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Swamp Thing S01 Ep09 Deep Breakdown: The Anatomy Lesson

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First and at the ready, my doves, a little bit of housekeeping.  I’m late! I know!  And I’m sorry.  The down-side to a side-hustle is sometimes it gets side-tracked, until you’ve side-stepped your way into a sentence you don’t quite know how to end, but I think you catch my meaning. So apologies, truly.  The other bit that we must address is that for some reason, I was laboring under the impression that this was the season/series finale of Swamp Thing, and we were going to cry together over this episode, but I was wrong. This is, in fact, the penultimate episode, and woof.  We’ve got some shit to talk about. Plot, yes, but first, let me yank the figurative band-aid off of what will be, undoubtedly, the most complicated part of discussing this episode.  Which is addressing the nature of Swampy himself.

DC Universe

I think any reasonable viewer would be forgiven for assuming until this point that Swampy was built on the foundation of Alec Holland.  Some physical, corporeal part of them was the same.  This is certainly what Swampy has believed until this episode.  But here, he and we find out that the reality of it is that when Alec was exploded, his consciousness and memories went into the swamp, where the accelerant caused a sort of fusion between the consciousness of Alec Holland and the swamp material, so that instead of Alec becoming the swamp, the swamp became Alec Holland.  It recreated itself into an image as near Alec as could be achieved with organic matter.  This is heady and some might argue needlessly complicated, though kind of a cool concept when you can wrap your brain around it.  All of this information is revealed by Dr. Woodrue while he is performing one of the more brutal scenes in this show’s history – the Swampy autopsy.  Until this point, Woodrue has presented as kind of a bumbler, a bit of a victim of circumstance himself.  Someone who was desperate for a cure for his beloved wife, and willing to do whatever it took to achieve that.  This episode reveals a certain sadism that was not present before.  While he is chopping poor Swampy apart, our mossy friend wakes up and reveals that he feels everything Woodrue is doing  But Woodrue takes no mercy on him; in a strange way he almost seems to relish the oddness of the agony he’s causing.  The creature affects continue to be top notch, and witnessing the vivisection of Swampy is pretty gnarly from start to finish in and of itself; but to compound that, the camera lingers long enough for us to really participate in Swampy’s suffering.  Enough to make us resent Woodrue and to truly hope that what Rachel Weiss promised in The Mummy turns out to be true – that nasty little men like him always get their comeuppance.

DC Universe

Meanwhile, Daniel wakes up and has a conversation with the strange movie man who stranded him in Marais in the first place.  I don’t entirely know what this guy is; some sort of emissary of Satan or what, and I truly hope I never find out.  He’s a wonderful mystery and lends himself well to the show’s continued trip into inscrutability.  There is no show weirder than Swamp Thing right now.  It’s a noire, it’s a horror show, it’s a mystery, it’s a revival?  I don’t even know, but I love it’s absolute embrace of the strange and unexplained.  Anyway.  He shows Daniel a possible future where Abby and Liz (whose entire story is getting to Swampy and setting him free, so we won’t talk a whole lot about them) get mowed down by machine guns at the facility where Swampy is being held.  Daniel can stop it, our mystery man says, he just has to commit to blue deviling around.  And he does. Again, the character design is delightful.  The Blue Devil is a full transformation for Daniel, and he is pretty fucking brutal.  He tears through the guards chasing Abby and Liz with aggressive ease.  They’re not a problem.  However, when he transforms back to Daniel, he is horrified to see what he’s done.  I’m not sure where they are (or perhaps “would have been” is the correct grammar, since there won’t be much chance to expound) going with the character; I guess they could just say his business is done in Marais and he can move on, but goddamn that would feel like a waste of a compelling character.

Finally, our guy Avery has the little Missus institutionalized.  Not too much else to say there, other than it makes for an interesting dynamic – how many characters are at each other’s throats.  Usually with a super hero show, the hero and the villain are just focused on each other.  But Avery has to contend with Swampy, Abby, Liz and Maria.  There’s a lot of adversaries here.

So.  One more to go.  For reals this time.  Luckily that sweet looking Watchmen show is going to be starting soon, so maybe we’ll be able to fill a little of the Alan Moore shaped holes left in our peat hearts.  Stay swampy, friends.

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Kelly Mintzer hates dolls but loves movies about evil ventriloquist dummies. She is working her way through the “Sandman” series slowly but surely, and has been compared more than once to that iteration of Death. Holding down South Philly with a creative writing degree and the full series of “Hannibal”, she hasn’t seen her natural hair color in years.