Episode 2 of The Swam begins in France. Near Saint-Jean-De-Luz, we see a chef from a local restaurant pick up fresh seafood from the market. Everything is seemingly normal until the chef cleans and prepares lobsters for that night. While preparing one of them, the chef is squirted in the face by a substance it releases. At first, the effects of the liquid do not show. But after some time, the chef starts feeling unwell.
He goes outside to get some fresh air but starts vomiting blood and collapses to the ground. There are two other workers, Gilberto, the sous chef, and Alaina, who come into contact with the lobster. Their health also worsens as time passes on. Alaina throws away the lobster in the garbage disposal. Gilberto is admitted into the medical university the next day. Two French doctors look after him and are surprised by how early the symptoms start showing up. Sophia and Cecile are also concerned by the possibility of the infection through the lobster, although this comes up later.
Cecile finds her kids in her office and immediately phones her husband, who is away on a business trip. The kids took the train by themselves from Brussels and did not inform either parent before coming to France. We turn our attention to the Norwegian Sea, where Thorvaldsson, a charter ship hired by Hovestad Energy, is sailing. Professor Sigur from Trondheim University is called for help. A strange species of ice worm has covered the seafloor and is eating through the sites where Hovestad is looking for gas and oil reserves.
Sigur is instantly alarmed and intrigued. A new species of worms cannot proliferate at this pace. These worms have unusually long and sharp claws at the top of their head. He proposes that Tina, who is the compliance officer for Hovestad, refer to experts in the field for follow-ups. But she expresses her wish to continue with Sigur. It is clear the two have some romantic past but neither wants to acknowledge the tension between them. Sigur is also apprehensive to help and see his name as one of the experts consulted because he knows about Hovestad’s shady history of bending the rules around environmental clearances.
Sigur and Tina pay a visit to Professor Lehmann’s lab. She is also concerned about this new species, having spotted it elsewhere as well. Like the other sea creatures, the worms display a suicidal tendency. They keep going through ice on the sea floor even though there isn’t anything for them to feed on. Everyone is alarmed by this new development. Sigur has a meeting with members of Hovestad, Aaren and Erika, who are keen to know their next course of action. The new discovery might hinder their operations, something that Sigur makes clear in the meeting.
Sigur and Tina both urge the officials to act in an environmentally responsible and conscious manner. Aaren will be with the group as they charter the Thorvaldsson for another week to take more samples and determine the extent of the spread of the worms. Sigur meets Tina’s partner outside the office and is a little taken aback.
Meanwhile, in France, Cecile continues to investigate new cases of infections. At the same time that she finds Alaina’s body in her apartment, Gilberto suffers a massive cardiac arrest and dies. Leon visits the Port Authority’s office and talks to Captain Nakamura.
There has been another incident with a ship called Barrier Queen. Leon is shocked to learn humpback whales are behaving in a similarly aggressive manner with this ship as they did in the previous episode. During their second exploration, Thorvladsson almost drowns as a piece of machinery malfunctions. They visit the Institute once again and Lehmann shows them how the bacteria mat is also eating its way through the ice. The farthest they can go is right to the bottom of the seabed, which would be disastrous for marine life.
On Lehmann’s behest, Tina invites Sigur to come with her to an energy council meeting. She wants to ascertain if the worms have been found by others or not. Sigur pushes back but she convinces him to make a short trip.
The episode ends with another disaster. Jess and Tomas, Charlie’s colleagues, who were working on the Juno, are killed when the ship unexpectedly sinks. It is unclear how any of it happened, yet. But it seems a continuation of the strange phenomenon that continues to define The Swarm’s television universe.
The Episode Review
Episode 2 of The Swarm evoked mixed feelings. While I liked the sophistication of ecological changes in the ocean, I found myself confused at other times. Strange behaviour like the whale’s attack is easier to comprehend than ice worms eating through the seabed. The Swarm is dangling between the genres of sci-fi and drama dangerously with not so much impact.
Its complex core is yet to be explored and we have only nicked the surface of the mystery that lies deep within the ocean. Episode 2 offered little evidence of characters worth rooting for and investing our time in. The ensemble grew further in this episode and hopefully, the buck stops here. I think most viewers would like to see how the strange oceanic incidents affect the lives of these handful of characters or perhaps how they deal with the occurrences.
Either way, the creatives need to be a little restrained in expanding upon the characters if they want to prevent convoluted storytelling. The jargon also needs to be a little more malleable for those not in the know. While representing the ecological impact is important, something The Swarm continues doing in episode 2, the writers must balance it with a level-headed end product angled towards the viewers.
|You can read our full season 1 review of The Swarm here!|