Swamp’s Thing’s consistently great quality is a bitter pill to swallow. Not because the show feels like it’s going to wobble and fail, but mainly for the exact opposite. Knowing we’ve only got one season of Swamp Thing and seeing what great quality the show has been churning out as of late, it just makes the whole thing a bittersweet affair.
We begin this week with Avery kicking the body of the banker he killed last week into the flames and watching it burn. At the same time, two kids, one named Todd, begin cutting down vines in the swamp but are taken aback when things begin falling from the highest branches, including teeth and a twisted corpse. As they run off, Alec appears and investigates.
As it happens, Todd was cut in the ensuing struggle with the vines and at work he begins to hallucinate. He sees a snake wrapped around his arm and proceeds to stab himself multiple times before turning on the sink disposal and putting his fingers through it. It’s a gruesome opening, especially when we catch a glimpse of the fingers hanging from his severed hand.
Meanwhile Abby begins studying samples of Swamp Thing, determined to try and work out what’s happening. Jason arrives and tells her the numbers she’s input into the database are wrong. He asks to study the sample himself which Abby agrees to on one condition – he’s not to tell anyone else. Jason looks at her dumbfounded, telling her he doesn’t care about the rest of the world and is happy to oblige.
Leaving Jason with the sample, Abby heads for the hospital where she finds Susie. She’s feeling better but is afraid for Alec’s livelihood in the swamp. As Avery arrives and declares a party at his house, his wife requests to speak to Susie alone. Abby then receives a phone call requesting her assistance at the crime scene and she heads off to find out more. As it happens, Todd scratched Delroy and as Abby arrives, she sees its effects firsthand.
Thankfully, they manage to sedate him after wrestling his shotgun away but not before he scratches Officer Cable who arrives to help. From here, we see Abby and the others gain a better understanding of whats going on, realizing that this infection has been passing from host to host, beginning with a World War 1 veteran. This then eventually spreads to Todd and it appears to be adopting a new host when the victim scratches someone else. Realizing that Cable was scratched in the ensuing scuffle, Abby races to Avery’s party to save her while she begins hallucinating that her partner has been shot and is lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood.
As she gets her gun out, pointing it at the rest of the room, she scratches Abby which leads her to hurry back into the swamp whence the infection came from. As she begins hallucinating about frightening past events as a child, Alec saves her and stops the virus. While Avary makes a play to keep Susie at his house, Abby learns from Alec that the balance between light and dark has been offset for the worse and this is only the beginning.
Once again Swamp Thing delivers a thoroughly enjoyable and consistent episode. The production design throughout is good, and the alternating shots between the heart of the swamp and the town lying on its fringes are really nicely paced too. The overwhelming sense of dread and tension do well to keep things tonally consistent whilst the deepening mystery around the swamp’s biggest secrets are drip-fed throughout the episodes at perfect intervals.
The characters are interesting, Alec is both menacing and empathetic while Abby plays the strong female archetype perfectly without pushing an agenda. It’s all wonderful stuff but it’s just a pity we’re only going to get one season of this. Still, if this is the level of quality DC Universe are putting out, I’m very excited to see what their next project will be but in the meantime, Swamp Thing continues to lay a solid foundation for what should be a pretty dramatic second half to the season.