By Matt Henry and Mack Johnson.
Last week, the CW aired its season/series finale of Swamp Thing, and it was a painfully disappointing but not unexpected end from a series that was suddenly cancelled after its first episode was released. The production of the series in North Carolina was sold on and funded by tax incentives that didn’t really deliver as promised, and was the principal reason why it was forced to shut down 3 episodes short of completing its 13-episode commitment. Naturally there were doubts that we would get a fitting end to the Avatar of the Green's newest live-action television series. It’s unfortunately true that the episode title is an accurate description of what is left after the last scene fades to black.
"Loose Ends" picks up where last week's "Anatomy Lesson" ended, with Swamp Thing dealing with the discovery that it is not actually Alec Holland; it is merely Holland's consciousness inside a sophisticated, mutated plant, doing its best to imitate a human body. Abby and Swamp Thing have an intense, heartfelt conversation about this revelation, before they are interrupted by heavily armed men coming after Swamp Thing yet again. Haven't they learned that it doesn't matter how many soldiers are sent, they will never be enough? It is from this point on that the episode starts to jump around from situation to situation, character to character, and becomes very chaotic.
The writers and showrunners did the best they could in their difficult situation to suddenly wrap up a fun and entertaining season, but every major storyline is left unresolved by the end of "Loose Ends:"
• The build to a major showdown between an increasingly unhinged and bloodthirsty Avery, The Conclave, and Swamp Thing. We do get a showdown of sorts, when we get to see a spiked-up, jagged Swamp Thing battling hand-to-hand with lots of help from the swamp. But it feels so very unsatisfying and most definitely leaves you wanting more.
• Deputy Matt Cable reacting to finding out who his father really is won't see its conclusion, which would have been even more interesting after what happened to his mother the Sheriff in this episode.
• Maria Sunderland, institutionalized against her will by her husband Avery, now showing that she really does need psychiatric help, after experiencing disturbing visions in her padded cell. Madame Xanadu makes another appearance to tell Maria she has opened a door to the Darkness that is coming, and that she may never be the same again.
• Dr. Woodrue going off the deep end into full Mad Scientist Mode as he tries to feed Swamp Thing's buttered and pan-fried regenerative tissue to his Alzheimer's-afflicted wife, but tries some himself first, with horrific results. We will miss his woulda-been-inevitable, epic, mano-a-mano fight with Swamp Thing.
• We will miss seeing the end of Daniel Cassidy’s journey toward fully becoming Blue Devil for real, instead of just playing him in the movies.
• And of course, the growing love story between Abby and Swamp Thing; she cares for him and wants to stay with him to face the coming Darkness, even though he will never be Alex Holland physically again. Their tragic love story was the heart of the show.
The sets and scenery, and the practical and special effects have all been spot-on in each episode, really bringing this horror-filled, mystical place to life. The swamps of Wilmington, North Carolina filled in beautifully for the Louisiana bayou, and Delroy's Roadhouse looked so authentic and inviting we wanted to have a beer and a shot there. Even the Sunderlands plantation house was perfect.
The acting from everyone in the show has been top-notch, especially Andy Bean and Derek Mears, who respectively portray Alec Holland and Swamp Thing. Bean was really only in 4 of the 10 episodes, aside from small snippets here and there, but when he was on-screen you could really feel the heart, love, and the compassion he brought to a character like Alec Holland. Crystal Reed, who played Abby Arcane, has been a highlight, luminous and expressive in every scene she was in. Reed makes Abby wear her heart on her sleeve. Her brief flicker of a smile when Swamp Thing tells her he couldn't bear the thought of never seeing her again is brilliant and heartbreaking.
Overall, this was a really great show that had tremendous potential to grow and become one of the best comic book-based TV shows available. Recently, all the millions of dollars worth of sets were taken down in Wilmington, NC, making it increasingly unlikely that the series will continue. All we can do is hope that someone somewhere still decides to pick it up, and we can continue to enjoy the love story, drama, and mystical horror this show delivered in every episode.
There was originally a three-season plan for Swamp Thing as well as a Justice League Dark spin-off, and after watching season one, it's really sad that we won't get to see this dark universe explored.
You can watch the Swamp Thing season finale, as well as past episodes, at cwtv.com