A eulogy, then, divided in twain, for the astounding, weird show that was, and the even weirder show we never got to witness. Swamp Thing finished its first and only season as it lived; bizarre and beholden to none of the typical rules established for adaptations of comic book properties.
Let us first look at the resolutions, as they stood, of our narrative threads. Woodrue tapes Caroline to a chair and prepares to feed her the organs he harvested from Swampy, believing that their regenerative properties will heal her. Abby arrives, having initially been looking for Avery (we’ll revisit my favorite piece of shit in another paragraph or so) and is appalled to see that Woodrue has not taken Caroline to a hospital since her overdose, and is instead planning to feed her organs from a weirdo swamp monster. I’m not a CDC physician, but I’m still inclined to think Abby’s got the edge in this argument. Anyway. She calls 911, who manages to barge in before Woodrue can kill Abby, but only after he has tried some of Swampy for himself – the one consistently redemptive quality Woodrue possesses is his love for Caroline, so it is absolutely earned that he would never give her something without making sure it was safe for himself first. Woodrue is taken to jail, and Abby heads out to the swamp to find our mossy friend.
So Avery, the consummate villain’s villain, murders – as we knew he must – the Sheriff lady. Or probably does. I’m open to the notion that Marais plays by soap opera rules, and no one is actively dead in any enduring or meaningful way there. He stabs her all the way through with what appears to be one hell of a machete, but she’s alive in the trunk of her cop car when he dumps it in the swamp (and seriously, Avery, you’re a relatively bright guy, how can you not realize that the swamp is basically the fucking pet sematary and sometimes dead is better, or so I’ve heard…). So who knows?
Daniel, our Blue Devil, can and does finally leave Marais, and take note, future show runners, THIS is how you handle a backdoor pilot/spin-off. His story was introduced in a way that felt organic to the story of the main show, he was established as a pivotal aspect of the narrative. There was nothing needless about his story, and when it had breathed its extent to Swamp Thing, it felt perfectly natural that he should go off on his own adventure, and if there were any justice in the damn world, get his own show. Because the Blue Devil is interesting. He’s murdery in a way that super heroes seldom are, and also he’s called a devil, which is not a noun typically associated with virtuous qualities. And full measure of credit where it’s due, Ian Ziering it turns out, is much more than just Sharknado fighting (not to diminish that important service). He is very good and very compelling as the Blue Devil. What I’m saying, producers, is I would watch the hell out of his show.
Which leaves us with Swampy himself, who goes full murder monster this episode. Though I do feel like the show has lost certain elements of the original and undeniably gnarly body horror it launched with, the scenes in the swamp are perfect; they capture how strangely claustrophobic an open space you are unfamiliar with can be, and as it comes to life for Swampy’s will, those sequences will stand as legitimately great horror center pieces. I have argued previously that Swampy is, oddly, the least compelling thing about the show, and I think this episode made moves towards course correction. He finally seems to accept what he is, after a season that (to be fair is completely reasonably) spent grappling with the notion of being a living bit of vegetation. Derek Mears really shines; he was a perfect bit of casting and manages to pretty seamlessly make Swampy simultaneously soulful, melancholic and, in this episode, truly terrifying. He deserves more time to play in that swamp.
Finally, and possibly most tragically, as we transition from mourning the show that was, let us look at the show we won’t be given, but that we see the vaguest silhouette of after the credits. Woodrue, having eaten some of Swampy, has transformed into the darker, stranger Swamp Thing he was seemingly always born to be. And of course. The clues were there all season. He has trouble with other people. He is too curious without any sense of humanity. He has no problem with breaking the Hippocratic oath for answers. Of course he wouldn’t mourn his personhood, and would throw himself into being a super human plant creature with gusto. But goddammit, that was a brilliant bit of season long slight of hand. Avery is, for certain, the big bad of the season, but all in service of creating a super villain, an arch nemesis. Woodrue becomes what I have to assume would be the Joker to Swampy’s Batman. And I would have loved to have seen that play out.
I know that with the advent of streaming services, very few shows are absolutely and undeniably dead beyond resuscitation. I won’t get my hopes up for Swamp Thing, given the complicated nature of DC rights. This was a great show. It deserved to be watched and savored, and to grow (womp-womp) into the strange beast I know it could have been.