By Mack Johnson and Matt Henry.
Episode 3 opens in the middle of a dream. It seems even a mystical, reanimated swamp creature can have nightmares, when it has a human consciousness inside. "Alec Holland, played by Andy Bean, is talking with Munson, whom Swamp Thing commanded the swamp to tear to pieces. You can see Holland has remorse for taking Munson's life, even though he was a terrible man who was trying to kill Susie. As he awakens next to Munson's corpse, Swamp Thing is in anguish. Actor Derek Mears does an exceptional job of bringing the Swamp Thing to life, showing his internal humanity, emotion, and heart. Is the nightmare the swamp’s way of warning Swamp Thing of what’s to come?
As Swamp Thing rumbles away, something weird begins to happen to Munson's body.
Newly-arrived and Sunderland-funded Dr. Woodrue wastes no time getting elbow-deep into Eddie’s plant-riddled corpse. Here we really get to see that Dr. Woodrue doesn't necessarily care much for people, his interest is in science and plants. This strange virus absolutely intrigues him; he definitely gives off that mad scientist vibe. We get a good look at what kind of person he is in his philosophical conversation with Abby, and it isn’t a caring one.
But then, we see him at home with his wife, who has an Alzheimer’s episode, and we see how loving and gentle he is. Is he a good guy, or a bad guy?
In this episode, we learn quite a bit more about Avery Sunderland, played brilliantly by Will Patton. We already know that Avery hired the Woodrue doctors to make a plant accelerant to increase growth rate, and hopefully create new chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Now we also learn that Avery is actually deep in debt, and his loan officer partner-in-crime wants out, and threatens him. Something tells me Avery isn’t the kind of man who takes kindly to threats. Avery Sunderland seems more and more to be the main antagonist of this season. He is evil, heartless, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. As it turns out, the real reason Avery stuck by his wife Maria's side all these years wasn't really out of love, but for his wife's money and his own personal benefit.
Another visitor drops by the Sunderlands later. This time it’s Sheriff Cable, asking Avery questions about the recent murders. We discover just how close these two have been in the past. Ew.
Upstairs, we see that Maria seeing her dead daughter, Shawna, may not be just her imagination.
Back at the hospital, the plant virus patients are all taking a downturn, and even Abby’s CDC colleague falls ill. She decides to go (alone!) to the Sunderland swamp lab to look for Alec’s notes. As she rifles through files, thunder rolls ominously. What happens next is horrifying, especially if you don’t like bugs.
Abby is in the wrong place at the wrong time, as Swamp Thing’s nightmare comes true, and someone...something has come for him, but finds Abby instead. This time, Abby chooses fight over flight. Swamp Thing is one with the swamp, so he arrives just in time to protect her.
The practical and CGI effects in this scene are spectacular, scary, and creepy. I am not sure if the mutagenic accelerator that helped create Swamp Thing is also going to be used to create other "monsters of the week" for Swamp Thing to battle, much like the Kryptonite meteors did on Smallville.
This is our (and Abby’s) first good, long look at Swamp Thing. This well-directed scene between Abby and Swamp Thing/Alec brings us back to the tragic aspect of this series, and of an almost-love, lost. Her reaction when Swamp Thing says her name (“He Speaks”!) is heart-breaking and expertly acted. Their brief conversation also gives Abby new insight on how to combat the plant virus.
A word about the sets and props on this show: the list of producers on this show is a mile-long, but they have followed the visual model established by Greg Berlanti, who has produced or co-produced just about every other DC show on tv. That is, an idealized vision of an America from a half-century ago, with plenty of vintage interiors, fashions, and cars, like Lizzy's classic 1960s Mustang.
Swamp Thing airs Tuesdays on The CW, and streams the following day on cwtv.com where you can also catch up on episodes you missed.