Before we can discuss – as hideous circumstance dictates we must – tragedy in a smaller still-life form, I want to provide a quick mea culpa. I said that two episodes were released last week, and discovered pretty quickly that I was wrong. One a week, Kell, you dummy, so we are only now, discussing episode 2 of my new friend, the Swamp Thing. A show that I really like. And to bring it on home and back to that tragic tip, a show that was cancelled right after its debut episode. Kelly, you might say, why ever would that be? You probably aren’t, as I have proven myself within the extreme confines of this very review – hell, this fucking paragraph – to be not fantastically reliable as a source. That said, I’m petty as shit, and wanted to know a bit about why I was allowed to learn to love this beautiful swampy bastard, only to have him promptly returned to the algae and muck from whence he came.
Here’s what I can tell you: it’s vague and muddied. There’s some talk about confusion regarding a tax credit promised, but over the weekend, that’s been purported as bullshit. So I don’t know and frankly, it doesn’t matter. Because Swamp Thing, it turns out, is a good show. A really good show, that’s taking the time to build a full world, inhabited by interesting characters who feel authentic and interesting. It’s a shame; I suspect the tanking of Swamp Thing will also be the tanking of the DC streaming service; a number of people – myself included – have already declared their intent to cancel the service once we’ve run the course of the series. But in the meantime, we have episode two to talk about, so let us lick our collective wounds, every man to their own tongue, and get down to brass tacks.
Here’s what we’ve got: the little girl we saw in the pilot, patient zero for the virus, clearly has some sort of telepathic bond with Swampy. It’s hard to say who’s controlling who, but when she pulls the IV tubes out of her arms in the hospital, we get some truly grizzly horror, as Swampy pulls some of the vines that make up his current corporeal form out of himself. But because we know that Swampy is part Alec, part accelerant created plant form, his planty-parts regrow rapidly. He ain’t to be flexed with. Abby, meanwhile, is staying with her reporter friend Liz, and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. She thinks that maybe there are answers in Alec’s lab, and that maybe Avery will allow her access. We are a bit more savvy to the way of the small town fat cat, however, so when Avery very smoothly refuses Abby access, there is nothing of surprise to it. Sure, he butters her up by telling her it was never her fault that Shawna died, and that he thinks of Abby as a daughter, but he still, ultimately refuses to allow her access. Perhaps because his own motivations were so singularly mercenary. The scientists who developed the accelerant meet with Avery, and he tells them that the accelerant’s purpose was always to make resources grow quickly so he could make stuff, sell it, and make money hella fast. And that if they can’t reverse engineer a cure for the virus and his role in the illness is uncovered, he is sure as shit taking them down with him. It will be nice to see him get eaten by Swampy.
Meanwhile, the wee tot makes her way to the swamp; she isn’t frightened of Swampy. She feels his fear and is compelled to help him. Abby hunts her down, and catches her first real glimpse of Swampy, in all his hideous, Derek Mears glory. The girl tells her that he’s not dangerous; he is frightened and confused. And his name is Alec. Dun-dun-DUN!
And credit where it’s due. The story is taking its time. It’s developing at a natural pace. Even the incidental, one off characters are charming, including the small town celebrity who rented Alec’s room to him. We get to see a carefully deployed hint of Avery’s casual misogyny this episode, when he assumes that the woman who comes to his house is simply the wife of the scientist, and not a doctor herself. Abby, in a lot of ways, is the least interesting aspect of the show. Yes, I want to know what happened to Shawna. Of course I want to know. Abby is just such an obvious hero character. And there is nothing inherently wrong with that! I like her, she’s fine… I’m just more interested in seeing a gross Swamp monster wreak some sort of slimy vengeance. That might be more my hang-up than the show’s.
Either way… I’m hopeful for this season. If it’s all we’re getting, and all indicators suggest it is, I’m determined to enjoy it to the maximum of my abilities. Let’s go.