Welcome back to Haunted MTL’s extensive recap and review series for Swamp Thing on DC Universe. The cancellation of the show definitely put a crunch of the episode order, and we see that play out in an episode that, while anchored by an iconic adaptation, is hampered elsewhere.
The Story So Far
Woodrue has his hands, finally, on the Swamp Thing and spends the episode engaging in an incredibly gross and anxiety-inducing autopsy with a still-conscious Swamp Thing. The whole of the autopsy scenes is colored by sickly green lights, creating a sense of unease as the doctor carves his way through the plant-body of a being we have known to be Alec Holland.
Every instance of cutting, breaking, and severing is accompanied by crackles and snapping of vegetation, as Woodrue removes organs from Swamp Thing’s/Alec’s body, but… something does not seem right. Lungs, a heart and pulled from the body, but Swamp Thing still lives. Woodrue, excited, breaks the news to Swamp Thing that he is not Alec Holland. Swamp Thing is merely a plant that thinks it is Alec Holland.
Swamp Thing is eventually freed by the collective actions of Abby, Liz, and the Blue Devil. His body repairs itself, but his mind needs to heal. He journeys to the swamps, Abby following, and rises from the water, bearing a corpse in his arms…
The remains of Alec Holland.
Blue Devil Arrives
The Phantom Stranger finally unveils the purpose behind Daniel Cassidy’s presence in Marais, showing him a vision of Abby and Liz being murdered by mercenaries in a factory. This is only a possible future and one that Daniel can prevent.
Just as it seems that events will play out as seen when Abby and Liz arrive at the cement factory, we finally encounter the Blue Devil himself. Daniel, in his devilish new form, destroys the mercenary team in a spectacular fashion.
The Sunderland family is fractured. Avery ties up a loose end by calling in a favor with a judge. Maria is institutionalized, and to rub salt in that wound, she is visited by Avery. They share bitter words, and Maria is surprised that Avery survived the attempted murder. Avery suggests she will never see him again.
Meanwhile, Matt Cable still rattled by the darkness he has seen, and the possibility of Avery being his father gets drunk at Del’s. Matt commits the cardinal sin of drinking while driving and crashes his car, leaving his fate up in the air.
Woodrue opens the episode with a pointed scene with his wife, Caroline. He is incredibly excited, waking her, believing he has a solution to the problem that is her Alzheimer’s disease. She reveals she has had a nightmare; one that seems almost prophetic. But Woodrue is so excited he doesn’t really pay attention to her dire words… he is eager to pursue his science to save her.
Caroline is seen later by Abby and Liz, seeking Jason Woodrue. Her condition has tragically deteriorated, but Abby can do little for her as she must seek out Alec. Later, as chaos unfolds at the cement factory lab, Woodrue returns home for Caroline, only to discover she had taken all of her pills and is dying a slow and silent death.
What Stood Out?
The core of the episode is the autopsy and it is very satisfying to watch. It is a strong, central story and set of images, at least compared to other moments. Where the show pulls moments directly from the pages of the comic is where the episode is at it’s best.
The Final Verdict on Swamp Thing
The grade here is more reflective of the ambition than the actual results. The show being canceled plays out in this episode. It feels highly compressed and does not quite deliver the weight befitting of the revelations of the truth of Swamp Thing and the introduction of the true Blue Devil.
It is great to see the show attempt such a seminal piece of Swamp Thing lore, the but circumstances of the production ultimately drag down the strength of the concept. So much of the episode feels hurried and scattershot. Additionally, the long-awaited appearance of the Blue Devil was a bit underwhelming in that we do not really get to see him clearly.(3.5 / 5)
This episode pulls very heavily from one of the first issues of the classic Alan Moore run of the comic. The revelation that Swamp Thing was not actually Alec Holland, at the time, was incredibly shocking and revolutionary. The show squanders this a bit by jamming the episode full of characters and underutilizing some, like Abby and Liz.
However, the adaptations of some of Swamp Thing‘s most iconic moments and images on this show have been a pleasure to behold.