of the boat, filled with bullet holes. This direct evidence of murder will certainly change the trajectory of the case. Early Sheriff Lucilia Cable had plans to close it.

Lucilia, introduced in the last episode, continues to illustrate the small-town conflict of interests that appear with the police as she finds herself again speaking ill of Abby to her son. her later encounter with Avery, referencing a past history of infidelity with him, also proves problematic.

Jason Woodrue makes a less than charming introduction to Abby Arcane conducting an autopsy of the remains of Eddie Coyle. His arrogance and disconnect from the human element of the disease do not endear him to Dr. Arcane. Later on, though, Woodrue is revealed to have his own trauma as he discusses his findings with his wife, Caroline. In a heartbreaking moment, Caroline forgets that she had taken her medication already, a sign of the escalation of early-onset Alzheimers.

The most curious development for the surrounding characters, however, involves Nimue Xanadu and Daniel Cassidy. Daniel has apparently been stuck in Marais for years and has had the same, repeated tarot readings from Xanadu. The reading depicts “the fool,” “the hanged man,” and “the wheel.” However, something has begun to change the fate of Daniel, as his new reading is identical, only with “the wheel” reversed. Just what has kept Daniel in Marais and what has changed for him now?

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Xanadu gives Cassidy a reading

What Stood Out

For an episode the was so densely packed with storylines, the developments were handled well and did not feel too crowded. The presence of increasing concern from the CDC makes a lot of sense and will certainly keep the pressure on Abby.

The insect-filled zombie of the murderer was incredibly gross and creepy and served as a great “monster of the week” that introduced a number of questions about the nature of the swamp.

Derek Mears, as the Swamp Thing, did a fantastic job in a role that, in lesser hands, is little more than a lumbering brute. Mears’ voice is fantastic and the body language of the Swamp Thing really sells the pain and struggle Alec is facing in this new form. Additionally, being able to see Andy Bean as Alec in the “green” this week served as an excellent reminder of the humanity present within the Swamp Thing when it comes to guilt and trauma.

The Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

“He Speaks” was an excellent outing for a show that is quickly becoming the best adaptation of Swamp Thing in a live-action form. With any luck, the remaining seven episodes will not be the last of this swamp-scum covered gem of a series.

That being said, the show, visually, is still incredibly dark. This likely will not change for the rest of the season, so we’ll just need to accept it for now.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Deep Roots

The big comic connection this week, beyond the strange meeting between Xanadu and Cassidy, is the reference to the Conclave. We’re not going to dive too deep into that, though. Let’s see how all this plays out over the next batch of episodes.

Instead, let us look at the implications of the nature of Alec’s/Swamp Thing’s existence. Just as they had a connection to Susie Coyle due to the illness, there too was some form of connection between them and Susie’s attempted murderer. The implication for comic fans, here, should be that this is “the Green” in action taking in the essence and memories of those who are absorbed by the natural world. It could be something in line with Alan Moore’s stunning retcon of the character when he took over the comics.

Secondly, the nature of the zombification through insects may be hinting at the New 52 concept of “the Rot.” We’ll see in the coming weeks about that.


Please continue to join us each week for the remaining episodes of DC Universe’s Swamp Thing.

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

Movies n TV

House of the Dragon S2 E1: Episode 1 Review and Recap – Son of a Son of a Sailor

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Alright, buckle up, mofos! The dragons is back, and oh boy, do they mean business. With the premiere of House of the Dragons, our thirst for the high-flying, fire-breathing drama that we’ve been missing since Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings new new new series, the boys, and uhh…possibly your toilet after a ghostpepper whopper is finally being quenched (unlike your bottom after said whopper).

Lets dragon-dive headfirst back into the twisted, power-hungry realms of Westeros, where the names Targaryen, Stark, and the rest of the totally not hard to spell/remember names reign supreme.

Usually, I write these reviews on the fly (no pun!), but since KYRIE CANNOT MAKE ONE DAMN MORE ASSIST (not his fault, he tried the rest couldn’t shoot for crap after the passes)…errrmm…I mean, I think I was watching the game that I definitely did not lose a few grand on. ONE LOUSEY ASSIST! errmm….HoD…right.

Let’s drink to remember all that happened last season cuz..well…yeah….I mean, doesn’t HBO have two elf looking series set in middle earth at the same time? I honestly don’t know if this is the one with Dumbledore or Legolaissisis or the Bowtie Doctor or…. well, you get the picture.

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We’ll remember what we totally forgot from last year, break down the key plot points (because who can keep up?), dive into the nitty-gritty details of this episode’s events, and speculate wildly about where Daemon and Rhaenyra Targaryen are taking us this time around in House of the Dragon season 2. So, if you’re ready to relive the glory, the gore, and the downright gut-wrenching politics of it all, stick with me. We’re in for a wild ride.

Immediate Recap: Remember last year? Me neither

So in this one:

Oh man, if your memory of last season is as foggy as mine, don’t sweat it! Let’s dust off those cobwebs and dive into a quick recap before we get lost in the new shenanigans of “House of the Dragon” season 2.

