By Matt Henry and Mack Johnson
This week's episode of DCU's Swamp Thing picks up right where episode 8 left off with Swamp Thing, now captured by Avery Sunderland and Dr. Jason Woodrue, after he had trusted them to find him a cure for his transformation. Abby returns to Marais to warn Alec of the dangerous people that are coming for him. She makes it to the swamp only to find the remains of shotgun shells and tire tracks, as she now fears the worst and suspects Dr. Woodrue, (with Avery) has betrayed her. She knows that this is much bigger than just Avery Sunderland and Marais, Louisiana, and the only person she can really trust is her longtime childhood friend, Liz Tremayne. Abby loves Alec, and she will not give up on him, so the two of them set off to find him.
"The Anatomy Lesson" does not have as much action as previous episodes, and it is a bit slower moving, but that does not mean that it isn't very entertaining and suspenseful. Don't worry horror fans, there is still plenty of blood and gore, so you won't be disappointed. This episode draws heavily from Alan Moore and Steve Bissette's 1984 series The Saga of Swamp Thing #20-22 (which included a story that inspired the title of this episode), with a few added twists of its own. That is one thing fans of the Swamp Thing comic books will really enjoy about this series, and this episode in particular, is how well they draw from and respect the source material. Kevin Durand's portrayal of Dr. Woodrue is another extremely high point of "The Anatomy Lesson", with him heartlessly and gruesomely dissecting Swamp Thing alive, and torturing Alex with the reality of what he has become. You can see the excitement and curiosity he has about this creature, and what it holds for the future of science and medicine. It seems as though he started out doing this for love, to find a cure for his wife Caroline, deteriorating rapidly from Alzheimer’s, but as more time passes and he gets more involved, his motives turn from love to personal gain.
Love, greed, and power seem to be the three major themes for this series. Love is very powerful, it can make you do tremendous things if your heart is in the right place. It can also cause you to do bad things, even though you might think it's for a good reason. An example of the former is the love Abby has for Alec; she will stop at nothing to save him, even putting herself in harm's way. Dr. Woodrue and Sheriff Lucilla Cable have done some bad things, hurtful things, even going as far as killing people in the name of love. The greed and power aspects of the show are undoubtedly coming from Avery and Maria Sunderland, as well as the very powerful and mysterious Conclave group with whom they are working. The couple has been at the top of Marais for a seemingly long time, but the power they have is not enough. They crave more, and they are willing to do horrible things to get it, even to each other.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital, we finally check in again with Daniel Cassidy, who is still recovering from his miraculous cure, covertly administered by Dr. Woodrue. The actor who played Blue Devil in the movies is again visited by the Stranger in the black suit and fedora. The Stranger pushes him another huge step forward toward meeting his heroic destiny.
This is absolutely a great show to watch, not just for major fans of The Swamp Thing comics, but for fans of horror thrillers in general. Although, fans of the comic books will love how the writers and directors treat this character with the love and respect he deserves. With only one episode left in this season and series, it is hard to imagine all of the incredibly interesting storylines and characters getting wrapped up in a satisfying way.
Will Abby return the favor and save Swamp Thing’s life? Will we see Blue Devil this season? Who will win the Sunderland husband & wife power struggle? Is Swamp Thing a monster forever? Is Alec and Abby’s love story over?
Be sure to tune in to the Swamp Thing season finale titled "Loose Ends" next Wednesday on The CW, or stream it the next day at cwtv.com, along with past episodes.
The Saga of Swamp Thing #20-22 (1984)
The Phantom Stranger (1969)
Blue Devil (1984)