On a clear day I can sense, with surgical precision, that my reviews run the risk of turning me into Homer in that episode of The Simpsons, where he is a food critic and praises everything he eats. I curate the media I consume pretty thoroughly, so in advance, there is every reason to assume I will, at the very least, enjoy it. I also prefer to focus on what works in any given piece of art than what doesn’t. As a result, I often come across as aggressively positive. Luckily, I’m also a contrarian, so in an effort to shake all of that up, I’m going to start this Swamp Thing review with a light piece of criticism, and it is, truthfully, my biggest complaint. The show started off with a very strong horror vibe, and the season has veered pretty far from that course. And I am sad to see that gone, because it was a pretty interesting and unique approach to televised horror. That said, it’s become something of a bayou noire, a genre I didn’t previously realized existed and gave me life, but, well, the more you know. It’s kind of my everything.
Avery, that old hamburger, has set up a meeting with a high rolling investor. Before he has a chance to wine and dine him over dinner, however, the Sheriff shows up, furious about him having sent Matt to kill Alec. What’s more, says she, Alec Holland is still alive (only kind of correct) and if he shows up, all three of them are boned in the donks for attempted murder, so he needs to go with her to the swamp to find and finish Alec off. Avery, grudgingly, agrees. When they get to the swamp, Avery pretty promptly turns on her, and is absolutely ready to murder her (he’s really come into his own as a piece of shit. What a good villain!) when Matt deals him a hearty blow – he and his mother had arranged ahead of time that he would take Avery by surprise to knock him unconscious, so they could load him into a boat, kill him, and leave his body in the swamp. Because nothing bad has ever yet come from trying to dispose of a body in this swamp. The Sheriff shoots him, but not before Avery does two things that feel relatively antithetical to each other: 1. He reveals to Matt that he’s his father – a possibility I had considered, but remain kind of baffled by, as Matt seems a bit too black to have come out of two such aggressively white honkeys and 2. Stabs Matt. Avery is dumped in the swamp and the Sheriff takes a bloody Matt back to Avery’s home, where Maria reveals that she signed the investor herself and also that she was in on the entire plan. Speaking of developing villains, Maria is turning into a pretty damn good one. Not for being involved in Avery’s murder; he was a dick and also it didn’t take (like I knew it wouldn’t!) but for being just truly awful. She leaves a bleeding Matt on her counter with an admonishment to make sure her kitchen is spotless in the morning. She’s cold blooded. Though no real competition for Avery, who is definitely going to be the evil version of my dear Swampenstein.
Speaking of, Swampy did indeed release hallucinogenic spores to make Abby see him as Alec for the duration of this episode, a fact about which I will not complain, because a dream boat’s a dream boat, even if he’s also secretly a swamp monster. We’ve all dated worse, am I right, ladies? This conceit – Abby sort of seeing the world through Alec’s eyes – worked pretty well to establish the limits of Swampy’s powers, beyond impressive levels of glowering and being intense. I’ve enjoyed Derek Mears a lot, but Swampy hasn’t had too much to do, realistically. Abby is hungry, and Alec is able to make a plum tree grow, because he is concerned about her. It’s a much better way of showing that his emotional state has an impact on the surroundings than attempting to articulate it. Every time someone tries to explain the concept of the green and the rot – the respective names given to positive and negative powers – they do an admirable job but it still feels far too abstract. Seeing Swampy as Alec actually use the green makes it feel more tangible. Abby asks to see the rot, and he takes her, but while she is trying to gather a sample, she’s bitten by a mean tree branch (I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I fucking love this show) and the rot gets inside of her. Alec grows a plant that’s supposed to be a strong antiseptic, but it doesn’t work – Alec explains that the rot is fighting with the green inside of her, so he is able to use his connection to the green to fight the rot. When she is healed and awake again, Swampy tells Abby to leave – he has decided he wants to remain in his current state, because he feels he is a part of something bigger and important. Abby leaves, but with intentions to return to the CDC, to utilize their superior resources to unswampify our guy.
We are up to episode 7, and I am sort of heartbroken by the idea of only 3 more to go. I am also a little heartbroken that after Swampy tells Abby “there’s 200 species of flora inside your body”, he didn’t add, “would you like one more?”, creating the greatest and most niche pick-up line of all time. Will Avery become an evil swamp monster? Will we see Shauna again? Am I ever going to get that Swamp boning I’ve been shrieking about? We’ll find out soon!