Another solid episode tonight, with another Bruce Springsteen reference. Let’s dive into the murky depths of the swamp water, shall we?
The Story so Far
A Phantom Stranger
Swamp Thing’s storyline this week focuses on ol’ Swampy forging a stronger understanding of the Green. Still grappling with his transformation, his nightmarish visions of the past, spurred on by the swamp, are interrupted by a stranger who seems to let on that he knows a great deal about the swamp and of Alec. Swamp Thing is eventually guided by the stranger to realize that the swamp itself has a memory and that he can tap into it. It turns out this stranger is like The Phantom Stranger.
A Ghostly Possession
Abby, this week, finds herself involved with Maria Sunderland and the haunting, vengeful ghost of Maria’s daughter. Most of this week’s horror comes from a very effective little ghost story that serves as the A-plot of the episode.
Maria and Avery’s temporary guardianship over little Susie Coyle, as scummy as it is, becomes outright dangerous when Shawna’s spirit, pulled from the swamp by Madame Xanadu, possesses the young girl. Naturally, this possession is full of wonderful, haunting visuals.
The threads of Swamp Thing’s storyline and Abby’s merge wonderfully as well. After saving Maria from a suicide-by-drowning to reunite with Shawna, Swamp Thing tells Abby he saw a vision of what happened in the past. He then proceeds to let her access the collective memory of the Green, through him.
Odds and Ends
Avery Sunderland spends a good portion of this episode committing marital infidelity, threatening folks, and getting deeper into his shady schemes. Avery’s storyline reveals he is still intimately evolved with sheriff Lucilla Cable and that he is not above using intimidation to get what he wants. He threatens Delroy, the local barkeep, by butchering a turtle for soup.
One of these shady schemes is revealed when Lucilla learns, from a local scumbag that her son, Matt, was the one who killed Alec Holland. Lucilla ends up killing the bearer of bad news, rather graphically. The revelation that Matt Cable killed Alec on behalf of Avery does not sit well with Lucilla.
Madame Xanadu made an appearance to fill in some exposition and sort of… vanished. She is around just long enough to fill Abby in on the nature of Ghost Shawna, and then when the pair arrive at the swamp, Xanadu sort of wanders off.
Daniel Cassidy decides it’s time to leave Marais, but he can’t. He presumes his saving Abby the other night was enough to fulfill his end of the bargain, but it turns out that isn’t the case, and he gets burned (literally) for trying to leave. Later on, wallowing in Delroy’s, he stops two armed men from threatening Liz, only to be struck across the back of the head by a tire-iron.
What Stood Out?
You can see that show at this point has found confidence in the set and costume design because we are getting more and more well-lit shots of Mears in full Swamp Thing makeup. It’s a super-impressive set-up and very much a great visualization of the classic creature.
Also, Avery butchering the turtle for turtle soup has likely ensured many viewers may never try turtle soup, ever.
The Final Verdict on Swamp Thing
This week’s episode did a lot to push forward some side stories and also seemingly wrapped up a source of trauma for Abby Arcane. It’s all forward momentum this week.(4 / 5)
The big reveal for comic fans this week was the introduction of the Phantom Stranger. There is almost too much to unpack regarding the character for these small sections, but needless to say, his arrival in Marais to guide the Swamp Thing is very much in character.
Also, the actual reveal of the Blue Devil costume in the trunk of Daniel’s car, complete with requisite glowing eyes was an excellent touch.