Basically, a bunch of white kids had sex with their King Daddy and that King Daddy went to one of the womens he was NOT *I think* sleeping with and said I will make YOU the heir to the throne–as long as nothing happens to me between now and the moment I will make this public and then yeah, you guessed it.

Ned Stark 2.0

I guess reusing old story lines is a good way to start a new series?

Now that you’re caught up…Let’s move to this new Season of “Who dey sleep with now?”

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The Wall and Starks are even more boring in the olden days?

So, here we are again with the Starks and that big old icy Wall. Remember how we left off with Jacaerys Velaryon flying up to Winterfell to buddy up with Cregan Stark? Yeah, me neither. I guess the only person to really remember is the North. Cregan gave Jacaerys the whole ‘Winter is coming” spiel—classic Stark move, right? Maybe one will live beyond this season?

Who dis? Who dat? (Robot Rollcall of faces n names)

Alright, let’s roll call because Westeros’ lineup can be harder to keep track of than a Hanson/Lindsay Lohan convention.

Not gonna lie. I can’t tell these people apart. One dude wears a bowtie and the other is a pirate or something.

Key Plot Points and Themes in Episode 1

Narrative and Character Development

Oh, the drama unfolds! In the heart of Dragonstone, Rhaenyra Targaryen’s world is rocked not just by political upheaval but also personal tragedy. As she comforts her son Lucerys about his heritage (Okay, so Jim had to google this because he forgot the kid was a bastard…like, seriously, that’s how much of an impact the whole ‘who the daddy’ thing made on Jim). Then people try to get some sort of alliance going but –again– since we can’t tell one character from each other, no shits were given.

Remember the original GOT? How we had our FAVORITES and we would really go “fuck these people’ if one of our favs died? Some of us even had a ditching kill point (mine was Tyrion or Arya). We don’t have that here. Would I be upset if Matt Smith’s character dies? Probably, but only because there would be one less person I could remember (that and eye-patch guy).

Oh, and Smith’s character pays two people to kill someone and they, of course, don’t kill the right guy just some baby rando.

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In short, nobody cared about any of the characters dying in this episode.

Conclusion and Looking Forward

As we wrap up our recap and analysis of “House of the Dragon” S2 E1, we have a lot to look forward to. We can look forward to (hopefully) character development so shits are given who is on throne or not or dead or not or fucking someone or not. So far, that hasn’t happened. The reason falls squarely on the shoulders of how they did Season 1: So. Much. Time. Shifts. Hard to care about someone you keep quantum leaping through their life at random.

I do hope this season has more plot and character development. I want to like this series. I think I can like this series, but honestly–if you did a side-by-side of the hobbit series and this…I couldn’t tell you which char was from what universe, and that’s not a good thing for either franchise.

This episode gets a pure rating of ‘maybe next time’ 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Seriously, if you think Jim is kidding about the two franchises looking alike, well….did you notice that he used LotR screenshots instead of GoT for some of these images?

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Suburban Screams, Phone Stalker

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We’ve reached the last episode of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams. And now that I’ve seen the entire season, I’d like to say something directly to John Carpenter if I may. Mr. Carpenter, I’m a big fan. Have been since I was a child. So I ask this with all due respect. Did you lose a bet? Do you owe people money? Is that why you did this? Because otherwise, I’m entirely confused.

The story

Our last episode tells the story of a woman named Beth Spierer. Her life is shattered when someone starts to call her and deliver horrific, violent messages.

These calls and texts get worse and worse. They often include pictures of her with scratches over her eyes or pictures of a dildo. The calls start coming to her work as well.

Beth tries to change her number, blocks calls and even goes to the police. But no matter what she does, she can’t escape the horrifying calls from the violent stalker.

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What worked

The acting in this episode was fairly good. At least when compared to most of this season. It isn’t good when compared to most other shows, but for this episode it was fantastic. All of the actors involved knew what they were doing. And they are not part of the criticism I’m going to levy in the next few paragraphs.

Julie Stevens as Beth in Suburban Screams.

What didn’t work

I can honestly say that this episode of Suburban Screams should not have been made. Full stop, this episode should have died before it breathed its first breath.

My reasons for saying this are twofold. The first is that the story just isn’t that interesting. Please understand, that I’m not being dismissive of Beth’s plight. What happened to her, and what continues to happen to her, is horrible. I have nothing but sympathy for her. But her story, while touching, isn’t unique. Lots of people are stalked, harassed, threatened. A content creator I follow had someone try to break into her house with a screwdriver. My husband had a stalker before we were dating. A friend of mine had to stay in a shelter for a while because she was being harassed. And I don’t know a single person, man woman, or nonbinary, who hasn’t gotten an unwanted genital pic on social media.

It’s like finding out someone you don’t know and have never heard of before has cancer. It’s sad, but it’s not news.

Again, this isn’t at all to say that I don’t care about care about what’s happening to Beth. I care about her, and her wellbeing. This is the second reason why this episode should never have been made.

