Conventional wisdom dictates that the penultimate episode of a season is the culmination of the action, and the finale is dedicated to denouement. I can’t readily claim that it’s a punk rock sensibility over a complicated production history, but whatever the impetus, Swamp Thing apparently doesn’t fuck with conventional wisdom. Which I am here for!
In the most recent episode, Abby returns to the CDC. The new Assistant Directory – justifiably – calls her out on the fact that she hasn’t been giving updates, and that the Marais hospital says she’s been spending all of her time in the swamp. It’s one of the show’s cleverer conceits – remembering how fundamentally insane all of the swamp magic is in the face of science, and having that butt up against actual scientific method. Harlan, the world’s greatest sidekick, returns triumphant(!) and essentially calls Abby on her shit – he can’t defend her in this because she has truly dropped off the damn planet. Swamp Thing hits these quiet, subtle beats, that seem really so obvious you almost forget to be grateful, until you realize that other shows and movies so frequently fail to execute them with any grace at all. To whit: Abby immediately comes clean with Harlan. She doesn’t needlessly keep a secret from someone we know she’s supposed to trust and have a long history with. And even more importantly, Harlan believes her. He was in Marais, he had the illness; why wouldn’t he believe her? In most properties he absolutely would doubt and question her. But not Harlan. It all ends up moot, however, when the Conclave – the weirdo investors from last episode – show up and demand Abby tell them where Alec Holland is. It seems our boys have some investigative skills. Abby refuses, and flees back to Marais as quickly as she can. Only to discover…
Avery, my favorite smarmy bastard, goes on sort of a wild journey this episode. He hallucinates his way through the swamp, re-witnessing his father’s death at the limbs of an angry tree (THIS SHOW IS AMAZING) that pulls him into a fire after he tries to chop it down, having strange visions of the Sheriff, and just generally nightmare tripping while he bleeds out. Swampy finds him, and because he is fundamentally good, takes him back to his little Monster shack, and heals him. A small, narrative quibble, but Swampy basically turns into a Bond villain in his interaction with Avery, minus the nefarious intentions. He explains, in depth, what and why he is. I think to some extent that this is done as a service to the viewer – the concept is a kind of nebulous idea, his connection to the swamp, the swamp as a character, whether the swamp is villainous or heroic, and I get that. But I also am inclined to think that any viewer who doesn’t understand it by now isn’t going to understand it after a cowboy speech. Still love ya, Swampy.
Avery assures Swampy that Woodrue, that squirmy pile of shit (more on that later) can reverse engineer the Swampening and after Swampy kicks him out, Avery stumbles his wounded ass to Woodrue’s house for medical attention and some hot goss. Woodrue is delighted to hear that Avery has located Swampy – the Conclave people have informed him about Alec’s current status, so he now understands that the basis of all of his research is present in Alec-as-Swampy’s cells. Avery, showing a tiny glimmer of humanity, tells Woodrue that he promised Alec he would get him cured, and Woodrue channels every ounce of vileness he can into convincing Avery that Alec isn’t valuable, he just has normal real-boy cells. But Swampy is a goddamn treasure trove. And look, Avery’s pupils are actual dollar signs a la Scrooge McDuck (imagine image here. Mickey Mouse may become public domain in three years, but Uncle Scrooge will not ) so he doesn’t require too much persuasion. Woodrue also accidentally spills the beans that Maria was clearly in on the whole “hey, let’s murder Avery” plot, by mentioning that she said that Avery had filled her in. I suspect hell will have no fury as an Avery nearly murdered.
Anyway. Avery and Woodrue go to the swamp and Swampy’s no fool, when Woodrue asks him to come back to the lab, he peaces the fuck out of there. Unfortunately, he’s been surrounded – clearly these Conclave people have some pull – and eventually taken down with dry ice.
So that’s where we’re at. That leaves a HELL of a lot of plot for the season/series finale. It won’t be satisfying – it can’t be. It didn’t realize it would be a series finale, so in all likelihood, it will be a cliffhanger. But we’re going to see this through friends, and then we can mourn together next time. See you then.