“That’s what you do. You hurt people and then you pretend to care.”—Abby to Avery Sunderland
This episode opens on the two goons hired by Avery to hunt down and capture Swamp Thing, so his amazing mutagenic accelerant-created animal/plant hybrid tissue can be studied and harvested to create revolutionary biomedical medicines. But as the duo quickly finds, Swamp Thing is not going to be captured easily. As he defends himself, more of his abilities to control the Green—all of plant life around him—are displayed in violent and gruesome fashion. It isn’t the only display of Green “magic” this episode.
Meanwhile at the hospital, creepy Dr. Woodrue is messing with Abby's research, while Abby tends to the brain-damaged Daniel, after he suffered severe head injuries trying to protect Liz from an attack last episode. So much for playing the hero and fulfilling the destiny Madame Xanadu foretold.
Woodrue decides it’s time to see what effect a solution made from Swamp Thing’s mutated regenerative tissue has on humans. The comatose Daniel is the unlucky guinea pig. We get to see Daniel’s dream as he recollects his time on the Blue Devil movie set, where he unwittingly made a supernatural deal with a certain Stranger in a hat, who disappeared like a phantom. When Daniel miraculously awakens, what happens next is an example of Life Imitating Art, if a bit too on the nose and too pat for my taste.
We find out more this week about how far Sheriff Cable will go to protect her town and especially her son deputy Matt from Avery's machinations. It seems neither one of them are squeaky clean cops. Both have done terrible things they are tortured by. It hurts to see Matt confront his mother about how long she has been under Avery's thumb (and —ahem—under Avery), and how much dirt he has on her. Jennifer Beals does an excellent job in the scene when she and Matt discuss how much deeper they are sinking in moral quicksand, and how they're going to keep it quiet. The emotions of anguish, pain, and conflict on Beals’ face are powerful and masterful.
As he was in the comics, Avery Sunderland is turning out to be the Lex Luthor of this tv series; he has his unethical, greedy, power-hungry fingers into everything and everyone in Marais. His philanthropic reputation is merely a façade, hiding a remorseless, sociopathic villain.
Abby response to the mysterious swamp attacks supposedly by the Swamp Thing is to, of course, make her weekly, ill-advised journey into the swamp at night by herself to talk to Alex. Why couldn't Liz go along? She’s in the Alec/SwampThing loop.
Deputy Matt is following to investigate as well, and what he finds is shocking and disturbing to him emotionally, considering how much he was involved in earlier criminal events. His guilt is so thick you can almost see it.
This series continues to be centered around Abby and her research, instead of around the title character. So far, we see too little of Swamp Thing in each episode. Hopefully that will change. The character design and acting is the best of any adaptation to date, with earthshaking foot stomps and vocal growling sound effects that give extra depth. If the series continues with the Abby/Alec/Swamp Thing love triangle—as promo images indicate it will—then we will see a lot more of him.
It struck me watching this episode that no one in Marais is happy. One by one, we have discovered that every single character is miserable or tortured for one reason or another. It can be quite emotionally draining to watch and experience. There’s no light in Marais. I am sure this is all tied into the Great Darkness that Swamp Thing and Xanadu have foretold is coming. Only the brief moments shared between Abby and Alec/Swamp Thing give us hope and glimpses of light.
Tune in to Swamp Thing on The CW every Wednesday night, or stream it the next day at cwtv.com, along with past episodes.