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There is no doubt in my mind that if Beth’s stalker is still alive, they know about this episode. They probably have a Google notification set up for Beth’s name. And we just do not know how this stalker is going to respond. Maybe they’ll get off on it. Maybe it will enrage them and they’ll do something even worse to Beth. Maybe they’ll feel so much shame for this they’ll decide to take out themselves and Beth in one go.

There was no effort to hide Beth’s name. Or the names of her friends. There was no effort at all to protect her from whatever fallout there was from this.

This is not Beth’s fault. She has had to do enough to protect herself. This was irresponsible of the showrunners. And if God forbid, something happens to any of these people, the showrunners will have to bear some of the responsibility for that.

I liked it so much better when we were talking about wet ghosts and pizza box ouija boards.

Is it real?

This question for this episode is, unfortunately, a no-brainer. Yes, I believe that Beth Spierer was stalked and harassed by an unknown assailant. Yes, I further believe that when she went to the police the detective probably sexually harassed her.

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This is why we chose the bear.

In short, of course, this episode is real. I honestly wish it wasn’t.

All in all, this whole series was a huge disappointment. And threatening the wellbeing of a stalker survivor was just the last straw. I don’t know if another season is planned. But if it is, I doubt if I’ll be tuning in.

1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

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Suburban Screams, Cursed Neighborhood

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Episode five of John Carpenter’s Suburban Screams was one of the best kind of horror stories. It is a dark, eerie tale of a mean house that is determined to destroy anyone who dares reside within it.

The story

Our story begins in 1682. A group of colonists are attempting to take over land that is very much not theirs. When the colonists are killed, they vow to curse the land.

Fast forward to modern times, and the land in question is a little suburban neighborhood. Carlette Norwood moves in with her husband, mother, and daughters. The house seems like a dream come true. Until, of course, their beautiful dream home becomes a nightmare. The curse of the colonists wrapped itself around the neck of each family member, turning them into people that they didn’t recognize. People who don’t exactly like each other.

What worked

While I wouldn’t say that the acting in this episode is flawless, it was several steps above what we’ve seen so far. Every actor seemed to understand their role and reacted in realistic ways. I was especially impressed by the young woman playing Angelique. She had the good sense to not overplay the role, giving each scene exactly the right amount of energy.

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Of course, there was one actress who way overplayed every scene. But rather than being terrible, it was terrific. And that was Chloe Zeitounian, who played the neighbor Stacy. Stacy the neighbor was creepy as shit. After an unnamed neighbor dies by suicide, Stacy shows up at Carlette’s house with a bottle of champagne, sipping coffee with a big old smile. Well, okay it probably wasn’t coffee.

Stacy was a fantastic character, and I hope there was a crazy neighbor just like her. I bet her house was haunted as hell, but she just decided that her ghost was like a stray dog that everyone else thinks is dangerous. She probably put a bejeweled collar on the colonist ghost and renamed him Kori spelled with an I on purpose.

Finally, I want to talk about the theme of ancestral curse and ancestral protections that this episode discussed.

Charles County was cursed by the colonists who took the land that rightfully belonged to the indigenous tribes. They took what their ancestors had given them, and left a curse in their wake.

At the end of the episode, Carlette talks about being protected by her ancestors. Ancestors that survived horrible things most of us can’t imagine. I am sure that their strength blessed Carlette, and helped her to save Angelique.

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What didn’t work

While this episode was certainly better than most of the season, it wasn’t perfect. The thing that most stood out to me as being frankly unneeded was the inclusion of maggots attacking Brian.

Paul A Maynard in Suburban Screams.

In multiple scenes, during which Carlette is narrating, Brian has maggots coming out of open wounds. Never once does Carlette mention a maggot issue.

It feels like there is a clear reason why the creators did this. This story doesn’t have a lot of blood, gore, or jump scares. And a core goal of horror content is to cause a reaction.

Stephen King has a great quote about this goal. “I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

The inclusion of maggots in this story admits that someone involved didn’t think the story was terrorizing or horrifying enough. But it was. The story was freaky all on its own without the inclusion of our wriggling friends.

Is it true?

This might be an unpopular opinion, but aside from the completely unnecessary maggots infesting Brian, I think this episode is the most honest and accurate one so far.

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The thing about hauntings is that they’re seldom what we see in the movies. Haunted houses don’t have glass vases flying off shelves and wallpaper peeling to reveal 666 painted in blood over arcane symbols. Haunted houses dig into the minds of those who live there, causing bad luck and bad vibes. And that’s exactly what happened here. There are no massive explosions. No spirits throwing people downstairs or demonic dogs chasing children from the attic. This house dug into the hearts and minds of a loving family, ripping them apart.

So yes, I do think this episode is likely true.

The further we get into Suburban Screams, the more I enjoy it. This episode was eerie, upsetting, and riveting. I hope that Carlette and her daughters are healing from this horrific journey. And I’m thankful to them for sharing their story. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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